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McCLAUGHRY: Finish off the “Islamic State” quickly and cheaply

- - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fundamentalist Islam now has its own self-declared “state” – the “Islamic State”, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), now expanded into the long sought global caliphate.

From its base in eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, its
leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, renamed “Caliph Ibrahim”, plans to take
the sword of Allah throughout the world, explicitly including the
United States. When his forces are victorious, all peoples everywhere will be subject to sharia law, with its beheadings, amputations, execution of apostates, gays and lesbians, and enslavement of women generally.

In a feeble gesture of response, President Barack Obama’s “Rewards for Justice” program has set a $10 million bounty on the Caliph’s head (though $25 million wasn’t enough to deliver Osama Bin Laden).

There’s a better way – and it’s completely constitutional. Under Article I Sec. 9 of the Constitution, the “war power”, Congress has the power to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Under international law, a Letter of Marque and Reprisal is
an authorization from a government to specific persons to engage in hostile actions against that government’s enemies. The actions can be a seizure of property (capturing a ship) or mayhem and pillage generally. Since the “Islamic State” has declared war against us, we are, by long practice, at war with it.

To whom would Congress issue a Letter of Marque and Reprisal with respect to Caliph Ibrahim and anyone associated with the “Islamic State”?

The fact is, the “Islamic State” is landlocked, surrounded by many powerful enemies, and bereft of any visible allies. Happily, there are lots of promising options for marque and reprisal.

The Shiites who govern Iraq certainly want Ibrahim’s “state” crushed (before it overruns theirs).

The Shiite government of Iran, especially its al-Quds Force, is already backstopping the Iraqi government and has plenty of resources to bring to the job.

The Kurdish Pesh Merga militia would be delighted to exterminate a military threat operating at its doorstep.

The government of Syria, headed by Alawite Shiite Bashar al-Assad, is already battling ISIS in Syria.

The government of Turkey might find it tempting to eliminate any threat to the oil pipeline from northern Iraq to its Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

The China National Petroleum Corporation is now the biggest foreign investor in the Iraqi oil industry. Its management might find it prudent to remove the ISIS threat before ISIS moves south to the CNPC production areas.

The Western multinational oil companies operating in northern Iraq should also be interested in protecting their investments.

The government of Russia, nervous about the threat of an externally supported Islamic uprising in Chechnya and Dagestan, might be interested.

Don’t forget al-Qaeda. Earlier this year Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri expelled ISIS from the “movement”, probably for giving terrorism an even worse name.

And why not include Blackwater, the international security company made up of former Marines, Green Berets, and SEALs?

Once Congress acts, all of these entities and perhaps others would receive a leather-bound folder containing the Letter authorizing them to eliminate Caliph Ibrahim and his minions as threats. If the President insisted, the facing page could even display a color photo of our Commander in Chief, with the notation “Thanks for your help!”

What would be more satisfying to Americans than to see a lethal feeding frenzy develop in and around the “Islamic State”, ending with an inglorious end to Caliph Ibrahim? Especially if the U.S. investment is only a modest prize award to the winning entry? (Any reward earned by a butcher like Assad or terrorists like al-Qaeda would have to go to a worthy cause, like relief for Syrian refugees in Jordan.)

Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tx) introduced a similar Marque and Reprisal bill naming al-Qaeda soon after 9/11, but Congress failed to consider it. True, Congress hasn’t issued such a Letter since 1812, but there’s no better time than the present to resume this useful practice.

John McClaughry was a Senior Policy Advisor in the Reagan White
House. He is now retired from heading the free-market Ethan Allen
Institute.