To defeat the Islamic State
The decisions that determined the fate of the great nations and empires that failed to survive the 20th century are well known.
For the Kaiser's Germany, it was the “blank cheque” to Austria after Sarajevo. For Great Britain, the 1939 war guarantee to Poland. For the Third Reich, it was the June 1941 invasion of Russia. For the Empire of the Sun, the decision to attack Pearl Harbor. And for the Soviet Empire, it was the invasion of Afghanistan.
As for the United States, historians may one day concur with the late Gen. Bill Odom. The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was the most disastrous blunder in its history. We produced a broken land awash in blood, a country severed by tribe and faith: a Kurdish north, Shia south and a Sunni west controlled by the savages of an “Islamic State” even al-Qaida hates and fears.
In Syria, that Islamic State now controls the northern and eastern half of the country. In Libya, Islamist fanatics have gained the upper hand in the civil war for control of that country.
In all three countries, the United States, which claimed to be battling dictatorship to bring democracy, helped to create the power vacuum these Islamists have moved to fill. We are the enablers of the Islamic State.
How grave is the threat? Undeniably, these are bloodthirsty fanatics who revel in beheadings and crucifixions. But are 17,000 jihadi fighters in landlocked regions of Iraq and Syria really an imminent and mortal threat to an America with thousands of nuclear weapons, missiles and bombs and the means to deliver them?
Consider the correlation of forces.
Who are the friends and fighting allies of ISIS? They are nonexistent.
The Turks, Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis are cutting off aid to ISIS. Moderate Sunnis detest ISIS for its barbarism and desecration of shrines. The Christians and Yazidis fear and loathe them. The Kurds, both the Syrian YPG and PKK, and the peshmerga despise ISIS.
Lebanon's army, Syria's army, Hezbollah and Iran have been fighting ISIS with Russian assistance. Even al-Qaida and Hamas have repudiated ISIS.
We need no boots on the ground in Syria, for it is the presence of “Crusaders” on Islamic soil that is the principal recruiting tool of the jihadists. What we need is diplomacy that invites old enemies into a coalition for a cause on which we all agree.
If Assad is willing to go in for the kill on ISIS, let us work out a truce and amnesty for the Free Syrian Army and call off that part of the rebellion so Assad's army can focus on killing ISIS.
We should tell the Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis that any more aid to ISIS and they are on their own. We should inform the Turks that their continued membership in NATO is contingent upon sealing their border to ISIS volunteers and their assistance in eradicating the organization.
We should convey to Iran that an end to our cold war is possible if all attacks on the West stop and we work together to exterminate the Islamic State. Why would they not take the deal?
As for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed successor to Muhammad, my bet is that he closes out his brief career as caliph at an unscheduled meeting with SEAL Team 6.
Pat Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”