Former Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) Director, David Petraeus, has said that the Islamic State(IS) can only be defeated through a dual military and political approach.
General Petraeus, who led international forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan before assuming the director spot at the CIA, told the BBC in an interview that "Industrial-strength" extremist cannot be dealt with, with just the force of arms. He described the IS: "It is really a conventional army that also has elements of an insurgency, and indeed significant terrorist elements as well."
Petraeus has made a sound assessment of the IS and his observation provides sufficient evidence as to why the IS is still able to function despite months of bombardments by International Coalition forces. "You cannot deal with an industrial-strength extremist problem just with force of arms," Petraeus stressed while adding: "You have to have that political component as well."
He explained to the BBC that political change has to start at the top. With regards to fighting the IS in Iraq, General Petraeus said "the Sunni Arabs have to be given incentives to support the new Iraq rater than to oppose it." Yet, he opined: "I do not think Ramadi will be taken in a matter of weeks or less."
While the knowledge and the experience of the learned General Petraeus demands that his observations be taken as fact, I venture to add to his assessment and hereby opine that the IS cannot be defeated under present conditions and circumstances in Iraq, Syria and beyond.
As long as Bashar al Assad sits in Damascus, the IS would not be defeated because of the large number of recruits readily available to the IS in defiance of Assad's regime's crimes against humanity. In Iraq, where the better chance of defeating the IS exists, the violent extremist group will continue to wreck havoc until a clearly displayed unity government is demonstrated between the Kurds, the Sunnis and the Shiites.
Moreover, any defeat of the IS is also dependent upon western nations reaffirming and exercising the doctrines of equality, of justice and of true human rights. In lieu of anything short of a reaffirmation these tenets of democracy, could see the continued lure of western youths to the ranks of the IS - whether or not, it be an Australian mother leaving her young children with a babysitter and venturing to fight in Syria, or young secondary school girls from Great Britain sneaking into Syria to join the Jihadists, or a father in Minnesota, USA, evading the pressures of child support payments and traveling to join the Islamic State or French young women going to Syria to wed militants.