Will Bombing ISIS to the Stone Age end terrorism?

November 18, 2015

What concerns me most is the mechanics. Principally, I am in agreement ISIS needs to be neutralized. However, I can’t help but feel discouraged, when – the mechanism – that is so often forwarded only seems to involve vaporizing these terrorist with bombs.

To me if the solution is really as simple as dropping well aimed ordnance to end the problem – then ISIS along with every terrorist organization on this planet would have been brought to heel long ago.

But that is not the case.

The problem as I see it is….it’s a very complicated problem that has a lot to do with the solution itself. The problem with the Western mind is it’s tendency to be presentist thereby eliding history completely….this to me is a great omission that will prove very costly for all who love peace.

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‘Air strikes. Even those coupled with the best intelligence will achieve very little without infantry and armor. I don’t really know what’s the grand strategy of the Western coalition.

As what is needed to prosecute this war to it’s logical conclusion is very clear and unambiguous – A professional force to dislodge the self-proclaimed ISIS caliphate and establish command and control nationally and regionally.

Currently only the Kurds seem to be the only proxies at ground zero. But they can only go around the edges, specifically in the North. Short of an occupying force, all the Western alliance can do is pray and hope, the squabbling politicians in Baghdad can get their act together and form a Shiite army to reclaim the country’s Sunni heartland that ISIS now occupies. However this assessment is not realistic because it doesn’t take into account historical tribal and sectarian division of labor and skill of arms between the Sunni’s and Shiites.

What is often elided in popular Arab history in the Western narrative is both Sadam and Asad are not stupid people. If they are really dummies as TIME Magazine says they are, they wouldn’t have been able to establish an efficient network of command and control thru out the region to perpetuate their hegemony virtually unchallenged for over fifty years over such a large social and cultural footprint.

This the Baathist did very effectively thru a subtle process of social engineering (though officially they claimed to be ideologically opposed to tribalism and clans) that divided Arab society along very orthodox lines where the Shiites were predominantly streamed as bazaari’s – they were the merchant class and clerics. These people are good for selling carpets and fermenting goats milk into cheese and yogurt….but they are not administrators and have less skill arms in warcraft. In both Iraq and Syria, there has always been an understated policy to retain the skill of arms only in the hands of the Sunni minority to allow them to perpetuate their class politics and to discriminate against the Shiites majority.

That’s why you regularly hear incredulous stories of one company of ISIS fighters being able to encircle two or three Shiite brigades.

The Sunnis on the otherhand thru mellinia of natural selection have to be smarter and much more resourceful and ruthless to enable them to thrive and survive in a Shiite majority social and cultural landscape. This they did by perpetuating their hegemony thru a convoluted tribal network than involved clansmen and the patronage of Sadam thru the Ba’athist, many of the Sunni’s gained core competencies in the sciences, management, warcraft and statecraft.

Contrary to stereotypical depiction of the Western press, these are not backward people – they were looking seriously into nuclear power as far back as 1975 even before the Shah of Iran took an interest in atomic power. So comparisons between ISIS and Hezbollah to me is highly misleading and disengenous – Hezbollah never had an opportunity to develop the comprehensive experiential knowledge needed to run even a proto government, state, let alone a province or even a township. As they were constantly harried by the Isrealites and the Druze.

The Ba’athist Sunni’s on the otherhand who for some inexplicable reason the Western media is content to term semantically under the broad umbrella of the acronym ISIS have, this is not terra incognito to them – that is why ISIS doesn’t seem to have any problems cobbling together the intellectual capital to manage the complexity of operating oil refineries, monetizing oil proceeds thru thru complex banking financial instruments, servicing and flying aircrafts, right to waging a professional war etc etc – statecraft is not new territory to them. This is what the Sunni Baathist have been doing very well for the last half a century in Iraq!

