PRO/CON: How should the U.S. defeat Islamic State?

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1 PRO/CON: How should the U.S. defeat Islamic State? By Tribune News Service, adapted by Newsela staff on Word Count 1,606 U.S. President Barack Obama (right) shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande during their news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 24, Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais PRO: Widen the war against the extremist group President Barack Obama has no choice. If he wants to defeat the Islamic State group, he will have to become a real war leader. He may not like it, but putting more troops on the ground is the surest way to win this war. That s nothing new. The terror attacks on Paris were horrific, but no gamechanger. The game changed in 2014, when the Islamic State broke out from Syria, drove the Iraqi military from the field and proclaimed a worldwide caliphate a giant country ruled by Islamic law. The moment the group, also known as ISIS, established a territorial state in Iraq, it posed two grave threats to the United States and its friends and allies.

2 Islamic State's Threat Is Only Growing A country in the heart of the Middle East controlled by Sunni extremists was guaranteed to create friction with Shiite Muslims, the other major Islamic sect. That will lead, inevitably, to a larger regional conflict. Then problems will spill over to Europe. The refugees flooding Europe and Moscow s deepening of its direct involvement in the fighting in Syria foreshadow what lies ahead. The second threat was transnational. With tens of thousands of foreign fighters and sophisticated social networking, the Islamic State already had a global reach. Its conquering of land rich in oil made it the wealthiest extremist group in history. Since then, the Islamic State has demonstrated the capacity to adapt and innovate. It is combining the most effective terror practices developed by extremist groups over the last three decades. Nonetheless, beyond capability, what really makes the Islamic State scary is its intent. To keep up its story as a true caliphate, the Islamic State must live up to its image as a powerful and growing force. And the way to do that is to take the battle to its enemies by mounting terror attacks across national borders. It is folly for Obama to claim that these twin dangers regional and transnational are contained. They are unfolding across Europe as America watches. Clearly, our plan for dealing with the Islamic State has been insufficient. The Islamic State has been tough, absorbing months of drone attacks and light bombing. Russia s entry into the war has helped prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad and perpetuated further conflict. Still, it has not driven the Islamic State from the field. While ISIS has suffered defeats, like when the ethnic Kurds recently took back the city of Sinjar, it has bounced back every time. U.S. Must Fight More In Iraq At this point, the United States should not try to solve Syria. As long as Russia and Iran back Assad, he will stick around as will the war against him. Moreover, it s not reasonable for the United States to lead in the fight to get the Islamic State everywhere. But where the United States could lead is in breaking the Islamic State s territorial control of Iraq. That is a task worth doing because commanding a state is what makes the group a global threat.

3 Without U.S. participation, the prospects for winning a typical war against ISIS are slim. In a conventional war, two military forces fight against each other in open confrontation. Arab states lack both the capacity and expertise to undertake these operations. The Kurds can defend themselves and even win back territory, but liberating the country is beyond them. The Iraqi military is far from ready. Neither Sunnis nor Shiite are ready to risk an all-out war with ISIS. European countries do not have the means to carry out major operations on the ground in the Middle East without the United States standing by their side. Additionally, after conventional forces drive ISIS from the field, they will have to keep them from coming back. Iraq is not stable enough right now to stand up to threats from outside. This is unwelcome news for President Obama. He boasted of ending the war in Iraq and withdrawing U.S. troops. But the absence of U.S. boots on the ground changed the facts on the ground as well. The Islamic State was quick to take advantage of Obama's decision to pull out U.S. troops. Adding force bit by bit 50 special ops troops here, a few more airstrikes there cannot substantially alter the current unpleasant facts on the ground. Delay of meaningful ground action risks allowing the twin dangers of the Islamic State to spread even farther. ABOUT THE WRITER: A 25-year Army veteran, James Jay Carafano is vice president of defense and foreign policy studies for The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org), a conservative think-tank on Capitol Hill. Readers may write him at Heritage, 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Tribune or Newsela. CON: Drastic and hasty actions are not the answer The response to the Paris terror attacks should not be military. The desire for revenge is understandable. French President Francois Hollande speaks of a war against the Islamic State group. It is just like when U.S. President George W. Bush spoke of a war against al-qaida after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.

