Washington Post Quotes FPI's Evan Moore on America's ISIS Strategy

In "Confusion About our Enemies," Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin writes:

The war may be located for now in Syria and Iraq, but our national interest is in defeating the Islamic State and, yes, Iran. The Obama administration’s explanation for President Obama’s gaffe is more telling than his comment Monday that we lack a complete plan for Iraq. (“What the president was referring to was that the training and equipment strategy that we have been executing isn’t complete yet because there still have to be commitments from the Iraqi side. You need trainees, you need more trainees, and we’re working with them on that.”) Aside from blaming Iraq (whom the defense secretary claimed lacked the will to fight), this suggests that preconditions for an effective strategy to defeat the Islamic State rests with Iraq....

Likewise, there is no defeating the Islamic State if Syria remains a haven for its jihadists. Evan Moore, a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy Initiative, quotes retired Gen. Jack Keane, one of the architects of the 2006 surge in Iraq, as saying, “Syria is ISIS’s sanctuary. We cannot succeed in Iraq if ISIS is allowed to maintain that sanctuary in Syria.” What follows, Moore argues, must be something more than a lackadaisical training schedule for anti-jihadi rebels:

[T]he United States must commit to ending the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and replacing it with a government that reflects and responds to the will of the Syrian people. As a first step, the United States should neutralize Assad’s air force, which he has used to relentlessly attack civilians, and create a “safe zone” along its borders with Turkey or Jordan. This will allow rebels a place to organize and train free from attack by the Syrian regime or Islamist forces, and could be easily established. Next, the United States should accelerate and expand its efforts to train and equip vetted members of the moderate opposition. Though the United States is gradually stepping up its initiative to train as many as 5,000 fighters per year, this number is probably insufficient.

In short, lawmakers, candidates and most of all the administration (either intentionally or not) are misrepresenting our enemy, our objective and our responsibility for victory. The enemies are the Islamic State and Iran. The former must be destroyed; the latter’s hegemony designs must be foiled. Ideally we should work with and through Sunni tribes, Kurdish fighters and anti-jihadist Syria rebels, in concert with allies like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But we cannot cede our chances for success or put our national security fate in their hands. Ultimately, we must ensure success and disable threats to our homeland. That will take a “complete” strategy and involvement of more troops. That is the reality. It was also the entirely predictable result when the president decided to pull back from the region and “end wars”: We got bigger, scarier and more urgent ones instead.

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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