As long as this war drags on in both countries ISIS will only get stronger and meaner. And the ideas that are outlined below make much more sense on a practical level than the drivel in President Obama's speech last week.
ISIS won't ever be defeated if Saudi Arabia has any role in the so-called international coalition, let alone a significant one, which it would if the Obama administration moves forward with its current plan. How the hell can you include KSA, who are funding ISIS, and leave out the PKK, who are fighting it?
It's an absurd strategy that will not end the war but will have the opposite effect. It will strengthen ISIS and boost its already rising reputation in the psychologically vulnerable minds of young Muslims in the Middle East and beyond who are without jobs, without hope, without leadership, and without any real future. When the global economy fully collapses, which will happen, ISIS will stand there, amidst the ashes of a collapsing world, and give them this irresistible message, "Do not go out like this, join Allah's conquering army and die with glory."
The more time is wasted, the stronger ISIS will get, and the harder it will be to defeat it later on.
An excerpt from, "To Defeat ISIS, Keep it Simple" by J. Michael Barrett, War On The Rocks, September 15, 2014:
It is a fool’s errand to try to force the state of Iraq to remain intact when that outcome requires political compromises and burying of religious and ethnic hatreds that are all too evident throughout the entire region. The facts on the ground and decades of Western political and military failures support the conclusion that forcing these disparate sects together without also accepting a ruthless dictator brutal enough to force public acquiescence is simply not possible. And, obviously, this policy also means hoping against hope that the complex swirl of sectarian divides, unstable (if not untenable) power-sharing arrangements, and splitting of spoils and oil revenues can be contained while the central government fights the prolonged civil war against ISIS that has taken root within its borders. Yet the administration’s plans hinge on providing support to Iranian-backed Iraqi leaders in taking on the Sunni extremists of ISIS by arming and supporting moderate Sunnis who will be fighting to sustain their subservience to a Shi’a government. Wouldn’t it make more sense to recognize the reality of three distinct territories of what used to be Iraq and thus help Kurds, Sunnis, and Shi’a fight ISIS in the name of their own respective sovereignties? Then all the parties would be defending their own self-interest, and the anti-ISIS battle can be separated from the entangled complexity of objectives that arise when defeating ISIS leads to political outcomes against the fighting forces’ own interests.
Similarly, in Syria the administration has chosen the complexity of cross-cutting entanglements by being either unwilling or unable to make the necessary, but miserably distasteful, alliances with various actors like Syria’s President Assad and his Iranian backers – despite making alliances with those same Iranian backers in Iraq. Instead, we are choosing to try and find some elusive segment of Syrian society that, though they have not yet emerged three years into a civil war, is capable of bearing arms effectively against both ISIS and the Syrian military, is less radical than ISIS, and yet still strong enough to rule post-Assad. No such force exists, and building one — if it is even possible — would take years and require arming untold hordes of fighters, any number of whom could easily switch sides and join ISIS at any moment or, perhaps more likely, retreat from the fight and leave all the U.S.-supplied weapons systems in the hands of ISIS, just as happened with the Iraqi Army earlier this year. Again, the complexity and opportunity for failure as a function of unknown and uncontrollable events is impossible to calculate.
In his speech to the nation last week, the president clearly identified the three pillars of his real strategy for defeating ISIS: (1) ISIS must be destroyed, (2) he is unwilling to use our military on the ground to do it, and (3) he cannot or will not make hard choices like splitting up Iraq or partnering with Assad. Perhaps any two of these might be doable, but there is no way all three can hold for the period of time this effort will require. In the end, being unwilling to use our own troops means crafting a coalition of people with different interests, capabilities, and senses of morality. Accepting this truth should lead us to a simple, straightforward plan that partitions Iraq and makes a deal with Assad.