The rise of ISIS in the destabilized areas connecting Syria, Libya, and Iraq, much of the territory of which once made up the meat of a historical region referred to as the Levant, unfolded largely due to U.S. foreign policy blunders. Secular strong men Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad had kept radical Islamist forces in check in Iraq, Libya, and Syria respectively before they found themselves on American neoconservatives’ somewhat-arbitrary and clearly ill-advised hit list.
With Hussein and Gaddafi gone and Assad struggling, ISIS emerged as professional terrorists from around the world have flooded into the region, tapped into the anger of once-marginalized Sunni minorities, and obtained advanced U.S. weaponry and military hardware through misguided American intelligence programs aimed at strengthening unverifiable “moderate rebels” against the secular strong men that had previously prevented terrorist uprisings.
Meanwhile, ISIS has become an enemy to nearly all of its neighbors, which, unfortunately for the U.S., consists largely of military forces that American leaders also consider enemies, making it impossible for the U.S. to create a local and regional coalition to take out ISIS. America’s main military ally against ISIS in the region is the weak Iraqi government that it has attempted to prop up and duct-tape back together after a prolonged military occupation that created mistrust among locals.
Putin’s Russia, on the other hand, which was reportedly victimized by what ISIS claims was a terror attack on a Russian airliner, started an air assault on ISIS on September 30 to support the terror group’s regional enemies. Consequently, a coalition of Syrian government forces—Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia, a list of groups that U.S. politicians consider enemies and thus can not assist—won the first major victory against ISIS earlier this week by liberating a once-besieged key air base in Syria’s Aleppo province, lending credibility to the notion that Putin’s strikes have turned the tides against ISIS in Syria.
“U.S. media jumped all over the story of only one high profile terrorist possibly being targeted by U.S. drone strike while completely ignoring that Russian forces helped to end, this week, an ISIS siege of a key air base in Aleppo,” wrote Ben Swann in a Friday report on the U.S. effort to target ISIS propagandist “Jihadi John.”
Swann also noted in a CBS 46 Reality Check video, seen below, that the convoluted and “insane” foreign policy of most leading Republican presidential candidates aside from Donald Trump and Senator Rand Paul can be described as, “[Neoconservative-leaning GOP candidates] want to fight ISIS while also fighting Assad in Syria. Even though ISIS is fighting against Assad in Syria, and the Russians are helping Syria fight ISIS so [the U.S.] may have to fight Russia to stop them from fighting with Syria against ISIS.”
Neocons have floated the idea of ordering a no-fly zone over Syria, where Russian bombers are currently running sorties successfully targeting ISIS, which would put the brakes on Putin’s assault on ISIS and replace it with World War III style tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump, however, said, “If Putin wants to beat the hell out of ISIS I’m all for it 100 percent. I can’t understand how anyone would be against it.”
According to Breitbart, Trump explained earlier this year, “Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why are we — why do we care? Let ISIS and Syria fight. And let Russia, they’re in Syria already, let them fight ISIS. Look, I don’t want ISIS. ISIS is bad. They’re evil. When they start doing with the head-chopping, and drowning of — these are really bad dues, so I don’t want them. But let them fight it out. Let Russia take care of ISIS. How many places can we be?”
Letting Putin take out ISIS would not be an abdication of American leadership. There is no American leadership in the region to abdicate. We have worn out our welcome with schizophrenic efforts to arm non-vetted “moderate rebels” who repeatedly turn out to be recruitment centers for ISIS fighters that are beheading everyone in sight in the region. We have decapitated the leadership of the few forces in the region that previously kept radical Islamists at bay. Now, the groups that have the ability to do it are U.S. enemies with whom we can not cooperate without a diplomatic re-alignment that hawkish American politicos will not support.
Russia, on the other hand, has built a coalition with Syria’s government, Iran, and Hezbollah that is making serious progress against ISIS in just a few short weeks. Let’s leave Syria alone and let Putin finish what he has started. Not only will it result in the decimation of ISIS, but it will do so without forcing the U.S. to borrow more from China to pay for it.