Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Who Is the Actual Threat?

The New York Times' Tom Friedman knows a fair bit about the Middle East. Sadly, this convinces him he is well-qualified to opine on nearly everything; on other topics he merely beclowns himself.

Today Friedman writes about the area he actually knows, and raises an interesting question. Why should the U.S. attempt to defeat ISIS in Syria when it is making life miserable for the Russians, Assad, Hezbollah, and others we dislike? He likens ISIS to the mujaheddin who made life miserable for the Russians in Afghanistan.

Friedman makes the point that ISIS the semi-nation fighting in Syria and Iraq, and ISIS the evil web presence that inspires Muslim expats to become suicide killers, are in fact relatively separate entities.

Eliminating the first ISIS will not eliminate the second, it may even make it more virulent. It is the second that threatens us, the first threatens mostly neighbors and folks we dislike.

Clearly the fate of the Kurds, aligned against ISIS, doesn't interest him much. If one is coldly geopolitical, whether they thrive or die means little to long-term U.S. interests.

Friedman is working a line of country that holds the enemy of my enemies is, if not my friend, at least my temporary ally. I am uncertain he is correct, but he raises a strategically interesting issue.

Friedman argues, I believe, that our real enemies in the region are Russia, Iran, and Iran's proxy, Hezbollah. If this is true, our strategy should make their lives harder, more costly, not easier.