How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o'-the wisp! A clown!
--Sound of Music
I would remind you that extremism
in the defense of liberty is no vice!
And let me remind you also that moderation
in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
This is not an "ISIS problem", but rather, a perception problem.
The media is reporting "major setbacks" in Iraq. Typical is The Week magazine's gloss which in the first two sentences called ISIS "militants," "an Islamic terror group" and "Sunni extremists". Maybe it is all of the above, but if you cannot accurately name or define a problem, you cannot solve it. The first lesson of good soldiering is learning to define the problem.
It is strange after more than a decade of war in the region, our press and government do not know how to label the players. They hedge their bets by a scatter-gun approach to naming, but precision is necessary for understanding and determining correct action.
Are extremists necessarily terrorists? One could say Presidential candidate Marco Rubio and most of the other Republican frontrunners are extremists and radicals, along with almost everyone working in the FOX newsroom. We in America are comfortable with extremism as long as it looks and sounds fairly white and Right.
Are ISIS members militants? If so, do they follow the Rules of War? Do we treat them as Geneva Convention Prisoners of War when captured? What do the Iraqi government forces do with captured ISIS fighters?
We are informed that Iraqi militia members are arresting captured ISIS members -- is this good news? When did militia groups get arrest powers?
Do we capture or arrest ISIS members taken on the field of battle? Are they criminals or POWs? Do the GC's identify them as legal combatants?
Does the United States care or believe that Iraqi forces are treating these prisoners in a humane manner? Why does the U.S. turn a blind eye to this travesty?
ISIS was born because the Shia Iraqi government imposed upon the country never was free, representative or non-sectarian. If I were a Sunni man, would I support the corrupt Shia government or a corrupt Sunni group?
At this point, is ISIS really a terror group? They use terror tactics, but so does the elected government of Iraq.
Further, what is the choice for the U.S. taxpayer? Do we shrug our shoulders and flip off the problem by throwing a few thousand soldiers / advisers, more or less, into the fray? Can we admit that there is no true, equitable or ethical position on either side of the equation?
Our participation on either side sullies the concept of democratic thought and action.