Today’s Post op-ed page has an amazing piece on what to do about ISIS. It’s amazing for two reasons.
First and foremost, why would the Post put a foreign policy article by a retired pediatric neurosurgeon in the prime real estate of its most coveted space? As others have written, who Fred Hiatt puts on that page says more about the Post than it does the author.
Second and related, the article claims to be Carson’s “plan to defeat the Islamic State.” But it’s not. It’s a one stop bazaar to catch as many platitudes and buzzwords as possible. It’s such an overstuffed extra large grande burrito of stupid that Chipotle would fire the guy who made it.
Let’s take a stroll through the piece, shall we?
“We are at war.” I’m not sure we’re going to be out of this war until after I’m gone, and I’m not that old.
“An evil state of consciousness.” Dr. Ben won’t be exchanging holiday cards with ISIS, clearly. But why must US foreign policy always be about good and evil? Can’t we just once have a war without invoking the Book of Revelations?
So now, on to the plan! Yay! Um, what?
To lead this fight, the United States must dramatically increase its efforts to appeal directly to the moderate Kurds, Syrians and Iraqis. We must convince them that the Islamic State poses a fundamental threat to their existence. And we must equip them with the means to convey that message to their people. This will require a multi-pronged communications strategy that leverages our strengths in media production and messaging, combined with cutting off traditional access routes to social media for radical Islamist groups.
We have in place both the technical and legal capabilities to prohibit the widespread dissemination of hate-based propaganda disguised as religious teaching. We can monitor social media by expanding the search algorithms already in place to safeguard against inappropriate behavior, including religious hate speech. Once flagged, we can notify platform providers and encourage them to censor communications (and block users) that violate the terms of constructive discourse. The hacker group Anonymous has already provided a model for accomplishing this. We should use every tool at our disposal to root out and destroy the global online recruitment efforts of these extremist organizations. We must not allow their macabre murder videos and threats to be promoted anywhere.
Win the war with Facebook?!? And Twitter? First off , it’s a preposterous idea. Second, good luck getting these companies to sign up for a war. They’re not going to help, and in many cases they can’t.
The rest is meaningless babbling.
“Islamic State poses a fundamental threat”
And my favorite sentence of the whole thing: “multi-pronged communications strategy that leverages our strengths in media production and messaging, combined with cutting off traditional access routes to social media for radical Islamist groups.”
Some young guy who thinks he’s hot shit because he has an MBA in management and can create a kickass PowerPoint presentation wrote that twaddle, which packs more bullshit per square inch than a large cow pasture. If there’s anything resembling a plan in those words, I’m not seeing it.
So what’s next? Back to the platitudes, of course.
The Islamic State is on the offensive, and we must do more to counter their fighters and eviscerate their infrastructure. But this also means identifying and cutting off their sources of supply and funding — namely the oil fields along Syria’s eastern border. We need to either destroy the fields with airstrikes or take them and hold them with a coalition of local (Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish) ground troops and Western military advisers and Special Operations forces. The United States can lead the way in developing a political framework and military strategy that enables this to happen. Ongoing military and economic development assistance to these nations would have to be tied to their cooperation in securing the Syrian oil fields.
Blow up the oil fields? Doesn’t say how, and doesn’t say what kind of environmental catastrophe that would cause. See Kuwait, 1990. And honestly, from what I can tell, ISIS’ funding is largely based on foreign contributions, not black market oil sales.
“The United States can lead the way in developing a political framework and military strategy that enables this to happen.” I thought that was what Carson is supposed to be doing in this article? All I’ve heard so far is freeze out their Twitter accounts and blow up the oil fields.
Last point here. Suggesting that we “take and hold [the oil fields] with a coalition of local (Iraqi, Turkish and Kurdish) ground troops and Western military advisers and Special Operations forces.” News flash, doc, the Turks and the Kurds? They hate each other. The Turks have been trying to wipe out the Kurds for centuries, up to and including RIGHT NOW, when they are allegedly on the SAME SIDE. That won’t be a coalition – our Special Ops guys will be sitting between two armies who want to kill each other more than they want to bring down ISIS. Nothing could possibly go wrong there.
We also need enhanced security on our borders. We need to take additional steps to ensure that terrorists from the Middle East do not infiltrate and use refugee status to slip into the United States, which is among the countries that the Islamic State wants desperately to strike directly. But it can’t simply end with defending our borders. As a leader in the fight against Islamist extremism, the United States has certain responsibilities toward the millions of Syrians and Iraqis who have been terrorized by the Islamic State.
While we should not open U.S. borders to refugees at this time, we should encourage the establishment of sanctuary zones in the contested areas of Iraq and Syria. These zones would be administered and controlled by local moderate forces, with financial support and military coordination provided by Western countries. This would not involve a significant on-the-ground presence of Western armies. But we would provide humanitarian aid in the form of shelter, food, water and medical care to fleeing refugees.
Much shorter version, could have saved words: “build a wall that has nothing to do with the Middle East, and keep those icky brown people over there in sanctuary cities.”
Big finish (jargon in bold):
Now, more than ever, the United States must be willing to lead the free world. We need to restore America’s standing by winning over the hearts and minds of populations affected by radical Islamist violence. And to do that we need to create a winning strategy to dismantle and destroy the Islamic State while planting seeds for a more peaceful, healthy and cohesive society in the war-torn regions of the Middle East.
Did he say “hearts and minds“? No, I must have misread that. He did not say “hearts and minds.” OMG, he DID.
I bet the MBA whiz kid probably envisioned making a nice tag cloud and then spending months refining and improving it. Alas, he was sent to Cedar Rapids last week to deliver yard signs. Them’s the breaks sometimes.
So to recap: freeze their social media, blow up the oil fields, get the Turks and the Kurds to work together, and win the hearts and minds of Iraqis, Turks, and Kurds, ??????????, win. Good plan. Let’s put this article aside and discuss it again in a couple of weeks, okay? Thanks for your input.