September 13th, 2014
07:01 PM ET

How to defeat ISIS

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

President Obama's speech Wednesday night outlined a tough, measured strategy to confront ISIS. But let's make sure in the execution of this strategy that the U.S. learns something from the 13 years since September 11, 2001 and the war against al Qaeda.

Here are a few lessons to think about:

One – Don't always take the bait. The United States has to act against this terror group. But it should do so at a time and manner of its choosing rather than jumping when ISIS wants it to jump.

Lesson two: Don't overestimate the enemy. ISIS is a formidable foe, but the counterforces to it have only just begun...While ISIS is much more sophisticated than al Qaeda in its operations and technology, it has one major, inherent weakness. Al Qaeda was an organization that was pan-Islamic, trying to appeal to all Muslims. This group is a distinctly sectarian organization. ISIS is anti-Shiite as well as deeply hostile to Kurds, Christians and many other inhabitants in the Middle East. This means that it has large numbers of foes in the region who will fight against it, not because the United States wants them to but in their own interests.

Lesson number three: Remember politics. The Obama administration has mapped out a smart strategy in Iraq, pressing the Baghdad government to include more Sunnis. But that is yet to happen – the Shiite parties have dragged their feet over any major concessions to the Sunnis. This is a crucial issue because if the United States is seen as defending two non-Sunni regimes – Iraq and Syria – against a Sunni uprising, it will not win.

Watch the video for the full Take, or read the WaPo column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. rupert

    @my cutie patootie. Get a second and third opinion. If all three say that there is a crack, then ask to see it.
    A crack in a frame is serious.
    Go to reputable mechanics on your second and third try.
    Bye baby doll. Who luvs u!

    September 15, 2014 at 9:22 pm |
  2. rupert

    @ the people of earth. Don't ever, ever eat a heavy mexican meal at night
    And I mean never!

    September 15, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
    • cay

      what about a light mexican tomato salsa with some corn chips?
      is that ok?

      September 18, 2014 at 9:58 am |
  3. chri§§y

    Lol @ rupert thanks. I cant drive it at the moment but yea i agree. Just seems odd to me because its an F150 ford and ive never been in an accident. There were no strange sounds or vibrations. No indication at all. And the dude who checked it offered me $200 for it. I bet you can guess what i told him huh? Lmao and righto about the heavy mexican meal at night lol.

    September 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
  4. Oh dear, what can the matter be........?

    Out of Control 800 lb Gorilla or “Bull in a China Shop”, take your pick .......... Ha! Ha! Ha! .......... and it's a purdy dumb Gorilla at that ......... swatting hoodlum mozzies in the desert, while Asia laughs all the way to the bank ........... Boink! Boink! Boink! ............ gotta get those mozzies for the next 100 centuries ............. Boink! Boink! Boink! ........ oooops, run outta cash long ago, never mind that ............... Boink! Boink! Boink! ............. oh crap, have no jobs cos’ all our jobs went to Asia, never mind that ............ Boink! Boink! Boink! ............ half the people in our country live in poverty, never mind that ............ Boink! Boink! Boink! .......... half our people are divorced (hurting their kids) and are on drugs (hurting their bodies), never mind that ............ Boink! Boink! Boink! ......... oh dear, our politicians and our government are completely controlled by our military industrial complex, never mind that (because that’s what created this 800 lb Gorilla in the first place remember???)………… Boink! Boink! Boink! .............omigosh, our kids are out of control spoiled brats getting poor grades in school and partying too much, never mind that………….. Boink! Boink! Boink! .................... Oh No! Global Warming is destroying our planet, and all we do is burn more fossil fuels every year, never mind that …............ Boink! Boink! Boink! ........... yikes, our infra-structure is falling apart and desperately needs repair/upgrades, never mind that ……………. Boink! Boink! Boink! ........... Jeeeeez, income inequality, failure to achieve universal healthcare, failure to provide adequate housing for all, homelessness, excessively expensive university tuition costs, declining employment opportunities, middle class wage stagnation etc. is bringing us down for sure, never mind all those things ………… BOINK! BOINK! BOINK! .............. Is this what we Americans have sunk to????? …………. All we know how to do is Bomb, Bomb, Bomb?????……….. Is this what America stands for now???????

    September 15, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Great post, Oh dear, what can the matter be.........? Thank you and keep it up!

      September 16, 2014 at 12:47 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        No, @ My Troll: not much of a post, although long.
        As you know, I support our government's bombing of the Islamic State's terrorists.

        September 16, 2014 at 1:22 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        So Joey, you must be awfully blood thirsty. I feel sorry for you.

        September 16, 2014 at 2:08 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        Sorry folks, I didn't post those idiotic posts. The U.S. must do what it can to destroy ISIS. This war is perpetual, as the fanatics have been at it since ancient times and the U.S. will not back down.
        Bombs away. Get em.

