Strategypage.com called ISIL's attack "a mile-wide and an inch deep." Why? "Right now the local support for ISIL is just not there," Strategy Page reported June 16, though "the Islamic radicalism that created centuries of Islamic terrorism survives."
Bin Laden's al-Qaida was an information power; it could not win on the battlefield. ISIL does not have the fighters to sustain attrition battles with Iraqi forces. Bribes to crooked military and police officers have spurred its successes. Sunni Arab tribes in Iraq's Anbar Province have legitimate grievances with Nouri al-Maliki's crony-ridden Baghdad government, but Strategy Page argued their support for ISIL's internationalists is tepid.
The U.S. is the necessary actor; the ISIL knows it, even if the Obama administration doesn't.
The U.S. can meet ISIL's challenge by returning to 2010. In 2010, the Iraqi security forces, supported and mentored by the U.S., had inflicted a military and political defeat on the various Sunni terror groups and Iranian-backed Shia militant militias that had attacked their nation.
In February 2010, on "Larry King Live" no less, a grinning Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed that Iraq "could be one of the great achievements of this administration." Wow. Less than three years after Sen. Harry Reid (D., Global Caliphate.) declared the war lost, and less than three years after then-Sen. Barack Obama -- with his usual fierce moral urgency -- opposed the Bush administration's military surge, Obama's veep takes credit for victory. Hey, doubters -- check the videotape.
At the strategic level, the U.S. and Iraq must negotiate a new Status of Forces Agreement. To stabilize, Iraqis need confidence; a long-term U.S. security presence inspires confidence.
At the military operational level: Iraqi forces need U.S. airpower, now. They need U.S. special operations forces teams to coordinate air strikes and tap U.S. intelligence assets.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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