Muslim world reacts to Obama’s latest speech
The Islamic State (Full Length)
General (Ret.) John Abizaid
General (Ret.) John Abizaid was here this past Tuesday to discuss the Middle East with our Jacksonville World Affairs Council. He was invited by the former Supervisor who lives here (General “Buster”Hagenback who led the Mountain Division into the Hindu Kush area of Afghanistan immediately after 9-11). Most of you know of John Abizaid and you will recall that he is an Arabic speaking West Point grad who studied in Amman Jordan and who spent much of his career involved with the fighting in the Middle East. He finished as the CentCom Commander commanding our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq in the critical 2005-2007 timeframe. In the wake of Paris a number of his comments were quite enlightening and prescient, so I thought I would pass them along.
In John’s view the recent initiatives of ISIS is a game changer. The killings in Beirut, downing of the Russian Airliner and Paris all show a paradigm shift in their strategy. They are moving outside their territories and going on the offensive. Their goal of a worldwide Caliphate based on their ideology draws a parallel with Hitler in the 30’s. He stated what his intention in Mein Kampf. The threat was visible for years before it tore the world apart.
The old Middle East doesn’t exist anymore. The boundaries were drawn by the post WW I victors based on their own “imperialistic ambitions” and without any thought of religious and ethnic consequences.
Iraq is the perfect example. Our strategy has for years been to put the “Humpty Dumpty” Middle East back together again which is a mistake. John Commanded in Bosnia and stated that Yugoslavia had to be
partitioned to bring it into stability in the 90’s. Yet the entire West and the U.N. still persists in not even considering any initiative to do the same in the disaster that is the Middle East.
ISIS views their struggle strategically in terms of centuries; the West views it in tactical terms trying to gain stability in the short term. The Air War was cited by him as totally suboptimal. The flying missions
are not synchronized and the Intelligence Communities are not working together in any reasonable and effective manner. My son Colonel Scott Arbogast is an F-16 pilot in the Strategy Directorate of the Air Staff in the Pentagon and is in the middle of this. He sent me the following web site that corroborates some of what John was saying on the flying side (see http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/11/14/we-cant-stop-islamic-state-desert-drizzle -column/75777004/). Thus, we are not “mining the gaps”, nor are we “following the money” (foreign donors in many of our supposed allies are supporting ISIS and need to be tracked down and eliminated).
The Internet needs to be contested as it is being used by ISIS as a major recruiting and otherwise empowering tool in their strategy. Privacy concerns are limiting proper government oversight. Combined with new, powerful encryption technology that is now privately available, ISIS is able to coordinate and mask strikes such as in Paris.
John did not recommend massive “boots on the ground”. What is needed is an American led world-wide coalition that will confront the threat. Military forces, including well equipped and led ground forces, are needed to hit ISIS hard in the territories that they have taken. The ISIS timetable needs to be seriously disrupted and the world needs to see that they are clearly losing the struggle. Military action must then be followed up by a world-wide
strategy that includes education, economic, social and political initiatives. The US must lead all of this, but what is new. American leadership has been at the heart of keeping the world safe for the past hundred years. The biggest challenge will be to organize a functioning and effective Muslim coalition in the Middle East that will be able to implement a follow-up set of policies that will bring stability to the region.
Failure to do this will lead to a 21st century world that will be a nightmare for our children and grandchildren to live in. ISIS will continue to metastasize and spread their sick ideology all over the world. The Free world as we know it will be living daily with terrorism in a major way (kidnappings, suicide bombings, horrific destruction of all that we hold dear etc.). ISIS has stated that if they get their hands on weapons of mass destruction, they will not hesitate to use them in the pursuit of their goal. With the spread of nuclear weapons (see Pakistan), this should provide sufficient enough motivation for us to act.
John’s concluded that the US has no other choice than to take on this challenge. Winning heart and minds with ISIS is futile (Vietnam thinking). We must set our priorities and win this war. We need to recognize that the world of political correctness that has evolved in the West is an absolute distraction in summing up our resolve to persevere. We are in an existential battle of civilizations and must arm ourselves for the struggle that looms ahead.
Footnote from me: Although not stated directly by John, his talk has caused be to start to reflect on a number of related issues, one of which is the refugee crisis. If huge Islamic populations are settled in Europe, the US etc., in the short term we may consider that we are being good humanitarians. Granted, the large percentage of these people are fleeing the hell of the Middle East and need a hand up. However, looking at it long-range, what about the next several generations of Muslims that would be embedded into the fabric of the West. If only a small percentage of them become radicalized in the ISIS mode, the seeds will be there for a Paris exponentially raised to some n power in 2050? 2060? Case in point: it only took 8 Jihadists to cause the bedlam in Paris.
In the recent Democratic debate Bernie Sanders said the main threat in our time is Global Warming. Before we get anywhere close to this, ISIS will have warmed up the planet if we do not bring them to heel. Thanks for reading this.
Gordon W. Arbogast, Ph.D., P.E.
Management, Decision Sciences & Info Mgnt Dept.