For perhaps the first time in history, the opponents on a battlefield are not two state entities but a state and a terrorist organization.
This historical development has as its basis the 9/11 2001 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, the American response to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the break-up of the Iraqi state, the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Syria, which took the form of attempts to overthrow the Assad regime, and the civil war that followed and led to the dissolution of authority in a parts of its territory.
In the midst of this mess has grown a movement of rebel-terrorists with ideas and ideals borrowed from the dark pages of history, from centuries ago, as is evidenced by the recent beheadings.
President Barack Obama was knocking on an open door when he addressed the nation. The mood of isolation from the continuing and largely unresolved problems of the world has given way to anger and calls for exemplary punishment – a la bin Laden – for those responsible for the beheadings in Syria.
This is what the recent polls indicate. Based on these surveys, in his address, Obama said that the USA will “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS.”
To do this, the President said it will be necessary to hit them from both sides of the Iraq/Syria border. He also reiterated that he will not put more “boots” (soldiers) on the ground.
And yet, that’s will exactly what eventually happen. Airstrikes alone cannot destroy an army, let alone terrorists.
Among others, Henry Kissinger is offering advice. In his new book titled World Order (much more will be said about this in a future column) he argues that states naturally cooperate with their allies, but sometimes, he says, great states, such as the USA, must even collaborate with their enemies.
He might be right on this one. And that is what Obama is doing today.
The state of Iran, of course, is included in this context. In fact, it cannot be ignored.
Regarding Turkey: The Obama Administration is doing all it can to include it in the new coalition against ISIS. For example, its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was among the few foreign leaders with whom Obama met at the recent NATO summit in Wales.
The next day, Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, visited Turkey for the same purpose.The Turks, however, are being careful, partly because ISIS is holding for than 40 Turks prisoners, including its Consul General in Mosul.
A new adventure begins. Let’s hope for the best.