As a lead into one of my three favorite holidays, the 4th of July, I had intended to identify patriots that had sacrificed to build a nation that for generations provided hope to individuals around the world. Hope that the beacon of Liberty shining from America would illuminate the globe with the brilliance of freedom. Unfortunately, this is not what I can write about this week. Instead we have been stunned like being hit between the eyes with a two by four stud in the dark of night. Totally unexpected, very painful and catching us totally by surprise.
Thirty-nine years ago many of us sat in amazement as we watched the sights and sounds of Viet Nam collapsing. Battalion after battalion collapsed as the North Vietnamese Army stormed south and ultimately entered Saigon. Images of Americans being plucked from the roof tops of the U.S. Embassy are still etched in the minds of many. A supply man working for me in Saudi Arabia, Don Fregazi, told of coming down the Mekong River while working for the CIA and finally reaching a navy boat off shore during the last days of the war. Chaos, death and leaving behind countless American supporters was the order of the day in 1975. And today history is repeating itself.
Last week we woke up to find that an Islamic fundamentalist organization was taking control of Iraqi cities in an amazingly fast order. This organization, ISIS, is so brutal that even the organization that took down the world trade center, Al Qaeda, has distanced itself from it. To ISIS life is cheap and as a town is taken the fanatical organization leaves strewn decapitated civilian corpses along the road and mass graves filled with executed soldiers. This psychological warfare is brutally affective and witnesses the collapse of the Iraqi army in front of the ISIS assault. As I write this on Monday morning it is unclear if Baghdad will be in tack by the time the article hits the news stand. What is clear is that our foreign policy from several years ago has allowed this to take place. Unfortunately, a small amount of leadership three years ago would have prevented this genocide.
I had identified over three years ago that the resurrection in Syria could quickly be brought to an end if America would back the rebels that opposed Syria’s brutal leader, Assad. Instead we waited to see what would happen. This lack of commitment allowed Iran to flex its’ muscles and declare its’ support for the Assad regime. Eventually Russia raised up and declared its’ support and thus allowed Vladimir Putin to enter the world stage in a new leadership role. America provided no guidance and when we declared that we would respond if gas was used in Syria, we once again remained silent as images of gassed civilians filled our television screens. While we procrastinated and lost the opportunity to build a free Syria and gain the confidence of the Syrians, a radical Islamic organization formed within the country. This organization, ISIS, has taken control of northern Syria and is now rolling through Iraq. This should have never had its’ founding in Syria.
The leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, is no dummy. He has a PhD in Islamic studies. Al-Baghdadi was captured by American forces in Iraq and was placed in a high security prison for several years. He learned to remain out of the mainstream of the prison population and act in relative secrecy. He has maintained this approach after release and there are no flashy photos or videos like the ones seen around to world of Bin Laden. He is brutal, intelligent, has no conscience, strikes fear in his enemies and proclaimed to his American captives when released from his Iraqi prison, “I’ll see you in New York”. While the post commander took this as a joke, it was not joke. This man has a plan and his trip to America could well be through Europe as he moves west into economically stressed countries. Unfortunately a relatively small American military presence in Iraq would have prevented this. The mere sight of American training and providing logistical support would have made the worst terrorist think twice. Also, the leadership displayed by the American presence may well have prevented the military collapse we are witnessing today.
There is a saying in the Middle East that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Ironically, Iran, a staunch enemy of America and a country that calls for America’s downfall, is now declaring to defend Bagdad from ISIS. There are rumors that American is now in discussion with Iran.
So what can we do to prevent an ISIS expansion which can eventually move south into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and eventually Dubai. A move that would bring total chaos to the world economy. We must forget the immediate requirement to negotiate internal politics within Iraq. That can come later. We have to show a genuine desire to keep ISIS from expanding. The only hope to stop this in its’ tracks is through American air power and it must be used immediately. No boots on the ground though. It is too late for that. We have the satellites in place that can count the seams on a baseball from a hundred miles. Use these to establish and track targets. The one thing we cannot do is to wait and let another country lead and negotiate the terms between Iraq and ISIS.

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