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Colin Powell Doesn’t Think That Military Power Can Take Down ISIS

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Former Secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell said Sunday that military power alone simply won’t do in the struggle against Islamic State.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Powell also noted that the administration’s strategy of relying on air attacks could turn out to be counterproductive. The reason? Airpower may result in disaffected and disillusioned civilians, the same civilians whose support is necessary to oust ISIS. Yet, air strikes continue to destroy homes and entire villages, though the U.S.-led coalition has been reticent to confirm any civilian casualties since the bombings began in Iraq and Syria. Up to this point, the U.S. only acknowledges that two Syrian children died in a 2014 strike. There have been 6,500 air strikes in total.

“ISIS is not just an enemy waiting to be defeated in Syria and in Iraq and elsewhere, it is a movement. It’s not something that is going to lend itself to immediate military power to take it out,” Powell told Chuck Todd.

“It’s going to have to be defeated by the people who live in the areas where this movement exists,” he added.

Powell is no stranger to conflict, having played a prominent role in the invasion of Iraq under former President George W. Bush, and he certainly isn’t the only military voice counseling against relying on force to defeat ISIS.

In June, then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who also has a history in Iraq, stated that even shipping 150,000 U.S. troops to the region would not bring about a long-term solution. Without lasting cooperation from Iraqis on the ground, any arrangement established by the U.S. is totally vulnerable to outside subversion once the U.S. presence departs. And that’s precisely what happened during the invasion of Iraq. (RELATED: Sending 150,000 Troops To Iraq To Defeat ISIS Would Be Totally Futile, Army Chief Of Staff Says)  

“We went in and fixed it once,” Odierno said, according to CBS. “It took us a while — it took us longer than we wanted it to — but we fixed it. The security was good, the economy was growing. We handed it off to them, and here we are three, four years later, and ISIS has been in control, has really had an impact on the security of the Iraqi people, and is now threatening the region in a much greater way.”

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