In the Wall Street Journal today, I have an op-ed arguing that air power alone has never won any war and won’t win the war against ISIS. It will require ground troops to destroy the Islamic State, and the U.S. has not had much success in getting proxies to do the fighting for us.
The most reliable have been the Kurds, but they won’t advance outside Kurdish areas. In Iraq, notwithstanding the belated offensive against Ramadi, which shows signs of success, there is little reason to think that the Shiite-dominated security forces and the Shiite militias, which are the real power now, have either the ability or willingness to take and hold Sunni areas. In Syria the situation is, even more, grave — aside from the Kurdish militia, the YPG, there is no force at all that is remotely capable of taking on ISIS, and the YPG is interested primarily in establishing its own state (Rojava) not in destroying the Islamic State.