Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS

Our Monday, November 23 conversation with New York Times columnist Roger Cohen and MIT political science professor Barry Posen is worth listening to in full, but we think the following early exchange between the two big thinkers — with markedly different approaches to dealing with the ISIS threat -- demonstrates the core of their arguments.

Roger Cohen

"The danger with history is that of course we allow the most recent history to dominate our thinking. We forget that after 9/11 the initial moves against al Qaeda's haven in Afghanistan were effective and that territory was re-taken. It was only when the huge, disastrous distraction of Iraq emerged that the progress that was made was lost.

Intervention, as Iraq showed, can be disastrous. But I don't think anyone can argue in Syria that non-interventionism works."

Barry Posen

"ISIS needs a steady diet of telegenic victories to bring it support, and we've deprived it of a steady diet of telegenic victories. In fact we've started to administer some defeats. So, they have reached out to some soft targets to try and renew the image of momentum that they rely on for recruits.

...Just because one can imagine a solution doesn't make the solution implementable or wise."

So intervene, or hold back? That's not up to us — or Posen or Cohen — to decide.


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