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13 Oct, 2014

Why the campaign against Islamic State is doomed – Sydney Morning Herald

By Hugh White, Columnist

Tony Abbott hopes for a good, quick, cheap war in Iraq. But after the first few weeks of bombing everyone now understands that western air strikes alone will do little to “degrade and destroy” the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They will only be defeated on the ground. That will require very large land forces, committed for a very long time, and accepting heavy casualties.

Most of those forces are supposed to come from the Iraqi Army and “moderate” factions in Syria’s civil war, both of which have already been soundly beaten by IS. The hope is that weapons, training and advice from the US-led coalition will transform them into crack troops who can turn the tables on IS and win the war for us.

This is not a new idea. For half a century America and its allies have been trying to win messy civil wars without fighting themselves and by training and equipping one side or the other. It never works.

Read the rest: Why the campaign against Islamic State is doomed.