Thursday August 21, 2014
Listening to President Obama speak of Iraq on 18 August 2014 underscores the point made above by Polybius, and it also validates the brilliant diplomat George F. Kennan’s argument that America is virtually incapable of conducting an effective foreign policy because of our leaders’ minimal knowledge of how the world works and the dominance of domestic considerations on the policies they pursue overseas. In Obama’s short statement on Iraq both of these negative factors were clearly evident.
Obama — as well as his lieutenants, the leaders of both parties, and much of the media — continue to call the Sunni Islamic State (IS) organization a “terrorist group.” In the 25-plus years since al-Qaeda initiated what has become a worldwide armed Islamist movement, U.S. leaders have never once tried to explain to Americans that we are fighting a growing international insurgency that can never be defeated by using counter-terrorism tactics such as Special Forces raids, drone and aircraft strikes, and capture and interrogation operations.
If you use these tools to kill the insurgents one at a time you end up where we are today; that is, with a nice and well-publicized body count but also with an enormously bigger threat than we faced in 2001. Indeed, Americans ought to be told that there are indications that the IS insurgents are evolving into what the great guerrilla-war theorist Mao Tse Tung called the final stage of insurgency, the point at which elements of the insurgent forces begin to transition into units that are battle-hardened, well trained and led, well armed, and resemble conventional force units.