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Aleppo Must Not Fall

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'Mankind has had ten-thousand years of experience at fighting and if we must fight, we have no excuse for not fighting well.' -- T.E. Lawrence

'All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it's impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.' -- Niccolo Machiavelli

'There are cases in which the greatest daring is the greatest wisdom.' -- Carl von Clausewitz

Aleppo, one of the last strongholds of the Syrian opposition, is on the verge of falling into the hands of ISIS. The loss of Aleppo would essentially end any hope of the Free Syrian Army operating as a viable fighting force going forward, as its members would disappear into the fray or if any dare fight on be mopped up by either the regime forces or ISIS. Moreover, if Aleppo falls into the grasp of the tyrant Al-Baghdadi and his many slaves, ISIS will attain a sense of security and confidence not previously enjoyed by the group. They will possess territory in two distinct sovereign entities (Iraq and Syria) and have absolute control over three major cities (Raqqa, Mosul and Aleppo).

Emboldened by this power and success, ISIS will invariably set its sights on continued territorial conquest in the region as well as plan global Jihadi terrorist operations, be they in Europe, Israel or America. One of the surest ways to avoid this nightmare scenario is to ensure that Aleppo does not fall.

Saving Aleppo can be accomplished by bolstering its fighters with food, weapons, training and additional soldiers. Yet, the aim should not merely be to preserve Aleppo, but to use it as a base for the FSA to fortify itself for renewed offensive military operations against ISIS. The FSA should dream of marching East to Raqqah, the capital of the Islamic State, liberating it by force and slaying as many ISIS fighters as it can. ISIS must begin to fear the FSA instead of regarding them as a timid gadfly on the precipice of annihilation, and the only way to achieve this is through daring and victory. Audaces fortuna iuvat -- Fortune favors the bold -- as the Roman poet Virgil noted, yet presently it is only ISIS who executes its military operations with abandon and boldness.

Just as the jihadists use a sophisticated and slick media campaign to attract foreign fighters into its ranks, the FSA should endeavor to accomplish the same ends. Videos showing the disciplined training of the FSA would be a counterpoint to the videos of ISIS indulging in mass executions. Fighting ISIS through a concerted PR campaign is a crucial step towards ultimate victory on the battlefield, as it would hopefully attract enthusiastic recruits from America, Europe and beyond into its numbers.

A significant influx of foreign fighters would boost the dwindling morale of the soldiers. Hussam Almarie, a FSA spokesman, recently commented to the Wall Street Journal on the sense of despair and resignation beginning to plague the men, "We're about to lose Aleppo and no one cares. We won't be able to recover the revolution if this happens. And we'll lose the moderates in Syria." The presence of new enthused fighters would enliven the flagging spirit of the existing fighters who feel that 'no one cares' about their resistance against ISIS.

But alas, as I write this, I begin to feel like the Greek prophetess Cassandra who was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo, yet cursed by never being believed. For as I look out upon the cultural landscape, I see rampant indifference amongst the populace, being more concerned with 'bread and games' than with this consequential matter: the comings and goings of the Kardashians, the possible impending divorce of Jay Z and Beyonce, the latest episode of The Bachelor, and other such nonsense seem to supercede this very real and dire threat. If Aleppo is ceded to The Barbarians, will that finally rouse the American and European public, or will it take an attack upon the homeland orchestrated and executed by ISIS to compel us into action?

In addition, we should not underestimate the formidable fighting capability of the muhadijeen; they are undoubtedly one of the world's great fighting forces; this is not due to their weaponry or to their training, but rather their will. An American, a European, an Israeli, or an Iraqi dream of somehow getting out of the ensuing conflict alive, returning home to their family, to their profession, to their former or future life, but the muhadijeen do not dream of such things; they exist for that moment, for that battle, and dream not of life, but of death. Our culture values life and all of its pleasures; whereas, the muhadijeen long for nothing less than to be martyred in battle against the infidels; this psychological difference is why they had success against the Russians in Afghanistan and against the US and her allies in Iraq/Afghanistan. A stateless, maniacal enemy can not be defeated conventionally -- it must be extinguished. There will be no moment like at the conclusion of the first Iraq War where General Schwarzkopf accepted the formal surrender of Saddam Hussein; these enemies of ours will never submit in this manner.

Due to this phenomenon, we must not relent until ISIS's fighters are decimated to a man, with Al Baghdadi's corpse eased into the Arabian Sea to rest in eternity alongside his comrade, Osama Bin Laden. And the first step in this noble and necessary pursuit is holding Aleppo. It must not fall. ISIS Delenda Est.