Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Before the President's Speech...

President Obama will give a major foreign policy address to the nation tonight in which he hopes to convince the American people that A. he has a strategy to confront ISIS and B. it is a good one that we should support. To put his alleged gifts of public speaking to the test, I will state my opinion of the ISIS threat now, before his speech, then tomorrow I will revisit the issue to see if the President was able to change my mind.

Of course, you may well point out what a ridiculous exercise this is since I am essentially a nobody, and who the heck cares what I think? You would be right about the nobody part but wrong that it doesn’t matter. It very much matters that the President is able to move the needle of public opinion on such an important issue as foreign policy. In as much as I am a member of the public and consider myself persuadable, I am very much his target market in this speech.

Here’s my view. ISIS is a brutal collection of roughly 20,000 black-robed 7th century Islamists who, having noticed that their particular slice of the world doesn’t have a pot to piss in, have concluded that what is needed in the ARAB world is a revival of the Dark Ages. To this end, they all quit their day jobs as used camel salesmen and took up arms. This new “army” consists of small arms, machetes, lots of Toyota pickup trucks, rusty box-cutters and video cameras with which they film beheadings of various westerners to greatly exaggerate their power. The areas of the Middle East which they “control” consist primarily of vast stretches of…sand. ISIS has no air force, no mechanized armor and no camouflaged uniforms, (Seriously…who wears black in the dessert??). A 20,000 man army sitting around in the middle of a dessert with no air cover and no serviceable artillery seem like the very definition of “sitting ducks” for a modern air force. And speaking of air forces, there happen to be three very well equipped ones in the area belonging to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.

I agree with the premise that ISIS is a despicable organization, and their execution of American journalists in cold blooded fashion means that these murderers should be dealt with accordingly. But, I am at a loss to understand why this particular group of savages are suddenly some sort of existential threat to the Western World. Sure, there is always the threat that some nutjob will hijack a plane and fly it into a building, but this has been true ever since there were planes and nutjobs. ISIS didn’t invent brutality.

It would seem to me that the nations with the most to lose from ISIS are in the neighborhood. Something tells me that The House of Saud isn’t interested in being part of a Caliphate. I’m not sure the Kuwaits or the fine folks in Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates are anxious to give up their high rise luxury condos any time soon. In my opinion, it’s high time that these modern Arab states stepped up to the plate and policed their own back yards.

Besides, this nation-building business started by George Bush hasn’t been going very well. We get rid of the tyrant Sadam Hussein and we end up with a leaderless, ungovernable Iraq. We get rid of Muammar Gaddafi and we end up with a failed State and Benghazi. We draw a red line in Syria to try and get rid of Assad and now…

Enough already. The only reason ISIS is still in existence is because the neighboring ARAB states haven’t summoned the will to destroy it. Why have we armed them with the finest fighter aircraft in the world, the finest tanks and artillery, if not for a time such as this?

I will watch and listen to the President tonight, eagerly awaiting new information that might justify a change in my opinion.