The nation has been waiting to hear what Obama will or won’t do about ISIS; most have feared getting into another protracted Vietnam in the Middle East, while Dick Cheney’s been worried that Haliburton’s newest Nuclear Laser Super-Carbotanium Megazord won’t sell. Bill O’Reilly’s been worrying that Obama will do nothing — at least, he’s worrying when he’s not preoccupied picking pebbles out of Ann Coulter’s hooves. Everyone’s been waiting, and now we know.
Obama’s Isis strategy: a couple of basic points:
- Direct planned U.S. involvement will be limited to airstrikes, and a very limited number of (likely under 1,000) Special Ops troops on the ground to train and equip Iraqi government and Syrian resistance forces.
- The U.S. will be supplying said forces with weaponry, intelligence, support and logistics over an extended period of time.
If this plan sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve probably heard it before — albeit in slightly more covert terms. This was effectively the same strategy that the U.S. used during the Soviets’ war with Afghanistan in the 1980s, and ironically, the same one the Soviets used on us previously in Vietnam. And there’s not much debate at this point as to how well that worked.
Obama’s strategy is, effectively, an assisted siege, as opposed to an all-out war. And siege tactics are known winners. Especially against a barely organized group of 20,000 to 30,000 people — approximately the population of Bristol, Tennessee, or 1/40th the annual readership of Car and Driver Magazine. Add to that the fact that The Population of Bristol counts among its most prized weapons a platoon of old 50-cal machine guns, some Soviet-era tanks and a few 1950s vintage Mig-21 fighter planes, and, well…
Let’s just say we’re not exactly dealing with The Death Star, here.
In a broader sense, it was almost this exact strategy that armed and trained Afghanistan’s Taliban in the first place. Remember, Bin Laden himself was trained by the U.S. military, and fought the Soviets using U.S. military hardware.
So, will the President’s strategy be the perfect ending to a strategic continuum born in the Cold War? Or will it be just a new phase in that cycle of defeating old enemies by creating new ones? Hard to say.
But they’ve got McDonalds in Hanoi, now…so anything’s possible.
Here are the bullet points for Obama’s four-part “assisted siege” strategy, followed by the transcript as prepared:
PART I — SELECTIVE AIR STRIKES
- Ramp up airstrikes against ISIS
- Go on the offensive, striking ISIS in Iraq or Syria as necessary
PART II — SUPPORT LOCAL FORCES
- Increase the number of U.S. troops on the ground by 475 from the current 150 or so. More possible later.
- Support Kurdish, Iraqi government forces and Syrian resistance forces (NOTE: Not Assad’s National forces, which are about as reliable and humane as ISIS.)
- Train and equip Iraqi National Guard to help free Sunnis under threat or in captivity of ISIS.
PART III — MORE COUNTER-TERRORISM ACTIVITY
- Work with other nations to gather intelligence on ISIS and associated terrorist activities in and around the area.
- “Improve intelligence” and “strengthen our defenses” (Read: Phone taps, cyber surveillance and tripling the CIA’s budget.)
- Work with other nations and national leaders to “stop the flow of terrorists “into and out of” the Middle East.
- Trace down and cut off funding and logistical support.
PART IV — HUMANITARIAN AID
- Continue providing humanitarian aid to those affected by ISIS
- Includes Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians and other regional religious minorities.
SUMMATION (quoting Obama)
“In each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners…This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.”
Watch Obama’s Sept. 10 speech on ISIS.
FULL TRANSCRIPT (AS PREPARED)
My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.