THE BLOG
11/20/2014 12:26 pm ET Updated Jan 20, 2015

A Reality Check on ISIS

During the current news cycle, any critical discussion about our policy toward ISIS, or about our foreign policy in the Middle East in general, will be subordinated or obscured by coverage of President Obama executive action on immigration, the recent murder of several rabbis worshiping in a synagogue in Israel, allegations of sexual misconduct by Bill Cosby, the latest beheading of an American by ISIS, the recent incident of gun violence on the campus of Florida State University, and the wait for the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri.

However, the issue of our immediate and long-term policy toward ISIS may have a more profound and lasting impact on our nation during the last two years of President Obama's administration than any other single issue.

Our current policy is one of targeted air strikes, the deployment of 3,000 American military "advisors," arming and resupplying forces in Iraq who are fighting ISIS, and a commitment of no American "boots on the ground."

I believe that none of the above will defeat ISIS.

The focus of our strategy should not be on what we do or do not do with our military. The principal focus of our "fight" should be on getting the countries in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, etc., to make the defeat of ISIS their responsibility. They, together with Turkey, should be funding and leading the efforts to defeat ISIS.

Saudi Arabia has the fourth-largest defense budget in the world, larger than that of the UK. It should be the country pouring the most financial resources into the international fight against ISIS. However, this alone is also unlikely to succeed.

Success against ISIS depends upon whether the most effective international force of all -- the outspoken voices of Muslim religious and political leaders -- can be quickly mobilized. Whether in the UK or in other countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the United States, Muslim leaders must publicly and forcefully speak out against ISIS. Otherwise -- and this is critical -- the silence of such leaders could be construed as moral complicity in the heinous acts of ISIS.

If none the suggestions above is implemented, then President Obama, or whoever will be elected president of the United States in 2016, should level with the American people. We should be told that a continued policy of "no boots on the ground" offers no possibility of defeating ISIS. Its successful defeat will depend upon whether the countries most geographically affected by its presence are prepared to assume financial and military leadership in the effort against ISIS.

We are no longer in an era of "Manifest Destiny." The defeat of ISIS should be the responsibility of the countries most affected by it, not principally that of the United States.