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How to Defeat the Islamic State

The decisions that determined the fate of the great nations and empires that failed to survive the 20th century are well known. For the Kaiser’s Germany, it was the “blank cheque” to Austria after Sarajevo. For Great Britain, the 1939 war guarantee to Poland. For the Third Reich, it was the June 1941 invasion of Russia. For the Empire of the Sun, the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. And for the Soviet Empire, it was the invasion of Afghanistan.

As for the United States, historians may one day concur with the late Gen. Bill Odom. For the lone superpower to survive that century, the decision to invade and occupy Iraq was the most disastrous blunder in its history. George W. Bush held out the promise of a peaceful Mesopotamian democracy as a magnet for all Arab nations. What we produced is a broken land awash in blood, a country severed by tribe and faith: a Kurdish north, Shia south and a Sunni west controlled by the savages of an “Islamic State” even al-Qaeda hates and fears.

In Syria, where the United States has been aiding rebels to bring down Bashar Assad, that Islamic State now controls the northern and eastern half of the country. In Libya, where we delivered the air and missile strikes to smash Col. Gadhafi’s forces, Islamist fanatics have gained the upper hand in the civil war for control of that country. In all three countries, the United States, which claimed to be battling dictatorship to bring democracy, helped to create the power vacuum these Islamists have moved to fill.

We are the enablers of the Islamic State.

How grave is the threat? ISIS is a “direct threat to our homeland” says Rep. Peter King. “An existential threat” echoes Sen. Lindsey Graham, “I think of an American city in flames.” The Islamic State “is beyond anything we’ve seen,” says Sec. Chuck Hagel, an “imminent threat to every interest we have.” America is “in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in,” says Sen. Jim Inhofe, “They’re crazy out there. And they are rapidly developing a method to blow up a major U.S. city.”

Undeniably, these are bloodthirsty religious fanatics who revel in beheadings and crucifixions and have exhibited battlefield bravery and skill. But are 17,000 jihadi fighters in landlocked regions of Iraq and Syria really an imminent and mortal threat to an America with thousands of nuclear weapons and tens of thousands of missiles and bombs and the means to deliver them?

How grave is this crisis? Consider the correlation of forces. Who are the vocal and visible friends and fighting allies of ISIS? They are nonexistent.

The Turks, Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis who, stupidly, have been aiding ISIS in bringing down Bashar al-Assad and blowing a hole in the “Shia Crescent” of Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, and Hezbollah, have lately awakened to their idiocy and are cutting off aid to ISIS. Moderate Sunnis detest ISIS for its barbarism and desecration of shrines. The Christians and Yazidis fear and loathe them. The Kurds, both the Syrian YPG and PKK, which broke open the exit route for the Yazidis from Mount Sinjar, and the peshmerga despise ISIS.

Lebanon’s army, Syria’s army, Hezbollah and Iran have been fighting ISIS with Russian assistance. Vladimir Putin himself warned us of the absurdity of our attacking Assad last year, arguing that we would be allying ourselves with the same terrorists who brought down the twin towers. Was Putin not right? Even al-Qaeda and Hamas have repudiated ISIS.

We need no boots on the ground in Syria, for it is the presence of “Crusaders” on Islamic soil that is the principal recruiting tool of the jihadists. What we need is diplomacy beyond the simple-minded, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists!” a diplomacy that invites old enemies into a coalition for a cause on which we all agree.

If Assad is willing to go in for the kill on ISIS, let us work out a truce and amnesty for the Free Syrian Army and call off that part of the rebellion, so Assad’s army can focus on killing ISIS. George H.W. Bush made an ally of Hafez al-Assad in Desert Storm. Why not make an ally of his son against ISIS?

We should next tell the Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis that any more aid to ISIS and they are on their own. We should inform the Turks that their continued membership in NATO is contingent upon sealing their border to ISIS volunteers and their assistance in eradicating the terrorist organization.

We should convey to Iran that an end to our cold war is possible if all attacks on the West stop and we work together to exterminate the Islamic State. Why would they not take the deal?

As for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed successor to Muhammad, my bet is that he closes out his brief career as caliph at an unscheduled meeting with Seal Team 6.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

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#1 Comment By American in Istanbul On August 26, 2014 @ 2:09 am

“If Assad is willing to go in for the kill on ISIS, let us work out a truce and amnesty for the Free Syrian Army and call off that part of the rebellion, so Assad’s army can focus on killing ISIS. George H.W. Bush made an ally of Hafez al-Assad in Desert Storm. Why not make an ally of his son against ISIS?”

It’s what Cardinal Richelieu would do, and at this point it’s probably the best way to try to minimize the awfulness of a terrible situation.

