The View From Olympus: How to Defeat ISIS

With Washington and European capitals wrapped tightly around the ISIS axle, which is a larger victory for ISIS than any massacre, I thought and Olympian perspective might prove useful. Here’s how the whole mess looks from on high.

The inevitable American response to anything from mass murder to hangnails, airstrikes, are again failing. They do inhibit ISIS’s movements of large numbers of men on roads, something air power has historically done well. They may stiffen the backbones of whatever allies we have on the ground. But they have little chance of achieving a decision, at least as presently employed.

In such cases of frustration, it can be helpful to turn to the work of Colonel John Boyd. Boyd advised that in any conflict, you want to pull your enemy apart, not help him cohere. How might we pull ISIS apart?

I previously made one suggestion, namely to offer an alliance with the former Baathists who enable ISIS to function. The Baathists and the religious fanatics are uncomfortable bedfellows. If not pushed toward coherence by our policies, they would be likely to cut each others’ throats. The throats we would like cut are the fanatics’, which should make the Baathists (most of whom were in Saddam’s security services) our natural allies. We could offer them money, plus what is likely anyway, a new Sunni state made from eastern Syria and western Iraq. Our determination to uphold the borders of 1919 has no strategic basis.

Another way to pull ISIS apart is by encouraging all civilians to flee any area occupied by ISIS. Many are doing so; encouraging more should not be too difficult. ISIS cannot function without civilians, who represent its tax base and logistics train. Again, money is the best weapon; offer, say, $1000 to any Iraqi or Syrian who leaves ISIS territory for those portions of Iraq and Syria still in government hands.

Here, air power might play a useful role. After the next ISIS-inspired massacre in Europe or the U.S., give 72 hours warning to all civilians to leave ISIS-controlled areas. Then, bomb Raqqa flat. No “precision” strikes: good old fashioned carpet bombing, where the objective is to leave not one stone upon another. If we don’t have the guts, the Russians do. Then start hitting other ISIS-held towns the same way. The civilians will flee.

I’m sure others may come up with more ways to disaggregate ISIS. But here is where the view from Olympus changes the picture. Our main mistake is obsessing over ISIS.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, ISIS, all will come and go. When one Fourth Generation entity fails, others will arise to replace it. The problem is not any one or several of these organizations. The problem is Fourth Generation war itself and the threat it poses to the state system.

Meeting that threat requires an alliance of all states against non-state forces. War between states is obsolete. Its outcome will usually be the creation of one or more failed states, each of which represents a victory for the Fourth Generation.

That alliance of all states, in turn, should usually seek to isolate, not engage, 4GW opponents. Isolation means stopping refugee flows into First World countries, blockades, financial measures both positive and negative (paying civilans to flee; cutting the 4GW entities off from outside finance), and doing our best to encourage 4GW forces in a given area to fight each other, something they are prone to do. If we think of 4GW just as states vs. non-state entities, we see only part of the picture. As Libya illustrates, 4GW elements also fight each other. This is especially valuable to states in place such as the Middle East where demographics make war a certainty (what I call supply-side war). Far from seeking peace, we want to stoke the fires of such wars until they consume all the available fuel. Only then is peace a real possibility in any case.

Let me re-emphasize one point. It is essential for the survival of the West that refugees from other cultures fleeing 4GW not be let in. If they come, they will bring 4GW with them, turning our countries into hell-holes like the ones they have fled.

So, the view from Olympus suggests we fight ISIS very differently from the way we are fighting it now. It also suggests we stop our obsession with this or that bogeyman and focus instead on the bigger picture, namely 4GW. If Washington ever gets to the point where it can do that, it will find President Putin already there. favicon

7 thoughts on “The View From Olympus: How to Defeat ISIS”

  1. And once again my suggestion and prayer for what’s left of America is that William S. Lind would be appointed Secretary of Defense in the coming Trump administration.

    Question for you sir, if President Trump calls, will you serve?

  2. A very nice article – kudos.

    I would, however, like to suggest an alternative approach to ISIS etc. Just leave them alone, stop them from escaping, and let them kill each other. That’s how we used to deal with third world societies, and it’s never failed when it’s been tried.

    There has been massive propaganda since about 1970 that Malthus and Riccardo and Mills and Keynes were wrong, and that everyone can have six kids a pop starting age 16 and it is guaranteed to work out, but the stubborn reality remains that nothing in this universe grows exponentially for very long. Historically societies without an open frontier or colonies, if they have sustained high fertility rates, they are always miserably poor. The population stabilizes because of lack of food – not of course from starvation, but more from the fact that chronically malnourished women cannot in general bring a large number of pregnancies to successful term. A strong central state cannot long survive under these conditions, and such third-world societies are inevitably fragmented, corrupt and weak – they cannot threaten strong states unless they are invited in. Foreign aid is useless, it just feeds a population explosion. Aiding refugees is useless, because every one who escapes a third-world society simply makes room for more to survive back home. The only thing to do with places like Afghanistan etc. is to stop them from dragging us down with them, stop peddling lies about demographics, set an example, and if they want to emulate us they don’t need our aid to do so.

  3. I agree about Separationism as the best policy.

    Re bombing Raqqa at 72 hours notice – Daesh would block the roads and kill civilians trying to flee, just as Hamas does on a vastly smaller scale in Gaza. They WANT civilians killed by US/Russian bombing; a martyred city would suit them perfectly – of course the leaders would evacuate. I don’t think this would be effective in de-cohering them; it would be a moral victory for them – in 4GW theory, the worst kind of victory.

    Paying people to flee – the main problem here is that Daesh would end up with most of the money; they could send loyalists in government areas then call them back again, richer.

    I think the only real solution to recreate States in the area is to back the forces of Order – which means Syrian Arab Army in most of Syria, the Kurds in a limited area – to reconquer & stabilise the country. This won’t happen unless the USA allies with Iran(!). A less likely alternative is a neo-Ottoman empire that kills everyone and reestablishes Turkish rule over Syria & much of Iraq.

  4. Eh…Just call Putin on the hotline and say, “Hey Vlad. Yeah, yeah, we’re sick of this crap too. Look the brainless monkey’s no longer in the White House so ‘we’ aren’t supporting ISIS any more. You and your boy, Assad, do whatever you need to do to restore order. Then we can send all his ‘refugees’ home. What? No, Vlad, we’re not keeping them. No, Vlad, he has to take em back! Bye!”

  5. You want to pay civilians to leave ISIS territory but you don’t want them to become refugees and “be let in” to wherever you are…a displaced person NIMBY. So (1) where do you want them to go, and (2) who goes where to pay them?

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