Commentary Magazine


Time to Annihilate ISIS; Here’s How

The videotaped beheading of American journalist James Foley reveals both the barbarism and the weakness of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

The barbarism is obvious: how else would one describe the carefully choreographed and televised murder of this innocent reporter who had been kidnapped in Syria? This merely confirms what Army Colonel Joel Rayburn, one of the most astute observers of Iraq around, has previously said: that ISIS is a Middle East version of the Khmer Rouge. It is, in short, a death cult that will commit unimaginable crimes against humanity unless it is stopped.

What of ISIS’s weakness? That too was revealed by the video, which was a poor response to the military setbacks ISIS has suffered in the past week as Kurdish peshmerga militia have managed to retake Mosul Dam with the assistance of American firepower (and most likely U.S. Special Operations Forces, although their involvement has not been publicized). Recall the last time that al-Qaeda publicly murdered an American journalist. That would have been my former Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl, who was killed in early 2002 at a time when, thanks to the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda was on the run. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed killed Pearl for the same reason some ISIS fanatic killed Foley: to convey an impression of strength. But such desperate measures instead telegraph, well, desperation–and far from cowing anyone they are only likely to redouble the resolve of the civilized world to smash this group of genocidal jihadists.

What is needed now is not strongly worded condemnation of Foley’s murder, much less a hashtag campaign. What is needed is a politico-military strategy to annihilate ISIS rather than simply chip around the edges of its burgeoning empire. In the Spectator of London I recently outlined what such a strategy should look like. In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 U.S. advisors and Special Operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria–meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army–to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds. The fact that Nouri al-Maliki is leaving power in Baghdad clears away a major obstacle to such a campaign.

Now it is simply a matter of resources and resolve on the part of the U.S. and its allies. That, of course, remains the big unknown–how far will President Obama go? He has been willing in the last few weeks to apply a liberal interpretation of his original mandate for U.S. forces in Iraq, which was to protect Americans in Erbil and Baghdad. But beyond protecting the Yazidis and retaking Mosul Dam we still need a strategy to annihilate ISIS. It can be done–and if done right it will be the best, indeed the only worthy, response to James Foley’s barbaric demise.

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8 Responses to “Time to Annihilate ISIS; Here’s How”


    Interesting article, Max, But I totally disagree with you.

    Since I am originally from Kurdistan,, Iraq and have been working/traveling to Iraq since 2003, I know more about Iraq than most people and that is what qualifies me to talk about this subject.

    I have published over 100 articles in the past few years and have great deal of knowledge about Iraq.

    The ONLY way to get rid of ISIS is by having an Iraqi government that consist of ALL parties; Kurds, Sunnies and Shi’ats. Once these people get together, then and only then can they all work together to fight ISIS.

    Having given this solution, now I can tell you that this will NEVER happen! What I mean is that Iraqis will never come together and work along side each other. Iraqi is over as we know it. There is too much hate among these people and for this reason, they will not succeed in forming a new conclusive government that would satisfies all parties.


      Correct. The destabilization of the Middle East began when soviets and American soughthegemony. First we armed the shah, destabilized it, then the soviets invaded Afghanistan. the USA armed the mujahhadeen with stinger missiles enabling their victory. That was the first time in 300 years that an Islamic power had beaten a modern western military. Every involvement since has served to strengthen and build confidence in the hitherto ‘sleeping giant’.

      • RIZGAR KHSOHNAW says:


        I agree with you but when you say, ” first time in 300 years an Islamic power had beaten a modern western military” it happened because the very same military equipment that the terrorist group, ISIS, has used all came for the Iraqi government/military that left it for them when the Iraqis fled! Of course it was the US that supplied all of the military hardware to the Iraqi government in the past.

        But I still think the success of the ISIS is very short lived and eventually the US will place the needed pressure on the Iraqis and work along side them to drive out and hopefully kill them all. They are animals not humans.

  2. DAVE CAVENA says:

    Why spend one more post-Enlightenment life killing these barbarous savages? Why spend the (probably) $500B+ it will cost? Why maim more Americans?

    Productivity counts in war. Our most productive weapons also easily can be used on these pre-modern savages. They’re in the middle of the desert, near no major population or farming centers.

    Nuclear weapons were used in Japan to save lives – between 5-9M Japanese lives, per the War and Navy Departments. If we are serious about ridding the planet of this genocidal death cult, just nuke them.

    THEY are pre-modern and WE are tired of sending our kids to die killing them in infantry battles


      Dave, to a point I do agree with you, but unfortunately since these terrorist group, the ISIS, are living among the populations, using nuclear weapon will not happen.

      The next solution would be if and only if our American government place some VERY strong conditions to the Iraqi government and then send in our special forces (with the help of the air force) and eliminate those terrorists. We all know now that the Iraqi government, without the help of the Kurds and the Sunnie tribes, will not be able to fight off the ISIS alone. The Iraqi military is useless/worthless bunch of lazy and corrupt people!!!

      Like I said in my first comment above, the Iraqis will never come together and fight the ISIS unless our US government/military is 100% involved in this fight and brings in these Iraqi groups together.

  3. S R LANGENTHAL says:

    First of all, why do the media dignify these barbaric, murderous, armed outlaw fanatics by calling them “Militants”?
    Let’s start calling them what they are – armed outlaws.
    Second, do we know how many of them there are? It seemed to take only a handful to seize the dam in Iraq. We should identify the actual number and try to kill each and every one.
    Third, where is the UN? Why the outraged anger when Israel responds to rocket attacks and not a word or resolution about these outlaw fanatics with armaments who want to commit genocide?


    What makes ISIS any different from Hamas? Nothing. Hamas would kill every Jew in Israel if they could. Even worse, they would sacrifice any number of their own people to achieve their ends. They are both death cults, and no different from the Waffen SS.


      @JAMES BILEZIKIAN. You say so clearly. It is a wonder that our administration does not understand what you have said. Please continue to speak out so clearly on Hamas, Hezbollah,ISIS, etc.

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