        September 16, 2014 at 6:01 am |
      • oh dear, what can the matter be........?

        Good post 6:01 Joey,thank you.

        September 16, 2014 at 6:03 am |
  5. Oh dear, what can the matter be........?

    What is the matter...terror groups want to harm innocent Muslims that are peaceful. Let's not stand for it. Solution? BOMBS AWAY! BOINK...BOINK..BOINK...
    They also have threatened AMERICA.
    Solution? BOMBS AWAY!!!!
    They use human shields.

    September 16, 2014 at 5:56 am |
    • cay

      in the canada or in the new jersey or in the good morning america or today?....whatever!
      Esstinky SSSkinny bas-tard!

      September 18, 2014 at 10:00 am |
  6. George patton

    We need to continue the war against terror. These extreme fanatics are not true Muslims. They are heartless cold blooded killers. I say we bomb them all!

    September 16, 2014 at 6:06 am |
  7. Joseph McCarthy

    George, you nailed it! Thank you.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:08 am |
  8. oh dear, what can the matter be........?

    We as a nation have produced some of the best military personnel in the world. Let's put it to good use guys. Bomb the Islamic State of horror. They extort, steal oil, and murder. They are not a legitimate recognized state. Not with stolen land and atrocious barbaric acts.
    I'm loving it. Get your double cheeseburger today.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:15 am |
  9. George patton

    I would opt for a Quarter Ponder instead.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:16 am |
  10. Joseph McCarthy

    Bombing can be tiresome. After a good day of bombing terrrrorists, a Big Mac combo with a sweet tea will sure go down well. BOINK...BOINK...BOINK...
    Don't forget, free refills. Ignore what they say about sugar and enjoy.
    I'm loving it.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:21 am |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Keep the enemy on the run. Bomb and kill them. And yes a burger and a tea.
    I'm loving it.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:25 am |
  12. oh dear, what can the matter be........?

    My fellow Americans,
    As a global super power, we must destroy, dismantle, and degrade terror groups all over the world. Bombing is a necessary evil to fight evil. Let us not quit until the enemy is hiding in the caves.
    We have just begun to fight.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:31 am |
  13. Joseph McCarthy

    Hear hear

    September 16, 2014 at 6:32 am |
  14. rupert

    I expect that this idiot here will troll me too, sooner or later. For the record, I despise the self-serving, right-wing thugs in Washington and their never ending wars and money-grubbing! Now watch this idiot post the exact opposite under my name!

    September 16, 2014 at 10:22 am |
    • banasy©

      You're pretty transparent, although I believe that's your intent.

      September 16, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
  15. Philip

    As if extremism of the Islamic religious variety is all there is to worry about in this world filled with zealots willing to die for false religious teachings. There are too many hundreds of different religions for them to all be right.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
  16. a3445

    And I say: Don't put boots on the ground, put nukes on the ground.

    September 18, 2014 at 3:47 am |
    • George patton

      What an idiotic comment this is! Either the bozo who posted the above is trying to be funny or is an absolute idiot!!! With so much ignorance running rampant across the country, it's hard to say.

      September 18, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  17. nonesuch

    a3445: right!
    but as a joint effort of all nuclear armed states. they should use the opportunity to get rid of some ageing nukes for the greater good, including saving taxpayers money for dismantling!

    September 18, 2014 at 4:38 am |
  18. cay

    I cant believe fareed is telling us how to defeat ISIS?

    i thought zakaria's strategy was to not never ever get involved in syria at all and just sit back and watch.
    fareed zakaria is such a fake.
    never ever take this guy's advice!

    September 18, 2014 at 9:37 am |
    • George patton

      Humanity would be far better served if we Americans would only stay out of Syria and vacate Iraq altogether, cay. The problem here is, is that too many thugs in Washington are profiting from this ignominious war as well as half of Congress who are getting their kickbacks from it! Today, the war profiteers are running our foreign policies!!!

      September 18, 2014 at 10:36 am |
  19. chri§§y

    Agreed @ George Patton! I was watching the Capital Hill Hearings a bit ago and was listening to Rand Paul. Was quite refreshing to hear him say that very same thing!

    September 18, 2014 at 9:44 pm |
  20. chri§§y

    And to clarify that, the refreshing part was to hear a REPUBLICAN say that...because i honestly cant remember the last time ive heard one against war. In fact i dont remember EVER hearing a republican congress person say that.

    September 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
  21. Celena Sanlatte

    I am wordless when I have to comment on your blog. Your writing and thought is beyond any word of praise.

    December 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm |
  22. Emile Algire

    I started writing a book, and I wanted to put the chapters of the book on a different blog then my other less thrilling post. I don't know how to, though,.

    January 9, 2021 at 11:58 pm |
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