What then?

As the US assembles its multi-national coalition to wage war on the Dar-al-Islam, now would seem to be a good time to ask, what then? As in, once we've bombed what I will henceforth refer to as ISIS into the dirt, and put occupying troops on the ground, what then?

Or, if we are not going to put occupying troops on the ground, once we've bombed ISIS into the dirt and the survivors are left to poke around in the rubble, what then?

Commenter Cataline Sergius at Vox Popoli calls this Schrodinger's War:
This is a war caught up in quantum entanglement. It has both objectives and non-objectives. A desired end-state and no way to measure that end state. A state of war and non-war simultaneously.

It does however have a goal.

It is particularly important to Obama that the box containing it, isn't supposed to be opened for three years.

This adjunct law professor and community activist, just two and one-half years away from the lecture/book tour circuit where he'll earn millions, is about to be Commander-in-Chief of military operations in the Middle Eastern theater. I do not expect combat operations to begin until an overwhelming force has been assembled, just as I do not expect the Obama administration to change course until this force has been assembled, even if it requires the US commit 100,000 troops. And, it follows, Obama and the US Congress will secure military victory by any means necessary.

So, after ISIS is defeated--as they will surely be--what then?

Who will police what's left of Syria and Iraq at that point? Who will provide food, shelter, potable water and sewage to millions of Middle Easterners whose infrastructure has been destroyed?

Do we really expect the Sunnis currently paying tribute to ISIS to unite behind pluralistic governments of "Syria" and "Iraq"? (Do these states still exist?)

Who gets to be the government of what's left of these places? How do we choose them? Where do we draw the borders? Do we carve out an Assad-ruled coastal region? Who gets Aleppo? Does Kurdistan get legal recognition?

Any members of the Obama administration reading this, feel free to chime in.


Unknown said…
You could make a sunni state out of east syria and north / west iraq, give it to whatever ex-baathists are still around. Or you could have turkey annex these areas. They are also sunni and have historically been good imperial managers, the oil wealth should more than pay for such a venture.
Your Kakistocracy said…
Whatever may happen, you may be assured that millions of them will ultimately reside here...and Sweden.
Your Kakistocracy said…
Try to imagine the incredulity with which this is being viewed in Peking and Moscow. That the American military would be committed to yet another trillion dollar sand-box escapade--I don't know how they could scarcely believe their good fortune.

Though more importantly, that The Imperium has driven Russia away from our natural alliance into one with China has to be one of the least-commented upon disasters in the history of foreign policy. Though of course those driving "our" foreign policy hardly see natural alliances in the same light.
Russell - resurgent Ba'athists have already joined ISIS, the ones still left alive and kicking after Gulf War II, that is.

There is an article from back then I really wish I had saved. A Marine colonel rolled into an Iraqi town, found an ex-Ba'athist officer, told him to take off all his Hussein-era insignia and put him in charge of the place. This outbreak of forward-thinking was of course swiftly countermanded.

the oil wealth should more than pay for such a venture

Ah, pardon my tin ear Mr. Wolfowitz, but is this sarcasm?

Turkey has obligingly advised that we get this tar baby all to ourselves.

You're obviously a lot of doors down from Susan Rice's office.
Bert said…
Russia wants the territories of the old USSR back.

China wants to be strong in it's own right and get the US to back off from East Asia.

From my perspective they're quite sensible in allying with each other. Especially since the EU is committed to the destruction of Russia and of Russian Orthodox Christianity.
More accurately, Russia wants control of lots of flat ground where NATO tanks and missile batteries would otherwise be located.
Unknown said…
Yeah I do not think that they will be letting me close to Susan Rice anytime soon...

I suspect the Baathists are allied with ISIS because it was the quickest way to get back into power. They know how to run a government day-to-day and figure that they will eventually end up in control of all the key bureaucracies. Offer them a legitimate state and they may be willing to switch sides.

GWII has failed because Bush wanted to set up a western style liberal democracy, which is a terrible goal. Had it been set up as an extractive colony where you bribe the tribal leaders and play divide and conquer then its not so obvious that it would have been doomed. Give the turks the opportunity to make such a colony, and freedom to ignore all that human rights stuff and it could work.

I guess if you wanted to be particularly cruel you could have israel annex the territory after it has been re-conquered.

The US military still has awesome destructive power but the politicians are clueless. Rolling in and destroying ISIS is the easy part, what comes after is a bit harder for them. In their mind the only way to justify an intervention like this would be to spread democracy, but we know for all sorts of reasons the democracy will never take. But if you are willing to be creative there are all sorts of things you can do.
Bert said…
"Had it been set up as an extractive colony where you bribe the tribal leaders and play divide and conquer then its not so obvious that it would have been doomed."

Arabs are too stupid and primitive to be allowed to govern themselves in any partial manner. Giving money to tribal big men will only give them more cash to buy 8-year-old girls who will suck their cocks. Either you fully control them or you don't try at all. If you want to rule them, you kill all the leaders, set up permanent army bases, and fucking TELL them what is expected of them. And, of course, make clear that failure to comply with these rules will result in massacres and economic starvation, depending on the severity of the transgression.

Somehow I don't think the "Global Force for Good" will be doing any of that anytime soon.
August said…
Have you noticed we will have troops on the ground... in West Africa, fighting Ebola.
A Gen. Wes Clark quote- "“We’re going to take out seven countries in 5 years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”
One could make an argument that it is just taking longer than they expected, but that they are committed to continuing the plan.
But if you are willing to be creative there are all sorts of things you can do.

All it takes is lots of OPM.
Toddy Cat said…
The U.S. will go in, smash stuff up, kill a lot of people (many deserving, some not) set up some puppet "democratic" regime that we promise to support, then bug out when we get tired of it and casualties get too high, feel bad when out puppets get butchered, let in a bunch of "refugees" who now hate our guts because we abandoned them, and then re-start the process somewhere else. That's American foreign policy since about 1965, and we'll do it again. Just watch.
Unknown said…
Amateurs talk about battles and professionals about logistics.
Anonymous said…
I have the strangest feeling that, since about 1992 or so, South Park's "Underpants Gnomes" have been secretly in charge of American foreign policy. Their 3-step plan is apparently:

1. Intervene militarily anywhere and everwhere there's an opportunity, without heed to the unique local situation.

2. ?

3. Global peace and prosperity under America's benevolent leadership.

Luckily, step 2 never has to be executed until after the next election cycle, so we don't need to figure it out right now- that's the new guy's job.
Ace said…
We truly are the descendants of First Lieutenant Milo Menderbender