In a report by the blogging site Think Progress, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that Americans will be “killed here at home” unless he [Obama] sends ground troops into Iraq and Syria to defeat the terrorist threat. He is further quoted in one of the strangest English sentences I have ever seen (it is at once future tense and past perfect tense) as saying, “…this idea we’ll never had any boots to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.”
Boots on the ground—boots on the ground—boots on the ground. We had boots on the ground for over nine years in Iraq without defeating the radical sectarian elements there. However, our deBathification program went a long way toward ensuring the continuing instability. ISIL is a stateless fluid entity fueled by certain radical ideas and cannot be defeated in the same sense as a war with a nation. No one will ever be able to destroy ISIL’s ability to reconstitute itself, but what we can do is work toward regional political solutions that deprive it of its motivation. This will not be accomplished by another foreign invasion (the USA).
By all means, the projection of military force to stall ISIL’s advance should be used, but with great care. That the airstrikes to protect some dams and threatened minorities are having an effect already can be seen in the increasing terror campaign going on now. One can rest assured that as measures against ISIL become increasingly effective we will see an increasing barrage of videos depicting unspeakable acts of violence. US combat troops on the ground will enable ISIL to swell its ranks from many of the countries in the region and from radical groups around the world. Currently ISIL may have as many as 30,000 men but they are spread over a vast area in both Syria and Iraq and so are still vulnerable to selected air strikes and could be overpowered by competent action by the Iraqi army, but only if the Iraqi government gives Sunis true representation in the government and the armed forces.
For now the US should not follow Sen. Graham’s irrational fear that ISIL will kill us all here at home if we don’t put combat soldiers on the ground for them to kill in Iraq.