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What does the Middle East gain from defeating ISIL?

September 15, 2014

It is indisputable that the U.S. needs allies in the Middle East  to take on ISIS or ISIL or whatever acronym you prefer.

Unless the nations that are most immediately under threat of being taken over are willing to do all the heavy lifting on the ground, there is very little for an ally, even a Western ally, to do. Oh, they can contribute a few planes, munitions, small arms or heavy armor, but unless there are people to do the mop-up and drive the tanks, that is not going to have a lasting effect.

Positing that we can provide the air power while the Middle East provides the boots on the ground sounds good in theory.

Considering that the nations that could contribute the most boots have factions in their own countries actively supporting the terrorists, that also seems unlikely, other than possibly the Kurds.

People may fight for an ideal, countries, not so much. Countries get involved in wars for one reason, namely that defeating the enemy du jour provides a benefit to the country in question.

There are only two benefits for the countries of the Middle East to participate in a ground war.

One is to protect the ruling government, and the other is that they gain more than they lose.

Since the two dominant ethnic/religious groups have about as much tolerance for each other as did the Hatfields and McCoys in our own country, achieving a lasting kumbaya relationship wouldn’t seem to be on their list of things to be gained.

The other piece of the equation is what do they have to lose?

Well, there is all the American/Western aid that we have pumped into the region to buy their allegiance or at least their cooperation. In the short term, that’s significant, but after all, if we don’t pay them off, someone else will.

Another is retention of territory, i.e. parts of their country.  That’s only a benefit to the factions that don’t reflect the goals of the terrorists. Assad of Syria or al-Maliki of Iraq weren’t overly concerned when ISIL carved off a big chunk of their countries for the so-called Islamic state. The current Iraqi government is already putting on the brakes under the guise of protecting civilians.

Weren’t the three beheaded captives civilians?

Of course there is the little problem of the ruling class losing THEIR heads, but really, does anyone think the ruling classes would just sit in their palaces and offices and offer up their necks? They would be on a plane and getting out of Dodge before you could blink.

They could lose some oil fields, but the oil would still be there…just put out the fires, and whoever comes out on top is back in business, just as happened in Kuwait.

Among the western nations, there is a quixotic ideal that says if we could just get “democracy” to take hold everything would be OK.  Lost in the fog of one-world theories is the real fact that these people don’t want a democracy. A stable armed truce is about the best they, or we, could hope to accomplish.

The only way we get significant help on the ground is to make not providing it far more costly than the alternative. It might be time to harvest the carrots, and trade them for a big stick.

From → op-ed

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