Anthony Cordesman writes: One of the ironies of a steadily more partisan Washington is that its politicians and policymakers continue to call for “strategy” without looking beyond the military dimension. One way to lose a war is to lose sight of the objective, and there seems to be an open contest between the administration and the Congress to see who can do the best job of ignoring the objective.
The key question in both Iraq and in Syria – and in what is far too often treated as a “war against ISIL” – is how do you bring any meaningful stability to either country? Military victories are at best a means to that end and can actually make things worse if they are not tied to a set of grand strategic goals.
It is important to seriously degrade the Islamic State – regardless of whether one wants to call it ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. A violent extremist protostate not only threatens the region immediately around it, it threatens to destabilize the Islamic world and spill over into terrorist attacks outside. Even total defeat of the Islamic State, however, will scarcely end the threat of jihadist violence or put an end to the divisions inside Iraq and Syria that helped empower the Islamic State in the first place. [Continue reading…]