Here are some questions I wish someone in authority would answer about how the U.S. should proceed against ISIS. If you have some ideas, please comment here or on my Facebook page.
For the President:
- Isn’t high altitude aerial bombing among the most inhumane ways to proceed in war and guaranteed to slaughter the most innocents? While sending on-the-ground military obviously is more dangerous for the troops, isn’t it the most likely way to actually drive ISIS to ground?
- Have you explored the possibility of a unified multi-national command to direct a ground and air war against ISIS? If not, why not? If so, what were the obstacles identified preventing such a command?
- Some have suggested that you are correct and that a reason ISIS is fomenting terrorism in Beirut and Paris, and threatening Washington, is that it is losing in its homeland and desperate. Do you buy that? What’s the evidence?
- We know that ISIS is a Sunni terrorist organization, likely funded in part by Saudi Arabia or, at the least, favored by the Saudis, which is a Sunni fundamentalist nation. Have we pressed the Saudis, who are engaged against Al Queda is the Arab Penninsula, to take action against ISIS? Are Saudi institutions at least involved in financial transactions on behalf of ISIS, such as use of the country’s banks? Have we asked? What was the answer? Why do we continue to treat the Saudis, which share virtually none of our goals and values, as close allies?
- Can we find a role for Iran against ISIS? Can we force Iraq to be more inclusive of non-militant Sunnis and somehow persuade its Sunni population that it is safe to participate fully in the Iraqi government? What have we done lately in this regard?
- Can we involve other Middle East nations in a joint command, including use of military personnel? Or is the situation as confused as was portrayed today in a NYT op ed column?
For presidential candidates:
- What, if anything, would you do differently than the President is doing? Please, no bloviation about American exceptionalism, world respect, military might, etc. What, specifically, would you recommend the President do that he is not doing now?
- If part of your recommendation is introducing more troops into the region, how would you pay for increased military participation?
- Our troops are tired. Relying solely on volunteers has limited the size of our armed forces and required many of them to have multiple tours in the Middle East. Whether as part of your specific prescription for the Middle East, or simply as part of your promise to increase America’s military presence, would you consider conscription? If not, how would you attract sufficient volunteers to maintain a larger and stronger military?
- Is our internal security sufficient, balancing our interests among security, civil liberties and financial cost? If not, what would you do differently? How would you pay for it?