Brent Scowcroft Center Senior Adviser Harlan Ullman writes for Huffington Post on the US administration’s plan for combatting the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:
The media is awash with stories about the Obama administration’s intention to revise its so-called Iraq-first strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State (IS). The impetus according to the press arose from the plea of coalition allies in the region to make good on President Obama’s demand that Syrian leader Bashar al Assad leave office now and not after IS is driven from Iraq. Whether these reports are correct is unclear. However, the president apparently has met several times with his national security team on modifying the strategy to beat IS.
In simplest terms, the strategy so far is based on building a coalition in the fight to destroy IS in Iraq first; — degrading IS through air and drone strikes, resurrecting Iraqi security forces and equiping Kurdish Pesh Merga as the means to eject IS from Iraq. Success or failure rests on three big bets.
The first bet is that the president will stay the course and not be distracted from defeating IS by events in Ukraine or elsewhere. Second, is ensuring that there is a clear-cut chain of command that the public and politicians can understand. Last, is the crucial need for the new Iraqi government to take the necessary political steps to reconcile the sectarian conflict among Shia, Sunni and Kurd; to weed out corruption and to install competent leaders in its security forces.