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Islamic State Is Not A Strategic Threat to America

Why is the fight between Sunni and Shiite worth a single drop of American blood?

Islamic State fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, last year. (Image source: AP/Militant Website, File)

If you liked the war in Iraq, you are just going to love the war against the Islamic State. Some wars are lost at the outset; this is another one of those.

Yes, we can degrade Islamic Stat'es fighting capacity. We can force it to retreat.

But we cannot defeat it.

Like the Taliban, it will recede only to come back to fight another day. Islamic State represents an ideology that has taken root in Islamic communities not just in the Middle East but throughout the world.

FILE - In this undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, fighters from the Islamic State group march in Raqqa, Syria. The Islamic State group is often described as the most fearsome jihadi outfit of all: a global menace outweighing al-Qaida, with armies trembling before its advance. But while the group has been successful at seizing parts of Iraq and Syria, it is no unstoppable juggernaut. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)  (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)

It is not your neighbors’ Islam. It is not the Islam practiced by most Muslims, but contrary to President Barack Obama’s nonsensical statement, it is Islam.

It draws its inspiration from the same return to fundamentalism that spawned the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Al Qaeda. On the other side of the theocratic divide, there are similarities with the fundamentalism that gave rise to the Iranian revolution.

Islam is going through a fundamentalist revival that is being adroitly mobilized on behalf of geopolitical interests that pit the hegemonic adventurism of Shiite Iran against those of the Sunni Gulf States.

Islamic State is the progeny of some members of the reluctant Sunni coalition that Secretary of State John Kerry convened to stop it. Even then, Turkey, President Barack Obama’s most trusted ally in the Middle East, said it would not be a party to stopping the Sunni Islamists.

But are the others to be trusted?

Islamic State exists because the very Sunni countries, which are now supposed to stop it, created it to prevent the expansion of a Shiite crescent from Tehran to the Mediterranean. The weakest link in that expansion was the Alawite (Shiite) minority of Syria dominating a Sunni majority.

Gunmen gather in a street as they chant slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government and demanding that the Iraqi army not try to enter the city in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. Fierce clashes erupted Tuesday between Iraqi special forces and al-Qaida-linked militants outside the city of Fallujah, a flare-up in a days-long standoff in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar, Iraqi officials said. (AP Photo) Gunmen gather in a street as they chant slogans against Iraq's Shiite-led government and demanding that the Iraqi army not try to enter the city in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (AP Photo)

Before supporting the assault on Syria’s government, the Obama administration should have given pause to what would replace it. The Middle East generally is not made up of bad guys and good guys. It is comprised of the bad guys who have hegemonic interests and those who are content to brutalize their own people.

Kerry is now asking the Sunni progenitors of Islamic State to kill their own offspring without taking into account that the Iranian threat, under the Obama administration, has become even stronger.

So, if you were the ruler of a Sunni oil sheikdom, of whom would you be more afraid? A ragtag militia of several thousand or the 22nd most powerful army in the world, one that is about to acquire nuclear weapons?

Why does America have a strategic interest in defeating Islamic State that the Turks don’t?

What is the value of a coalition that ultimately benefits the Iranian and the Iraqi Shiite government over the interests of the Sunni Arab governments?

If Islamic State wins, Iran loses. If Islamis State loses, Iran’s hegemony persists.

A military truck carrying Shalamcheh missiles drives past the presidential rostrum during the annual Army Day military parade on April 18, 2014 in Tehran. On the right is a portrait of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo: Atta Kenare/Getty Images) A military truck carrying Shalamcheh missiles drives past the presidential rostrum during the annual Army Day military parade on April 18, 2014 in Tehran. On the right is a portrait of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo: Atta Kenare/Getty Images)

Why is the fight between Sunni and Shiite worth a single drop of American blood?

The public is outraged over the brutal showcased beheadings of Americans. But throughout history, warfare in the Middle East has always been brutal. The only difference now is the presence of YouTube and a mass electronic media salivating over horrific videos that lacerate public sensibilities and promote appropriate horror and outrage.

But horror and outrage are neither a strategic interest nor a reason to go to war. The public is fickle. Today, there is outrage. But will the outrage persist a year from now?

At the cost of much treasure and blood, we have rebuilt the Iraqi military and provided an opportunity for the Iraqis to achieve democracy.

Both those undertakings have been obvious failures. The Iraqi army dissolved in the face of a militia. Democracy in Iraq has meant the right of the Shiite majority to dominate the Sunni minority.

Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a training session near the southern port city of Basra on Auguts7, 2014. A UN statement said some reports put the number of people forced to flee by the IS takeover at 200,000. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images Iraqi Shiite volunteers who have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State take part in a training session near the southern port city of Basra on August 7, 2014. A UN statement said some reports put the number of people forced to flee by the IS takeover at 200,000. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI

Now we are asked to once again rebuild what cannot be rebuilt, to borrow more money from China to prop up a failed state. We are told that in Syria there are moderate militias that will be trained by our Arab coalition partners to oppose Islamic State.

These militias are no longer significant.

They got caught in a two-front war between Islamic State and the Syrian Army. They are not a viable option for anyone but a duplicitous administration desperate to sell this war for reasons that might have more to do with a weak and befuddled president needing to look strong before the forthcoming congressional elections.

Islamic State is no more a threat to America than is Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas or any of a number of Islamic terrorist groups. If the administration were really worried about an Islamic State operation on American soil, among the first things you would see is meaningful border security.

This war is lost from its inception. It is time to leave the Islamic world to the Muslims and let them sort out their own problems. We can provide humanitarian aid, rescue operations, and weapons for our allies. Let those states that created Islamic State extinguish it. Turkey alone could do that.

A real coalition would be a coalition of Muslim states led by Muslim states, not a coalition of the reluctant led by America. This is a Middle East problem. It requires a Middle East solution.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He also served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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