The evidence continues to mount in the question of how well “leading from behind” works on the world stage. Turns out that it’s rather difficult to do if you can’t find anyone to stand in front of you and charge the enemy lines. Adding to the chorus of RSVP responses with regrets is NATO, who announced yesterday that they didn’t see any need to commit troops to the ground fight against ISIS. (Daily Caller)
NATO will not use ground forces in operations against Islamic State in Syria, says NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.
The NATO chief official ruled out sending NATO ground forces to fight ISIS, instead focusing on the need for greater utilization of local forces and other Muslim neighbor countries.
The international organization’s announcement follows key votes in German and U.K. government to join the fight against ISIS, as well as reports that the recent San Bernardino shooting perpetrators had ties to ISIS.
“Muslims are on the front line in this war. Most victims are Muslims, and most of those who fight against the IS are Muslims. We can not carry on this struggle for them,” says Stoltenberg. “The United States has a limited number of special forces. In the foreground, however, is strengthening local forces. This is not easy, but it’s the only option.”
The Germans and the Brits have joined the French in wanting to “join in” on the attack. But thus far, that consists of being willing to fly some bombing missions. That’s great, and we can use all the help we can get, (particularly since we seem to be running out of bombs) but it’s just a larger version of the US strategy which is already failing.
At some point somebody is going to have to take to the field and kick these monsters out of their lairs. Who will that be? The fact remains that the only major international coalitions of ground troops to take the field since the 80s have been ones assembled behind, in support of and under the direction of US troops. (This shouldn’t come as a huge shock if you believe that we’re still the sole remaining superpower.) Sitting back and offering air support along with command and control functions will still require somebody out on the front lines. The Peshmerga are out there swinging for the fences, but they are sorely undermanned and in need of arms. Technically we have the remnants of the Iraqi army fighting for us but, well… the less said about that the better I suppose.
So what army will take the field without us and assemble a coalition of troops from among our allies? The French? The Brits? Germany? Let’s just say I’m dubious at best. So who does that leave? Does anybody really want to see an army of 50,000 Russians with full battle gear cruising around the desert? I’m not saying they would or even could at this point, but if it happened that would portend some very dark days ahead for a region which hasn’t seen many bright and sunny ones in years.
The reality here seems fairly clear. Barack Obama let everyone know that he had no stomach for this battle and that essentially gave all of our allies permission to stay on the sidelines. It sounds great for everyone to come together and agree that it needs to be an Arab army out there destroying ISIS and I certainly agree in principle. Now go find that army. What’s that? Nobody is volunteering to be first?
Somewhere out there, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi must be getting a good laugh out of this.