Sep 22 2014

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It’s ISIS That Should Be Worried

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Deadly, But Not Undefeatable...
Deadly, But Not Unbeatable

For weeks now, we have been treated to exposes on the existential crisis that ISIS poses to the Middle East and to the West. 

A terror group as good at fighting with tanks and artillery as it is with guerilla tactics. A group that takes and holds territory, declaring a caliphate. An organization that is financially self-sustaining through black market oil sales (from captured oil fields), as well as hostage-for-ransom and other extortion schemes, and of course, the support of wealthy benefactors in the Gulf states that approve of ISIS’ strict interpretation of Islam. 

Moreover, ISIS has a knack with social media, skillfully deploying its beheadings and social messages in a manner that has catalyzed a discontented youth in the West, now flocking to fight for ISIS, or perhaps to train as “sleeper cells” to carry out terror attacks in their home countries months or years from now.

All quite terrifying.

But on balance, it is ISIS that should be worried.

The CIA estimates that ISIS has somewhere between 20,000-32,000 fighters.  Impressive. But of that number, how many are actually experienced fighters? The true number is probably less.

A US army division has between 17,000-21, 0000 troops.

The US has ten active army divisions.

All have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. This fighting force is filled with superb, experienced, battled hardened veterans. Given a choice between a basement dwelling malcontent, bewitched by radical Islam and drawn to Iraq by the opportunity to commit acts of barbarity on innocents, and your run of the mill US PFC, the safe bet is with America every time.

Not to mention the 194,000 United States Marines.  

Put a former pajama-clad blogger with a victimization complex, newly suited in black, repurposed with a cause, and carrying an AK-47 up against a Leatherneck?

It ends fast, but not well, for the blogger.

Is ISIS so blinded by theology that it misses the reality of who they are now up against?

This is the nation that picked apart intelligence for a decade to find Osama bin Laden. When we were confident we had him, we could have taken him out with a B-2 carrying a JDAMS, or even a drone with Hellfire missiles.

But no.

We chose to send an elite team, deep across sovereign borders, in an operation that was so professional and sophisticated that the entire mission was accomplished without collateral damage to surrounding homes, and non-bin Laden casualties, and without any Americans killed or wounded.

Think about that.

Message:  you can run, but you cannot hide. 

We are everywhere and we will find you, no matter how long it takes. That’s a cautionary note to you, Jihadi John.  We’re coming for you. 

You can count on it.

The ISIS oil trade? We can bomb the rigs to rubble with the push of a button. No more production.

 ISIS is illegally trading the oil it currently pumps with entities in Turkey. The US Air Force has 10,000 drones. That’s right. 10,000

We simply need to park ’em in a line on the Turkish border. When ISIS oil shipments approach, they vanish in a ball of fire.  Watch how the oil business dries up. 

Bombs are bad for business. Explosions impact customer retention.

Those drones that aren’t ending ISIS’ oil business can profitably be deployed hunting down the cells and groups that make up organization.

To that end, the President of the United States has a personal “kill list” with terrorist names that are selected for elimination.  Over the last decade the US has systemically dismantled command hierarchies in Al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups,  killing top commanders again and again.

Think about that.

In a world of 7 billion people, the US military can find one person, and point and fire a missile at them with complete accuracy.

New names will soon be on the President’s list with ISIS associations.

You can count on it.

If ISIS keeps on beheading innocents because of US/Western attacks, we double down on our attacks. More frequency, more intensity, more lethality every time.

ISIS wants to come out to fight with tanks and artillery? 

Bring it on.

The United States military was designed to fight and win large-scale land battles. Look at what Schwarzkopf did to the Iraqi Republican Guard in 1991.  Look what the US did to the Guard again in the march to Baghdad 12 years later.

ISIS commanders should consult with Al Qaeda and Sunni Iraqi deserters to their cause on what it feels like to be on the business end of a B-52 dropping a full load of bombs. The concussions alone can tear the skin.

If you come out of hiding with tanks and artillery, you will not be returning.

As for foreign financing of ISIS, the US has the power to interdict this, if it is only willing to use it. NSA knows who is providing the money through its now public ability to capture almost any kind of electronic communication, anywhere. The West controls the SWIFT financial transfer system, which is the lifeblood of international finance.  You cannot move large amounts of money without it.

  If you fund ISIS, we shut down your ability to transfer money – anywhere, anytime, anyplace for any reason.  Tens of millions are useless if they are stuck in a bank. If the governments complain, they can consider the prospect of financial sanctions on them.

And the vaunted ISIS media campaign?


We invented social media.

The idea that ISIS, or anyone else for that matter, could use a tool that we created better that the founders of the technology is preposterous. Heck, we can pull the plug on them. Ban their videos. Vanish their tweets. Yank their Facebook pages. All that they do is dependent on our tools and technology to convey a message.

It’s all a con anyway.

ISIS isn’t the future.  It’s a tunnel back to an utterly barbaric version of the 7th century. No idea flourishes there. No free expression finds root. It is a rigid theological caste system that exists solely for its own perpetuation. For all the flaws of Western society and culture, on its worst day, the West is a superior model for human salvation than what ISIS provides.

At the end of the day we must realize that this isn’t a game. This is very serious business against a very dangerous enemy.  But it is an enemy we can engage and defeat.  We have better ideas, better technology, better organization and superior force.

The only question is will.

ISIS is brimming with theological dedication that is a large measure of its success thus far.

President Obama can search for allies, develop strategies and deploy forces. But does he have the will to do what is necessary to defeat ISIS? Will he harness all of our forces, lead assertively, confident in our cause, our values and our mission?

Thus far, POTUS seems more interested in speaking to what the US will not do in the Middle East.  It’s time to turn that around. If you really want to destroy ISIS, we can do it. But it means being all in.

The President needs to signal that he’s on board, knowing that we are on the right side of history. If he does that, the American people will be right there behind him, and the world will be a better place because of it.





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