U.S. Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and Al Qaeda
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute conducted an intensive multi-week planning exercise to frame, design, and evaluate potential courses of action that the United States could pursue to destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) and al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. ISW and CTP are publishing the findings of this exercise in multiple reports in a series titled U.S Grand Strategy: Destroying ISIS and al Qaeda. The first report – Al Qaeda and ISIS: Existential Threats to the U.S. and Europe — describes America’s global grand strategic objectives as they relate to the threat from ISIS and al Qaeda. The second – Competing Visions for Syria and Iraq: The Myth of an Anti-ISIS Grand Coalition — defines American strategic objectives in Iraq and Syria, identifies the minimum necessary conditions for ending the conflicts there, and compares U.S. objectives with those of Iran, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia in order to understand actual convergences and divergences. The third report — Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS: Sources of Strength — assesses the strengths and vulnerabilities of ISIS and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria to serve as the basis for developing a robust and comprehensive strategy to destroy them. The fourth report — America’s Way Ahead in Syria — details an action plan for the best possible path forward for the United States that the ISW-CTP team could identify based on an evaluation of American interests, the current political-security dynamics, and forecasts of various actors’ plans.