Is Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL or al-Qaeda offshoot) honestly that horrific a threat and challenge that it should be treated as an individual threat needing a solution before any further assessment can be conducted? If you were to make this an inquiry of the United States State Department, they would answer in the affirmative and probably make Islamic State the sole terror threat requiring attention. Pose this same question to the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their answer would place Islamic State as the immediate threat but would follow that up with a litany of other threats hiding in the background, in the darkest of recesses. So, which assessment is the most accurate and which should be utilized to address future actions. Obviously the Pentagon assessment is more in depth while the State Department takes a mere cursory glance seeking the least invasive path and the least need for involvement having a minimal footprint. This demands further explanation more as to why the Pentagon explains a path which is far deeper and requiring greater invasive solutions and the State Department leaves most of the problem unaddressed and untouched. The reasons are simple and would be obvious to any observers. The Pentagon is funded by the width, depth and breadth of a threat and gains funding and importance through greater involvement. The State Department gains funds by having obscured threats which it can assign staff to investigate and report threats in such a manner as to allow them to linger, requiring greater inspections over the longest time frame. Thus any military assessment should be judged knowing their report will make the threat the greatest potential possible while State Department assessment should be realized to define the situation calling for minimal involvement in order to preserve the situational threat generating further investigations. The best path would more often than not be somewhere between the two assessments.
So, what do these realities have to do with Islamic State? A fair analogy would be somebody waking one morning feeling poorly and upon looking in the mirror they notice there are red blotches all over their face and further checking they find more such red blotches all over their bodies. Reacting to these skin lesions they make an appointment with a physician. The question becomes what type of physician they should call. The initial assessment is the patient has a skin condition so they might make an appointment to visit a Dermatologist and treat the skin ailment while ignoring the underlying disease. The result is the patient will remain ill and would need visit the dermatologist repeatedly while if they had visited an Internal Medicine Doctor they quite possibly would have been admitted to a hospital and undergo a more rigorous cure than they would receive from a Dermatologist but would also be cured. Simply put, if you have the measles you do not visit a dermatologist, you visit a doctor of Internal Medicine. The State Department is the Dermatologist and the Internal Medicine Physician would represent the Military. So, the military will present a harder path with the greatest potential challenges you will be presented with and some painful choices need to be made. The State Department provides for a simple and immediate repair of a situation while leaving the underlying problems churning away and no difficult choices would be necessitated. So, the path you choose will likely be somewhere between the two, which one you follow more closely will dictate the level of curative actions and their lasting effects.
Making war on Islamic State is a requirement of immediate urgency, President elect Donald Trump will need answer the riddle of how far does he wish to peel back the onion. A fully committed military campaign to destroy Islamic State presence in Syria and Iraq could be executed taking no longer than three or four months. The time it would take would depend on how ruthless and how close to barbarism the military forces will be permitted by their Rules of Engagement (ROE). The obvious problem with such tactic is that such a solution does little to permanently change the situation. When choosing civility while fighting barbarians, one makes leaders and financiers unaffected, they will just wait for the opportunity and start right up anew. The sponsors must be made to pay a price, even to threats on their lives, before anything will change. This was proven in all theaters of World War II where German leaders needed to be hunted down even to the last bunkers in Berlin and the Emperor of Japan had to be convinced the allies could utterly destroy his nation without losing any of their military forces. This has also been proven in the current “War on Terror” where we are treating the rash and ignoring the disease.
By now most Westerners realize the problems caused by terrorism and the threat posed by Islamic State. Where many fall down is in linking the two problems and realizing that these two problems though often unrelated directly, both have a root cause and any logistics, funding, know-how or other support for both are derived from the same pool of sponsors. The source for both terrorism and Islamic State come from the various wealthy and powerful governing entities throughout the nations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and the infrastructure put in place utilizing the tribal make-up of the society often pitting one tribe against another tribe in order to procure additional power and a broader area from which to operate. Should one trace the cash flowing into the coffers of Islamic State one would see a trend that the same monies also fund the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda and other Sunni terror masters and their operations. Much of the funding originates in or by those close to the Saudi Royal family as well as graft skimming funds from government funding by Egyptians and other Sunni ruled nations supporting the Sunni, Muslim Brotherhood, forces worldwide. There also exists an extensive Shiite terror networks which is not quite as expansive but still a very real threat. These groups are financed, organized and run by the Iranian government and the Grand Ayatollah (Arabic:آية الله العظمی) and Supreme Leader of Iran. The leadership of these terror forces controlled by Iran starts with the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) who incorporate the leadership of Hezballah and oft time Hamas as well. The reach by Iran is not as diffused as are the disparate Sunni terror forces. Much of the reason behind this is simply numbers. The Sunni make-up slightly over four-fifths of Muslims worldwide while the Shiites find themselves around a mere 17% of Muslims worldwide thus Shiite power structure by necessity must be more centralized and rigid while the Sunni can easily create anywhere from three to five separate groups.
