U.S. airstrikes that helped Iraqi fighters rout ISIS from the site of a dam near Mosul are welcome, but don't fundamentally break the backs of the Sunni radicals terrorizing Iraq, a former Defense Department official told Newsmax TV
"The airstrikes are doing a pretty good job, although they're not undercutting the real substance of ISIS," Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of defense for President George H.W. Bush, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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"We're targeting specific actions that are going to damage ISIS a little bit, push them back a little bit, and help the peshmerga forces — the Kurdish forces — defeat them, at least as far as the Mosul dam and some of the small towns around it," said Babbin, who is also a contributing writer to the American Spectator and National Review Online.
Babbin said that ultimately President Barack Obama and his advisers "don't have a plan" for confronting ISIS beyond selective airstrikes.
"You don't defeat the enemy by gradually allowing him to take or retake different targets," said Babbin. "The basic point here is you have to go after the heart of the enemy."
He said the core of ISIS, which has seized Iraqi territory in lightning raids often led by fighters on machine gun-mounted trucks, is "their ability to move, and move quickly."
"They can maneuver forces because they operate unlike most terrorist organizations have ever operated," said Babbin. "They can operate pretty much in the open with trucks they've captured from the police. We see them on the news every time we look: there's pickup trucks, [and] armored Humvees and tanks" captured from Iraqi forces.
The goal of airstrikes should be to stop all of them in their tracks and hit ISIS "anywhere they have vehicles moving," he said.
"We could put a satellite above Iraq, put a couple of JSTARS Battle Management aircraft in the air there, and really pound the ISIS forces," said Babbin. "They should not have a vehicle able to move without an American airstrike going after it."
Babbin said U.S. ground troops aren't needed in this fight. He also advised against joining with the government of Syria in that country's war with ISIS.
The United States and Syria have a common enemy in the extremists trying to carve a new "Islamic State" state out of captured Iraqi and Syrian territory. But Babbin said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — whom the U.S. wants removed — "is no less a terrorist power than ISIS."
"When you're talking about ISIS fighting the Syrians, there's no good guys in that fight," said Babbin, adding, "We should let them hash it out and kill as many of each other as they're able to."
Babbin said ISIS has already established that it's more radical even than al-Qaida, and that the ideology "that compels them to go out and crucify Christians and murder Yazidis and other [Iraqi religious] minorities" is proof enough that they pose a concrete threat to the West.
British Prime Minister "David Cameron has said that he believes that ISIS is a danger to the United Kingdom . . . I've heard a lot of people in the [U.S.] government say that they believe ISIS is a danger to the United States," said Babbin.
"Why don't we take them on?" he said. "If we believe they are a danger to us, we ought to be doing something about it, and right now we're nibbling at the edges and really not doing the job."
He also said the U.S. public hasn't fully awakened to the danger.
"It probably ought to," said Babbin, "because this is a big problem for us — or it's going to be when ISIS sends its troops back here on their American passports to try to create terrorist cells in the United States.
"But America is not focused on this," he continued. "We're focused on Ferguson, Missouri, and we're focused on Obama's possible immigration action by executive order.
"All of those things take precedence in the American mind. Unless people start focusing on this . . . there's no motivation for us to do much of anything."
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