Opinion: U.S. must work with its adversaries to counter ISIS
The president understands that the United States cannot commit to ground wars and decades more of occupying foreign lands. It will lead to further insurgencies and draining military commitments. But on Sunday night he did not outline an alternative to counter the threat posed by ISIS and similar groups.
Such an alternative requires change in American policies. We must work with those countries who are often categorized as “adversaries,” and also put pressure on those conventionally considered as “allies.” Only Russia can work to ease Assad out of power in Syria without a state collapse, which ISIS could take advantage of to seize power. Only Iran can work to make sure a transitional regime will protect Shia minority communities.
As for our allies: Saudi financing of jihadist groups in Syria has given ISIS access to weaponry, and Turkey bombs Kurdish groups though they are the only effective ground force fighting ISIS. Oil purchases from ISIS come from many quarters. American weapons and aid should not flow to those involved in these counterproductive actions.
Bombing Syria somewhat more, as the president suggests, or much more, as the Republicans advocate, will result in countless civilian casualties amongst a population enduring the horrors of warfare. It cannot bring peace and counter the threat posed by ISIS. It will only ensure that support for ISIS and groups like it will grow.