Next Steps for U.S. Foreign Policy on Syria and Iraq

American strategy in Iraq and Syria continues to suffer from a fatal flaw.  President Obama explicitly ordered that it focus only on “degrading” and “destroying” the Islamic State to the exclusion of any other American national security interests and regardless of the likelihood of the long-term success of any such effort undertaken in isolation.  As a result, the strategy has achieved some limited successes against the Islamic State, but those isolated successes are coming at the expense of other important American security concerns.  The current approach, in particular, has strengthened the position of Iran, its armed forces, and its proxies in Iraq, and has allowed al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra to expand its control and influence in Syria.  These trends are very likely to continue if the U.S continues to pursue the present strategy.