Ready for War With ISIS?

Foreign Affairs' Brain Trust Weighs In

A checkpoint in east Mosul, one day after radical Sunni Muslim insurgents seized control of the city, June 11, 2014. Courtesy Reuters

We at Foreign Affairs have recently published a number of articles on how the United States should respond to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Those articles sparked a heated debate, so we decided to ask a broader pool of experts to state whether they agree or disagree with the following statement and to rate their confidence level about that answer.

The United States should significantly step up its military campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.


Full Responses

OMAR AL-NIDAWI is an Iraqi commentator and political analyst.
Agree, Confindence Level 10 The United States should double or triple the intensity of the air campaign. Airstrikes are producing effects that have allowed local forces to gain tactical advantage and win a number of engagements. That said, the number of strikes remains tiny compared to previous air campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the airstrikes do not cover the whole theater; hence, reports of problematic Iranian airstrikes in Diyala in Iraq’s east. More important than intensifying the military campaign, though, is developing a strategy for dealing with the Syrian situation. Without a solution for Syria, breaking ISIS in Iraq won’t be sufficient.

RAAD ALKADIRI is Managing Director of IHS Energy. He was Assistant Private Secretary to the United Kingdom Special Representative to Iraq from 2003–04 and Political Adviser to the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Iraq from 2006 to 2007.
Disagree, Confidence Level 8

TONY BADRAN is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Agree, Confidence Level 6 An expansion of the campaign can only work if the United States abandons its current tacit alignment with Iran and its assets in the Levant and instead works with traditional U.S. allies in the region. There needs to be an integrated strategy that includes toppling the Assad regime and pushing back against the Iranian axis in the Levant.

AMATZIA BARAM is Professor Emeritus at the Department of the History of the Middle East and Director of the Centre for Iraq Studies at

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