But you also write, “The Turks …. have lately awakened to their idiocy and are cutting off aid to ISIS. …. We should inform the Turks that their continued membership in NATO is contingent upon sealing their border to ISIS volunteers and their assistance in eradicating the terrorist organization.”

Living in Istanbul, I’ve heard of some Islamic “charities” in the more orthodox neighborhoods that are transparent fronts for ISIS — one supposedly had an ISIS flag pinned to the wall. Most of my secular-minded Turkish friends think the government is still aiding ISIS even now. Of course like almost everyone in this part of the world, they are too prone to conspiracy theories (just about every single Turk *knows* America is arming the PKK), but it seems like it could be true. Erdoǧan really is that petty-minded and shortsighted. For that reason, if we did publicly threaten to expel Turkey from NATO, there is no way he’d cooperate, no matter how just our reason.

#2 Comment By Jamal On August 26, 2014 @ 2:59 am

We haven’t read such a wise article in the West for a long time. I think that American airstrikes with troops from Syrian army and Hizbollah are enough to get rid of those bloodsucking barbarians.

#3 Comment By Kurt Gayle On August 26, 2014 @ 8:28 am

Pat Buchanan is right about the consequences of these two U.S. blunders:

(1)The U.S. decision to invade and occupy Iraq produced a broken land: a Kurdish north, Shia south and a Sunni west controlled by an “Islamic State.”

(2)The United States policy of aiding rebels to bring down Bashar Assad has helped to create a power vacuum that Islamists have moved in to fill – giving the Islamic State control of the northern and eastern half of the country.

Thus, until now we have been “the enablers of the Islamic State.”

What should the U.S. do now?

(1)The U.S. should stop funneling arms to Syrian rebels – arms which frequently end up with the forces of the Islamic State.

(2)The U.S., as Pat Buchanan suggests, should encourage the Turks, Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis who also “stupidly, have been aiding ISIS in bringing down Bashar al-Assad” to cut off all further aid to ISIS.

Beyond that, what does the U.S. need to do to contain the Islamic State?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

Pat Buchanan asks if “17,000 jihadi fighters in landlocked regions of Iraq and Syria really an imminent and mortal threat” to the U.S.?

His answer is an emphatic NO! They are not a threat!

Pat Buchanan asks “Who are the..friends and fighting allies of ISIS?”

His answer: “[ISIS’s friends and fighting allies] are nonexistent.” Not only are they noexistent, but “Lebanon’s army, Syria’s army, Hezbollah and Iran have been fighting ISIS.”

Given the extremely limited size and strength of ISIS, its lack of fighting allies, and its abundance of fighting enemies, ISIS will surely be contained in the region of eastern Syria and western and northern Iraq for the foreseeable future.

Two things that Pat Buchanan suggests that the U.S. does need NOT to do:

(1)The U.S. need NOT to strike an actual alliance with the Syrian government. The U.S.’s butting out of the Syrian civil war will suffice.

(2)Although it would surely be in the U.S. national interest to end “our cold war” with Iran and to establish normal relations, making a deal to “work together to exterminate the Islamic State” is not a wise precondition for normalization of relations with Iran.

#4 Comment By AnotherBeliever On August 26, 2014 @ 9:05 am

Hear, hear!

Both Syria’s and Iraq’s government need to come up with a settlement to provide regional Sunnis with security and some sort of permanent status, whether that’s with some local autonomy or a guaranteed set of slots in government apportioned to them. A truce. The rest of us need to quit favoring our own factions and throw our weight behind such a deal.

ISIS supremacy can’t last long absent any material support and with its common enemies briefly united against them. There will still be Islamism, and terrorist attacks, but if we take the air out of their room their fire will burn down to manageable.

In fact, let all the region’s Islamicist militants take this chance to disavow attacks on civilians, and we in turn will lower them a priority tier and only engage as they attack or prepare to attack U.S. interests. Yes, even Al Qaeda franchises. Their tactics are nasty, but we can at least respect fighters who limit their attacks to military forces. Killing innocents, we cannot respect, whether it’s Iraqis or Americans. If a group fails to disavow killing civilians, then it’s open season for regional forces (did you all read the news that Egypt and the UAE attacked militants in Libya?)

#5 Comment By Uncle Billy On August 26, 2014 @ 9:49 am

Assad is a thug, but he was no threat to the US. In addition, the Christians in Syria were tolerated, so long as they did not oppose him. Why then, are we so obsesses with overthrowing him? He and his father Haffez, killed a lot of Islamist fanatics. Why do we insist on overthrowing him and replacing him with religious fanatics?

#6 Comment By EliteCommInc. On August 26, 2014 @ 10:01 am

“Jim Inhofe, “They’re crazy out there. And they are rapidly developing a method to blow up a major U.S. city.”

