Questions remain over the West’s ability to confront ISIS

Sam Begin, Team Lead Editor


Graphic by Tyler Hagberg

In the span of only two years, ISIS has managed to become a near ubiquitous name in American households. They command the same fear we used to lavish on al-Qaeda or the Soviets. But while we rose up to the challenges posed by both, are we doing the same with ISIS? The answer to that question is yes.

ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic State. Regardless of their name, they have emerged an immense threat to both American and world security in the Middle East. Their ruthless beheadings and use of social media put them in a class of terrorists the world has never seen before. Thankfully,  The United States, thus far, has not ignored this threat. The U.S. has sent more advisors to Iraq, halted plans to withdraw all troops and has relentlessly bombed ISIS with drone power. Some people believe, however, that we should be doing more the confront this threat. We cannot afford to be reckless with our military might though, and the blind use of force could lead to the further breakdown of the situation in the Middle East, rather than trying to mend the rifts.

“Launching three strikes around a place where a horrible humanitarian crisis is taking place…is clearly very, very ineffective, to say the least,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told CNN. Senator McCain is just one the voices of mostly Republicans who are skeptical of the limited airstrikes Obama has authorized. To them, Obama appears to be taking a weak approach to a grave threat, but that is not the case.

In the Middle East, the United States, quite frankly, has made a mess. Our wars with Iraq and Afghanistan destabilized the region and made us face the horrifying fact that we had armed the very jihadists we were fighting against. Our intervention in Libya resulted in a regime change from a strong dictatorship, to a fractured democracy where jihadist control entire cities. In the case of the Middle East, the United States cannot afford to be reckless again. It is necessary that we take all options into account and observe the situation before throwing guns and soldiers at the problem.

He’s decided in effect that America’s not exceptional, that we don’t have a role to play in the world, and that he’s not going to be concerned about it”

— Rep. Lamar Smith (TX)

According to the Daily Kos, Rep. Lamar Smith (TX) believes that the reason behind the perception that Obama is not doing anything is that he is actually doing “nothing to stop the extremist group because he believes that “America’s not exceptional,” as he said in an interview in February. “He’s decided in effect that America’s not exceptional, that we don’t have a role to play in the world, and that he’s not going to be concerned about it,” he added.

This comment borders on insane and highlight the level of misinformation that exists in this country. People still believe that we are not doing anything at all the stop ISIS. The opposite is true. ISIS failed to take the city of Kobani in northern Syria, which was widely publicized, due to US drone strikes, and now face having the city of Tikrit retaken by Iraqi forces, according to Reuters.

“The Islamic State … will lose its battle to hold territory in Iraq,” wrote Doug Ollivant, the former National Security Council Director for Iraq in his book War on the Rocks.

This conclusion has come to most military analysts, as ISIS has already reached its peak. As the US and other coalition countries continue to battle ISIS, and as Syria and Iraq become more stable, ISIS will eventually have to give up all the territory it managed to conquer during the confusion of last year.