Watch CBS News

Can The U.S. Combat ISIS Without Playing Into The Terrorist Group's Strategies?

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Will it take United States military ground intervention to defeat ISIS or does that play into the plans of these radicals? Last week President Barack Obama requested authority from Congress to use military force against the Islamic State terror group.

We spoke with Dr. Abbas Milani, director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, who was one of the founding co-directors of the Iran Democracy Project as well as a Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

"They're efficient, brutal, well oiled, with a long-term plan and a sense of entitlement," Milani said.
Dr. Milani is a globally recognized expert on Iranian- U.S. relations. Before coming to teach in the United States in 1986, he taught in his home city at Tehran University's Faculty of Law and Political Science and a member or the Board of Directors of that University's Center for International Relations.

"It plays perfectly into their plan. They claim that 1,300 years ago the prophet predicted that if Western forces land in Syria, the end of the world shall be near. That's what they're hoping for," he said. In addition, he said anyone that watches their beheading propaganda videos is also playing into their trap.

"We should refuse to watch these things because they're absolutely brutal and dehumanizing. They clearly understand that there is a thirst for this."

Their use of propaganda and psychology targets the marginalized, Milani says. They seek the petty criminal and anyone, anywhere with a curiosity about their unspeakable brand of violence.

According to Milani, ISIS shows all signs of the trappings of a "state" with a territory the size of England and the population the size of Denmark. That's why he agrees some type of western intervention, perhaps a special ops activity, will be needed in addition to the nations of the region joining to eradicate the group.

But he says another front in this war that needs immediate attention is monetary. ISIS already has hundreds of millions of dollars and is making more every day through the sale of oil and gas, tax revenue in the areas they control, the black market sale of antiquities and the human trafficking of women and children.

Many are still under the impression that ISIS is just another scattered group of terrorists, but Milani says nothing could be further from the truth. ISIS recruits came out of the havoc of Iraq, from the violence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and forging together in the brutality of Syria's civil war. He notes that they thrive on the regions instability.

"[Other terrorist groups] are now openly joining ISIS and showing allegiance to ISIS. Some of them are changing their names some of them are flying the flag, because it is a commercial enterprise. They realize that ISIS has financial capacity to support them. Parts of Boko Haram have already joined them; radical Islamists in Pakistan, Afghanistan."

Yet he points out that despite the group's growth in the region, the majority of Muslims in the world are on record as opposing ISIS. Gallup said it's less than one percent of Muslims according to their poll. Still, Milani says if you have 1.2 billion Muslims in the world that even one percent of that is a large number.

"Even one-tenth of a percent is a potentially dangerous number. If three people can walk into Charlie Hebdo and wreak the kind of havoc they did and go to a Kosher Jewish store and do the kind of killing they did, all that takes is four or five people. The Muslim world has to come together, has to speak clearly, categorically, unmistakably that we don't want any part of this and we're going to do everything in our power that this does not sully the name of our societies, our religions. Otherwise we're in for a long summer."


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.