Wasn’t one of the big complaints about the Iraq War that it was based on faulty intelligence that was itself the result (allegedly) of pressure from higher ups to reach a certain conclusion? Well now it appears that high level CENTCOM commanders allegedly pressured analysts to say things were going swimmingly in the War on ISIS. It all seems pretty unlikely that things are going great, as we’re not doing very much over there. A bombing here and there, but not exactly a massive campaign. The whole area seems a chaotic, multifront war, where we are teamed up with Iran in Syria while we’re against them in Yemen. We still have not picked a horse as to Sunni or Shia, nor should we necessarily.
It’s hard to win a war (or even know if you’re winning), if all the intel is “cooked.” And it is a shameful day, if this is true, when uniformed military in a desire to look good and make the boss happy start lying and pressure others to lie. I would not be surprised if this was all the result of hints and pressure from the White House, but I’m sure there is plausible deniability all the way around. Alternately, we know from Iraq that the face-saving optimism by the military commanders can be expected ad infinitum, where victory is just over the next hill with a few more months and resources. Victory parades and surrenders with treaty signings on the deck of the USS Missouri are pretty rare these days. Even on a good day, at best we will be able to reduce ISIS’s ability to project power and, even then, it’s only one facet of the multi-headed monster that is Islamic extremism.
What the US lacks and has since 9/11 is a coherent, effective strategy to address that problem, which is the problem of which ISIS, al Qaeda, and Iran are all just different facets. Bush tried his “reverse domino effect” democracy-export policy, and that has proved a dismal failure. In its stead, we have had partial withdrawal, whack a mole, and occasional enthusiasms against the forces of secular order such as Kaaddafi and Assad. Not much genuine strategy going on there, and one of the most effective tools–cordoning off the area and not allowing them in the front door–is still treated as a metaphysical impossibility, even though its the least costly and most effective thing we could start doing.