Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is giving his boss heartburn today.
During testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday, Dempsey revealed the circumstances which would force him to recommend to President Barack Obama sending American ground forces into a “combat advisory role” in Iraq. They were circumstances that were not at all difficult to envision.
The White House, which has prioritized above all else their political commitment to ensuring that the campaign against ISIS does not in any way resemble the Iraq War, was forced to repeat their insistence that American ground troops will not serve in a combat role in Iraq following Dempsey’s comments.
But Dempsey was not done throwing cold water on the White House’s desired framing of this new conflict in the Middle East. Later on in the hearing amid an inquiry by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Joint Chiefs chairman also took a bit of a pessimistic view of just how much help our supposedly eager but as yet unnamed Arab combat allies will be in assisting in the West’s anti-ISIS campaign.
When defending the administration’s coalition building efforts, specifically those centered on securing regional allies, Graham protested and asked if it was fair to suggest that the administration believes it can only address the threat posed by ISIS if America’s Arab allies consent.
“It really comes down to building a coalition,” Dempsey replied, “so that what the Arab Muslim world see is them rejecting ISIS, not us…”
“They already reject ISIL,” Graham interjected. “Do you know any major Arab ally that embraces ISIL?”
“I know major Arab allies who fund them,” Dempsey replied glibly.
Golly, I wonder. Whoever might Dempsey be talking about?
Sen. Graham did not seem to appreciate Dempsey’s disparagement of America’s Arab partners or his painting the Arab world with such a broad brush. That is a fair point, but so is Dempsey’s.
In the media, accounts of wealthy Saudis, Qataris, and Kuwaitis funding ISIS are not hard to come by. Some of these primarily wealthy individual benefactors have allegedly trafficked funds to the Islamic State directly though America’s increasingly problematic NATO ally Turkey.
ISIS is not, however, dependent on foreign donors to maintain their largess. The group has robbed a number of flush banks in the cities they occupy. In July, ISIS stole $425 million from banks in Mosul alone. Moreover, the oil-rich proto-state reportedly earns up to $3 million per day from the black market sale of oil and petroleum products produced in territories they control.
Nevertheless, it is problematic that some of America’s Arab allies are content to at so duplicitously with regards the Islamic state. It is just another reason why putting the brakes on any technology which allows the United States to continue on a path toward energy independence also puts American national security in jeopardy.