The New Hampshire Union Leader has an article out promoting a US declaration of war on ISIS. The writer claims that ISIS is at war with the US and that inaction is deadlier than action. The war drums are starting to beat, but we should relax and smoke our peace pipes to achieve the best results.
Declaring war on ISIS has some problems. The first is that ISIS does not have a set state. Like all Jihadist terrorist groups, ISIS groups are popping up all over the world. To declare war on ISIS would give the President the power to bomb any country in the Middle East or North Africa. As we have seen, the President will use any power to use the military as broadly as possible. Obama is still invoking the AUMFs from 2002 and 2003 to fight wars all over the Middle East, including Syria. The writer believes that having a declaration of war would limit presidential powers, but in our history war as only extended the powers of the president.
A second problem is that simply defeating ISIS may not solve any problems. A large part of the ISIS territory is in Iraq. Remember how little the Iraqi army fought to keep ISIS from taking Iraqi cities. So even if we are able to go city by city and eliminate ISIS, what then? It will require unending occupation by US forces to keep another ISIS-like group form taking back the territory once our troops leave. This is what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. When the US troops leave, the terrorist come back and resume their activities. Remember it was soon after Obama was bragging about his defeat of Al Qaeda and started pulling troops out of these counties that ISIS started to gain ground.
A third problem is our allies in the region have no desire to fight ISIS. In Iraq, the Iraqi soldiers, who were American armed and trained, turned and ran when ISIS came. Our ally Turkey is funding ISIS by buying the oil from ISIS. The Kurds are willing to fight ISIS for Kurdish lands, but have not fought ISIS elsewhere. Our other allies in the region (Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan) are more concerned about taking out Assad then fighting ISIS. The NATO countries also do not have much desire to fight ISIS, Canada is even ending its support in our Syrian air war. This means if we fight ISIS we do so alone.
The final problem is ISIS is not at war with the US. ISIS split from Al Qaeda over differences in strategy. Both ISIS and Al Qaeda want to form a caliphate in the Middle East. Al Qaeda leaders believe that The West must first be defeated before this happens. ISIS leaders decided to form their caliphate now because the opportunity was there. ISIS’s focus has been to overthrow Assad and expand its borders over attacking The West. While terror attacks have been committed by ISIS members. The Islamic Caliphate, which exists in Syria and Iraq, aims to create a state in the Middle East.
The real danger ISIS presents to the US is having us fall into the same trap that has been set by Al Qaeda. They bait us into endless wars in the Middle East that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of US lives. We have seen the results of US intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya. Are any of these counties better off today because of our interventions? Have these interventions stopped, reduce or defeated the Jihadists? Are US citizens safer now than before the interventions?
We have tried the war path in the Middle East over and over and have only produced the opposite of stated American goals.