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Recipe for defeat

By Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Can one imagine America's most prominent newspaper, The New York Times, writing in advance about Gen. Douglas McArthur's 1950 plans for reversing near defeat in South Korea with the Inchon landings?

Or about plans to liberate Europe and defeat Nazi Germany with landings in Normandy?

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But now this is called good journalism and tailor-made to guarantee defeat -- and not of the enemy.

The other major U.S. newspaper, the Washington Post, reports "A major setback for U.S. in Syria...Extremists Routed Moderate Rebels...Northern Strongholds Fall to Al-Qaeda group."

Not to worry, reports The New York Times the same day, the cavalry is on its way and this is what it plans to do. Not tomorrow but as soon as we're ready. Message to the enemy? You have plenty of time to make sure U.S. battle plans abort.

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In their sagacity and perspicacity, two New York Times reporters even give the enemy the timing of the coming "major spring offensive." Maybe their next article could be more precise about early, mid or late spring.

The objective of this spring offensive is also spelled out: "Break the Islamic State's occupation in northern and western Iraq and establish the Iraqi government's control over Mosul and other population centers, as well as the country's major roads and its border with Syria by the end of 2015, according to American officials."

In 1944 terms, this would read: The summer landings in Normandy are designed to break the Nazi occupation of northwestern France.

One U.S. official, in this same article, "asked not to be identified because he was discussing war planning." In World War II, this would land such an official before a firing squad for treason.

We are also told that the American footprint is to expand from "Baghdad and Erbil to additional outposts, including Al Asad Air Base in Iraq's embattled Anbar Province in the west, and possibly Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad."

There also signposts for what the enemy should do to use the intervening months "to entrench in western and northern Iraq and carry out more killings."

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The enemy is also usefully informed that the U.S. "does not plan to advise Iraqi forces below the level of a brigade, which in the Iraqi army usually has some 2,000 troops." This tells the enemy where his best chances for infiltration lie.

Also, there are no plans to train the Iraqi police who will be assigned the role of protecting areas that have been cleared of the enemy. Hello! No one remembers how successful that was in Vietnam. ARVN redux!

We are also informed about the precise number of Iraqi troops the U.S. is planning to "advise" -- 24,000 -- at least to begin with.

We are also warned the effort to defeat IS will be lengthy. The New York Times quotes Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, and a former top commander in Iraq, as telling CNN, "It's a three- to four-year effort."

Small wonder there is no appetite for squeezing the tube of U.S. involvement. It is a recipe for a neo-isolationist Republican Administration Friday Jan. 20, 2017.

Writing about "The collapse of order in the Middle East," long-time Arab world expert Ambassador Chas W. Freeman writes that Western-led military intervention is not just an inadequate response to the threat from the so-called Islamic State. It is a preposterously counterproductive response. It is as if the Ottoman Sultanate had attempted to deal with Europe's Thirty Years War by condemning Christian atrocities and treating them as a military problem to be resolved by the intervention of Muslim Janissaries."

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Freeman says IS and the 15,000 foreign jihadis it has attracted "are an existential threat to Arab societies and a potential menace to Muslim societies everywhere. Daish (or ISIS) poses no comparable threat to the United States...Its immediate objective is to destroy the existing order in the Muslim world in the name of Islam. Its doctrine cannot be credibly rebutted by non-Muslims."

"The threat it poses," Freeman adds, "requires a Muslim-led politico-military response...Daish must be actively countered first and foremost by those it targets within the region, not by the United States and its Western allies."

Turkey, a key player in this context, is still straddling the fence with both of their ears to the ground, an ungainly posture it considers far more secure.

The only way for the U.S. to defeat IS is in a de facto alliance with Iran and Syria, and this is not about to happen.

There are also countervailing pressures in the U.S. for finally doing something about America's crumbling infrastructure. They form the core of opposition to deeper involvement in Iraq and Syria.

Compounding this opposition is the 14-year, trillion dollar war in Afghanistan, with the unhappy prospect of a U.S. exit and a return to Taliban rule that the U.S. set out to destroy.

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The U.S. is increasingly seen abroad as a shrinking giant next to an emerging giant in China. Learned articles are written daily about the decline and fall of the American century.

The growing sentiment to rebuild America to face future challenges, not the religious wars of the past, may soon become a tidal wave.

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