ISIS presents a clear threat to American interests and American national security. They have killed Americans abroad, and made clear their desire to attack Americans here at home. ISIS is an evil organization and our policy should be to defeat them. However, that does not mean we should use American ground troops.
If you look at what happened when ISIS dramatically expanded their territory from Syria into western and then northern Iraq, they didn’t simply defeat the Iraqi Army; Iraqi soldiers put their weapons down and went home because they had lost faith in the sectarian government. Therefore, the fundamental problem in Iraq is political, not military. And if we only solve their military problem for them, without demanding political progress and addressing the underlying political problem, we will be back solving the same military problem for them again in two or three years.
The Iraqi Army outnumbers ISIS roughly 30-1. They are well equipped, with tanks, artillery, aircraft, and more, much of it provided by the United States. I have witnessed and participated in their training. The Iraqi military is far from perfect, but they have the personnel and resources to defeat ISIS. What they need is faith in the government they are charged to protect and defend.
We need to make the diplomatic investments in Iraq necessary to ensure long-term stability, and we should condition further military support on making this progress. This should not come as a surprise: we recognized the need for political mentorship in Iraq and built the largest American embassy in the world as a result. But we left it half empty. At the end of the day, Iraq must be able to secure its own borders and defend it’s own people.