Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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The West is getting in over its head by going after IS: Simpson

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson thinks the West is again risking trouble by going after Islamic State without having a thorough understanding of the forces acting on the Middle East these days.

From the Globe and Mail:

The Islamic State, its ambitions and enemies, is more about fierce conflicts within Islam, among rulers of various Islamic sects and countries, power struggles in the region, and of course doctrinal battles, rhetorical and military, about the meaning of Islam.

The West, once again, has stepped into these minefields without having properly identified the nature of the struggle, the ends sought by military intervention and the means necessary to bring those ends about. Nor has it considered that to “degrade and destroy” the IS, the words chosen by U.S. President Barack Obama (cheered on by the Harper government), it will be necessary to align ourselves with groups in the region whose militancy and tactics are only slightly less unsavoury than those of the IS.

The old adage that the enemy of my enemy must be my friend will apply if the IS can be repulsed, the organization having conquered considerable swaths of Iraq and Syria. Western countries are unwilling to put “boots on the ground,” only special operations units and “advisers,” and to provide military and other equipment to those groups in the region actually willing to fight for territory.

Air power, which the U.S. has in abundance, cannot win this conflict. It, like the rest of the U.S. military, is excellent at destruction but cannot build anything. Building requires the reconstitution of two broken states – Syria and Iraq – both of which would seem shattered beyond repair.

Simpson’s closing paragraph:

All of which is to say, with reference to only a few of the complications, that it would appear Canada is joining a mission it barely understands, except at the highest level of government rhetoric whose intensity will outstrip once again the country’s actual contribution.

We barely understood the Afghanistan mission when we joined up, and look how well that turned out.

Fri, September 19 2014 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page