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Thinking the unthinkable: This is war BERNARD-HENRI LÉVY (Globe & Mail)

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Nov. 18, 2015

I come now to the heart of the matter. The real source of this flood of horror. And that is the Islamic State, which occupies a good third of Syria and Iraq and provides to the perpetrators of possible future Bataclans the rearguard bases, command centres, crime schools and training camps without which none of this would be possible.

Last week, in Sinjar, Kurdish forces backed by the international coalition won a clear and decisive victory. I could cite many examples over the past six months in which the Kurds—who, for the time being, are the only ones engaging the enemy on the ground—have routed IS’s rabble army without a fight.

This was the situation two decades ago in Sarajevo, when putative experts raised the spectre of the hundreds of thousands of ground troops that would have to be deployed to prevent ethnic cleansing from reaching its grisly apogee. Yet it turned out that a handful of special forces, backed by strikes, was sufficient. I am convinced that the IS hordes are much braver when blowing the heads off defenceless young Parisians than when facing real soldiers of freedom. Similarly, I believe that the international community possesses all of the means necessary to defeat the threat it faces, should it choose to do so.

What holds us back? Why have we been so stinting in assisting our Kurdish allies?

What is it about this war that the America of Barack Obama, at least for the moment, seems not to really want to win? I do not know the answer. But I know where the key lies.

And I know the alternative to using the key: No boots on their ground means more blood on ours.

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