The U.S. Needs to End the Latest Unnecessary War
The Post points out the obvious that the war against ISIS isn’t “achieving its aims”:
For now, the U.S. operation in Iraq and Syria is defined mainly by its limitations. The restrictions Mr. Obama has imposed on his commanders are not compatible with the objectives he has asked them to achieve.
The solution to this isn’t that the U.S. should lift these restrictions, as the Post implies elsewhere in the editorial, but that the mission should have very different objectives than it does. Better still, the U.S. should abandon the mission all together. The administration erred in waging this war thus far, and it erred again in waging it illegally, but it does not have to compound that error with further escalation.
Avoiding additional errors requires that the administration recognize that Obama has made the wrong choices over the last two months. The initial intervention in Iraq earlier this year was a mistake, but it was the one that was most easily corrected. It didn’t have to become the ever-expanding war that it has since become, but Obama and other administration officials chose to turn it into exactly that. The decision to expand the war into Syria was another error, not least since it put the U.S. on the hook for halting ISIS gains in Syria when it had no real ability to do so.
The war against ISIS is failing to achieve its aims, but those aims are far too ambitious for the means that most Americans are willing to use. The war is unnecessary for U.S. security, the stated goal cannot be achieved at a remotely acceptable cost, and there is no Congressional or public support for doing what would be required to achieve it. The choice now is between ending a short, failed war that hasn’t cost the U.S. very much yet and continuing a much longer, failed war that imposes ever-increasing costs.