4 A day or two after the Paris attacks, an Islamic State member threatened to do something similar in Washington, D.C. The threat only heightens the concern. It makes it seem like we must do something drastic to destroy the extremist group, which is also called ISIS. Past Mistakes Haunt U.S. The problem is that a military effort to destroy the Islamic State is not likely to work. President Barack Obama understands that if he were to say he could destroy the Islamic State quickly, he would fail. Then he would have to eat his words. The use of force has gotten us into the fix in which we now find ourselves. Our response to the attacks we suffered on Sept. 11 was military. Our aim in invading Afghanistan in 2001 was to stop terrorism, but we seem only to have created more. We did limit al-qaida s ability to operate in Afghanistan, but they moved elsewhere. The anger we generated with our war in Afghanistan may have brought even more down on us. Our invasion of Iraq in 2003 replaced a Sunni-led government with a government led by the Shiite majority. The Shiites then carried out a vendetta against the minority Sunni population of Iraq. The Shiites had suffered under the Sunnis. While occupying Iraq, we worked to push anyone who had supported Saddam Hussein's government out of their jobs. That left the Sunnis thinking they had no place in the new Iraq. The exclusion of the Sunnis spawned Sunni-led armed groups like the Islamic State. Rabbi Michael Lerner is a philosopher and expert on the Middle East. He wrote, after the Paris attacks, Until the powerful countries of the world are seen as mainly driven by a desire to care for the well-being of everyone else on the planet and the well-being of the planet itself, and care not only out of selfinterest but also out of a new consciousness in which we all come to truly understand our mutual interdependence and oneness, what we saw in Paris this past week is destined to be an increasing reality in the coming decades. How To Best Respond The response to the Paris attacks should be to set the West on a path to dealing with the Middle East. We must do so in a way that undermines the anti-western attitudes that led to the violence we saw on the streets of Paris. The Paris attacks provide a new reason for the West to take action to undercut the hatred of the West.

5 Among the various conflicts, one where we still have a chance to help is the one between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The lack of a solution for that conflict, which has been festering for so long, bears a direct relation to the massacre in Paris. The support of the Western powers, and particularly the United States, of Israel was a battle cry for Osama bin Laden. He used it to gain followers when he first organized al-qaida in the 1990s. The Arab countries were unable to deal with Israel to secure a country for the Palestinians. Bin Laden attracted the youth of the Middle East. He told them that violence was the only way to fight the West and to force Israel to give the Palestinians a country. Bin Laden successfully played on the view that the United States has been bought off by Israel. Many in the Middle East think the U.S. let Israel take over Palestinian land. For years, Israel has built settlements of homes on Palestinian land, and the United States has continued to support Israel. President Obama wisely is not buying into President Hollande s thinking. Rabbi Lerner s approach shows a greater chance of achieving a long-term solution. By changing our policy, we can change the views that have generated these terror attacks. ABOUT THE WRITER: John B. Quigley is distinguished professor of law at Ohio State University. He is the author of 11 books on various aspects of international law. Readers may write to him at Moritz College of Law, 55 West 12th St., Columbus, Ohio This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Tribune or Newsela.

6 Quiz 1 Which sentence from the article OST CLEARLY states James Jay Carafano's opinion on how to defeat ISIS? If he wants to defeat the Islamic State group, he will have to become a real war leader. He may not like it, but putting more troops on the ground is the surest way to win this war. Without U.S. participation, the prospects for winning a typical war against ISIS are slim. Adding force bit by bit 50 special ops troops here, a few more airstrikes there cannot substantially alter the current unpleasant facts on the ground. 2 On which of the following do the authors of the PRO and CON articles AGREE? The United States must get involved in the conflict with ISIS to find a resolution. The United States should lead European nations in an attack on ISIS to prevent further violence. The United States should only get involved in the conflict with ISIS if there are other nations willing to support their efforts. The United States must avoid getting involved in the conflict with ISIS because of the anger that still exists over the invasion of Afghanistan. 3 On which of James Jay Carafano s statements would John B. Quigley MOST STRONGLY disagree? The terror attacks on Paris were horrific, but no game-changer. Nonetheless, beyond capability, what really makes the Islamic State scary is its intent. Without U.S. participation, the prospects for winning a typical war against ISIS are slim. At this point, the United States should not try to solve Syria.

7 4 Which statement BEST explains John B. Quigley's point of view on past U.S. involvement in conflicts in the Middle East? He believes that the United States has the most successful plan to manage Middle Eastern conflicts. He thinks that ISIS was formed by the government that was put in place when the United States left Iraq. He believes that the invasion of Afghanistan has created more anti- American feelings than there were before. He thinks that Barack Obama fears having to admit that he was wrong about removing troops from Iraq.

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