No, Sending thousands of US Ground Troops won’t Fix the ISIL Problem

by DAVID SCHANZER for ISLAMiCommentary

David Schanzer

David Schanzer

Last night’s attacks will increase calls for more vigorous military action than the coalition has mustered to date. But despite the horrific attacks, the reasons against a large-scale land invasion by U.S. and NATO forces against ISIS in Iraq and Syria remain. Such an invasion will deepen the extremist narrative of clash of civilizations between the West and Muslims, will insert our militaries into a deep, nasty, and unwinnable civil war, and the invading force will eventually be responsible for reconstructing a semblance of order and governance in chaotic region infected with sectarian divisions.

We should remember that ISIS desperately wants to satisfy its blood lust fighting against Americans on its home turf. However, when ISIS is committing atrocities against or being attacked by other Muslims it has a much harder time explaining how it is advancing the cause of Muslims or representing Islam in any comprehensible way.

As unsatisfying as it is, the basic contours of the current strategy are right. We will just need to do more and with a greater sense of urgency: Keep encouraging and supporting those local forces willing to fight, conduct airstrikes against as many ISIS targets as can be found, and maintain pressure against both ISIS and the Assad regime to force a political settlement in Syria.

ISIS will remain a formidable force until a political settlement takes the steam out of the complex, sectarian, multi-party conflict in Syria.


David H. Schanzer is an Associate Professor of the Practice at the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy and the Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security. He teaches courses on counterterrorism strategy, counterterrorism law and homeland security at Duke. Prior to his academic appointments, he was the Democratic staff director for the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2003 to 2005. Schanzer is also a regular contributor to ISLAMiCommentary.

Via ISLAMICommentary


Related video added by Juan Cole:

CNN: “Report: U.S. giving France access to ISIS intel”

7 Responses

  1. Western powers have left a trail of scorched earth failed nations all along North Africa, the ME and into central Asia. We are now reaping what we sowed, conducting more air strikes and using surrogates to impose the dictator we like is not going to change anything, just more of the same.
    Obama increased military aid to Israel, Hillary and all the Republicans would do the same. They still finance settlements while claiming to want peace, and on and on it goes. What makes our side better than ISIS, terror is terror in any shape or form. They kill innocent people and so do we.

  2. The current strategy is “unsatisfying” because it isn’t working. None of the regional actors has a strong incentive to fight ISIS, other than to keep its territorial reach from spreading. Each is currently pursuing its own agenda. The Saudis, for example, are more concerned with the expanding influence of Iran than that of ISIS. The Iraqi Kurds want ISIS out of their territory, but have no interest in helping Baghdad unify the country. The Turks are primarily interested in stopping the formation of a Kurdish state that obliterates existing borders. There is no way the West can serve all of these agendas and motivate regional powers to join in fighting ISIS. If the West itself will not send ground forces, then who does that leave to defeat ISIS?

  3. Of course they all have interests of their own. Syria and Iran are allies, the real reason why Assad must go, not because he is a dictator, he is just not our dictator. There are some 500 Saudi princess with lots of money and no telling how many are funding ISIS.
    The people in the region should be left alone to settle their differences, which were caused by outside powers drawing the borders.
    What is it the US wants to do there, redraw borders, or install a government in Syria to our liking as we did in Iraq and also with the French in Libya and Egypt and so many more?
    The Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Iran all want their own country, nothing else.
    IMHO we should get out of Syria and go back to the status quo, let Assad and Putin stabilize Syria if they can and tell the Saudis to stay out, Syrians don’t want their brutal Sharia laws.
    The West is the big obstacle to end the violence in the region.

    We are pursuing our own agenda too, it is not to benefit the people of the region, they do the dying and the suffering.

    Too many here at home are screaming for more military action while we close the borders to keep the refugees out, that is something the Muslim nations can’t do, our drones and airplanes and surrogate soldiers cross their borders any time.

  4. I have to disagree with this assessment. The West showing a willingness to become directly involved in land combat, with soldiers, not just lobbing missiles and bombs from safe distances, would clearly demonstrate a resolve and commitment that otherwise appears to be lacking. Soldiers are expected to put their lives on the line to protect civilians, that’s their job — professional militaries are kept out of harm’s way while innocent citizens are bombed or threatened? That’s backwards. Time to send in the French Foreign Legion and elite US and British combat units; supported by airpower, these forces would be enough to destroy ISIL and set up some security in these regions. The French are probably thinking now they should have, in fact, deployed the Legion long ago.

  5. The Foreign Legion is just a bunch of mercenaries, they could not save Vietnam for the French. They are just like our contractors, a lot of riff- raff. It is not like a patriotic citizen army fighting to defend their country.

    Isis is not like the VC or Hamas or Hezbollah, they are scattered all around the world. Do we even know what exactly they want and who are their leaders?
    Who are the moderate rebels in Syria we expect to fight against Assad and ISIS? Moderate opposition is not violent, so who are the people we armed and who turned their weapons over to ISIS, were they orthodox Muslims opposed to Assad, Salafists? Experts predicted that if they win there would be massacres of Christians and other Syrians. Who is fighting whom in Syria and for what reason, religious only?
    Next is the big question, what can we believe what is really going on? We don’t really know what is true, who is fighting whom.
    What a mess, and it is the innocent people who pay with their blood.

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