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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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June 12, 2014 - 8:30 am

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, continues its march toward Baghdad. But what does ISIS actually want? Is it capable of holding the territory that it is capturing? What are its aims? What are the consequences if it succeeds in toppling Iraq’s current, secular, government?

Iraq has 10% of the world’s oil supplies. In economic terms alone, if an Islamist terrorist government with al Qaeda’s ideology captures Iraq, the consequences will be serious.

But according to the New York Times, the Obama administration has already ruled out any intervention on Iraq’s behalf, on any scale.

As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for a military response have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

That stubbornness may prove to be very costly. Blogs of War lays out what the US might be able to do short of putting any American troops back into Iraq.

What the United States can do is provide very limited air/drone support, intelligence support, diplomatic support, and coordination with the regional teams who would actually have boots on the ground. Assorted tools from the covert war playbook would likely be enough to make life difficult for ISIS. And frankly, that is all that the United States can, or should, do. We do not need to eradicate them in bloody urban combat or commit massive development resources to a dysfunctional Iraqi government. However, we do need to find a way to check the momentum of a rapidly expanding threat before it becomes an exponentially bigger problem. All military options are ugly, and far from a permanent solution, but engaging ISIS quickly might stave off an absolute collapse of the country.

Collapse isn’t the only risk. A full ISIS takeover is a grim possibility. TIME magazine says that what ISIS really wants is what its predecessor, al Qaeda, wanted: a restoration of the Islamic caliphate.

…if ISIS can in fact hold the area it has overrun, it may well be able to fulfill its stated mission of restoring the Caliphate, the governing structure for the Sunni Muslim world that inherited authority from the Prophet Mohammed. “This is of great significance,” according to an assessment released Wednesday by The Soufan Group, a private security company. A restored Caliphate will attract “many more disaffected young people … from all over the Muslim world, especially the Middle East, lured by nostalgia for al-Khulafa al-Islamiya (the Islamic Caliphate), which remains a potent motivator for Sunni extremists.”

Restoring the Caliphate was the stated goal of Osama bin Laden in creating al-Qaeda, but the terror group has never operated militarily. “It’s ISIS that will build the Caliphate, not al-Qaeda,” says al-Tamimi.

Guess who would be a modern caliphate’s lionized and revered founding father? Besides Barack Obama, who is at least passively enabling all this, Osama bin Laden would get his face on the new caliphate’s currency.

A caliphate would out-Islam even Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It would provide a direct challenge to every secular government in every Islamic country in the Middle East. It would unite millions of Muslims in one of the caliphate’s ultimate goals — the destruction of Israel in order to recapture the Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. A caliphate would also provide a threat to Shiites, and might trigger a much wider Islamic civil war, on a more or less global scale.

US power would be severely weakened in all this. In fact, it already is. Iran is already shipping oil to the Syrian government, in open violation of US and international sanctions against Assad. The Obama administration doesn’t seem to care.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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It's an interesting question, right now ISIS is fighting Asad, and is fighting Iran, so aren't they our buddies, at least temporarily? Remember, we were good buddies with Sadam Hussein for a time, until suddenly we weren't.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
One bunker buster dropped dead center
On the Kaaba in Mecca should do the job !
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Right thought, wrong munition.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Perhaps what we CAN do is to support the Kurds who may be one of the only factions out there that still think favorably about the U.S. While direct military assistance may be unnecessary, some logistical help would certainly be good and would generate goodwill without too much expense.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, we won't do anything. While we have some responsibility for what has happened, the bottom line is we set the Iraqis up for success and they boofed it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Iraq has 10% of the world’s oil supplies. In economic terms alone, if an Islamist terrorist government with al Qaeda’s ideology captures Iraq, the consequences will be serious."

What consequences? Begging the question is poor writing.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
We cannot do anything about the Islamist capture of Iraq. And we will not. The two questions are different, and related.

1) we lack the force structure anymore to intervene effectively short of nuclear weapons. Which will not be done.

2) even if we do try to intervene with conventional military force, it is not possible to succeed without the support of Iraqis on the ground. What Iraqi in his right mind would believe the word of the United States right now? When the head choppers are next door, and the United States does not care from moment to moment what happens there or what happens to those who supported them before.

3) the victory of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a personal victory for Obama and the Democrats, in their view. They will do nothing to impede them.

4) the fall of Iraq is just another of the dominoes set in motion by Buraq Hussein Obama, the Democrats, the Institutional Republicans, and an electorate that could put them in power. It is one of many dominoes in play, and not all of them by any means are beyond our borders. Our ability to delay, defer, or stop those dominoes, which are backed by the inertia of events, is non-existent.

Subotai Bahadur
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
A domino that's within our borders is the sheer number and scale of crises and government scandals. Only a policy junky can begin to keep the overall picture and a normal citizen who devotes maybe 15 minutes/day to the news? Most of our population MUST now be ignorant -- there isn't time for understanding the meta-crisis of incompetent/evil administration policy.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, Obama has enabled all this with his insane Syria policy. To train and arm these demons , how gullible and irresponsible can he be ? Looks like Iran will try to " take care of it" now ( WSJ/Weasel Zipper ).
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
No.

Next question.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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