Thursday, January 29, 2015

USA Alone Cannot Defeat Islamic State

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Amin Saikali, author of "Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq" is speaking on "The Middle East: Is the ‘Islamic State’ vanquishable?" (there will be a podcast later). Professor Saikal argues that the so-called Islamic State (IS) cannot be defeated by the US-led air campaign. He says a land based imilitary operation will be required and this would be preferably undertaken by local forces, not the USA and its western allies. He also points out that IS promotes itself as a continuation of the Caliphate abolished with the formation of modern Turkey after WW1. But there is still a romantic notion of restoring power to the region. Professor Saikal argues that the appeal of a Caliphate can be countered by the formation of modern democracies respecting human rights. To an outsider it may seem madness that anyone would support a totalitarian theocracy, but it might be more appealing than current totalitarian governments.

In my view an areas where Australia could contribute is in combating IS on-line. There are some suggestions this may be happening with an Australian Cyber Offensive, but also can include more subtle information campaigns. These are important skills our military forces need to learn, in any case, for future conflicts.

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