Ex-Ambassador: US Should Prepare for Casualties in ISIS Fight

Wednesday, 13 Aug 2014 10:48 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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It takes an army to beat an army, and the Obama administration should start preparing Americans for the likelihood of casualties in ridding the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from Iraq, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

"It just seems to me that we're going to inevitably have to take a larger role in this because we have some capabilities that only the United States can provide in terms of logistics and coordination, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, etc.," Edelman said.

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"I don't think we're going to need to be in a combat role necessarily, but we will have people who are in advisory capabilities, I believe who will see combat and who may be wounded. We need to prepare the public for that. That we have a vital national interest here, it's been identified as such by the attorney general, by the secretary of homeland security that ISIS represents a threat to the U.S. homeland. It's much better for us to try to take this on over there than wait for them to strike us here."

To defeat ISIS, it will require more than humanitarian assistance, which the United States is already providing in the form of airdrops for the thousands of Yazidis stranded atop Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to flee ISIS —  which has given the minority group the option of converting to Islam or face death, Edelman said on "America’s Forum."

U.S. airstrikes have had an important tactical effect, he said, but "in the end you cannot defeat ISIS purely with air power and airstrikes, it could be an important part of the solution, but you have to have a broader military approach to this and a broader political approach because this is not purely a military problem. There's a big political dimension to this."

"In the end, it's not going to be enough to contain ISIS, we're going to have to defeat them," he said.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this week announced that 130 troops had been sent to northern Iraq to "assess the scope of the humanitarian mission and develop additional humanitarian assistance options beyond the current airdrop effort in support of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."

On a positive note, fear of ISIS has contributed to a change in the Turkish government’s attitude and approach to Kurds, which comprise 20 percent of Turkey’s population. There has been a longstanding fear by Turkish officials that an independent Kurdistan would dismember the state of Turkey, according to Edelman.

"I wouldn't say it's an alliance, and you're right to be cautious about seeing too much in what's happened, but it's definitely a different attitude on the part of the Turkish government," said Edelman.

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