Lang’s Prescription

Although I frequently disagree with Pat Lang’s prescriptions since I respect his opinion so deeply I always take his analysis of situations in the Middle East seriously. Here’s Col. Lang’s prescription for Iraq:

An insurgent force that can; wage propaganda war, has lots of money, a coherent ideology and the ability to organize and operate armored kampfgruppen (battle groups) is a very dangerous opponent. IMO that force potentially threatens the state system throughout the Sunni Middle East and is a menace that must be halted.

To build an effective local coalition of forces against IS (a concert of the Middle East?) one must stop trying to unseat the existing governments. They are the only possible basis for such a coalition; Iran, Turkey, whatever government exists in Iraq, Jordan, Syria (Bashar), Egypt, Kuwait (for the basing), Saudi Arabia (for the money and basing), Qatar (for the basing). Unfortunately, to bring these forces together, Obama’s government would have to acknowledge the folly of its college bull session foreign policy over the last six years.

6 comments… add one
  • TastyBits

    Assad could have taken care of this mess years ago.

    On the bright side, there will be arms sales for decades, and this would be a boost for the US economy.

  • Ben Wolf

    The nation-state is in decline and no longer possesses a monopoly on warfare. Lang is absolutely correct that we have to get out of the regime change business and accept enhancement of existing states as a strategic policy tool, given that each government we overthrow is replaced by something more violent and less controllable by the West. This lends credence to Lind’s theory of 4th Generation Warfare displacing the ritualized combat between state actors which has dominated since the Treaty of Westphalia in the mid-17th Century.

  • ...

    TB, I think you over-estimate the current Assad. If he were that capable he would have ended his own problems some time ago. He isn’t his father, is what I’m saying.

  • Andy

    I often disagree with Pat Lang as well, but when it comes to US ME policy he is absolutely correct. He was completely correct about Egypt and the effects of trying to “democratize” the region.

  • TastyBits


    I agree Assad is not as ruthless, and he is wimpy compared to his father. Nonetheless, I think his forces could have leveled a city or two to put down a rebellion – kill everything inside the cordon area. It is ruthless but effective.

    Today, he would need help from the Russians and Iranians, but that is due to the rebels transforming into ISIS.

  • PD Shaw

    To me a question underlying Lang’s prediction is the source of money. The money allows ISIS to operate as a pseudo-nation state, but if it derives from robbing banks, it will disappear. What are the projections for a landlocked pseudo nation-state that adopts what can be loosely described as an anti-foreign ideology? How do its goods get to market, absent multi-national corruption? And what are the effects of corruption on ideological purity?

    I am not as convinced of ISIS’ long-term prospects, though I think it could radicalize countries in the area along religious sectarian lines, leading to a larger war.

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