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The “Broad Coalition” and the War on ISIS

The New York Times reports [1] on the “broad coalition” [2] in the war on ISIS that mostly includes token members:

The president has sought to evoke the sort of grand coalition the United States led in World War II. But when it comes to the war part of the war against the Islamic State, the 65-member coalition begins to shrink rapidly down to a coalition of just a handful.

The administration’s desire to cast the war as having the support of dozens of nations is understandable, but after a while it becomes difficult to take seriously. Obama would prefer it if the public didn’t realize that the air war is being waged mostly by the U.S. and that contributions to the war from allies and clients are limited or non-existent. As long as the war can be spun as something that the U.S. is doing in concert with lots of other nations, it seems less like an example of being expected to take care of other nations’ security problems at our expense. It makes the campaign seem like something that has broad international backing when the real support for it in Iraq and Syria is shallow in the extreme.

The more that the war on ISIS appears to be primarily U.S.-run and U.S.-fought, the more that it begins to resemble the last big unnecessary war that the U.S. fought in Iraq. The conspicuous lack of tangible support from regional states (many of which are too busy smashing Yemen to be bothered with ISIS) makes it hard to miss that the U.S. is assuming responsibility for regional security problems while most of the governments in that part of the world do little or nothing. The Obama administration also likes to pride itself on its multilateralism, and so they boast about anything that bolsters its reputation for securing international cooperation even when the commitments made by most other states are minimal. The official line about a “65-member coalition” obscures all of this, and that is why there has been such an emphasis on it.

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9 Comments To "The “Broad Coalition” and the War on ISIS"

#1 Comment By EliteCommInc. On November 30, 2015 @ 7:29 am

This is a hard position. Because challenging so many aspects of our policy in the region can be twisted into support for those we oppose.

Such is the case with ISIS/ISIL. It’s not that opposition to our policy is supports them. It’s that our policy is the leading effort in an issue that is the regional responsibilty of the states there.

Time and again, we are the foreign policy arm of force to states who are capable of doing the job themselves. And if they are unable to defeat them, then they are capable of working out some negotiated settlement.

The result is that we become increasingly entangled into scenarios in which we don’t know the players, their motives, and know even less how to create viable solutions because of what we don’t know or understand.

Suppose we wipe out ISIS/ISIL, is the goal then to return to a policy of remving Pres. Assad? That was the original goal. And which of te competing factions there do we support? The Russians don’t seem to be packing up and leaving Syria. So I can only assume that Sec Clinton and cmpany intend to to go to war with Russia as well. Suppose Russia encourages Pres. Assad to step aside, but leaves the ruling classes in place and their intricate network of leadership. Is it sufficient for the day and if so there was no point of advancing a conflict in the first place.

Libya, remains a mess. The admin. Gambit led by Sec. Clinton is a mess and worse than a mess. It’s instability is now an environment for the very groups we are concerned about, who engage in asymetric warefare (terrorsim) amongst the confusion if the failed state. The claims that Iraq and Iran would be tangential freinds at best are now but smokes of a wish as the two forge deeper and deeper ties, politically and religiously. How great of an issue for the US has yet to be known. But to states freindly to the US this is an area of grave concern — in less than four years of the Twin Tower collapse. Osama Bin Laden has managed to lead the US in a near complete restructuring of the region by getting the US to abandon it’s reason and nearly single handedly, upended our own goals and advanced authoritarian states who need the same merely to establish order.

#2 Comment By Chris Chuba On November 30, 2015 @ 9:28 am

The President’s Hubris is on full display here. He thumps his chest and says, ‘we have a coalition of 65 nations while the Russians, hmmph, are a coalition of two, Russian and Iran.’
Actually, the President ignores that Egypt and Iraq support the Russians but that’s besides the point. The point is that the Russian plan is simply better because it actually respects the sovereignty of the nation of Syria.

The Russians and Iranians are saying that there should be a cease fire with the FSA rebels followed by a native Syrian force to defeat ISIS, followed by multi-party elections that INCLUDE Assad.

