John Kerry revives the “global test” to justify not taking strong action against ISIS

John Kerry takes to the pages of the New York Times to advance the nonsensical proposition that “the threat of ISIS demands a global coalition.” In reality, the threat of ISIS demands strong military action by the U.S. Without such action, a “global coalition” will accomplish nothing. With such action, that coalition is unnecessary.

For Kerry, as for most leftists, the word “global” is magic. (Recall the “global test” for U.S. conduct that he invoked during the 2004 election campaign). But magic words don’t constitute arguments.

It terms of an argument, the best Kerry can do is invoke the first Gulf War (which he opposed):

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

But Kerry doesn’t claim, much less demonstrate, that the quick victory in 1991 was due to the creation of a coalition. Nor would such a claim be tenable. It was the U.S. military that rolled over Saddam’s army. The coalition may have made our victory more palatable to some, but it was not necessary to achieve the victory.

Turning to the present, Kerry fails to explain why combatting ISIS requires a global response. ISIS is a terrorist organization that has expanded into an army and hopes to become a state. It takes an army to defeat an army, and it matters not how many or how few countries participate in the army that takes on ISIS.

Right now, ISIS is centered in Iraq and Syria. Ideally, therefore, a U.S. military response would work in tandem with Iraqi and Syrian forces. And it would be great if, say, Jordan contributed forces and the Saudis contributed money.

Thus, it makes sense to talk of a regional coalition. (Such talk from Kerry smacks of hypocrisy, though, inasmuch as the administration has for years rejected pleas for meaningful assistance by non-jihadist rebels in Syria and rejected pleas from Kurds in Iraq until quite recently). But to talk of a global coalition is globaloney.

We can defeat ISIS without help from the likes of Uruguay, Portugal, Zambia, and Thailand. What we need is the will, not the globe.

Why, then, is Kerry insisting on the need for a global coalition? For two reasons. First, as noted above, he can’t help himself. He’s addicted to globaloney.

Second, it provides an excuse for inaction. When pressed for a strong response to ISIS, or at least for a strategy — as both Republicans and some Democrats are now pressing — the administration can say it is trying to put together a “global coalition.”

But if ISIS represents a threat to the U.S. — and the administration, including Kerry, now concedes that it does — the Obama administration jeopardizes our national security by delaying a strong response in the name of organizing a “global coalition.” The “globe” will not condemn Obama for striking hard at the barbarians who make up ISIS. And even if it did, such condemnation would not trump the need to protect ourselves from the barbarians.


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