The War Against ISIS Lacks Coherence -- At Our Peril

ALEPPO, SYRIA - DECEMBER 03: Members of opposition groups make preparations during the US-led coalition airstrikes against DA
ALEPPO, SYRIA - DECEMBER 03: Members of opposition groups make preparations during the US-led coalition airstrikes against DAESH positions at Brekida village in Aleppo, Syria on December 03, 2015. (Photo by Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Even after the horror of the slaughtering spree in Paris recently, the European Union as a whole, in self-defense and well within the bounds of international law, did not, as it should have, automatically invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty which obligates the alliance to defend its members under attack. Missing a critical opportunity. Not only to protect more effectively its citizens in the short term; but also to help create and fully coordinate, with maximum efficiency and unparalleled access to state-of-the-art technology and intelligence, a grander military and diplomatic alliance.

Precisely as recently envisaged in a unanimous UN Security Council resolution urging all countries actively to join the fight. And thus becoming fully capable to restore human decency in the world by engaging and defeating the enemy -- whether on the ground by air or both. No more than 30,000 elite troops forthcoming from all over the world -- as has been professionally estimated privately -- could expeditiously complete this task in a matter of months under NATO's sophisticated command. In the process adequately fortifying as well major points of entry into Europe, as in the much criticized case of Greece. Where with no technical or financial assistance from the EU, the Greeks nevertheless excel, harboring and reasonably policing the endless streams of refugees bursting helpless onto their shores -- obviously risking terrorist infiltration.

Sadly, however, we have seen instead the city of Brussels, executive seat of the EU, practically paralyzed for significant periods of time last month. But also disturbingly emerging as a busy incubator of ISIS terrorists. The British are still deliberating, and the Americans, with 65 nations behind them, unfortunately remain at strategic odds with Russia's military campaign currently gathering pace in Syria. And the Germans? They have been quietly fading out from the general picture, apart from contributing the light frigate, Hamburg, to NATO's (SNMG-2) planned patrols in the eastern Mediterranean in the event of the alliance's -- belated -- involvement in Syria. Germany's preoccupation apparently being primarily continuing to impose a "blind austerity" policy in Europe. Still causing, six years on, economic growth in our entire continent to hover asymptotically above zero.

In the meantime, as a result of the limited effectiveness of our "intensified war" against the Islamic State (the Security Council's historic call for action with a massive international mobilization having not as yet produced the desired response) this lethal organization, dedicated to terror abroad, has already achieved one of its principal goals. Hundreds of millions of people in Europe and elsewhere in the world, despite brave appearances, now fear for their lives. Especially when going about their daily business. And more so when they have to travel by air. This situation certainly affects adversely the world's economic recovery -- and hardly justifies the West's "still evolving" strategic and diplomatic thinking.

The paramount task of pulling together, and indeed inspiring, too, our war effort has been left, alas, for the embattled President of France to deal with -- alone. Going around the world desperately trying to convince, one after the other, the world's leaders to unite their forces. And in the end, presumably acting as a "wide and single" international coalition, to eliminate ISIS. A tortuous process deepening in complexity by the day of late as Turkey continues to withhold its due apology to Russia after provocatively and so unmercifully shooting down last week one of its war planes on a standard mission against ISIS in Syria. Subsequently killing, too, one of the survivors.

How realistic is it, therefore, in today's circumstances, to rely on a second-best strategy as the best way to defend our core western values under serious threat for the foreseeable future? And worse, we should not also be expected to embrace the riskier option of depending, for our present safety and future prosperity, on the unaccountable, unelected and perhaps even corrupt Brussels directorate's poor record to date.

_________________ Nicos E. Devletoglou, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University of Athens, is author of the books Academia in Anarchy: An Economic Diagnosis (Basic Books) written jointly with Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics James Buchanan; and Consumer Behaviour: An Experiment in Analytical Economics (Harper and Row).