The Kurds Can Defeat ISIS – Jonathan Spyer
Islamic State does not, like some other manifestations of political Islam in the region, combine vast strategic goals with a certain tactical patience and pragmatism. Rather, existing at the most extreme point of the Sunni Islamist continuum, it is a genuine apocalyptic cult. It has little interest in being left alone to create a model of Islamic governance according to its own lights, as its Western opponents had apparently hoped.
Its slogan is "baqiya wa tatamaddad" (remaining and expanding). The latter is as important an imperative as the former. Islamic State must constantly remain in motion and in kinetic action.
Jonathan Spyer is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
[The Jerusalem Post via Middle East Forum]
How to Beat ISIS - Walter Russell Mead
Running wild through the streets, gunning down the crowds in a night club: This is fantasy violence, video games brought into the real world. ISIS is again the coolest of jihadi brands, the cutting edge of the war against the real. The intent is not so much to terrorize the West as to galvanize the faithful.
The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.
To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State - John Bolton
Recent proposals lack a strategic vision for the Middle East once the Islamic State is actually defeated. Today's reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the Assad regime and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq.
If defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Assad in Syria and Iran's puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics.
The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state. This "Sunni-stan" could be a bulwark against both Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad.
Many Sunnis today support the Islamic State as a bulwark against being ruled by Tehran via Baghdad. Telling these Sunni people that their reward for rising against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq will be to put them back in thrall to Assad and his ilk, or to Shiite-dominated Baghdad, will simply intensify their support for the jihadists.
The writer, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
(New York Times)
Defeating Islamic State - Amitai Etzioni
The U.S. actually won the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq easily and quickly. The 2001 overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan was carried out within a few weeks, with minimal American casualties. The 2003 removal of Saddam's regime also was carried out with few casualties and low costs. Both campaigns ended up badly only after the U.S. decided to make stable, democratic, U.S.-friendly regimes out of these nations.
Saddam had 400,000 soldiers; IS has about 40,000. Its seasoned fighters are being killed off and it now relies increasingly on newcomers. If the U.S., France and the UK were to put a force on the ground working with the Kurds, IS would not be much of an opponent. Once IS is defeated, though, the U.S. cannot engage in rebuilding Syria. The other parties in Syria must be left to work out their differences.
The writer is a professor of international relations at George Washington University.