The U.S.- A major world power with interests in the Middle East and the power to intervene in the rise of ISIS and other various threats to the region.
The Assad Regime- The current government of Syria with Bashar Assad at the helm. Currently being challenged by anti-Regime rebel groups and ISIS.
ISIS/Daesh- Islamic extremists who have quickly rose to power in Syria and threaten the surrounding Middle East, notably Iraq.
Iraq- Still recovering from the wake of the Iraq War, Iraq is additionally threatened by the rise of ISIS.
Russia & Other Middle Eastern Countries- Other players with various conflicting interests yet almost universally united against ISIS.
The U.S.’s long-term involvement with the chaos and crisis infesting the Middle East is drawn out, tiring, and sometimes seemingly hopeless. Panic and disorganization sweeps the U.S. as we stumble over our foreign policy towards the Middle East and something needs to change.
Similarly, the Middle East is also falling, marred by increasingly complicated and conflicting interests among states. Syria has devolved into crisis over rebel groups and ISIS, with Russia and Iran backing the Assad Regime because of their interests and investments in the country. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Turkey oppose both Iran and the Assad Regime. Iraq is caught in the middle, racked by conflict between various ethno-religious groups. The U.S. wants to oust Assad, yet is fighting with similar goals alongside every other country to defeat ISIS. To add even more complexity, these Middle Eastern states value the annihilation of ISIS on different levels, due to their own problems taking precedence. .
In the midst of this confusion and loss, the U.S. needs to draw from the clear-headedness of Britain during WWII, notably remembered from their influential poster depicting the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
A highly militarized attack in Syria and the Middle East was too risky in this situation, and the U.S. rightfully held back. However, notable criticism has stemmed from this apparent indecision and reservation to join the Syrian civil war.
In Iraq, ISIS has been prominently halted in their progress, thanks to the U.S. as well as other foreign intervention. It is in the U.S.’s interest for the Iraqi forces to have the power to defeat ISIS in their country. However, Syria has its own myriad of additional problems that complicate the situation in terms of U.S. interests, justifying the hesitation to make such a giant commitment in terms of military forces.
In taking responsibility of fighting ISIS in Syria, however limited, the U.S. is paradoxically supporting the Assad Regime in enabling them to focus on their own opposition. But left untouched, ISIS would similarly wipe out Regime opposition. Without U.S. intervention, all fighting groups would slaughter each other and everyone involved—including innocents. Of course, the self-destruction of Syria and the resulting massacre of Syrians is not a U.S. interest. Therefore, the U.S. is put in a tough situation, in which ISIS cannot be fought in Syria without implications on political strife within the region, and the U.S. cannot intervene in a way that satisfies all of its interests.
Since the early 2000s, the U.S. has been caught in this “Long War,” a termconceived by General John Abizaid. There’s no clear victory is sight, and even less of a concept on how to get there. Therefore, the U.S. needs the morale and determination of WWII era Britain, because this fight will be a long one.