More debate is urgently needed about President Barack Obama’s evolving strategy to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS. If the vulnerabilities in Mr. Obama’s strategy are not addressed, they could inflame a bad situation and, ultimately, the ripple effects could wreck the rest of Mr. Obama’s national-security agenda.
The president’s strategy has three components. In Syria, the policy is a reinvigorated effort to support third-way opposition forces to counter ISIS while also fighting Bashar al-Assad. In Iraq, the plan is to continue security assistance to Iraqi leaders, based on steps toward building a more inclusive government, while conducting targeted airstrikes against ISIS. The third plank is building a regional and international coalition to counter ISIS on multiple fronts: military strikes, support to various actors fighting the militants on the ground, targeted intelligence operations, and counter-propaganda efforts. Taken together, the components add up to a major strategic shift (in contrast to the president’s actions earlier this summer in Iraq).This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.