"Kobani does not define the strategy of the coalition," Secretary of State John Kerry insisted yesterday. That's probably a good thing, because even as the Obama administration has committed the United States and whatever coalition partners it can talk into dropping a few bombs to "degrade and destroy" Islamic State/ISIS/whatever, the Kurdish city is poised to become conquered territory.
This is no shocker given that the Pentagon admitted last week, "Airstrikes alone are not going to do this….They're not going to save the town of Kobani."
But, for a town that "does not define the strategy of the coalition," Kobani and ISIS's advance in Iraq is consuming a lot of U.S. diplomatic effort. The State Department has been busily negotiating with Turkey for access to its military bases and apparently gained just that—a commitment from Turkey that its turf can be used for training more moderate Syrian fighters and launching further airstrikes, neither of which, as the Petagon points out, are getting it done.
With its long border with both Syria and Iraq, Turkey could also act as an effective staging ground for a ground war against ISIS. Not that President Obama would ever break his promise to never do anything of the sort.
Unfortunately, the U.S. commitment to "degrade and destroy" ISIS wth airstrikes—and what passes for local military forces—isn't working in Iraq, either. The Iraqi government now just controls one large town, Haditha, in Anbar province. Having had their heads handed to them figuratively, and getting ever closer to having it done literally, provincial leaders are openly calling for U.S. troops to intervene.
Hmmm… Maybe that presidential vow that "I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq" is looking a bit shaky, after all.
Just a reminder, Mr. President: The majority of the American people aren't fond of repeating that mistake.