The lightning strike against Ramadi by ISIS this weekend, and the subsequent fall of the city, represented another blow to the United States intervention in Iraq. After sacrificing more than 1,000 soldiers to re-take Anbar Province in 2003, we now see almost the entire region back in radical hands.
Moreover, another large store of weapons were deserted by the Iraqi Army, giving ISIS heavy military equipment that will make them even more difficult to overcome in the future. Empirically, it is obvious that our re-training of the Iraqi Army is not having much effect. They still cut and run when the going gets tough.
The ferocity of ISIS fighters, and their ability to camouflage themselves in their surroundings, makes them almost impossible to overcome through an air campaign alone. Yet without the Shiite militias trained by Iran, the Iraqi forces are unable to make much headway in trying to reclaim their country.
One wonders how we can best move forward from here. It is clearly unacceptable to allow ISIS safe havens for training and carrying out attacks against the West. So the status quo cannot be allowed to exist. Yet the American people do not have the stomach for another ground war in the Middle East. And our own country hungers for the space to make infrastructure repairs and repair a sagging economy.
It is clear, though, that some changes will need to be made. Supplying military weapons that eventually fall into ISIS hands is obviously not the answer.