Anticipated criticism from Republican hawks occurred before the bombs were loading onto the aircraft. President Obama’s coalition strategy wouldn’t work; boots on the ground were needed. And, dammit, America needs to go back to war. This weekend proved that ISIS is not invulnerable.
Thanks to the incredible courage of Kurdish fighters, supported by air support from coalition aircraft, Kobani remains in control of the Kurds. The town received heavy artillery attacks from ISIS on Saturday on its eastern border. One official inside Kobani said that if they believed they could enter the town from their position, they were simply dreaming.
In Iraq four villages formerly held by ISIS have been retaken by the Iraqi military. Together with Shiite militia forces they overpowered the extremist group. The next goal is to disrupt their flow of equipment through tunnels in Northern Iraq.
The air attacks have been crucial in aiding ground forces to begin a slow pushback of ISIS forces. Throughout much of the summer the extremist group defeated Iraqi forces in Northern Iraq until the United States forces joined with Arab and European nations to use air power to weaken their well-equipped and well-funded forces.
Progress is being made in an attempt to isolate ISIS forces in several towns. Well-planned air strikes have been at the core of resurgence by Iraqi security forces and the Shiite militia.
Meanwhile critics from the right remain in denial. They continue to claim that President Obama’s strategy will not work. Senator John McCain, Republican Senator from Arizona, has said for months that the U.S. should put ground forces in Syria. He never met a war he didn’t like. The President has continuously said that we will not put ‘boots on the ground.’
Not that anyone has asked, but the American people are nearly unanimous regarding U.S. involvement in the Middle East. The silent chant is ‘no more war.’ They are weary after witnessing thousands of our finest young men and women lose their lives needlessly while losing two wars in the region. History has proven that wars cannot be won in the Middle East. Battles between large numbers of ground forces do not occur. Guerilla warfare is designed to outlast an organized army, and it has proven successful throughout history. The former Soviet Union and the United States were the losers in Afghanistan. When Iraq and neighboring Iran waged war against each other between 1980 and 1988, there was no winner. Both sides lost tens of thousands of lives; damage to their economies was irreparable.
The invasion of Iraq cost the United States over 4,000 lives, and more than 10,000 were seriously injured. The economic impact resulted in a recession from which our nation has yet to recover.
Hawks do not learn from history. War is good business. John McCain was a long-time prisoner of war during our time in Vietnam. He witnessed firsthand the futility of efforts to defeat an enemy you are unable to see. The United States left in disgrace. More than 58,000 Americans were killed. Those who returned were ostracized by some misguided members of our society; the object of their anger should have been our leaders and generals who made poor decisions.
Whether or not President Obama’s strategy will prevail long term remains to be seen. Assisting countries in the region in their attempts to defeat a force which is cruel and inhuman is reasonable. Waging a ground war would be unforgiveable.
By James Turnage