The words ricocheted worldwide a few weeks ago: asked about his plans for dealing with ISIS, the president of the United States admitted that “We don’t have a strategy.”
And then last week the president announced to the world a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies who would presumably participate in the fight against ISIS.
Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies. The key is (borrowing Apple Inc.’s famous slogan) to “Think Different.”
Strategy 1: The Hippie Crusade: Airlift a jet full of hippies into the central square of Mosul, Iraq, singing “All we are saying, is give peace a chance” while waving antiwar posters. Mass sit-ins will be organized, and thousands of flowers will be handed out to all ISIS boys and inserted inside their gun barrels for photogenic effect.
Staying on message is a priority: it’s all about the power of love and peace.
The underlying assumption is that ISIS militants are simply misunderstood, that they are just people like you and me. For beneath the hard veneer lurks a tired warrior merely looking for the delicate hand of friendship.
Pivot to Strategy 2: The Salaam Aleykum Sequel. President Obama follows up on his sensationally effective 2009 masterpiece of a speech to the Muslim world with an even bigger blockbuster.
Delivered live via all media outlets worldwide, the president speaks in front of a black background (designed to provide subliminal comfort to the Islamist audience.) Obama forcefully reiterates his deep respect for Shariah law and his admiration for the rigorous methods employed by ISIS to defend the modesty of women.
Obama’s Muslim “street cred” will be fortified with amusing childhood anecdotes from his time in Indonesia and repeated mention of his affection for Malik Obama, his Islamist half-brother from Kenya.
The speech ends with a powerful fist-to-lectern vow that the U.S. intends to lead the Western World in overcoming the scourge of Islamophobia and seeks nothing less than a “dialogue of civilizations” with ISIS.
Time to move to Strategy 3: The Marshallah Plan; modeled on the U.S. Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after World War II, this is a multi-billion dollar U.S. and EU cash infusion into any area controlled by ISIS.
Here’s the thinking: rather than alienating a new and emergent polity being established by what are clearly spiritually ambitious souls, we ought to – in non-judgmental fashion of course – enthusiastically join them in developing their dynamic and exciting new country, Islamic State.
Under the Marshallah Plan, the U.S. and EU will devote their enormous resources to building mosques, madrasas, Shariah courts, and harem centers. Wielding counterintuitive thinking, weaponry will be promptly shipped to Islamic State in order to demonstrate goodwill and trust.
So with the hippies dispatched, the Salam Aleykum speech delivered, and a massive EU-U.S. investment in the nascent state underway, it’s time for Strategy 4: Levantribute.
This strategy borrows heavily from both the wisdom of antiquity and the Realist school of international relations, and can politely be described as a regular stipend.
Some historical background: the Late Roman and Byzantine Empires paid a so-called subsidy to Barbarian tribes, securing their agreement to desist from attacking imperial territory. True, this could be seen as protection money, but it actually seemed to work – at least until the inevitable assassination of this or that emperor or chieftain.
The Levantribute strategy, then, is a monthly fee to be paid by the U.S. and EU to the ISIS provisional government. In exchange, ISIS solemnly promises not to behead any more Americans or Europeans. European governments have already exhibited interest in this particular strategy, though the jury is still out as to its efficacy.