To defeat ISIS, we need to retake Iraq & cut the Caliphate in half. (My radio interview with Hugh Hewitt on Apocalyptic Islam)

HughHewitt-graphicHughHewitt-photo

(Washington, D.C.) — Over the course of the last month, as I’ve been traveling across the country on The First Hostage book tour, people have been consistently asking me a series of excellent questions:

  1. How do we defeat ISIS?
  2. What should the Obama administration be doing that it isn’t?
  3. If this administration can’t or won’t get the job done, what should the next President do?
  4. Should we send a ground force into Syria?
  5. What about the ancient Islamic prophecies that the West will get slaughtered in the Syrian town of Dabiq?

On Wednesday afternoon, I was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his nationally syndicated talk show host. I have grown to respect Hugh as a serious thinker as well as an excellent interviewer, both on radio and in his role helping to moderate the CNN presidential debates. Hugh, a devout Christian and a skilled lawyer, reads voraciously and has an insatiable hunger to learn. Often when I’m in Israel, I enjoy listening to the podcast of his interviews not only with the presidential candidates but with key experts on foreign policy and national security matters.

During our conversation about The First Hostage — my last interview on this book tour — we discussed each of these questions, as well as how I write novels and do my research. You can listen to the podcast of the full interview by clicking here.

That said, here’s a slightly more detailed explanation of my view on how to defeat ISIS:

  1. Yes, a coalition of U.S., Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian, Egyptian, and other Sunni Arab military forces can and must crush the Islamic State. This is a winnable war, but not with the current strategy of half-measures, pinprick bombings, and political tough talk not backed up by a serious military approach to win.
  2. What the Obama administration should be doing is pursuing a “Take Back Iraq First” approach. Since the first Gulf war in 1991, and then with the war to liberate Iraq in 2003, followed by the surge strategy in 2006-2008, the American people have identified Iraq has a strategically important country to us. Getting Iraq right matters. We have invested heavily in liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein and from the clutches of al Qaeda and other Radical Islamic terror groups. Withdrawing all our forces in December 2011 was a terrible and foreseeable error. It created a vacuum that ISIS exploited. Now we’re seeing genocide against Christians and Yazidis by the Islamic State, the wicked fruit of Apocalyptic Islam. Thus, the goal now must be to re-take Iraq — and cut the Caliphate in half — using decisive military force. We likely need 20,000 to 40,000 U.S. boots on the ground, primarily special forces. We need to heavily arm the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. We need to strengthen the Iraqi military. We need to increase arms (and humanitarian aid and other economic assistance) to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, our most faithful Sunni Arab ally in the region. We also need to work closely with Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf States and get their active participation. The mission: to storm across northern Iraq, crush ISIS wherever they are found, liberate Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — set the captives free, crush ISIS once and for all, and drive whatever remains of the terror group back into Syria. This could likely be done by the end of 2016 if the U.S. took the lead and was fully committed to victory. By cutting the Caliphate in half, it would deal a serious blow to ISIS morale and their sense that they are invincible.
  3. If President Obama won’t pursue such a strategy, then we need to elect an American President who understands the threat of Radical and Apocalyptic Islam and has the courage and wisdom to fight to win, beginning with re-taking Iraq.
  4. No, I don’t believe we should send U.S. ground forces into Syria. That Arab nation is imploding. It’s engaged in a Hellish civil war. Now the Russians and Iranians are fighting there on behalf of Bashar al-Assad and his evil regime. There are no good options. There are no rationale leaders that we can identify at this point who could truly govern the country in a civilized way, even if we could defeat ISIS, remove Assad, and pacify the civil war. Syria is a hornets’ nest. My heart breaks for the people of Syria. The U.S. and other world powers need to help Jordan and Lebanon care for the millions of Syrian refugees that have flooded their borders. We should not take Syrian refugees into the U.S. because we cannot vet them and determine who is a terrorist and who is not. We should use air power to consistently degrade ISIS forces, infrastructure, oil reserves, and so forth. But we should not launch a ground force into a country that we have no plan — or ability — at this point to truly rescue.
  5. While there are many reasons at this point not to launch a ground war into Syria, fear of ancient Islamic prophecies about an end of the world battle in Dabiq is not on the list. Those are false prophecies. ISIS is driven by them. But they are not Biblical prophecies. They are not based on truth. They are based on false teaching. We needn’t fear false teaching and false prophecy. Since we can degrade ISIS in Dabiq (and Raqqa, and elsewhere) from the air, that’s what we should do for now. Once we have worked with our Sunni Arab allies in the region to re-take Iraq, and degrade ISIS forces in Syria from the air, then we can re-evaluate and develop the next phase of our strategy. But while we need to understand how Apocalyptic, genocidal, Islamic eschatology motivates ISIS leaders, we need not hesitate confronting them because of their apocalypse-addled thinking.

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