Conventional Warfare Against ISIS


Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Obama will have “committed a blunder for the ages if he fails to crush the ISIS terrorists right now.” He calls the crisis an “existential threat to the homeland,” that is, a threat to the very survival of the nation. Advocating instantaneous action as always, Sen. John McCain calls for heavy bombing of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

Their basic idea is that the only thing needed to fight terrorism and win is to use American armed force as aggressively as possible.

But wait: exactly WHERE are we going to bomb? Where are the concentrations of the enemy? How do we find these enemies in the vast expanses of the Syrian and Iraqi deserts? Where do the drones look? How do we track small groups of highly mobile fighters? How, in the end, do we actually make effective use of our sophisticated military technology? Can it really be a substitute for boots on the ground?

We saw how the brute force approach turned out in Iraq. It seems that Graham, McCain, and others have learned nothing from that experience. Not to mention Vietnam.

I remember before the war started that some people were urging other ways to combat terrorism. Among other things, they called for international cooperation in intelligence gathering and law enforcement, by moving aggressively to cut off the terrorists’ financial resources, for example.

Such ideas, of course, were dismissed as wimpy, so we rushed off to a war which would be over in six weeks. And so it was. Sort of.

In our time, when terrorists have access to the Internet, conventional warfare will never defeat terrorism.