Recognize ISIS is a Sovereign State: and Destroy It
If any sovereign state had orchestrated the death hundreds of citizens in four different countries in a matter of weeks, it would find itself at war with those countries – and a real war, not just bombing campaigns and the arming a few local combatants. To a certain extent, ISIS is playing the role of terrorists without a country. If, say, Mongolia had pulled off terror attacks in Turkey and Russia in October and in Lebanon and France in November, Ulaan Baatar would be a smoking ruin occupied by troops from several grudgingly cooperating nations. But instead the world is paralyzed from taking decisive action, hypnotized and staring into the eyes of a cobra that will soon strike again.
Henry Kissinger gave a course at Harvard in National Security Policy in the 1960s, and I remember him saying, that the worst thing that could have happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis would have been if Castro was overthrown and had escaped with a few of those pesky middle range Soviet nuclear missiles. If he had hidden himself successfully, the US could have done nothing to deter him from using the weapons, since he no longer would have a country the US could retaliate against.
It is time to recognize that ISIS is an Arab national government sitting on a lake of oil with the passive acceptance of a vast Sunni population. It has a national capital and a national leader. What more does it need? UN recognition never did anyone any good.
There is a major task that needs to be done immediately. It is for Russia, France, the US, Iran, and Turkey to carve up the ISIS controlled territory in Syria and Iraq into four spheres of influence and to attack with overwhelming force. On the ground.
The nations of the world should be terrified. This struggle is dividing “Christians” and “Muslims”, Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Iranians and all sorts of Europeans. Soon the Asians will be sucked in. And all because of the inability of the so-called Great Powers to take decisive action. Run the present course of events out for the next decade and all the security forces and intelligence agencies in the world will not be able to contain the disaster.
I have no pretense of being an expert like those appearing on French, British, and US television in the wake of the Paris massacre. In spite of the fact that many of my students in Turkey believe I was an agent of the CIA, I have not worked one day for any government. The only “media” assignment I ever took was to interview a Polish spy for the Atlantic Monthly in 1967. But I can read and I can reason. I have studied the security policies of Russia, China, and the US. I have lived in the Middle East. And I have formed some strong opinions. I am happy to share them with those who read these lines.
Livingston T. Merchant, PhD