Three major US commitments

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 19, 2014
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Back into war [By Jiao Haiyang/]

In an article in the New York Times, David Sanger says, "Obama has now committed the United States to three major projections of its power: a 'pivot' to Asia, a muscular presence in Europe and a new battle against Islamic extremists." So the common impression that the United States is in an era of retrenchment may not be true after all.

Let us consider the three commitments in reverse order.

Obama's plan to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State has been called "minimalist" and equivalent to "talking big but carrying a soft stick." Indeed, he once disdained IS as "junior varsity," not a serious threat. Only after the beheadings of two American journalists fired up public opinion did he feel the need to do something.

The linchpin of his strategy is air strikes. But "pin prick" air strikes never decide the outcome of a war.

Indefatigable Secretary of State John Kerry has tried to line up support for the campaign against IS from U.S. allies and Arab states, but few would be willing to devote troops on the ground. Turkey, NATO's only predominantly Muslim member nation, even declined to allow the Unite States to fly anti-IS missions from its Incirlik Air Base.

The real purpose of Obama's anti-IS plan is to bring about regime change in Syria and oust Bashar al-Assad from power. In his speech outlining his plan to fight IS, he said: "We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria's crisis once and for all."

Obama continues to back the so-called "moderate" rebel group the Free Syrian Army (FSA), even though its commander, Bassel Idriss, admitted that he regularly collaborates with IS in attacking Assad's forces along the Syria-Lebanon border. A very large number of FSA fighters have also joined IS outright.

That doesn't matter. It is no secret that Obama wants to topple Assad in order to weaken Iran's influence in the region. Obama considers Iran, together with Russia and China, as one of Washington's major (potential) adversaries.

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