The United States is at a crossroads. Three years ago, President Obama took a major step by withdrawing the last of the American troops from Iraq and thus put an end to the dreaded war in Iraq. This conflict had undergone so much criticism that the common belief was that the United States should and would refrain from intervening in the region anytime soon. The American government faced the dilemma of whether or not they should get involved in the fall of 2014. Everybody was convinced that attacking the Islamic State would be yet another mistake in the Middle East. This military campaign, however, is not a mistake. Bombing Islamic State strongholds is not the only the proper line of action; rather, the allied countries, which include the U.S., U.K., U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and Jordan, should also provide ground support to fight the expansion of the Islamic State.
What differentiates this U.S. intervention from previous ones in the region is that the government acted at the right time: Neither too early nor too late. Even though the activity of the terrorist organization spiked in the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, the American government managed to remain neutral and abstain from getting involved in the conflict. It took three years for the United States to initiate military action against the extremists. When it did, it had a valid reason to do so: its moral obligation to protect its people and to ensure their safety. Should the United States have watched idly while its citizens were being publicly and mercilessly massacred? Even after the first video with the execution of James Foley was leaked, the government discussed and pondered over the various possible ways to react. Its answer, the air strikes, was neither too extreme, nor too hasty, nor too delayed. This shows how much the country has grown with respect to participating in an international conflict.
American and British journalists and aid-workers, however, are not the only ones terrorized by the Islamic State. Christian communities from the cities of Qaraqosh and Mosul in Northern Iraq have left their homes because if they remain there without converting to radical Islam, they face imminent death. The Islamic State harms Turkmen Shia villagers, as well as Sunni Muslims from the Anbar region. This is not a conflict that affects individuals of a single nationality, religion or country of residence. Rather, it is a conflict between a power-hungry group attempting to establish its own political empire and innocent people of various backgrounds who cannot protect themselves. The United States was right to intervene as it has a responsibility to protect people’s freedom regardless of where they come from.
It should even act more decisively. The air strikes seem to fail in deterring the Islamic State’s expansion ambitions. As the organization’s army has advanced farther and are a mile away from the town of Kobani in Kurdistan, Turkey, countries need to take more resolute measures, such as deploying units in the region as ground support, to stop the Islamic State before it becomes too powerful to fight.
This is not 2003, and this will not be another foreign invasion of the Middle East. This is a chance for the international community to save the lives of the millions of innocent people who are threatened by the Islamic State. This is a chance for the United States to redeem itself before the people of this region by fighting for them and for their rights. Every person has the right to choose how to live their life and what to believe in, and every country is obligated to ensure that these prerogatives are never violated. U.S. intervention is not simply necessary: It is morally justified.