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So What Do We Do After We Destroy ISIS?

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft fly over northern Iraq Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria.

Let’s make the big assumption that we can actually succeed in achieving our goal in this new war of degrading and destroying ISIS. What is our plan after that, because there are dozens of scenarios that could take place after ISIS is destroyed and we end up extremely unhappy with many of them.

What if Assad takes control again? It is possible that after we destroy ISIS Assad will be able to fill the vacuum by taking control of much of Syria again. Would we accept this? We would allow him to regain full control after spending years talking about how horrible he was and has no legitimate right to run the country? Or, after we destroy ISIS are we going to keep arming and aiding them until they also defeat Assad as well?

What if the “moderate” rebels turn on each other? Once ISIS is destroyed we could see the “moderate” rebel groups newly flush with western weapons turn on each other in a fight for control. Do we wash our hands of the county and just let them fight it out? Would we instead arm and back the most moderaty of the “moderates?” Maybe we would back the strongest rebel group to try to put the quickest possible end to the civil war, even though that leader has all the makings of a future dictator.

What is ISIS just disbands? It is possible that after suffering some big loses some elements of ISIS might just break off with their troops and weapons? I imagine some people in ISIS are devoted to the message while others are power hungry individuals. Do we keep going after these ISIS splinters that dropped the transnational religious war stuff and instead are just focused on being run-of-the-mill warlords? Obama claims the decade-old use of force authorizations let him go after ISIS because it was formerly part of al-Qaeda, even if they are now fighting with al-Qaeda. Does that authorization also cover groups that were formerly part of groups that were formerly part of al-Qaeda? Is there any end to this transitive property of endless war?

What if we end up with three regional powers? After ISIS is destroyed we might have Assad controlling a third of the country, Kurds ruling the north, and our “moderate” rebels holding the east. Do we push for real partitioning? Do we try to get them to all agree to a federal system with a unity government? Do we keep fighting until the “moderate” rebels take the whole country?

At least in Iraq George W. Bush technically had an end game strategy to “bring democracy” even though that was absurdly lofty. This time I have no idea what President Obama’s exit strategy is except exiting office and leaving this mess for the next president.

Photo by U. S. Department of Defense, public domain

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So What Do We Do After We Destroy ISIS?

Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft fly over northern Iraq Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria.

Let’s make the big assumption that we can actually succeed in achieving our goal in this new war of degrading and destroying ISIS. What is our plan after that, because there are dozens of scenarios that could take place after ISIS is destroyed and we end up extremely unhappy with many of them.

What if Assad takes control again? It is possible that after we destroy ISIS Assad will be able to fill the vacuum by taking control of much of Syria again. Would we accept this? We would allow him to regain full control after spending years talking about how horrible he was and has no legitimate right to run the country? Or, after we destroy ISIS are we going to keep arming and aiding them until they also defeat Assad as well?

What if the “moderate” rebels turn on each other? Once ISIS is destroyed we could see the “moderate” rebel groups newly flush with western weapons turn on each other in a fight for control. Do we wash our hands of the county and just let them fight it out? Would we instead arm and back the most moderaty of the “moderates?” Maybe we would back the strongest rebel group to try to put the quickest possible end to the civil war, even though that leader has all the makings of a future dictator.

What is ISIS just disbands? It is possible that after suffering some big loses some elements of ISIS might just break off with their troops and weapons? I imagine some people in ISIS are devoted to the message while others are power hungry individuals. Do we keep going after these ISIS splinters that dropped the transnational religious war stuff and instead are just focused on being run-of-the-mill warlords? Obama claims the decade-old use of force authorizations let him go after ISIS because it was formerly part of al-Qaeda, even if they are now fighting with al-Qaeda. Does that authorization also cover groups that were formerly part of groups that were formerly part of al-Qaeda? Is there any end to this transitive property of endless war?

What if we end up with three regional powers? After ISIS is destroyed we might have Assad controlling a third of the country, Kurds ruling the north, and our “moderate” rebels holding the east. Do we push for real partitioning? Do we try to get them to all agree to a federal system with a unity government? Do we keep fighting until the “moderate” rebels take the whole country?

At least in Iraq George W. Bush technically had an end game strategy to “bring democracy” even though that was absurdly lofty. This time I have no idea what President Obama’s exit strategy is except exiting office and leaving this mess for the next president. (more…)

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com