CrISIS 4.

There’s this story I read. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the German Federal Republic, isn’t afraid of most things (she grew up in the German “Democratic” Republic), but she is afraid of dogs. She went to meet Vladimir (“Vlad the Impaler”) Putin. Putin made sure that there were a couple of big, aggressive dogs present. Why? Because he’s a son-of-a-bitch, that’s why. Merkel didn’t bend at the meeting. Still, that is who President Obama is up against.

Putin wants President-for-Life Bashar al-Assad to keep running Syria. Assad is opposed by a bunch of conservative Sunni Muslim rebels (some associated with Al Qaeda), and some “moderates” who keep disintegrating every time the US tries to stand them up as a fighting force, and ISIS. Putin seems determined to use Russian air power to beat up on the non-ISIS rebels to reduce the pressure on Assad. Once that goal is accomplished, then they can think about what to do about ISIS. Well, that seems to have been the plan until ISIS claimed responsibility for the crash of the Russkie airliner flying out of Sharm el Sheikh.[1] Now Putin probably is thinking about the brilliant “montage” work done by Francis Ford Coppola for “The Godfather.”[2]

Then ISIS appears to be behind the Paris terrorist attacks. Yes, this has got Americans hyperventilating. However, it has got the French thinking about wasting somebody and the sooner the better. You don’t want to get your ideas about the French from Republicans[3] or from Warner Brothers’ cartoons.[4] If they can’t get the answer they want from President Obama when French President Francois Hollande visits Washington, then he will be on the next thing smoking for Moscow. They aren’t likely to get the answer they want in Washington.[5]

What to do? First, recognize that the US is not leading the coalition against ISIS. That coalition consists of Shi’ite Iran, Shi’ite-ruled Iraq, the Kurds (who are fighting for the existence of an independent Kurdish state more than anything else and who will send in their bill as soon as ISIS is beaten), the Russkies (regardless of how Josh Earnest phrases it), the British, and the French. Even the Germans may be compelled to take a role. Who isn’t in that coalition? The Sunni Gulf States and Turkey. None of the above give rip about what the US wants. This is a matter of real importance for these countries, as opposed to a political debating point in the US.

Second, recognize that defeating ISIS will do nothing to end our long-term problem with radical Islam. Al-Qaeda gave rise to Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQIM). AQIM gave rise to ISIS. On the one hand, there are a host of similar organizations in the Middle East springing up like jack-in-the-boxes. More will arise after ISIS is defeated. Radical Islamist organizations elsewhere (Al Shabab in Somalia, Bozo Haram in Nigeria, and possibly the “Third Intifada” that appears to be rising in Palestine) show that there is no central head-quarters. On the other hand, radical Islamist movements recruit their fighters from the alienated Muslim youth of Europe and—especially—the “failed states” of the Muslim world.

We’re in for a very long haul. Sad to say, the Cold War analogy may turn out to be useful. So, “containment” or “roll-back”?

[1] Still, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_apartment_bombings#Theory_of_Russian_government_conspiracy

[2] See: Sergei Eisenstein, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laJ_1P-Py2k; see “The Godfather,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfbYp9oaIT8

[3] “Freedom fries,” “Freedom doors,” and “Freedom kisses,” etc.

[4] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJfI3KnmSHc The Department of Defense ordered this movie shown before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Not because it wanted to encourage soldiers to misbehave but because it recognized—as the people in the White House did not—where we might be led.

[5] One recent poll found that 76 percent of Americans oppose sending in regular ground troops to Iraq and 66 percent opposed sending in even Special Forces troops to spot for the air-strikes that are our most useful role.

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