The United States needs to rally a broad alliance of nations to oppose the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Secretary of State John Kerry wrote in an op-ed published Friday, even as the Pentagon mulls the potential for new airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria.
In a column published Friday by the New York Times, Kerry wrote that a united response by a determined coalition is necessary in order to prevent "the cancer of ISIS" from spreading.
"No decent country can support the horrors perpetrated by ISIS, and no civilized country should shirk its responsibility to help stamp out this disease," Kerry wrote. "Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy."
Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel are meeting European allies at a NATO summit in Wales next week, and President Barack Obama will aim to rally support at the United Nations Security Council next month for a plan to deal with ISIS.
U.S. operations in Iraq against ISIS forces are already costing $7.5 million per day on average, the military has said, as the Pentagon ramps up airstrikes to defend local populations from the invading extremists. Air operations have shifted the calculus of the fight and aided Iraqi and Kurdish forces, Kerry wrote in the Times, but a much broader response is needed.
"Airstrikes alone won’t defeat this enemy," Kerry wrote. "A much fuller response is demanded from the world. We need to support Iraqi forces and the moderate Syrian opposition, who are facing ISIS on the front lines. We need to disrupt and degrade ISIS’ capabilities and counter its extremist message in the media. And we need to strengthen our own defenses and cooperation in protecting our people."
Kerry didn't address the delicate question about putting American or other troops on the ground, but he did call for military aid, among other kinds of assistance.
"In this battle, there is a role for almost every country. Some will provide military assistance, direct and indirect. Some will provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance for the millions who have been displaced and victimized across the region," Kerry wrote. "Others will help restore not just shattered economies but broken trust among neighbors."