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How to respond to the ISIS insurgency
Dialogue with the Alter Ego discussing the possibility of an open counter-insurgency intervention in Iraq, first
drafted on June 17, published on June 18, 2014

Question by Alter Ego of Noah denkt™ (AE): The advance of the insurgents of the so-called Islamic State in
Iraq and Syria is posing a major threat to the Maliki government in Iraq. According to recent reports the
insurgents already control much of Mosul and Tikrit. And they have laid siege to Samarra, the site of one of
Shiism’s most storied shrines.
It is no secret that Noah denkt™ has been extremely skeptical about the
prospects for lasting success of the 2003 intervention in Iraq. Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem appropriate at this
point to focus on past mistakes while the present is quickly getting out of hand. In other words, the most
pressing question in Iraq is not what should have been done differently back when but what needs to be done
now to stop the breathtaking advance of ISIS fast. Would Noah denkt™, therefore, be in favor of a rapid
counter-ISIS intervention in Iraq by the US or other Western forces?

Answer by Noah denkt™ (Nd): Well, it is getting increasingly clear that the Maliki government isn’t able to deal
with this ISIS advance on its own. At the same time though, it seems also plain to us that it cannot be In the
interest of the West to quell this present insurgency by laying the foundations for a post-ISIS insurgency in the
future. In other words, we believe that the lasting success of any major force deployment in Iraq, particularly of
the US, will depend a lot on whether the timing of said intervention is right and whether any premature action
can be avoided.

AE: Could you expand on that, please?

Nd: Obviously, the dramatic success of ISIS has also something to do with the lack of credibility of the Maliki
government. And that lack of credibility of the Maliki government has in turn a lot to do with the fact that it came
into being as the result of a foreign intervention which most observers, both nationally and internationally
continue to view as illegal and illegitimate. It should therefore not be in the interest of the US to intervene again
in Iraq without having the overwhelming support of public opinion, nationally and internationally, on its side.

AE: So you are saying that the US should stand by idly while Sunni extremists are taking over power in Iraq? Or,
to put it differently, you are recommending to not take out ISIS at this point, while it is still relatively easy to do
so but to wait until the insurgents are firmly established and have the infrastructure of an entire state at their

Nd: Well, first of all, the insurgents haven’t conquered Baghdad yet. After all, there is at least one major power
in Iraq’s neighborhood (Iran) that has absolutely no interest in ISIS taking over Iraq.  And secondly, it may well
be true that a later counter-ISIS intervention in Iraq is more costly and difficult. But what would it help to act fast
now only to incur other hostilities later?

AE: Nobody knows for sure whether there will be new extremist insurgencies once the present one has been
destroyed. And neither does anybody know for certain whether a later intervention would effectively do away
with all insurgency threats in the future.

Nd: True. But what we know for sure is that the first rash and rapid approach of 2003 hasn't worked at all.

AE: Tony Blair disputes that. He argues that we would have another Syria civil war scenario on our hands now if
Saddam Hussein hadn’t been taken out at the time.

Nd: Well, don’t we have a Syria civil war scenario unfolding in Iraq now?

AE: The difference is that it is “our s.o.b.” who is in power now in Iraq and not “their s.o.b.” as would be the case
if we hadn't intervened in 2003. Strategically, that changes the context quite a bit. After all, it’s Assad’s access
to state resources that allows him to gain the upper hand in
Syria’s civil war.

Nd: If that hold on power were so important why doesn’t Maliki then defend himself more effectively than he
actually does at this point in time? The answer is that his reign is fragile and lacks internal support.

AE: Be that as it may we cannot wait until the entire region from Syria to Iraq is in flames.

Nd: We must wait until we can thoroughly win this battle. Remember,
hysteria is not a substitute for level-
headed statesmanship.  
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Sunni extremists in Iraq, insurgency in Iraq, advance of ISIS in Iraq,
counter-insurgency intervention in Iraq, ISIS insurgency in Iraq, redeployment of
foreign troops in Iraq, redeployment of US forces in Iraq, strategic response to
ISIS insurgency in Iraq