June 11, 2015
Almost nine months after President Obama admitted that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to challenge the Islamic State (ISIS) — and just days after he said he still has “no complete Iraq strategy” — the non-strategy suddenly has a name: escalation. The Obama administration is poised to send 400 to 500 additional troops to Iraq immediately, and to build a new U.S. military base in restive Anbar province to house them — and potentially many more.
These troops would not be limited to the officially narrow training mission of the 3,100 U.S. troops already on the ground in Iraq. Their mission would be to help Iraqi forces retake the city of Ramadi and repel the Islamic State. The escalation isn’t exactly the massive deployment of ground troops called for by some hawks in Congress and by neo-conservative commentators, but it is taking us into another Middle East quagmire that is likely to drag on for years–and not work.
Already, we’ve seen that the US arming of anti-ISIS forces has ended up strengthening ISIS. On June 2, news broke that the Iraq military had managed to lose 2,300 armored Humvees, at least 40 M1A1 tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and 52 or more howitzers, mainly to the Islamic State. And what about training? We’ve been training the Iraqi forces for over a decade. Why should more training be any more effective?
While Obama has often said “there is no military solution” to the ISIS crisis, the U.S. strategy has relied almost solely on military action. Here are some more effective non-military steps the US could take:
1) Freeze the bank accounts of ISIS funders.
We’ve been spending $8 million an hour on this war since 2001, and we simply can’t afford it anymore – and it doesn’t work. Please join us in telling President Obama to stop the escalation and promote real solutions.
Phyllis Bennis for CODEPINK (Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies)