WILL WE SEE AN INTERNATIONAL EFFORT
TO COUNTER THE SO-CALLED ISLAMIC STATE?
I have never been in the military, so naturally, I’ve never experienced combat. On top of that, I’m in my sixties.
Consequently, I always feel hesitant about advocating armed action, even when some obvious threat to our nation presents itself. What do I know about blood and guts? It’s not my ass that would be in harm’s way.
But on certain occasions, armed action is necessary. Something had to be done after 9/11, for instance, though historians will be long debating whether the actions we took were the right ones.
And just now it looks like we’re at another of those call-to-arms moments, with forces of the self-proclaimed Islamic State marauding across Syria and Iraq, making noises about planned further conquests.
The noises certainly have been loud. After gaining control of an area more extensive than Britain, through a combination of swift mobile combat maneuvering, sectarian treachery, and appallingly barbarous violence, the IS/ISIL/ISIS or whatever you want to call it has succeeded in cleansing non-Muslims from this newly acquired territory, including the eradication of Christian communities that had roots back to Apostolic times.
Now there are even threats against Rome, though it’s unclear whether use of the name, “Rome,” is intended to indicate the capital city of Italy, the headquarters of the Catholic Church, or some vague reference to the Imperial West. Maybe all three. (If it’s a geographic allusion, then this apparently reflects an expansion of IS plans, since Italy didn’t appear on the conquest map issued recently online — to which I referred in my post of July 7).
In any event, the message is getting through. This Islamic State is big trouble.
Speaking before a group of U.S. Marines in San Diego, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel noted (somewhat less than smoothly) that…
“The Iraqi people, the government of Iraq, country of Iraq is now under threat from some of the most brutal, barbaric forces we’ve ever seen in the world today, and a force, ISIL, and others that is an ideology that’s connected to an army and it’s a force and a dimension that the world has never seen before like we have seen it now.”
Ignoring the garbled syntax, this strikes me as a bit short-sighted, history-wise. Over millennia, the world has seen many “brutal, barbaric forces” that match IS in ferocity and bloodthirstiness. The hordes of Genghis Kahn come to mind.
What’s different is that we’re accustomed to the more sophisticated types of inhumanity prevalent in modern times — those that involve the high-tech weapons America has pioneered, the industrial-scale destruction of life for which the Nazis can take credit, and the out-of-sight cruelty and slaughter practiced by various Communist movements and regimes. Anybody remember the killing fields of Pol Pot?
Historical myopia notwithstanding, the Islamic State poses a formidable threat — not only to non-Muslims and non-Sunnis, but to Mid-East regional stability, to much of Europe, and even, possibly, to the United States.
Do you feel safe believing that IS hasn’t already developed plans and assets for some outrageous poke at the Great Satan? Remember, this is an organization inspired by Al Qaeda (those wonderful people who gave you 9/11), which has washed Syria and Iraq in a river of blood, and incidentally, which has declared that it intends to raise its flag over the White House — even tweeted an image of the IS flag shot outside White House grounds.
If you’re confident, sleep well. The attack likely won’t come tomorrow. But it’s in the works.
We seem to be moving toward one of those rare moments of unanimity when perception of a threat and conviction about the need to act bridge national boundaries and even oceans.
When you’ve got both the European Union and the Arab League condemning IS violence, Hillary Clinton criticizing her former boss for inaction, and Pope Francis insisting strongly that the UN has an “obligation to protect” those facing massacre and genocide, you can’t deny there are straws in the wind.
It would be ironic that President Obama’s last two years might be dominated by war — that is, it’d be ironic if it hadn’t been so predictable. The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, so much crowed over by Obama, may not have created the IS dream of a new Caliphate, but it sure made Iraq the next logical stepping stone for pursuing it.
After a string of foreign policy disasters, the President is going to have a hard time enunciating — and then selling — a coherent vision for countering IS to the American public. While people may be no more eager to see a return of U.S. “boots on the ground” than Obama is to put them there, he can count on little public confidence in whatever he proposes. A recent Fox News poll indicates a 52-percent disapproval rate for what he’s accomplished since inheriting the Iraq situation from Bush.
Folks are okay with the air strikes underway currently, but what if a couple of planes get shot down?
And then what is it we plan to do later?
As has often happened in history, presidential credibility is being further eroded by developments that are unrelated but unfortunately convergent — in this case, the Missouri rioting.
Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police offered a testy bit of sarcasm over Obama’s recent criticism of law enforcement efforts in the embattled St. Louis suburb of Ferguson…
“I would contend that discussing police tactics from Martha’s Vineyard is not helpful to ultimately calming the situation.”
…which underscores both federal meddling and the seemingly never-ending Obama vacation.
Not to be outdone by a cop, New Black Panther Party leader Hashim Nzinga stirred up old questions about Obama’s origins — calling him a Mau Mau from Kenya — while charging him with being insufficiently concerned for black people…
“But as he looks out the window at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he’s watching the black man, who built the White House, shot down like dogs.
“He needs to go back to his roots and stop people from killing Africans in the streets.”
None of which strengthens the President’s hand, either at home or abroad. Foreign media are having a ball blasting out images of burning stores and body-armored police. The implication is clearly that America is collapsing and its governing institutions desperate.
Such a cluster of woes probably accounts for the President’s ill temper when he reacted grumpily to the heat he’s been taking (especially from Hillary) as so much “horsesh-t.”
But this is a key moment. The world must act in concert to eliminate the danger posed by IS — and, by extension, Islamist radicalism in general. It’s heartening that the Arab League has recognized that this co-called Islamic State is a dream taken too far. We could be at a turning point. Of course, all Muslim nations are, themselves, so riddled with extremism, how long can consensus hold?
Meanwhile, the hearts of Americans have been touched by the victims of IS brutality. A petition drive is being promoted on a website titled IraqRescue.org. Initiated by constitutional scholar Robert P. George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, the petition declares…
“It is imperative that the United States and the international community act immediately and decisively to stop the ISIS/ISIL genocide and prevent the further victimization of religious minorities.”
What effect such a grassroots campaign can have remains to be seen. But it indicates the revulsion that’s rising as we view photos and videos of mass shootings, hangings, crucifixions, beheadings — even of children — the horrendous imagery with which these new barbarians hope to intimidate the world.
Will we see a concerted international effort? If so, it had better come soon…
“Blessed be to the Lord my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.” (Psalm 144)
And to some firsthand observations of the new barbarity in action. If you’ve got the stomach to ponder the lengths to which Muslim radicals are willing to go for the fulfillment of their Islamic State, here’s a small taste…
“Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the Anglican Church in Baghdad, said a five-year-old Christian boy was ‘cut in half’ by ISIS fighters, in an account shocking even by ISIS standards. White, who heads St. George’s Church, in the heart of Baghdad, said the boy — named ‘Andrew’ after White, who baptized him — was killed when ISIS stormed the Christian town of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq.”
While Jonah Goldberg, writing in National Review, brings some fresh thinking into the discussion, suggesting that the Pope needs his own army, the better to lead in this righteous battle. His idea isn’t entirely frivolous…