Iraq and Syria Audio Analysis: Is the US Serious About Fighting the Islamic State?

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I spoke with Monocle 24’s The Briefing on Wednesday about international intervention in the Iraq and Syria crises, assessing the prospects of pushing back and defeating the Islamic State.

The discussion begins with Canada’s decision to join airstrikes in Iraq — “mainly a PR victory for the US presentation of a coalition” — but soon moves to more difficult questions. Foremost among those is the lack of an apparent strategy to hold back the Islamic State, let alone fulfil President Obama’s promise to “degrade and eventually destroy” the jihadists, as they seek to capture the Kurdish center of Kobane in northern Syria.

Listen to discussion from 6:32 on The Briefing’s homepage or in separate pop-out window

The Obama Administration is uncertain about what it wants to do, and that’s for a very important reason.

If you are going to challenge the Islamic State in Syria — and you might as well admit this — you are going to have to give weapons to and work with the Syrian insurgency. But that insurgency is going to say, “Look, we are not only opposing the Islamic State, we are fighting the Assad regime after more than three years.

The Americans have got a choice. If they are going to confront the Islamic State, they have to say to the insurgents, “We are going to work with you and we continue to fight Assad.” Or they have to put their hands up and say, quite frankly, “We are putting in a partial effort in Syria, which is going to be far from enough to degrade and eventually destroy the Islamic State.”

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