Former Army Private Chelsea Manning criticized President Obama’s strategy against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), arguing that the terror group “cannot be defeated by bombs and bullets.”

“Attacking [ISIS] directly, by airstrikes or special operations forces, is a very tempting option available to policymakers,” Manning wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian. “Unfortunately, when the West fights fire with fire, we feed into a cycle of outrage, recruitment, organizing and even more fighting that goes back decades.”


Manning is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth military prison for leaking classified information to the website WikiLeaks. She is appealing her conviction. Formerly known as Bradley Manning, she began gender treatment after her trial.

In the op-ed, Manning cited her experience as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. She called on Obama to take steps she says would “disrupt the growth of ISIS,” including countering its propaganda, containing it without set borders and halting the flow of money to the group from oil reserves and ransom payments.

Manning called ISIS a “brutal extremist group” but predicted it was unsustainable and would collapse under its own pressures.

“But the world just needs to be disciplined enough to let the [ISIS] fire die out on its own, intervening carefully and avoiding the cyclic trap of “mission creep,’” she said.

“ISIS is wielding a sharp, heavy and very deadly double-edged sword. Now just wait for them to fall on it."

President Obama has launched airstrikes against the group in Iraq and has opened the door to such missions in Syria. The president is also seeking authorization from Congress to train and equip moderate rebel groups in Syria to fight ISIS.


--Updated on Feb. 12