ISIS: Depends on What "is" is . . .
I recently read two different articles with very similar advice on how to deal with ISIS, i. e., the Islamic State. Clint Watts, writing for Geopoliticus: The FPRI Blog, delineates "Four Key Drivers For Eroding ISIS" (June 15, 2015), and Frank R. Gunter, writing for FPRI E-Notes, offers the Islamic State a stark choice, "ISIL Revenues: Grow or Die" (June 2015).
Both agree that to survive, the IS needs to continue expanding. Therefore, says Watts:
"Let Them Rot" . . . [i.e., use] containment to establish conditions by which ISIS destroys itself from within . . . . To this point, it appears that the U.S.-led coalition, either by choice or more by default, is pursuing a modified "Let Them Rot" strategy. But officials and the public grow impatient while the media reinforces the belief [that] ISIS is the next al Qaeda - a misguided one in my view. The headlines will lead you to believe that ISIS can only be defeated by a major military campaign. And counterinsurgency proponents are likely drooling for another opportunity to employ their beloved Field Manual 3-24. But defeating ISIS via external force will be a long battle, and one that perpetuates the jihadi belief that the West denies their vision. The U.S. should seek to destroy the idea of an Islamic State altogether, and to do that ISIS must fail by its own doings, not from outside forces. The recipe of the the "Let Them Rot" strategy should be followed: contain ISIS advances, starve them of resources, fracture their ranks, and exploit through alternative security arrangements.Similarly, says Gunter:
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL [i.e., the Islamic State]) is the ultimate predatory state. It has been able to obtain vast amounts of financial and other resources in a relatively short period of time by theft or extortion. However, its revenues are mostly unsustainable. As a result, like other extreme predatory states, it must either rapidly expand or slowly die. Coordinated activities by the anti-ISIL coalition can accelerate this loss of revenues and substantially weaken the ISIL proto-state . . . . [T]his financial unsustainability is a critical vulnerability of ISIL . . . . [The Islamic State] will respond to the expected loss of revenue. They may ratchet up the level of extortion in ISIL-occupied territory, accepting a rise in the hostility of the occupied population in order to obtain a short-term boost in revenues . . . . Another option is that ISIL may execute raids outside its current territory intended not to permanently seize cities or towns but rather to . . . . steal everything of value . . . . and then return to ISIL-controlled territory. This possibility emphasizes the most important element of an anti-revenue strategy[, namely,] . . . . deny ISIL any further geographic expansion in order not only to prevent humanitarian tragedy but also to thwart the looting of banks, farms, and businesses . . . . The ISIL proto-state must either grow or die. Preventing that growth will strangle ISIL.Interestingly, Watts notes that the US-led operation against ISIS is - whether by chance or design - pursuing the right policy, but success might take some time. The time taken is precisely what most concerns me. I look at that photo above and wonder what sort of jihadi we face in the future.
Some of us will live to see what IS is further on down the line . . .
Labels: Islamism Islam