Before we get unnecessarily hawkish, let’s not forget Peshmerga
The gut reaction from many conservatives and Americans in general after last week’s Paris attacks is to go in and eradicate the Islamic State. Many politicians are calling for “boots on the ground” since it’s clear that the Obama airstrikes are not working. There’s an alternative that isn’t just more prudent for America. It would be more effective in eradicating the Islamic State.
The Kurdish Peshmerga have been at war with the Islamic State since their rise last year. They have made some gains and suffered some losses, but with the help of the United States in the form of arms, training, and the all-important coordinated air support, they are the most capable and motivated to rid the Islamic State from their lands and to eliminate them as a threat going forward.
There are two important things that should appeal to every American about utilizing the Peshmerga as our boots on the ground. First, they are dedicated to eradicating the Islamic State because it’s their lands that are being overrun. The second reason is that they don’t hate the United States. This might sound unimportant, but there’s something that can be said about having allies who don’t want to destroy us when they’re done accepting our help. It happens more often than anyone is willing to admit. In fact, al Qaeda and effectively the Islamic State rose as a result of us helping rebels who eventually turned on us.
We worked side-by-side with the Peshmerga to take down Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Once the operation was over, they returned to their little corner of Iraq to carry on with their lives. They don’t want jihad. They don’t want death to America, Israel, or Iran. They simply want to be allowed to live in peace and have demonstrated that they are not going to take advantage of our help once the mission is over the way that things turned out in Afghanistan.
This is their war. This is also our war. The Obama administration has not been able to accept that fact and as a result chose to back the Syrian rebels over the Peshmerga for the sake of political expediency. He viewed the ouster of Bashar al-Assad as a greater priority than eradicating the Islamic State, so he chose to assist the Syrian rebels in the hopes that they would take out Assad and then turn around and take out the Islamic State. The plan was to keep the Islamic State “contained” while the rebels took down Assad. This has proven to be extremely unsuccessful for three reasons:
- The Islamic State grew bigger than expected militarily and grew exponentially more than anticipated as a worldwide terrorists organization.
- The Syrian rebels aren’t very good at being rebels. Infighting and extremely low allegiance to their cause has many of them turning to the Islamic State over accepting the President’s feeble measures of assistance.
There’s one thing that the President is correct about that the American people in general and the Republican Party in particular need to understand. The Middle East is a quagmire and any military that enters it will not be able to leave. There are times for boots on the ground. Now is not one of them because the Peshmerga can be more effective if given the opportunity.
Arm them, even if it’s only temporarily. Believe it or not, they would be willing to borrow arms rather than to keep them indefinitely. The reason is that they have only one true enemy: the Islamic State. Once they are eliminated, they will give whatever arms are left back to the United States. This isn’t a sovereign nation that requires a strong defense. They just want to be left alone and they do not want the expense of maintaining expensive American weapons. They just want to live their lives and the Islamic State is the only thing that’s standing in their way.
Train them. The money that was wasted trying to train Syrian rebels who really aren’t sure who they want to fight and where their allegiances lie would not be a problem with the Peshmerga. They have one motivation: protecting their families and their lands from the Islamic State.
Support them from the sky. With American training and weapons combined with support from AC-130s, Apache helicopters, and air strikes, they will be able to make mincemeat of the Islamic State. They would be more efficient at it than American troops because it’s their lands that they’re covering. Familiarity with landscape, cities, and people is an advantage that the United States cannot replicate. In essence, the Peshmerga with complete support from the United States is not only the most prudent path for us to take. It would also be the most effective at wiping out the Islamic State once and for all.
In Kurdish, the word Peshmerga means “one who confronts death.” This isn’t a Libertarian call for isolationism. Utilizing the very capable, 200,000-troop-strong Peshmerga with total support from America is by far the best way to eradicate the Islamic State quickly.
Here’s a video that can bring you up to speed about the Kurds and the idea that the Islamic State fears them more than Syria, Russia, or the United States: