Is it a war? Is it not a war? Does it have an objective? It appears to have several anti-objectives, all sorts of things it's not supposed to accomplish.
From Belmont ClubThe punditry struggled to find something enlightening to say about president Obama’s strategy to degrade … defeat … inconvenience … manage ISIS — whatever you want to call it — because there was almost nothing to hold on to. It remains a kind of mystery object, like the 2001 monolith, a presence sitting in the room.
Obama's Nuanced War, will however have four parts if no real purpose.
Support to Allied Forces on the Ground
This plan contains of course the usual desperate need to lead from behind. The goal is to get someone else to do the boots on the ground stuff.
The problem being no one wants to work with Obama at this point.
Turkey will not let us use their airbases. ISIS is a problem in theory. The Kurds are a problem in fact. Better to let the two of them fight it out so far as Turkey is concerned. They have muttered something about Humanitarian Assistance in passing. In addition ISIS has taken a number of Turkish Diplomats hostage.
Germany will provide support to the Kurds but nothing else.
Saudi Arabia will be providing training : "We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort," the official said, "the train-and-equip program, to host that program." This will be almost completely pointless. Given the nature of Arab society, these forces will likely be little more than an armed mob and will disperse at first contact.
The biggest problem of all, is the reputation that President Obama has earned. No one trusts him because no one can trust him. The odds of him not abandoning an ally at the first whiff of domestic unpopularity are too low to be meaningfully calculated.
And so we are left with the quantum puzzle of Schrodinger. A war with many potential outcomes but no measurable objectives for success.
What will be in this box when we open it?