Last Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation about the crisis that is ISIL. The President is organizing a worldwide coalition to combat the international threat that ISIL represents. He spoke about a 4 pronged plan to weaken and destroy the terrorists that make up ISIL.
There is no greater responsibility for any President than committing our young men and women to fight in an arena far away from our shores. Using our Air Force to degrade our relatively new enemy puts our courageous young men and women in harms way. Using air power and drones is an antiseptic way to fight a war but it is a war no matter how you sugar coat it. You may try to make it sound more like anti-terrorist action, but it is still a war. With the tactics being suggested it seems likely that the conflict that will now take place against ISIL will take years.
We should stand shoulder to shoulder in a common effort to meet this new challenge. The American people get it, ISIL is a danger to all of us. Their barbarism is amazing and their intent is to establish through military action an Islamic state with sharia law as the governing principles. It has been many years since the west has seen such brutality where civilians are the targets. Actually anyone who disagrees with their form of religious tyranny is considered an infidel. In order for this group to accomplish their goal of a greater Syria, further conquest would be necessary. This would put our allies in the region in danger. The sanctity of sovereign states is on the line. Religious persecution is on the march. With the many foreign fighters among the well armed and well-financed group called ISIL, the chances of a wider war between the Sunni and the Shiites increases. Chaos and anarchy like a cancer grows while the world decides how to go about preventing any move towards a regional war.
Americans realize the seriousness of the trouble in the Middle East. Most of us acknowledge our responsibility in breaking the pottery and owning it as a result of the United States destroying any stability that existed before our invasion of Iraq. We at the same time failed miserably in our attempt to nation build and bring democracy to a country of religious differences and tribalism.
Americans, are weary of war, and are weary of the nearly 70 years of being the policeman of the world for good or ill. Many of our fellow citizens would like to sit this conflict out, preferring that the Iraqi people settle their own problems. The old arguments from the 1930’s are being heard once, again. Arguments like it is not our fight, or there is no imminent threat to the United States. We hear that nothing can be solved by our being involved. We are reminded of the likelihood that a war on terrorism seems as if it will last forever. We hear the refrains that we should let them kill each other. We want to use any argument to avoid the killing and loss of treasure that any war brings.
It is true that once you start on the path of war, it is much harder to start it then to end it. The outcome is uncertain. But if any lessons can be learned from the past, it is clear that if any action is justified it is when you have obvious aggression and brutality taking place. If not now when would America be willing to send troops anywhere in the world under any circumstances? If we look at the truth in the face, can we honestly say that if this effort is to be successful won’t troops on the ground be necessary to assure that we remove the scourge of civilized society that is ISIL?
My hope is that Congress will stand up and take an authorization vote on whether we should commit ourselves to eliminate and degrade the capability of ISIL to make war. We need to be united in a common cause that we feel part of if we are to be successful against the forces of darkness which ISIL represents. With so many foreign fighters among ISIL, including some Americans, the prospect of terrorism coming to America increases whether we do nothing or act now. But one has to believe that if we organize now as we have against the threat from Bin Laden and his followers, we can give ourselves a better chance of keeping our country free from acts of terrorism.
The President’s decision was not an easy one, for there is no easy answer in dealing with such extremism as we see in the Middle East.
We shall see if Congress and the world is up to the challenge that ISIL brings us. Each beheading brazenly memorialized in a video, is an act of unspeakable criminality. Like bullies and criminals before them, these members of ISIL hide their faces while they mete out their form of justice. These acts of inhumanity cry out for justice. We await the world’s reaction. Will it be the same as when the killing fields of Cambodia went on without any outcry or action from the members of the world community of nations? Will there be silence and inaction as there was in the initial days of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? Will the world be frozen in inaction like it was when genocide descended on the people of the Congo or Rwanda?
Meanwhile the President of the United States has spoken. President Obama has a plan of action. Whether or not the plan is sufficient or whether or not he will find nations courageous enough to join in on the effort to deal with the danger that ISIL represents, we shall see. It will be fascinating to see if the people of the United States will be willing to act and demand of their Congress the courage to act for the good of the nation. Will the Republican Party be willing to put partisan politics aside for a moment and join in on an effort to try to stabilize an area of the world that is broken as a result of our mistakes in the past? History awaits the answers to these important questions.