Replace US with Russia and the complaint is the echo of Soviets exiting Afghanistan and similarly warning the US. but I don’t buy much of this screaming about ISIS. And I don’t buy the comparisons between Al Queda and ISIS. The alarm here sounds to familiar. The urgency so unhinged by the accompanying fear mongering — all setting the stage for a return to a place we never should have gone. It’s like listening to the tales that demanded the US take on native Americans in the US. Only the date is different. I hate to be brutal or mean (not my intention), but a beheading is a beheading and torture is torture. I am not sure that I buy that ISIS as an organization endorses either as I remain ISIS is an official organization with command and control of all of it’s members. I am no more convinced of what is shouted from roof tops about them as I was what shouted about Al Queda in Iraq — even before the capture of Pres. Hussein, in which we conveniently and foolishly labeled any opposition Al Queda.

As for savagery, its a matter of perspective. And depends, do I want my body ripped apart by tiny pellets, burned to a cinder gradually by WP or torn asunder by explosion caught by imbedded cameras vs beheading in front of a hand held video cam.
War making is savage business. The murder of civilians – noncombatants is a war crime.

The problem with the suggested solutions is that they don’t solve the underlying causes. They don’t address the intra Iraqi attacks between Sunni and Shia, Christians and Kurds. All of which has been going on quite unabated since our invasion and after the draw down. Which has not been much of a draw down since we remain to ensure a Kurdish state. And troops remain in Qatar.

The problem is the continuous administration of the current Iraqi government which is in process, one assumes of correcting the what is the systemic exclusion of Sunnis, from the process we helped create withal those young students fresh out political science and courses.

Not to mention the wholesale bankrupt legal process governing trials, more like kangaroo courts, overseen by ambitious Europeans who then declared the trials fair and democratic. If the Christians in Iraq applauded our rescue from Pres. Hussein, no doubt they rue the day.

#7 Comment By nosemaj On August 26, 2014 @ 10:30 am

I think the George W. Bush administration is to blame for helping “to create the power vacuum these Islamists have moved to fill.” But it’s inaccurate to place the full blame on Bush.

Don’t get me wrong, Bush’s Middle East tactics were tragic, hamfisted, bumbling, incompetent, etc., but Assad’s brutality against his own people, to me, created the primary avenue for IS to take control in Syria.

Indeed, many reports from citizens living in IS controlled areas refer to their occupiers in complimentary terms, calling them fair and kind people who encourage folks to go about their everyday lives. This is, of course, with the caveat that the residents swear fealty to IS and their Salafi methodology and belief. Anyone who fails to do this is executed.

Regardless, many Syrians have found life to be better under IS control than under Assad and his indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in order to quell the uprising.

Clearly the biggest concern for the United States is the IS presence in Iraq. This is where GWB takes most of the blame, as Pat says.

#8 Comment By Ed K On August 26, 2014 @ 10:44 am

Thank you Mr. Buchanan for this great analysis and sound advice. This article should be distributed and read by the President and all his advisors.

#9 Comment By cka2nd On August 26, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

I second what Mr. Gayle said, including his differences with Mr. Buchannan.

#10 Comment By Waz On August 26, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

No, Mr.Buchanan. War guarantee for Poland did not determine the fate of the British Empire. The modus operandi of that country does not include one of the fundamental principles of the Polish state, namely that “pacta sunt servanda”. The list of broken treaties, promises, deals of the Brits is long, as you surely know. The real reason they issued war guarantees was opportunistic. It was to deflect Hitler and gain precious time. What most likely determined very significant loss of British infuence in the world affairs was the exact opposite. Had Britain delivered on the guaratees and along with France attacked
Germany in 1939 the Allies would’ve won. Stalin likely would’ve not attacked Poland on Sept.17, he was to cunning for that.
In fact, German 1939 war strategy, based on the disproportional allocation of military resources on the Polish border, rested on the assumption that they would not be attacked from the West and did not have to worry too much about a two front war.

#11 Comment By Waz On August 26, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

For the Soviet Union, the Afganistan debacle was just the last (albeit large) nail in the coffin. It did not determine the fate of the Soviet Union. Compared to WWII and the horrible human cost of the Communist terror Afghanistan was small potatoes.
I do agree with gen. Odom’s assesment of the Iraq war though.

#12 Comment By johnny On August 26, 2014 @ 3:01 pm

Mr. Buchanan,

The irony is that Cheney predicted everything back in 94!

“Once you got to Iraq and took it over and took down Saddam Hussein’s government, then what are you going to put in its place? That’s a very volatile part of the world. And if you take down the central government in Iraq, you could easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. Part of it the Syrians would like to have, the west. Part of eastern Iraq the Iranians would like to claim. Fought over for eight years. In the north, you’ve got the Kurds. And if the Kurds spin loose and join with Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey. It’s a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq. The other thing is casualties. Everyone was impressed with the fact that we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had, but for the 146 Americans killed in action and for the families it wasn’t a cheap war. And the question for the president in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein was, how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth? And our judgment was not very many, and I think we got it right.”