The real incompetents are the current Shiite amateur hour politicians, bureaucrats and apparatchiks in Baghdad led by Maliki, they have absolutely no idea what they are doing which shouldn’t be surprising. As their chief architect was a con man par excellence – Ahmed Chalabi! This fellow is such a smooth talker he even makes Kong Yee look like tissue paper salesman in Bedok interchange on a day when the food stalls are all closed for spring cleaning. Chalabi single handedly conned everyone from Bush right down to the director of the CIA to put all their chips on him and go to war! That is why Iraq is in a right mess it is today! But that is another story for another time.

Contrary to Western propaganda Iraq under Sadam Hussein was not a backward country, not at all – the average Iraqi enjoyed a first world standard of living with access to free comprehensive healthcare and tertiary education. There was no sectarian violence between Sunni’s and Shiites in Iraq unlike many other Pan Arab countries, with the exception of the Kurds. Stupid people cannot harmonize the conflicting interest of 150 tribes and hold it together for fifty years! That to me by every definition requires some measure of statesmanship. If Sadam Hussein was ruthless, it was simply because such a personality was precisely what was required to keep the inherent secretarian and religious divisions from balkanising Iraq. It’s really an accretion of form having to comply with functional realities.

So to me the Sunni’s are not irrational and stupid people. And since ISIS is essentially a Sunni intifada movement, for lack of a better word – when we use the term ISIS, what we are referring too is a Sunni reawakening.

Just replace the acronym ISIS with Sunni and what becomes almost apparent immideately is this is a Sunni versus Shiite struggle. Don’t complicate life by manufacturing new acronyms that take you further away from that simple understanding of what the fight is all about.

Moving forward. To me it makes far more sense for the US and EU to work with the Asad regime than to try to overthrow him. In this respect I happen to believe Putin has a far more realistic strategy on how to prosecute this war than any other world leader. As he is very determined to prevent a repeat of what occured in 2003 when the US invaded Iraq without formulating the achievable exit strategy. This should prompt the perceptive reader to ask with the benefit of hindsight – whether it would have been wiser for the coalition forces in 2003 to work alongside the Ba’athist than to dismantle the entire oligarchy that held tenuous tribal and sectarian links intact. Rather than to pursue a cavalier strategy of attempting to reinvent the wheel by installing an experimental Chalabi administration that eventually turned out to be a Frankenstein. If this strategy of tacit complicity and collaboration had been pursued from the onset, like how the Nazis once reached detente and collaborated with the Vichy French to allow the French autonomy to manage their national and colonial interest, it’s very unlikely that the US would have found itself stuck in a quagmire. Neither would sectarian divide between the Sunni’s and Shiites have resulted in an ideological implosion in the way it did thru out the Arab world today.

The way I see it. There is really only one impending reality that will always be in the preamble of how to do deal with ISIS in the long term. The pressing need for the Western coalition to commit boots on the ground. If they cannot find the resolve to make that commitment.

Then I say, go for Plan B i.e it makes far more sense for the western coalition to work towards partitioning Iraq in the same way Pakistan was separated from India. Or how North Korea was divided from the South by the 34th parallel out of sheer ideological necessity to stave off a prolonged war of attrition – at some point, in the whole conflagration of trying to sort out the Sunni and Shiite divide – it’s conceivable this may well be a irreconcillaible theological and ideological divide since the schism has deep historical roots that comes encrusted with tribal enmity that goes back thousands of years to the time of Ali. I think at some point of reckoning, the perceptive reader would have to agree with me that, if there is any possibility of reaching a consensus in the form of detente or an armistice between the West and ISIS, then this cannot be accomplished by trying to vaporize ISIS with bombs.

If history teaches us anything it is only this – Violence begets violence.

That is why I am completely opposed to bombing ISIS. I don’t believe this is the solution. The way I see it, if you want to bomb them – then be prepared to commit troops on the ground to wage a conventional war to it’s logical strategic end…if not, then, don’t bomb and work instead towards partitioning Iraq along sectarian lines.

Diplomacy and mutual coexistence should be given a chance.’

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