What is the moral/legal/practical argument to exclude Assad from post civil war elections? If Assad is so evil then he would lose the election so there should be no need to insist, as we and our ‘coalition’ does that he and his party disbands. The Russian/Iranians are correct, let the people of Syria decide. I wish that this was reported correctly in the MSM. We have no way to know who has committed more atrocities, Assad or the rebels so let the Syrians vote on who they want. Do you think that killing the defenseless Russian pilot was the FIRST war crime they have committed?

#3 Comment By Uncle Billy On November 30, 2015 @ 10:04 am

Turkey and the Saudis do not seem interested in smashing ISIS and are in fact, more interested in fighting the Kurds or the Shiites. Turkey and Saudia Arabia are ostensibly our “allies.” If our allies, who are right next door to ISIS are not interested in defeating ISIS, then why should we have to do the heavy lifting?

#4 Comment By Old News On November 30, 2015 @ 10:27 am

“The president has sought to evoke the sort of grand coalition the United States led in World War II. But when it comes to the war part of the war against the Islamic State, the 65-member coalition begins to shrink rapidly down to a coalition of just a handful.”

Of course in World War II the effective alliance shrank “rapidly down to a coalition of just a handful” as well.

The first mile of the road to a major conflagration is packed with marching bands and festooned with the flags of many nations. In the end a handful do the heavy lifting.

Also, there is a suggestion here that this is all somehow just getting underway, something new and distinct. In fact it’s old and well underway. We’ve been bombing and arming fighters in Syria for over a year, and that’s after a decade of bombing, fighting, and arming other fighters right next door.

Obama isn’t embarking on some awesome new challenge. He’s widening and intensifying old, stinking, failed wars begun by his predecessors that have already caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of casualties, a tidal wave of refugees, exacerbating our entanglements, costing even more money, and raising the risk of terror attacks against Americans.

#5 Comment By Be Seeing You On November 30, 2015 @ 12:00 pm

” The admin. Gambit led by Sec. Clinton is a mess and worse than a mess. “

Yes indeed. On the facts, Hillary Clinton is a greater danger to the US and the peace of the world than anyone in the Republican field. Unlike most of the Republicans, who talk big but haven’t actually DONE anything, Clinton has a track record: she’s personally responsible for disasters ranging from Libya and Mali to Egypt and South Sudan.

To enlarge the percentage of the earth’s surface that is in smoking ruins, vote Clinton.

#6 Comment By Andy On November 30, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

“The president has sought to evoke the sort of grand coalition the United States led in World War II.”

Um…. what? Are they talking about the grand coalition the United States refused to join and only reluctantly backed into after being attacked by one of the Axis powers and having war declared on it by the other? Is that the coalition Obama and the NYT believe the U.S. “led” in World War II?

It would be nice if more people understood how the U.S behaved back then, because then maybe they’d be more open to the U.S. behaving that way now. Instead we are stuck attempting to relive something that we never lived a first time.

#7 Comment By Fran Macadam On November 30, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

The great hypocrisy is that there’s wink and nod support of ISIS, because it is dedicated to a “whatever it takes” overthrow of the Syrian government we don’t own. We might oppose ISIS, after it achieves our regime change goals. Since its ideology is that of a Saudi stepsister, once extreme means are employed for our immediate goal, then we can live with the same extreme Wahabi head chopper ideology of a Saudi Arabia. Remember, as Ash Carter pointed out, ultimately it is Russia that is our enemy, not ISIS.

#8 Comment By Clint On November 30, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

Obama’s interventions in the middle east appear to be more weak attempts to play global cop against forces,while so-called friends and foes seem to dismiss and disrespect his repeated weak counterproductive interventions.

#9 Comment By Vern Hughes On December 4, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

Australia is part of the anti-ISIL coalition, along with Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark and now Germany. Many of us would like the UK and France to lead this coalition, instead of the US. The track record of the US in the Middle East is one of cultural ignorance and military failure. What I would like Americans on both sides of the debate – pro-war and anti-war – to do is to step back from a US-centric view of the issues. Both pro-war and anti-war positions share a narcissistic belief that the US sits at the centre of world affairs. If you are an American who loathes your country’s history of intervention in other country’s affairs, please do not confuse this sentiment with participation in international coalitions to militarily confront tyranny, preferably under the leadership of non-American players. These are two fundamentally different things.