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Biden understates the Islamic State problem

Vice President Biden weighed in on Islamic State
Vice President Biden weighed in on Islamic State
Photo Credit: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

If there was hope that Vice President Biden might improve the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy in the Middle East, his assessment of the ISIS threat is underwhelming. The Islamic State is an organization of Sunni Muslims who promote a brand of belonging to a sect that feels otherwise unrepresented. ISIL stirs the worst ideas that reside in the foundation of Sunni Islam and it counter to the free world.

The fact that so many people in the Muslim world can be attracted to the Islamic State movement means a number of things:

  1. Free world advocates have failed to reach and educate large populations in the Middle East. (They simply ignored the Middle East outside of exploiting petroleum assets which is at the heart of the problem.)
  2. Middle East governments that are rooted in an Islamic theocracy are barriers to free world values. (That applies to all Middle East governments to varying degrees.)
  3. Middle East governments have failed to attend the needs of impoverished people who are ripe for exploitation by the governments themselves and by others such as insurrectionists and terrorists.

The approach to addressing the Islamic State threat should not be tactical. In addition to the Islamic State are other related and emerging threats of the same type. The threats emanate from the same root causes that require a comprehensive strategy with a concisely defined balance of consequences. There must be a reward for aligning with free world values and punishment for not. There should be a reward for progressive improvement and none for no improvement.

By concentrating only on military strength, Biden is making the same failed mistake that the U.S. made in Viet-Nam for instance. American can bomb people to smithereens, but so long as there are people standing who are intent on fighting for their independent ideas, they will win. Winning requires political action that manifests in improving the quality of life for “enemies”.

America can put ISIS’ lights out, but does that end the Sunni’s need to have equal participation in governments that allegedly represent them?

What about both Sunnis and Shiites and their fundamental conflicts with one another and everyone else? What must be done to convince these sects to become pluralistic and tolerant to free world standards?

“Biden: ISIS can be defeated without US boots on the ground

By Mario Trujillo - 08/23/14 12:17 PM EDT
Vice President Biden expressed confidence that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria could be defeated without U.S. boots on the ground in Iraq, calling the militant group "far from invincible."

In a Washington Post op-ed published Friday, Biden described the threat as a "long-term challenge" but said the United States is prepared to increase its support in the fight.

"ISIL has no legitimate cause or grievance to espouse,” he said, using an alternate name for the group. "And as we saw at the Mosul dam, when its fighting strength is eroded, it can be routed by local forces without U.S. boots on the ground."

The United States launched 60 airstrikes — two-thirds of all U.S. operations — in helping Iraqi and Kurdish forces retake the Mosul dam, which the administration said could have been catastrophic if it was breached.

Biden called the mission last week the first operation where the Kurdish pesh merga and Iraq security forces worked together."

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