battle for kobane syria Huseyin Sari/ZumaPress

How to Fight the Islamic State

Some US presidential candidates are calling for “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State, which now controls a large part of eastern Syria and western Iraq. They are right, but the boots should be worn by Sunni Arabs and Turks, not Americans.

CAMBRIDGE – The Islamic State has captured the world’s attention with gruesome videos of beheadings, wanton destruction of antiquities, and skilled use of social media. It has also captured a large part of eastern Syria and western Iraq, proclaimed a caliphate based in Raqqa, Syria, and attracted foreign jihadists from around the world.

US President Barack Obama says that the Islamic State must be degraded and ultimately defeated. He has appointed General John Allen to lead a coalition of some 60 countries in the task, relying on air strikes, special forces, and training missions. Some critics want him to send more American troops; others say that the United States should settle for a doctrine of containment.

In the current US presidential campaign, some candidates are calling for “boots on the ground.” They are right: boots are needed. But the soldiers who wear them should be Sunni Arabs and Turks, not Americans. And that says a lot about the nature of the triple threat that the US and its allies now face.

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