Cheney, on not pushing on to Baghdad during the first Gulf War; C-SPAN 4-15-94

[2]

#13 Comment By Marc L On August 26, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

“The decisions that determined the fate of the great nations and empires that failed to survive the 20th century are well known. For the Kaiser’s Germany, it was the “blank cheque” to Austria after Sarajevo. For Great Britain, the 1939 war guarantee to Poland. For the Third Reich, it was the June 1941 invasion of Russia. For the Empire of the Sun, the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. And for the Soviet Empire, it was the invasion of Afghanistan.

As for the United States, historians may one day concur with the late Gen. Bill Odom. For the lone superpower to survive that century, the decision to invade and occupy Iraq was the most disastrous blunder in its history.”

What a start….! That’s why I love to read TAC and the reason I admire Buchanan!

Yes, to win this war against the ISIS-Barbarians an intelligent mix of policy-change is necessary:

1) Start understanding that we have enemies within – foremost the Saudi-Petro Dollar Lobby at Washington/Wall Street, the Military-Industrial-Complex, the NeoCons (yes, they are up and well) and of course the untouchable AIPAC crowd.
2) Start acknowledging that either helping nor toppling the Mubaraks, Gaddafis, Assads and Saddam Husseins is in our interest (if you haven’t already)
3) Start understanding the KURDISH, SHIITE, ALEVI, YAZEDI, BAHAI, ARMENIAN, ASSYRIAN ASO… perspectives in the Middle East and start ending the pity demonization of IRAN.
4) Don’t think by supporting the Saudis and Gulf-Kingdoms you’d be helping the Sunni Streets NOT to hate you for what you are.
5) Do everything you can to make it happen that the Buchanans, Mearsheimers, Stephen Walts, Andrew Bacevichs… – the Real American Patriot Experts – get to be heard in US politics and do everything to end that laughable fraud the 2-Party system has proven to become.

We have to destroy ISIS, but to be succesful in that, we have to redeem ourselves and acknowledge mistakes, shame and history.

This must not become a war against the Sunni (!!), yet our relationship to the Al-Sisi government, Saudi-Arabia, the Gulf-States, Iran and Israel are heavily lacking principle – this war won’t be won if we don’t tackle a whole bunch of many fronts:

political fronts at home, philosophical fronts in our own (mis-)perception, as well as ending/starting military confrontations abroad.

A new relationship with IRAN should not be misused to now start alienating the Sunnis, yet a new approach (also towards Assad’s Alevite people) is definitely needed.

Winning against ISIS abroad can only succeed if we fight the NEOCON-Spirit at home at the same time – no more ‘divide et impera’ in the world.

#14 Comment By No hope On August 26, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

Israel wants the arab works divided at all costs. Even if the result is an empowered Iskamic State. Aipac will never sign off on any cooperation w Assad government. That means Washingtom will never cooperate with Assad.

#15 Comment By 055 On August 26, 2014 @ 11:29 pm

Has anyone asked Cheney why he changed his mind?

#16 Comment By david helveticka On August 27, 2014 @ 12:27 pm

ISIS is “blowback” from the idiotic idea that the western liberal democracy would emerge if the US got rid of the despots that keep the radical Islamists under control. The people of the mideast are not culturally capable of even understanding this concept, they are stuck in the 14th Century.

Of course, the REAL reason we are in the Mideast is to control the oil spigot to Europe and especially China, who is flexing it’s military power to force a sphere of influence in Asia…

China is perhaps as evil as the so-called “Islamist-fascists”, a country ruled by an oligarchy of insiders, repressive…yet the internationalist finance capitalists and the CEO classes will not support anything that would undermine their outsourcing of jobs to China, their strategy of making a quick buck on the carcass of American economic sovereignty!

So we are on the course to destruction as long was we tolerate the idiotic “libertarian” idea the exporting jobs to slave labor factories and importing workers to the lower wages in the US is “freedom” and “free trade”…..

Libertarians are perhaps as nasty a group of ideologues as communists and marxists when it comes to putting reality in back of economic ideology!

#17 Comment By Marc L On August 28, 2014 @ 4:40 pm

@David – “So we are on the course to destruction as long was we tolerate the idiotic “libertarian” idea the exporting jobs to slave labor factories and importing workers to the lower wages in the US is “freedom” and “free trade”…..”

You mean ‘Neo-Liberalists’ not ‘Libertarians’ – Libertarians stand against NAFTA, TTIP and the concept of multinational corporations’ lobbyism determine laws that their bought policy-makers then sign.

Never heard of Ron Paul before…?

Otherwise I 100% agree with you.