The book of Proverbs states: By wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
But the book of Proverbs has no pithy words about when to withdraw from war. Maybe that’s why withdrawal is such a controversial subject.
Recently, President Donald Trump announced the United States will withdraw its estimated 2,000 troops from Syria because Isis has been defeated. Critics of the president, like Secretary of Defense Gen. Mattis who resigned over the pullout, disagreed, but President Trump is not alone in his assertion about the defeat of Isis.
In November 2017 Business Insider ran this headline: “Isis has been militarily defeated in Iraq and Syria.” They listed three bullet points.
1). The leaders of Iraq and Iran both declared the terrorist group Isis defeated militarily in Iraq and Syria.
2). Iraqis and Syrians, with assistance from the U.S. and other regional militias, took their countries back from the terror group that declared its own sovereign territory in the summer of 2014.
3). Isis still has territory in countries around the world, but has been brutally disrupted by a U.S.-backed bombing campaign.
In December 2017 National Review asked: Why was the news of Isis’ defeat greeted, in large part, with silence? They listed three explanations.
1). Trump’s the first president who seems determined to distract the public from good news by creating his own bad news.
2). The public is weary of “mission accomplished” moments.
3). The public has less appetite for the positive—panic and fear make for a better story than victory and peace.
The National Review issued its own order to the public: It’s time for a change. Americans died in the fight against Isis. They restored American military victory in Iraq, persevering the gains of men and women who fought there years before. In the process, they defeated one of the most vicious and evil enemies our nation has ever faced. They helped retake cities and liberated the oppressed. They won a war. It’s a victory worth celebrating.
No, it’s not, because they didn’t win a war.
Let’s re-examine the first three bullet points.
The first bullet point states the terror group was “militarily” defeated. I can only assume that means Isis fighters are dead, but body counts alone win battles not necessarily wars. Defenders of U.S. intervention in Vietnam always claim America had no military defeats in Vietnam, but admit America lost the war politically. The second bullet point said the territories that Isis captured to establish their political goal—The Caliphate (a sovereign Islamic state) was regained by the Iraqis and the Syrians with U.S. assistance.
Here’s where it gets confusing.
The first two bullet points sound like Isis was defeated militarily and politically for good, and this may be the sole reason why President Trump claimed Isis was defeated. But just like Vietnam was a battle in the larger cold war, the loss of—The Caliphate—was only a battle in a larger plan of conquest for Isis.
The third bullet point warned Isis still had territories around the world. I titled this column: Was Isis ever defeated? But the real question is, will the ideology behind Isis ever be abandoned?
Because it can’t be militarily defeated.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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