[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]
Musician, producer, professor and friend of mine, Joe Tortorici has a brand new e-zine start-up on the arts and social commentary, The Chicago Progressive. I will be contributing short ( 500 words or less) posts on national security.
Granted, I am not a political “progressive”, being more of a cranky realist-libertarian, Boydian, conservative pragmatist, but the important problems in national security today are substantively less Democrat vs. Republican than Smart vs. Dumb. The bipartisan strategic track record since 1991 is less than impressive and since 2001, extremely poor. We can do better and that will start with conversations across political lines that are usually impossible on domestic issues but were of critical importance in past foreign policy successes.
Here was my piece:
AMERICA’S STRATEGY TO BATTLE ISIS
President Obama’s strategy against the genocidal ISIS “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria has been the subject of much criticism, some of it informed, much of it not, from pundits on both the Left and Right. Translating foreign policy goals into an effective military strategy is always the most difficult task for an administration and historically, short of WWII, American presidents generally find crafting strategy for a limited war to be very hard, and fighting a foreign insurgency the hardest of all.
The President’s strategy, a cautious effort at hedging and balancing competing U.S. priorities, has clear pros and cons. First, the positives:
- Risk in blood and treasure are deliberately minimized by reliance on airpower, trainers, aid and proxies instead of masses of American soldiers. This is not Iraq 2003 Redux;
- America is playing to its strengths—targeted firepower, intelligence sharing, training and arming local fighters—against a fast-moving, elusive, insurgency;
- Minimal intervention means American allies like the Iraqi government are forced to actually fight in their own defense against ISIS and work out their political problems instead of passing the buck to the U.S.;
- One proxy, the Kurdish Peshmerga, are highly motivated to fight, and do, in relatively well-disciplined units;
- ISIS is a strategically isolated and a morally abominable enemy without real allies, not an underdog or object of world sympathy.
Now for the cons:
Read the rest here