"I suspect we ought to lighten our hand in the Middle East. We should move the framework away from the current situation where everyone is telling us everything is our fault and angry with us to a basis where they are seeking our help. In the future we should never use U.S. troops as a peacekeeping force. We're too big a target. Let the Fijians or New Zealanders do that. And keep reminding ourselves that it is easier to get into something than it is to get out of it." - Former Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, from a 1983 memo entitled "The Swamp." Source: The Unknown Known (2013) directed by Errol Morris.The worst reaction to the evil beheading of American journalist James Foley by the state-sponsored terrorist group ISIS would be a full-on military campaign against it by the U.S., involving tens of thousands of soldiers and massive bombing.
ISIS seeks an emotional reaction rather than a rational one to its horrifying terrorism. It desires a direct confrontation with the United States. It is acting crazy. It is like the Joker demanding Batman in The Dark Knight to "hit him."
But the U.S. must resist the urge to directly hit ISIS. Such a confrontation would instantly gain new sympathy for its embryonic state from on-the-fence Sunnis in Iraq and across the Muslim world. The result would be a war not just against a hated fringe terrorist group, but an entire sect of Islam, however deviant, which has taken hold of the imagination of Sunnis by exploiting their frustrations and alienation with contemporary secular politics.
ISIS has raped their minds and filled their hearts with hatred. It is making them believe that the "infidels" will come to destroy their Islamic State, so the last thing the U.S. and the world should do is confirm their narrative by waging all-out war against them.
What is needed is a little more tact. A better and more effective strategy would be to arm the local groups and armies that are fighting ISIS, stopping the war against Assad who was recently re-elected by millions of Syrians, and sanctioning individuals, countries, and intelligence agencies that are secretly sponsoring ISIS.
1) Arm the Iraqi army, and strengthen its air force.
2) Arm the KRG,
3) Arm the PKK.
4) Arm and bribe the Sunni tribes (they only act against terrorism when they can gain financially and politically from it).
5) Stop the war on Assad.
6) Sanction the leading government agencies and individuals who are sponsoring ISIS in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey.
7) End CIA, Mossad, and MI6 support for ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism in general.
An excerpt from, "To Defeat the Islamic State, the U.S. May Have to Arm Sunnis" by Benny Avni, Newsweek, August 19, 2014:
Can moderate Iraqi Sunnis join with the U.S. and other outside powers to repel the foreign extremists, as they did in the 2006-2008 surge led by General David Petraeus?
“Old contacts call me to say, We can beat these guys,” a Western diplomat who was stationed in Iraq for several years told me. The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that many Sunni Iraqis abhor the jihadis and have allied with them only out of necessity because they felt alienated from al-Maliki’s government.
To fight against IS, the diplomat added, these moderate Sunnis will need American arms and air support. But mostly, he said, they want better political representation in Baghdad than they have been given since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, in 2003.