Tag Archives: Daesh grows

Going after Daesh


 

The U.S. is paying a rising price for the early failure of the Obama Administration to wage an all-out offensive to destroy Daesh [the Arabic name for the Islamic caliphate, ISIS or ISIL].

The Obama Administration – the President notoriously characterized them original as “J.V.” –originallysaid America’s objective was to “ultimately destroy” ISIS. .

Beyond the wildest earliest expectations, Daesh is lining up allies throughout the Moslem world – threatening to unite all the terrorist elements at least nominally in a juggernaut against the forces of civilization with every more barbarous acts.

The terrorists, despite some local defeats, still hold most of the large cities they have seized since 2014. It is funding itself with black market oil sales and other more sophisticated financial transactions. And with its hold on this piece of Syrian and Iraqi real estate as its sanctuary, Daesh is waging a very sophisticated campaign for support through the social media throughout the whole Moslem world.

Nothing succeeds like success, and its growing stature is attracting young misfits from throughout the Moslem world – as well some young Western adventurers.

With polls showing a widespread concern among Americans that Washington has failed to bring Daesh to heel, Obama has begun to step up his rhetoric at least about the fight. In his January state of the union address, he did say that fighting ISIS [also known as the Islamic State, ISIL, or Daesh] and other terrorists is the top priority of his administration.

The U.S. is incrementally stepping up its program of bombing raids, inserting additional special operatives on the ground to more successfully direct what had been an air campaign only a fraction of earlier bombardment in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Daesh’s response has been a campaign to enlist the various insurgencies with Moslem leadership through Asia and Africa. Many have smouldered for decades, as much based on ethnic, linguistic and regional antagonisms as on any Islamic religious character. But that, too, is tending to change with their new found allegiance to Daesh.

In southern Thailand, for example, the long low-level insurgency in its three southern Malay-majority provinces is being enlisted by Daesh. The long-standing ties which both Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok obfuscate between the Moslem rebels in southern Thailand and radical Islamic forces in northeastern Malaysia are strengthening with new political problems in the ruling party in the capital.

In the southern Philippines, the on and off rebellion of the Moros – going back to Spanish and American colonial days – is blossoming. A Saudi official, an opponent of Daesh, was recently assassinated there in a dramatic manifestation of Daesh’s increasing influence. Manila, facing an increasing threat to its position in the South China Sea by Beijing’s push there, has more than it can handle. And it has begun to restore the old alliance with Washington, if at a slow pace and against considerable domestic opposition.

Daesh has tried to link to the old Moslem radicals in West Java, again dating back to Dutch colonial days, but recently manifesting their deep roots with terrorist acts in the national capital of Jakarta. The blood attacks on the tourist island of Bali have shaken the Indonesian government and it is behind the curve in taking on the search for Islamic terrorist ties to the Mideast.

In Nigeria, the Boko Harum – originally a nativist movement rejecting all so-called Western cultural aspects – has now officially linked itself to Daesh. Its bloody attacks on local Christian and Moslem communities has become a major concern for the Nigerian government, always carefully balanced between its more developed southern and Christian and animist regions and the Moslem region in the north.

All this has brought into focus a crisis for Washington on how to deal with Libya and the growing strength there of Islamicist elements which, again, have now proclaimed their loyalty to Daesh. The Islamic terrorists are a product of the overthrow of the Mohammed Qadaffi’s dictatorship by a European alliance with the then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton pursuing Obama’s famous “leading from behind”. If the Libyan rebels, with their close geographic ties to Daesh – and their threat to Egypt’s western frontier – manage to grab Libyan oil fields where they are active, the whole international network will take on new and ominous significance.

Obama, despite his determination to withdraw from all Midesast conflicts, is now facing a brutal decision in Libya which could overturn what is left of his strategy of retreat from contested areas.

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The incremental road to hell


 

If there were one lesson from America’s tragic Vietnam encounter – and as some dead white man has said, all historical analogies are odious — it is that incremental approaches to war inevitably result in disaster.

News reports suggest that Pres. Barak Obama is reversing his strategy of limited engagement in the war on Daesh [ISIS or ISIL]. [It is significant that we can’t get the label straight for this enemy!] After the death of a celebrated hero attached as advisory personnel to Iraqi forces, we learn the lesson that the very presence of American forces of whatever size in an area exposed to conflict will inevitably attract U.S. power.

We have long argued that a vacuum, by its very nature, encourages other forces to fill it if the primary strength is removed. That is precisely what is happening all over the world in contested areas where for more than half a century, the U.S. has been the dominant force.

According to informeds, Obama is coming around to deciding that we must increase our effort against Daesh. That seems logical given three grim facts:

  • Daesh represents a new kind of barbarity unleashed on the world and if it is to grow, it will be not only be an increasing menace to the troubled Middle East but to the whole world.
  • Daesh’s claim that it is the legendary Isalmic caliphate, that is the unitary expression of the political intent of traditional Islam to dominate the world politically as well as religiously, is gaining at least nominal adherence in other parts of the world.
  • Russian’s relatively massive intervention in Syria, while announced as an effort to collaborate with the S. and its allies against Daesh, is instead an effort to sustain the almost equally barbarous regime in Damascus by attacking its enemies in a tactic alliance with Iran.

We learn that in July when the President made one of his rare visits to The Pentagon or to consult his military advisers, he asked for additional options in the current bombing campaign against Daesh. [Again, it is significant that Russian bombing has exceeded in volume the American campaign against Daesh.]

Earlier this month, the President had to publicly announce that his goal of removing all troops from Afghanistan before the end of his Administrations could not be met. With no public statement to confirm the fact, it becomes increasingly clear that more than a year of desultory bombing has not only not destroyed Daesh, but it has strengthened its hold on its area and is expanding. Local observers point out that the bombing runs – often returning to base without jettisoning their weapons – does not have the kind of intelligence which boots on the ground would provide.

Again, reports from the White House and The Pentagon have suggested that Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has already provided the President with his options, and, indeed, backed by the military, Carter is said to be pushing for a more aggressive stance in the whole campaign.

But what must be feared most is that the President, whose underlying strategy in all his foreign policy decision for the past seven years has been to reduce the American commitment to the use of force abroad, will choose only to take an incremental approach to any increases in ground and air forces in the region. While the logic of such an approach has always been apparent – you apply the force as needed as it is needed – it ignores as it did throughout the Vietnam conflict, that such an approach permits a dedicated if less powerful enemy to grow his own forces to meet the incremental demand on his abilities.

In war, perhaps the most inefficient of all human activities, unpredictability is the norm. A measured but untested approach often leads to disaster. The incremental route is the road to another irresolute ending.

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