On August 19 and September 2 respectively, videos released by the Islamic State showed the brutal beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Since the postings, the American intelligence community has verified the videos’ authenticity. International leaders and citizens alike anticipate what the U.S. response to the terror group’s inhumanity against two of its own will be.
Though President Obama previously came under fire after admitting he did not have a clear policy to counter the Islamic State’s barbarism, he has since outlined a basic plan to dismantle the terrorist group. I respect Obama for being honest and admitting that his decision would take time to develop. I believe his hesitance is valid. But I also find that the international press mistakes his hesitance for intended inaction. It is possible that Obama is being cautious by taking more time to assess the situation before acting.
What we all need to understand is that given the U.S. history with terrorist groups, we cannot indiscriminately initiate an attack without first considering the consequences. Our hindsight of the Iraq War should advise us on this.
Though his current hesitancy to pursue the terrorists is reasonable, Obama must take action. In a world where justice and freedom are sought and treasured, we cannot and should not allow the Islamic State to continue its disregard for human rights. If America can display its strength in any way, it should be through its passion for justice.
For those who still doubt the president’s intention to get involved, he confidently articulated that the recent murders only “stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists,” even if it will take years to vanquish them. A threat like the Islamic State should be a warning to actualize a sense of urgency.
This haste appears to be felt by Obama, who plans to deliver his strategy to the American people on September 10. He did reveal, however, his decision to limit ground troops to Iraqi soldiers and to continue airstrikes. He also warranted a hopefully long-term solution by planning to send officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to build regional partnerships against the Islamic State. The focus on developing stronger foreign relations indicates that Obama will implement an imminent and stable solution.
However, fighting a terror group should not always require a military response. Obama has authorized the launch of over 100 airstrikes over northern Iraq thus far. The effectiveness of these airstrikes should be questioned as the Islamic State has referenced such strikes as the motivating factor behind its decision to murder the journalists.
Understandably, the President would like to avoid a costly war in the region reminiscent of the one begun just over a decade ago. Yet, when the lives of Americans are compromised, our country should remain committed to making sure those lives are not lost in vain.
Both Foley and Sotloff were dedicated to publicizing terrorist activity. Therefore, it should be our goal to continue their work and dismantle the Islamic State. However, instead of employing airstrikes in response, I believe it more effective for the United States to work toward establishing infrastructure in Iraq and Syria.
Even if it requires a greater investment, international security is worth it. By providing resources like hospitals and community programs for citizens to lead more secure lifestyles, we would provide more feasible options than a life of violence.
In a global community where human life is held sacrosanct, the United States should be vocal about the Islamic State’s human rights crimes. Its barbaric treatment of its people and hostages, cruelty against women and misappropriation of Islam are just a few reasons to get involved.
But as Obama has stipulated, we cannot enter this fight alone. These atrocities are ones that the international community together should condemn. Nations such as Germany, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have indicated their willingness to join the alliance to eradicate the Islamic State. To have any effect on defeating the Islamic State, policy should be specified and implemented together, every nation united, aiming for liberty and justice for all.