As reported during an interview with Barbara Starr of CNN on May 24, 2015, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said that the Iraqi forces outnumbered the ISIS forces, but the Iraqis retreated. Carter proposes is to provide more weapons and training to the Iraqis and hope that the Iraqis develop the will to fight. The title of Starr’s interview was Defense Secretary Carter: Iraqi Forces Lack ‘Will to Fight’ ISIS.
The reason that the Iraqi soldiers weren’t willing to fight ISIS in Ramadi involves several factors.
- The Iraqi militia is predominantly Shia. Ramadi is predominately Sunni. The Iraqi militia has to fight Iraqi Sunni militia in addition to fighting the ISIS militia that is also predominately Sunni.
- Iran is predominately Shia, and Iran has been supporting the Shia militia against ISIS since June 2014. The Iran militia has a bigger stake in recapturing Ramadi that the Iraqi militia has.
- If Iranian and US soldiers can bear the brunt of the fighting in Ramadi, the Iraqi Shia militia doesn’t have to die.
John McCain and other members of Congress want to put American soldiers “on the ground” because our attempts to bomb ISIS into submission in Iraq and Syria are not working. This approach of sending in US troops to battle ISIS is an extension of the “war on terror” that the US has subscribed to since the 9/11 attacks. The war on terror boosts our defense industry profits while doing nothing to increase the actual security of the US or the rest of the world.
Given all of this, what is the US thinking with regard to spending over $2 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan in what are largely religious wars? There is a serious moral issue when the US claims that we are fighting ISIS to keep the US safe. The drone attacks, bombing and Special Forces raids into sovereign countries decrease our security in Muslim states by justifying retaliation against the US. The “coalition forces” are a fiction that the US has created to attempt to legitimize our invasions and military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The United Nations should be the organization to sanction responses to ISIS by a coalition. The US runs the risk of being censored for its actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Iraqi militia has failed to fight in Ramadi because it requires them to fight beside two former enemies; the US and Iran, as allies against ISIS. The US suggestion that more weapons and US troops in Iraq will make the Shia militia more willing to risk their lives in a war that is largely out of their control is naive at best. Both Iraq and Afghanistan would like to get the US out of their countries. The US has put continued pressure on Afghanistan to “accept” the help of the US to fight the Taliban instead of negotiate a settlement. The US has maintained a military presence in Iraq to maintain its ability to stay engaged in the region. As long as the US and Iran are willing to fight against ISIS in Iraq, the incentive to take the lead role in this religious conflict is diminished.