David Ignatius in The Washington Post on how the U.S. strategy is starting to take shape in Iraq and Syria. The American strategy for defeating ISIS relies on many different components. "Obama and his advisers, led by his special envoy, Gen. John Allen, have focused on five main lines of operation against the Islamic State: direct military action, counterterrorism operations against foreign fighters, disruption of financing, humanitarian assistance, and media activities to 'delegitimize' the extremists." Ignatius warns that the U.S. strategy will take a long time to fully implement. "The United States is likely to strike field commanders whenever possible. But simply decapitating the leadership could create a chaotic battlefield that would remain unstable for years to come. Obama said Tuesday that 'the overall effort will take time' — which surely means beyond the end of his presidency."
Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times on why the Arab world must ultimately take responsibility for fighting ISIS. Friedman suggests that the American strategy in Iraq and Syria is based in large part on placing responsibility on local actors. "There is a tension at the heart of President Obama’s campaign to confront the Islamic State... Quite simply, it is the tension between two vital goals — promoting the 'soul-searching' that ISIS’s emergence has triggered in the Arab-Muslim world and 'searching and destroying' ISIS in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq." Friedman explains how a united front is the key to sustaining victory. "Nurturing this soul-searching is a vital — and smart — part of the Obama strategy. In committing America to an air-campaign-only against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, Obama has declared that the ground war will have to be fought by Arabs and Muslims, not just because this is their war and they should take the brunt of the casualties, but because the very act of their organizing themselves across Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lines — the very act of overcoming their debilitating sectarian and political differences that would be required to defeat ISIS on the ground — is the necessary ingredient for creating any kind of decent, consensual government that could replace ISIS in any self-sustaining way."