What people in the United States need know is that the current fighting between Islamic derived forces and the Western forces, particularly in and around the Mediterranean Sea is just the latest stage in the war with the Barbary Pirates. Truth be told, the European interests back to around 632 onto the current age have felt constant rumblings of discontent filled by dreams and desires to return to their ages of conquest and swallow Europe as they have tried before only to meet a standoff or complete defeat as was Andalusia, as was Spain. Much of the march of Islam colonizing the entirety of MENA has been accomplished by Sunni though there have been Shia heroes through the ages. Still, this fight to choose the ultimate ruler, the single Caliph who talks the talk but all are curious if one can be found who additionally walks the walk. Despite gaining a sizeable following and demanding he be recognized as Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will not become the Caliph restoring the Caliphate as the requirement is a vast stretch of lands which are individually owned and most have real air power which would decimate any ground assault not possessing sufficient air cover, something which likely plagues al-Baghdadi day and night and he likely dreams of having sufficient fighters and the people to launch adequate air support. The Arab and Islamic worlds are far too tribal and fragmented each refusing to particularly perform feats of great valor and have somebody outside your team ending up with all of the glory. The tribal overriding thought power need be abandoned should Islam ever desire to become great again and have yet a second sense of glory and accomplishment. Such an accomplishment will take a true Caliph, one such as the last Imam, the one who leads the final conquests leading to an Islamic World running under Sharia, the Islamic Code of Laws as preached by Mohammad and the original force.
There are realities which must be faced and faced immediately. Before there can be progress the new President already has a large pair of conflagrations he need work out a solution which will probably require a fair number of military service personnel. A President Trump must use all the forces at his disposal in order to remove Islamic State from the picture. After this has been accomplished the next task will be forming a governance or set of governances such that Libya becomes a normative entity capable of trade with the world which will bring wealth to these governing bodies and the people as well. Once Libya has been resolved and returned to viability it will become time to deal with Russia and do similar for Syria. Russia will press for the entire area be returned to Bashir al-Assad while the remaining “rebel” forces will protest loudly and just as vehemently as they have all along. Meanwhile, a refuge for the Kurdish population will necessarily be needed while Turkey and her President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are edging towards conquest and taking lands formerly belonging to both Syria, a lifelong enemy, and Iraq, whose Saddam Hussein had stashed thousands of barrels of nerve agent and other chemical and nuclear weaponry in an attempt to evade justice. Erdoğan’s hopes and dreams of reestablishing the Ottoman Empire will be muted. Once again all these solutions do little to nothing about remedies for the tribal alliances and primitive culture which keeps the nations of MENA suffering while other nations quite distant as in the Horn of Africa and as far east as Pakistan and Afghanistan are all experiencing national traumas from forces at the tribal area. These problems were exasperated by the imposition of the Sikes-Picot Agreement of 1916 which set arbitrary borders, making self-rule all but impossible. Sikes-Picot ignored tribal alliances and clan structures splitting these entities between three nations in some cases and two at others which simply added wood to the fire. Sikes-Picot also redrew the maps of Eastern Europe breaking up the Austria-Hungarian Empire. All of this eventually led to World War II and has set in motion the potential for a third shooting war, World War III. The problem is amplified with the knowledge that Eastern Europe is also facing economic distress along with threats from Russia to incorporate them back under soviet style land and they wish to remain free.
These areas are powder kegs just waiting for the fire from a mistakenly tossed match or misread of any situation to have the entirety of these places to sheepishly huddle under Russian wings. The United States lack of influence throughout the MENA area as well as the entirety of the globe for the last eight years has left foreign policy in such turmoil as to provide room for threats from all sides and levels. The world, and the United States and allies in particular, are facing an invigorated Russia, a China willing to manufacture Islands in order to further their goal of taking certain Islands which they claim as have other nations. These threats are backed by a new and proficient fleet China is building, a worthy blue-water fleet. Add to this the dual threat of a nuclear armed North Korea who has already developed and tested a number of nuclear warheads and appears to be attempting to manufacture an EMP device to knock out the power grid in North America thus neutering the United States military and causing widespread death. Along with North Korea we also will be facing a nuclear armed Iran who has the missiles with advanced guidance and range capabilities with which to deliver them. Once Iran is confirmed to have nuclear weapons one can safely assume that Saudi Arabia will call in their markers for their financing of the Pakistani bomb thus instantly becoming a nuclear armed nation as well. After this the proliferation across all of MENA will likely occur with blinding speed. From that point the rest of the world will be rapidly acquiring nuclear weapons and from there to annihilation of the human race is a short trip and it all might take place in a blink of an eye. It is truly sobering realizing how so very close we are from slipping beyond the cusp into a reality even Hollywood was unable to imitate believably.
The race now is to educate and bring the third world somewhere even with the advanced world. By this we mean to teach them from our mistakes such that the world benefits. These newly acquired nuclear capabilities must be impressed not to use them for the sake of humanity. At the same time the world need share its many secrets and the desire to go into space beyond just the solar system but to other star systems even beyond our cluster setting out to truly become a space-born people. That need be our goal if we plan on being a long lived species. I guess we will soon know if the Earth will become the origin of a truly enlightened space based society or will the Earth need await the next great catastrophe to rid it of a stagnant humanity so another intelligence reaches senescence and go off into space and be the long lived Earth born species.
Beyond the Cusp