Op-Ed: Kerry's proposed solution to Islamic State is very vague

Posted Aug 30, 2014 by Paul Iddon
Kerry, and indeed the wider Obama administration, has been very vague about just how the United States will go about confronting the threat posed by Islamic State.
John Kerry is the 68th United States Secretary of State
John Kerry is the 68th United States Secretary of State
Center for American Progress Action Fund
In a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times Mr. Kerry outlined how the world needs to come together in order to confront Islamic State. A group he, like Obama did the other day, dubs a "cancer". Strong words, and certainly appropriate ones given the nature of the group.
Kerry went on to say that Islamic State is not just a regional but indeed a global threat. Consequently he argues that a coalition needs to be formed in order to confront the groups "genocidal agenda." This is also in line with what Obama himself said the other day when he admitted that while he doesn't have a clear strategy when it comes to confronting Islamic State in Syria his administration is seeking the establishment of a coalition.
Both Kerry and Obama have reminded the world that this group has threatened the United States and that country is indeed open to the idea of targeting them in Syria. Kerry reminded his readers of the threat of foreign fighters in IS ranks coming home undetected and carrying out terrorist attacks on American and European soil – this isn't a problem exclusively to the western world by the way, many fighters in IS ranks emanated from Russia and the Caucasus and likely would love an opportunity to carry out terror attacks in Russia in the near future.
And he also reiterated the fact that air strikes alone will not defeat IS in Syria. Instead he suggests that an international coalition providing "humanitarian aid, military assistance" is the answer.
The administration and its UK ally have been unequivocal. When it comes to confronting IS neither will be putting "boots on the ground". And cooperating with the Syrian authorities in fighting IS in Syria is also out of question according to the administration.
Furthermore air strikes against IS forces in Syria aren't transpiring any time soon according to Obama.
So one wonders what other solution there is.
If a ground incursion into Syria is necessary to neutralize the IS threat does the United States expect regional powers to send ground forces into eastern Syria in order to do the fighting, if so do they have any countries in mind?
Or is Kerry simply insuring that regional allies of the United States are ready to take in more large numbers of refugees in their countries and provide humanitarian aid to drop to the Syrians who may be displaced in their own country by US bombing against Islamic State in the future?
The last scenario seems more likely. But by the administrations own admission that is not enough to defeat IS. So are they simply readying to deal that group a major blow in lieu of a decisive defeat?
Perversely the second last paragraph of his op-ed concerning the building of a coalition reads as follows,
"Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory."
Interestingly one partner of that coalition was Syria under the present presidents fathers regime (the Ba'athists of Iraq and Syria never formed a single polity since Saddam sought to be the undisputed leader so Assad's Syria formulated an alliance with Iran which still exists today). Furthermore that coalition wasn't assembled to combat an irregular enemy but instead the army of a tyrannical dictatorship whose tyrant was left in power after he was driven out of Kuwait. Those of the realpolitik persuasion argued that the then administration didn't go overboard by not then implementing a regime change in Baghdad but kept the coalition together by achieving the sole overall goal of expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Sadly while Kerry's op-ed tells us what we already know about Islamic States' vile nature it doesn't propose a clear solution to that "cancer" and "disease".