I don't normally pay overmuch attention to Pat Buchanan's columns, but in two recent essays for Taki's Magazine he's hit the nail squarely on the head. Both concern ISIS/ISIL and the terrorism threat it poses.
The first is titled 'Whose job is it to kill ISIS?' Here's an excerpt.
There are reasons why Sunni nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have not committed more openly and decisively to the war on ISIS, and instead prod the Americans to send their troops to eradicate the Islamic State.
To many Sunni nations, Assad and the Shia Crescent of Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut are the greater threat. Indeed, until recently, as Joe Biden pointed out last October, the Turks, Saudis and United Arab Emirates were providing clandestine aid to ISIS.
. . .
Critics argue that after making his commitment to “degrade and defeat” the Islamic State, President Obama has provided neither a war strategy nor the military resources to carry it out. And they are right.
But this is just another case of the president drawing a red line he should never have drawn. While U.S. air power can hold back the advance of ISIS and “degrade,” i.e., contain, ISIS, the destruction of ISIS is going to require scores of thousands of troops.
Though the Iraqi army, Shia militias and Kurds may be able to provide those troops to retake Mosul, neither the Turks nor any other Arab nation has volunteered the troops to defeat ISIS in Syria.
And if the Turks and Sunni Arabs are unwilling to put boots on the ground in Syria, why should we? Why should America, half a world away, have to provide those troops rather than nations that are more immediately threatened and have armies near at hand?
Why is defeating 30,000 ISIS jihadists our job, and not theirs?
There's more at the link.
The second article is 'The Ultimate Enemy of ISIS'.
North of Syria, along 500 miles of border, sits a Turkish army of half a million with 3,000 tanks that could cross over and annihilate ISIS in a month. Former Secretary of State James Baker suggests that the U.S. offer air, logistics and intelligence support, if the Turks will go in and snuff out ISIS.
But not only have the Turks not done so, for a time they looked the other way as jihadists crossed their border to join ISIS.
If the Islamic State, as Ankara’s inaction testifies, is not viewed as a threat to Turkey’s vital interests, how can it be a threat to ours?
. . .
Everyone in the Middle East, it appears, wants the United States to fight their wars for them. But as they look out for their interests first, it is time we started looking out for ours first.
Foremost among those interests would be to avoid another $1 trillion war, with thousands of U.S. dead and tens of thousands of wounded, and a situation, after a decade of fighting, as exists today in Afghanistan and Iraq, where those we leave behind in power cannot hold their own against the enemies we defeated for them.
. . .
The Islamic State has plugged into the most powerful currents of the Middle East. It is anti-American, anti-Zionist, anti-West, Islamic and militantly Islamist. It promises to overthrow the old order of Sykes-Picot, to tear up the artificial borders the West imposed on the Arabs, and to produce a new unity, a new dispensation where the Quran is law and Allah rules and all Sunnis are united in one home whence all infidels—Jews, Shia, Christians—have been driven out. Hateful as it is, ISIS has a vision.
Hezbollah, Iran, Assad, the Houthi rebels, all Shiites, understand this.
They know they are in a fight to the death. And they fight.
But it is the Sunni Arabs, the royals on the Arabian Peninsula and the sheiks on the Gulf, to whom this should be a fire bell in the night.
For ISIS is out to dethrone these perceived royal puppets of a detested America and to reclaim rightful custody of Mecca and Medina.
Again, more at the link.
Mr. Buchanan makes some unarguable points. The question is, what can we do to motivate the Sunni Arab nations to take up arms against ISIS? For decades the USA has offered itself as their 'security blanket', and demonstrated this in the First and Second Gulf Wars, the 'Tanker War' and numerous smaller conflicts. In doing so, the US sold them military equipment and helped to train their armies . . . but there's no guarantee that their armies will do any better than the one we trained in Iraq, which collapsed like a wet paper bag when ISIS struck it.
Right now the Sunni Arab states probably believe they can manipulate the USA into doing the heavy lifting for them yet again. Are they right? Do we have the guts to resist such manipulation? If we don't give in to it, what will be the consequences for the Middle East - not to mention the world's oil supply? And how do we prevent other players we'd rather not have active in the Middle East - namely, China and Russia - from filling the void we'll leave by our absence?
I don't pretend to have all the answers, but there are an awful lot of questions out there. Mr. Buchanan distils them into two very cogent articles. Recommended reading.