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ISIS: Fight Them Now, Or Fight Them Later

11:26 AM, Aug 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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The tide may have temporarily turned in Iraq, as the administration is saying.  But the long view regarding ISIS is somewhere between challenging and bleak.  As Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller of the Washington Post report:

Senior U.S. officials describe the threat posed by the Islamic State in chilling terms, but they have mounted a decidedly modest military campaign to check its advance through northern Iraq.

There will be no American combat troops returning to Iraq, the President says.  So whatever is done will be done by the Iraqis and American air power which, so far, are:

… notable for what they have not tried to do. U.S. military officials have emphasized that the strikes are not designed to reverse the gains Sunni extremist fighters have made.

And the way experienced military people see it, momentum is on the enemy’s side.

“Time is of the essence,” said Adm. James Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander of NATO and now dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. The longer the airstrikes drag on, the more time Islamic State fighters will have to learn how to survive them. “Without a fast and serious response, including Special Operations forces on the ground, the chances of reversing IS gains or even breaking their evident momentum is very low,” he said.

We are short not only of time, but also resources:

“We had a vastly larger Air Force in Iraq from 2003-2009, and it didn’t defeat the insurgency,” said Stephen Biddle, a professor at George Washington University and frequent adviser to the U.S. military. “If we couldn’t do it then, it is hard to imagine a much smaller effort will be more effective today.”

And the threat is not confined to Iraq.

Most terrorism experts said the threat posed by the Islamic State is likely to increase as fighters with Western passports return home.

Read the whole thing.

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