Dealing With the Islamic State

With the Islamic State declaring war on…well, everyone, the million dollar question on everyone’s mind is about how America is going to respond. The warmongers on the right in this country are salivating at the idea of starting another war. The defense contractors can already see all the money lining their wallets again. But while everyone is eagerly waiting, President Obama is staying the course that he has taken throughout most of his presidency. Air strikes, drone attacks, and strategic targeting of high profile enemies.

The right wingers who crave war can’t stand that the president isn’t sending troops overseas to take back Iraq from the Islamic State. But this is the stark contrast of military philosophies. One side believes that the best way to combat an enemy is by sending in troops and fighting them man to man on the ground. This is the conventional warfare mentality that we have seen throughout history. This is the type of war that right wing conservatives are foaming at the mouth for. This is the type of war that “proves who the bigger man is.” However, this is also the type of war that is nearly impossible to fight in the location that we are talking about…which is why Afghanistan and Iraq were such troublesome wars.

One of my first ever posts on here about two and a half years ago was with an Iraq veteran (check it out here) and I asked him if sending troops back into Iraq would stop the civil war that was breaking out then (and ultimately led to ISIS breaking from Al-Qaeda and forming the Islamic State that we are dealing with today). He said that if we had troops return then the terrorists there would simply see the troops as targets. If there were no troops, they would view the Iraqis as targets. Their ultimate goal is bloodshed and sending troops back over there will just lead to more bloodshed.

So rather than making the same mistake as we have made in the past, President Obama is weighing all of his options and looking at the situation from all sides. The problem is, he is all over the map with trying to explain himself and he is seen as not having a strategy and failing to lead. However, people are ignoring the actions that he is taking. He has launched airstrikes and armed the Kurds and Iraqi military, which has led to a halt of the Islamic State’s advances. He has flown rescue missions to help Yazidis trapped in the Iraqi mountains, surrounded by ISIS soldiers. He has requested increased spending from NATO to help generate a solution to the crisis. These multilateral approaches have many saying that the president is dragging his foot on the issue and jeopardizing America.

What President Obama is actually doing is breaking from the traditional tried and failed methods of his predecessors in dealing with Islamic extremism. There must be a drastic change because what we have been doing is not working. Ultimately there is no way that the West is going to be able to defeat terrorism and terrorist groups in the Islamic world. Radical Islam has become popular because these groups promoting it are the only source of security that many in this region can find because of all the destruction from the West. It’s going to take moderate Muslims standing up and showing these civilians that there are other options; that radical Islam goes against everything taught in the Koran. It’s going to take a fundamental alteration in the zeitgeist of Islamic society. The West cannot bring this change about. How he deals with the Islamic State is a true watershed moment not just for President Obama’s foreign policy legacy, but a watershed moment for western civilization’s relationship with radical extremism. I, for one, am glad that he is taking his time to find the right answer. Newt Gingrich (of all people) said it best: “it’s better [to] have no good strategy and know it than to implement a bad one.”

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