By: Joshua Keating
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the fairly obvious point yesterday that it will be impossible to deal a definitive blow to ISIS by attacking it on only one side of the increasingly irrelevant Syrian-Iraqi border. Here’s the New York Times:
“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic end-of-days strategic vision that will eventually have to be defeated,” said the chairman … in his most expansive public remarks on the crisis since American airstrikes began in Iraq. “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.”…
“It requires a variety of instruments, only one small part of which is airstrikes,” he said. “I’m not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America. But it requires the application of all of the tools of national power—diplomatic, economic, information, military.”
Despite Dempsey’s remarks, it’s not really clear that “defeating” ISIS is actually President Obama’s goal in this conflict. But that could change. Assuming that the U.S. does reluctantly take on the project of defeating ISIS, or at least substantially degrading it, that decision will inevitably deepen America’s even-more-reluctant involvement in the conflict in Syria.