Following the massacre in Paris on Friday the 13th, the French President Hollande ordered the bombing of Raqqa, the chosen capital for ISIS. The French dropped 20 bombs wiping out an ISIS training facility and a munitions depot. This was the largest strike by the French against ISIS to date. Godspeed to the French! Three questions ae hanging in the air following these two events.
- Will Hollande ask NATO to invoke Article 5 binding that would bin NATO members to join the French in their “war” with ISIS?
- Would Obama live up to our commitment to our NATO partners?
- Will Obama finally admit that France was attacked by a Radical Islamic Caliphate or continue to ignore the “Islamic” element of these attacks?
#1: It would be nice if the US would take the lead on #1 and call the NATO nations together and lead the defense of France against ISIS. Not holding my Breath. Hollande is undoubtedly considering his options under the NATO Charter but if the Whitehouse throws cold water on the idea via back channels, Hollande may not even pursue this option.
#2: Obama has all but emasculated our commitments to our Eastern European NATO Partners including the missile defense system for Poland etc.. Allowing NATO to flex its muscles at this point is antithetical to Obama’s “détente” with Russia who sees NATO as a direct threat. Further, backing NATO into attaching ISIS in Syria is also antithetical to his “hands off” policies regarding Syria.
#3: In order for Obama to allow NATO to join the fight against ISIS he would have to be comfortable with giving credibility to statements by both the British and the French condemning the attacks in Paris by Radical Islamist elements. Obama to date cannot seem to put the word Islamist into his explanations of terror events perpetrated by those who profess to be waging war on the West in the name of Islam. Waiting for Obama to back our NATO partners against the Islamic State will be an exercise in futility.
The key question for the average American is what happens if Obama does not step up to help France and perhaps NATO to defeat ISIS? In the remaining 15 months or so of Obama’s term the entire Middle East, and much of Europe, could be lost to ISIS. Europe could be decimated internally by the some of the very “refugees” that they allowed to settle in their member countries.
I keep hearing candidates and politicians saying that the Sunni nations have to step up and fight back against ISIS. ISIS is a Sunni aberration! They were born out of a backlash of the establishment of a Shi’a government in Iraq following our abdication of transitioning of Iraq. ISIS is also including Syria in their crosshairs as Syria has traditionally backed Iran which is 95% Shi’a. So, assuming that Sunni and Shi’a are not exactly kissing cousins, to think that Sunni nations are going to be keen on attacking a Sunni movement is doubtful. Each of the Sunni countries have to content with their own Sunni populations. When I was in Egypt in 2007, one of the questions I was asked by multiple Egyptians was why we took out Saddam Hussein, who was Sunni, and allow the Shi’a to gain ground in the Middle East.
By not dealing with the transition in Iraq and by not dealing with the Syrian civil war, we are now in an untenable position. The Russians are in Syria to back President Assad. They will wipe out the dissidents fighting to depose Assad first. Then, and only then, maybe join against ISIS. How do we control the air space over Syria with Russia flying missions against people who we pay lip service to as our “allies”. To reiterate, Putin is pathological in his opposition to NATO since the cold war and would not be very cooperative if NATO attacked ISIS in Syria. Assume we go in and wipe out ISIS in Syria and in Iraq. What is left? Syria is still a Russian puppet with Assad probably still in power and who knows what would be left in Iraq. Iraq could become a puppet of Iran, a Shi’a nation. What would Egypt and the rest of the Sunni nations who have been our allies feel about this?
I guess one can hope that Bernie Sanders is right and global warming is the catalyst for the rise of ISIS. Maybe when the deserts of Syria and Iraq go too hot for anyone to inhabit, ISIS will just go away and join Al Gore in Sweden! Life will be interesting, if nothing else, in the next 15 months…