President Barack Obama is going to decide “soon” on whether to send more troops into Iraq. Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford told reporters Wednesday the increase would be due to plans to try to get Mosul out of the hands of ISIS. Via Reuters:

Recommendations are being made and the president will have an opportunity to make some decisions here in the coming weeks,” Dunford said. “I brought it to the secretary (Defense Secretary Ash Carter). The secretary will engage with the president.”

“The timing really now is focused on the next phase of the campaign, which is towards Mosul, and maintaining the kind of momentum that we had in Ramadi,” Dunford said.

Dunford has been advocating an increase in troops for a while. Town Hall’s Justin Holcomb noted last week how the Joint Chiefs are worried the Battle of Mosul is going to be really hard on the Iraqi army.

“From a military-to-military perspective, we’ve significantly increased our information- [and] intelligence-sharing over the last few months, and we have specific locations where we bring together a number of our coalition partners to do just that,” Dunford said.

Mosul is the strategic stronghold for ISIS and will be one of the toughest challenges the region has faced in terms of toppling ISIS-held cities. If Mosul is taken by coalition forces, it will be a crushing blow to ISIS communications and logistics.

The most amusing (aka #headdesk inducing) aspect is how Dunford and the Obama Administration are still calling the ground troops’ role “advising.” This is ridiculous. You don’t send almost 4K troops into a country to only advise. Yes, that’s a lot less than the 160K which were in Iraq in 2007. But the fact troops levels are going up, suggests the Iraqis aren’t doing well in their fight against ISIS. This is just another headache the next president will have to deal with whenever he or she takes office next year.

I’ve written before how I do not believe the U.S. should be involved in the fight against ISIS because I don’t believe it’s “our fight.” I want U.S. troops back home, and not fighting an enemy I do not believe will ever truly be defeated in a military conflict. Businesses should be allowed to set up shop in the Middle East and let free trade (businesses trading with other businesses and customers) be the “weapon” used to fight extremists. It helped defeat the Soviet Union and can be used to beat Islamic extremism (even if it will probably never be stamped out completely).

At the same time, the next administration is going to have to decide whether half measures are enough to stop ISIS. If they’re not, then the military is going to have to go all out to beat it. That means grounds troops and probably U.S.-led troops. It means being willing to fight a war to win, and not fight a war by doing bombings by proxy. I don’t think this will work because the war would probably end up spreading from Iraq to Syria to Libya to Egypt to Lebanon and elsewhere. It will probably foment more hatred of America and just might cause more wannabe jihadis to start attacking (including ISIS-planned attacks on U.S. soil). There can’t be half measures. The U.S. is going to have to decide whether it’s worth doing total war (with an actual strategy to defeat and destroy ISIS) or letting free markets and free trade win. Based on past history, the latter will probably work better than the former, even if it might take longer than any of us would want.

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