Originally posted November 23, 2015.
Former CIA bin Laden unit chief Michael Scheuer’s doable, unilateral, and non-time consuming plan to extract the United States from the Muslim world.
Dr. Scheuer concludes that if successful, his advised unilateral U.S. campaign would allow “the United States to bid farewell to the Middle East—leaving it to whoever is stupid enough to want to be involved.”
If the United States and the West really do not want to do the smartest thing and encourage a Sunni-Shia sectarian war, then it has the near-term option of destroying all those facilities in Syria and Iraq that are essential to the Islamic State’s effort to build a state or, in their words, rebuild the Caliphate.
Currently, IS is in possession of:
–Highways and bridges
–Portions of a railway system
–Fleets of tanker trucks, construction vehicles and machinery, and farming equipment
–Cell phone tower networks and overhead power lines
–Improved waterways and irrigation canals/systems
–Potable water and urban sanitation systems
–Hydroelectric dams and reservoirs
–Mills for processing wheat and other grains
–Facilities for mining minerals
–Oil fields, wells, and refineries
–Gas fields, wells, and distribution systems
–Pipelines for fuel, gas, and water
–Factories, government buildings, warehouses, and military bases
–Farmland that is growing crops
–Police stations, military barracks, office buildings, and hotels that are used to store arms and house fighters
Each of these things, needless to say, is part of the IS military effort. They are even more important, however, to its effort to build a state, fund an economy, attract foreign volunteers, and feed, employ, and care for a population. They all are also wonderfully visible, cannot be readily moved or hidden, and are just the kind of targets that Western air forces can annihilate in an air campaign of relatively short duration. For the first time since 1996, the Islamists have acquired a large and valuable set of physical assets that they cannot afford to lose, and they are assets that are perfectly suited to the West’s conventional military forces and so will give Western militaries a respite from the folly of trying to defeat IS by killing their fighters one or two at a time.
Destroy the items listed above and you send IS back to being just very good Islamist insurgents; still dangerous, but no longer advancing the reconstruction of the Caliphate.* Moreover, the loss of these productive assets via air attacks, and the high numbers of civilians that surely will die therein, will create an unhappy and restive population prone to rebellion in the regions IS controls.