While President Obama leads the charge to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), so that it is “no longer a threat – not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States,” many are convinced that going above and beyond to exterminate this group won’t solve the root of the problem in the Middle East.
At a recent meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, said that in order to combat terror, one must “understand what the most adequate instruments” are in a society. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if the destruction of ISIS led to the rise of another terror group that was even worse:
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if by next year, in 2015, ISIS has disappeared and some other group with another strange name has appeared that is even more violent.“
In a recent editorial for the Washington Post, a professor of International Relations and History at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich, echoed a similar sentiment.
Bacevich, a political scientist specializing in American foreign policy, pointed out that Syria is the 14th country in the Middle East that has been invaded, bombed, or occupied by U.S. forces since 1980.
“With our 14th front barely opened, the Pentagon foresees a campaign likely to last for years. Yet even at this early date, this much already seems clear: Even if we win, we lose. Defeating the Islamic State would only commit the United States more deeply to a decades-old enterprise that has proved costly and counterproductive.”
Looking back at previous U.S. operations, Bacevich noted that from airstrikes to ground troops, “U.S. efforts to promote stability have tended to produce just the opposite.”
“By inadvertently sowing instability, the United States has played directly into the hands of anti-Western radical Islamists intent on supplanting the European-imposed post-Ottoman order with something more to their liking,” wrote Bacevich. “This is the so-called caliphate that Osama bin Laden yearned to create and that now exists in embryonic form in the portions of Iraq and Syria that Islamic State radicals control.”
Although President Obama is currently calling on allies to form a coalition that will help defeat ISIS, Bacevich writes that even if the operation does succeed, he doubts that the “prospects of regional harmony will improve.”
“Suppress the symptoms, and the disease simply manifests itself in other ways,” wrote Bacevich. “There is always another Islamic State waiting in the wings.“