Nixon, Reagan, Ford and Carter are no guide: Fighting the last
going to beat IS, warns Pierre Rousselin.
and IS: Neither a Cold War, Nor a War on Terror (Le Figaro, France)
with recent history know that the world has changed dramatically and are wary
of deceptive parallels. Be that as it may, the temptation remains to cling to experiences
already lived through. … Yesterday’s battles were simple. They
have now become extraordinarily complex. ... Arial bombardment, with or without pilots, will never finish
off IS.Unless it is very quickly accompanied by decisive action by local ground
troops, they can only add to the confusion. Barack Obama pretends that he doesn't
want to reprise Iraq or Afghanistan, yet he repeats many of the failings of his
Life would be simpler if the keys to the future could be
found in the past. When Vladimir Putin calls into question the international
order in Ukraine, everyone thinks it a return to the Cold War. When America
mobilizes an international coalition to combat jihadists of the Islamic State,
it is the war on terrorism
after September 11, 2001 that is cited.
Those familiar with recent history know that the world has
changed dramatically and are wary of deceptive parallels. Be that as it may,
the temptation remains to cling to experiences already lived through.
Americans tend to want to relive each of these two episodes
because they think they emerged victorious. The Cold War ended with the collapse
of the Soviet bloc, while the hunt for al-Qaeda is considered a success because
of the raid on bin Laden and the formidable effectiveness of the drone attacks.
Vladimir Putin scrupulously maintains his image as a former KGB spy in East Germany.
At home, there is no ambiguity - he proudly displays his desire for revenge
after "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century." As
for the barbarians of the Islamic State, they are the children of al-Qaeda. The
new terrorists take bin Laden’s diatribes regarding the "Caliphate" literally,
and are determined to very concretely realize an objective that was until now
only intended in some mythical future.
Everyone well understands that we are not reliving the years
1945-1989. Russia does not
have the power that, at a certain point, the Soviet Union had. The Kremlin is
not at the vanguard of any international alliance. It has no structured
ideology or plan for an alternative society like Communism could pretend to be.
It is not proposing a new international order. We would no doubt do well to
bear that in mind. Instead of piling on more sanctions to expel Russia from
modern life and revive the muted confrontation of the last century, would it
not be more advisable to do the opposite and increase exchanges in order to strengthen
the influence of those in Moscow who might share our way of thinking? Do we
really believe that in today’s world Western economic pressure will one day lead
a new Gorbachev to succeed Putin?
As for the indispensable battle against the Islamic State
jihadists, let us not confuse it with the sad precedent of the "war against
terrorism" waged by George
W. Bush's America. The new jihadists have learned from al-Qaeda's failure.
Rather than allowing themselves to be decimated by flying
robots, they prefer to appropriate territory, melt into the population, create
sanctuaries and encourage small business, while profiting from wars, ethnic and
religious conflict and the bankruptcy of states. Syria, Iraq, Libya - they have no shortage of opportunities.
Arial bombardment, with or without pilots, will never finish
them off.Unless it is very
quickly accompanied by decisive action by local ground troops, they can only
add to the confusion. Barack Obama pretends that he doesn't want to reprise
Iraq or Afghanistan, yet he
repeats many of the failings of his predecessor.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Until recently, the excuse was expressed in brief: wars that
we failed to win were "asymmetric." We had the strength but couldn't
win. Suddenly, conflicts seem to have become "hybrid." Vladimir Putin
is a specialist. He uses military action, covertly or overtly, humanitarianism,
economic reprisals, provocation and propaganda. That makes him a great
strategist. As for "Caliph Ibrahim," he is no less a "hybrid":
he, too, plays the game well, with his odious direction of terror as well as
his alliances with traffickers, tribal chiefs and former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime. In a word,
yesterday’s battles were simple. They have now become extraordinarily complex.
It would be good to do the same. Rather than relive past
experiences, could we not tailor our responses as our enemies do – and finally
get a step ahead instead of always fighting the last war?
*Pierre Rousselin is Deputy Editor of Le Figaro in charge of