This section features work authored by Frederick W. Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project, and Kimberly Kagan, president of the Institute for the Study of War, on the conflict in Iraq.
IN THIS SECTION
The Islamic State (ISIS) is not a terrorist organization. It is an army of conquest destroying all traces of civilization in the lands that it holds. It has taken root in Iraq and Syria, but its evil threatens the whole world. The US must find an answer.
The seizure of Ramadi on Sunday leaves President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State in ruins not only in Iraq but also throughout the Muslim world.This is what happens when a policy of half-measures, restrictions and posturing meets a skillful and determined enemy on the battlefield.
Iran is emerging as a significant cyberthreat to the US and its allies. The size and sophistication of the nation’s hacking capabilities have grown markedly over the last few years, and Iran has already penetrated well-defended networks in the US and Saudi Arabia and seized and destroyed sensitive data.
After 50 days of obvious failure, it's time to consider an approach that might work against ISIS: Get American special forces on the ground with the Sunni Arabs themselves. The only other alternative is to resign ourselves to living with an Al Qaeda state and army.
The Islamic State is a threat to the United States of America, and that is the primary reason we must defeat it. The United States has capabilities that no other state or group in the world has, and that is why we must lead this effort.
The Islamic State is a clear and present danger to the security of the U.S. We must therefore pursue an iterative approach that tests basic assumptions, develops our understanding, and builds partnerships with willing parties on the ground, especially the Sunni Arabs in Iraq.
A counter-terrorism strategy will not succeed against the Islamic State because it is not just a terrorist group anymore.
Air attacks alone will not be enough to deal with ISIS now that it controls so much of Syria and Iraq - and threatens the US and Europe.
The establishment and expansion of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS) represents a step-change in the threat to American homeland security and national security generally. This is the first time that an al Qaeda-affiliated group has made the leap from stateless terrorist organization to a quasi-state with a combat-effective army and the resources of a modern urban region at its disposal.
Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.