"We still seek no wider war" is a line Americans have already heard before, with tragic consequences. We've already fought ISIS when it was named "Al-Qaeda in Iraq" and U.S. troops, and their families, have made enough sacrifices in the name of our national security. President Obama's latest speech defending airstrikes and further military involvement against ISIS, as well as recent economic sanctions against Russia amounts to a foreign policy that wages wars on two fronts. Obama's current strategy in Iraq is the epitome of "mission creep" and anyone who believes that we won't be sending more U.S. ground troops into Iraq is kidding themselves. All airstrikes are planned with the either the theoretical or imminent possibility of U.S. boots on the ground. Therefore, since NATO currently is focused on containing Russia through deterrence and has no plans of any real military action to protect Ukraine, both Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama should encourage other nations to do the majority of fighting against ISIS. Furthermore, the Iraqi's have a military force over a decade in the making, and although facing its own problems, must defend its own national security with its own soldiers, not ours. Since Iraq has several hundred thousand of its own troops, and since European nations possess over 400 of the (what is said to be) most advanced fighter jet in the world, it's time for them to do the heavy lifting to eliminate the new Al-Qaeda in Iraq: ISIS.
Mind you, I know very well that nothing written in this article has any chance of happening, but it should, and Americans must realize that other Western democracies, as do the Iraqis, have the military capacity to easily defeat ISIS. If Europe doesn't possess the will or political capital, then neither should we, since ISIS presents the same threat to European interests as it does to American interest. As for the Iraqi's, it's easy for me to sit behind my computer and tell them to fight a maniacal terror group, but the U.S. has already shed enough blood. After 4,486 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq and 2,344 U.S. soldiers died in Afghanistan, one million U.S. soldiers wounded in both wars, and a potential cost of up to $6 trillion, the last thing American soldiers and their families need is another war. Both Republicans and Democrats should remember the VA crisis that is still taking place: over 514,000 veterans are still waiting for disability benefits, the average wait time for their first claim is 318 days, and the average wait time for additional claims is over 160 days. If defeating ISIS will help veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and other U.S. wars get their well-deserved medical and disability claims addressed sooner, we should invade Iraq tomorrow. However, we all know that a third Iraq war will only make things worse for the VA crisis and won't ensure that ISIS doesn't simply morph into another annoying and ever-changing acronym (I don't care what they change their name into tomorrow, I'm calling them ISIS).
Therefore, let's look at Europe's new fighter jets and Iraq's military capacity so we don't have to do the bombing or the fighting on the ground. Analyzing what others can do in the name of global security represents a shift from American foreign policy, even if President Obama has made reference to a coalition that is based primarily on U.S. military power. According to the Eurofighter Typhoon website, the company's CEO explains that Europe has the most advanced fighter jet on the planet, and more and more European nations are boasting its immense firepower:
Every day our aircraft are protecting the skies in Europe, the Middle East and even in the Southern hemisphere. They are on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eurofighter Typhoon has become the backbone of the Air Forces in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia. When the chips are down, air chiefs want an aircraft that is versatile, reliable, resilient and cost-effective. Eurofighter Typhoon fulfills all of these requirements and the operational experiences gained during these flying hours have proven it.
... The Eurofighter Typhoon began combat missions in Libya on 21 March 2011 as part of the United Nations' Odyssey Dawn operation. On deployment RAF Typhoons carried Enhanced Paveway II bombs and totalled 3,000 flying hours and over 600 sorties during a six month period on Operation Ellamy.
... The battle-proven Eurofighter Typhoon is the world's most advanced new generation swing-role combat aircraft available on the market and is in successful operation in six nations: Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Sounds great to me, let's get those Eurofighters from the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia to bomb ISIS. Eurofighter Typhoon has already been utlized to bomb Libya, so Europe has proven it can use these jets to defeat threats to the security of Western nations. I don't write this in a facetious manner, most of these countries are a part of NATO and benefit from destroying ISIS. The U.S. Air Force has done enough and a show of force against ISIS in Iraq by European air powers will also illustrate to Vladimir Putin that the Typhoon continues to eliminate threats; thus making Russia less willing to invade all of Ukraine.
According to the Guardian, Iraq's Armed Forces and Kurdish forces have far more military capacity than the 20-40 thousand estimated ISIS fighters currently causing mayhem in Iraq:
After Iraq's armed forces were disbanded following the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the United States and its allies committed more than $25bn to training and building a new military. With more than 250,000 frontline troops (not counting paramilitary police units), on paper at least the Iraqi military should be effective. It is equipped with almost 400 tanks including US M1A1s and Russian T- series tanks including the T-72. It also has more than 2,500 armoured fighting vehicles and 278 aircraft, including drones, transport aircraft, amphibious aircraft and 129 helicopters.
... Although some 35,000 Kurdish peshmerga are incorporated into the Iraqi security forces, other peshmerga remain outside with published estimates varying from 80,000 to three times that number. Two years ago a Kurdish official suggested the peshmerga numbered 190,000. Increasingly well equipped - including with 2,000 armoured vehicles and rocket artillery systems - they are regarded as motivated, well trained and experienced.
President Obama should have detailed the Iraqi and Kurdish military capabilities in his speech and Congress should also understand that Iraq and the Kurds have their own armies. Both James Foley and Steven Sotloff might be alive today if Iraq's military and Kurdish forces were seen by the U.S. as the first line of defense against ISIS, not a secondary option to U.S. military support.
Finally, according to Stripes.com, NATO spends more on defense than anyone on the planet, and is far superior to Russia, ISIS, or any other potential adversary:
By troop numbers, NATO also held a lopsided advantage over any other nation, with a total of 3,370,000 servicemembers in 2013, according to NATO's statistics. This contrasts with Russia's 766,000 troops and China's estimated 2.3 million active-duty personnel, according to Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI's program on military expenditures.
"NATO still accounts for a clear majority of world military spending, over 60 percent, and a substantial number of other top spenders are American allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel," Perlo-Freeman said. "In terms of military capabilities, the U.S. and NATO will remain absolutely unmatched for the foreseeable future."
When over 3,000,000 soldiers can be called upon if heaven forbid Russia ever plans on invading Poland, I think President Obama can at least ask the Europeans to do the majority of the fighting in Iraq.
If Europe says "no" or Iraq's military can't defeat ISIS, then we've done enough and have already fought ISIS. I'm not the biggest Rand Paul supporter, but he's right about this issue. It's not an isolationist mentality to shy away from another failed war; it's simple logic. General Daniel Bolger has already explained why we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's time we take his words more seriously. President Obama, as much as I admire him, has made a terrible mistake with our new strategy against ISIS.