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"America Must Leave the Defeat of ISIS to Local States"

U.S. Sailors move a Navy Super Hornet aircraft on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush's flight deck, Aug. 26, 2014, in the Persian Gulf as the ship supports operations in Iraq against the extremists known as the Islamic State.

"America Must Leave the Defeat of ISIS to Local States"

Op-Ed, Financial Times

September 11, 2014

Author: Emile Simpson, Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Harvard–Belfer on Syria


Can the US "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or Isis, as President Barack Obama promised on Wednesday, without being drawn into another open-ended conflict?

Not if America intends, as Joe Biden, the vice-president, put it last week, to follow Isis "to the gates of hell". That open-ended commitment takes pressure off states in the region to solve their own problems, and acting upon it would be a strategic mistake. Americans are anyway unlikely to accept the cost in blood and treasure. That should primarily be borne by the regional states whose broken politics brought Isis into being, and which have the most to lose....

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For Academic Citation:

Simpson, Emile. "America Must Leave the Defeat of ISIS to Local States." Financial Times, September 11, 2014.

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