The United States has said that the fall of Mosul, Iraq to ISIS poses a threat to the entire region. As ISIS continues to occupy areas of Syria and Iraq, allegedly conducting mass killings among the populations there, is there a role for American intervention? Why or why not?
With ISIS making inroads in Iraq and Syria, persecuting Christians and spouting anti-European and anti-American dogma, should the U.S. be concerned and should we intervene in the events now engulfing the Middle East?
Let us begin by examining this regime in the face of historical fascist regimes, explore their stated goals and explore America’s options. The situation is both troubling and complex. America has traditionally been neutral to foreign problems that do not immediately impact events within our own borders. But the question must be asked, if ISIS is allowed to continue, how long before their goals reach across the hemispheres and find root within our own country?
ISIS, by all reports, supports the same radical Islamist agenda that has been forwarded by most Middle Eastern leaders that aspires to an eventual world Caliphate. The basic plan is simple: spread radical Islamic influence by propaganda and by force. As soon as an area is under the influence and control of radical fundamentalists, force all residents to convert to their brand of Islam or leave or be killed. In Mosul, the main Iraq city under ISIS control, we hear of confiscation of property, bank accounts and possessions of Christians and their wholesale expulsion or slaughter. Strict dictatorial ISIS control is established in the name of religion and any who object are silenced quickly and forcefully. Utahns in particular should be no strangers to historical religious persecution, but the actions of ISIS takes such extremes to a different level.
This is basically the blueprint under which such regimes operate. It is not atypical from other caliphates in the Middle East, perhaps only exceptional in the swift and brutal sweep of the enforcement of their rule. Like all such fascist agendas, human rights play no role in the ruling elite’s plans. Power and control of resources is the name of the game. And any sacrifice of non-conforming or “disagreeable” citizenry is viewed as simply a matter of course in an overriding greater cause. Nazi, Russian Communist, Maoist, African dictator, or radical Islamist…the faces change but the game plan remains largely the same. The main difference with ISIS is that statism is created in the name of religion. The results, however, are largely the same with respect to individuality and human rights.
Any American who values liberty must feel the pangs of disgust and a sense of indignity that such regimes are allowed to operate in a modern, freedom aspiring, progressive and communication rich world. Yet, many Americans see this as a distant problem and perhaps feel a passing wave of sympathy as they move on with their busy day. Surely it has no effect on us. Then again we must consider what the overriding goal of such regimes espouse. We must also note the swiftness with which ISIS has evolved into a dangerous force in Iraq and Syria.
Because it is impossible to gather accurate data, it is estimated that a minority between 15% and 25% of the world’s Muslim population support a radical or extremist agenda. But that estimate still amounts to between 180 and 350 million people worldwide. That results in as many people supporting such a radical agenda as live in the entire Untied States. Like most Americans, the average Muslim likely wants to prosper in the world and raise and enjoy a family. However, the radical minority is growing, and a point may soon be reached where the peaceful majority is irrelevant, just as in previous fascist regimes mentioned.
And what is the agenda exactly? To overthrow and conquer all nations in the name of Islam. As one radical leader stated the goal is to “Fly the flag of Islam over the four quarters of the earth.” And the radical version of this involves nothing less than Jihad, the forceful Holy War with one objective – the imposing of Islam and Sharia rule over the entire planet. It sounds monumental, and perhaps a bit delusional, but significant progress has been made in the last decade towards exactly that.
The machinations of Jihad are many. From the all-out forceful invasions that have currently hit Iraq, to diplomatic and demographic solutions such as Europe is experiencing, to pinpoint terrorist activities that can cripple an opponent, such as the 9/11 World Trade Center attack.
Should America be concerned? Absolutely. All of Europe should also. We are after all, viewed as the one major opponent that could stay the progress of Jihad. Our military and economic might is a barrier to the overall imposition of a worldwide Caliphate, just as we have been for seventy years to any other fascist undertaking. ISIS and groups sympathetic with their goals know that America must be brought to her knees for their progress to accelerate.
We should be very concerned about their plans should they be allowed a foothold in the Middle East. ISIS has essentially stated their goal is to hit Europe and America next. A ground war is out of the question, but severe terrorist activities focused on major financial, government and population centers would be more than just fantasy. Imagine the implications of a coordinated attack ten or twenty times the scale of 9/11 and its impact on our economy. If allowed to grow and prosper, such events may not be out of the reach of such radicals. Experts already discuss frequent attempts at cyber terrorism and the necessity for tighter security measures to our database infrastructure. America unquestionably has a target on her back when it comes to such regimes and their agenda to dominate the world.
And we should be even more concerned about our ability to intervene. We are economically crippling ourselves and our responses to such threats in the future may be limited. With the gutting of our military and an increasing entitlement state, we may find ourselves in a position where we cannot afford to intervene on any significant basis. We may be spending ourselves into a state of limited options. Any solution may need to involve many more countries’ united efforts beyond just our own. But are we poised diplomatically to show leadership in such a campaign? That is another area of concern with the current administration. It basically comes down not to a question of “should we intervene” but to a question of “to what extent can we gather political and military resources for intervention?”
Past failed foreign policy in this region is also cause for concern. President Obama is not alone in the overall ineptness of Middle East policy. Bush and Clinton did not exactly leave a stellar track record, though they seemed to intervene more effectively than the current administration. We seem to have an innate tendency in Washington to try and interpret Middle East solutions with our own cultural biases towards democracy. We seem to view any oppressive regime as a nail and always bring a hammer. But radical Islam is a different breed. And we have not yet shown capabilities to address the issues at their root cause. Any intervention would require a significant paradigm shift in policy, addressing the superseding goals that drive groups like ISIS and taking into account the cultural capabilities of citizens that might be liberated from such oppression.
Whatever our course of action, we must plot it quickly. ISIS is one of the more alarming dictatorial campaigns occurring at the moment. If America cannot put our own house in order, we may have limited ability to respond if and when such response becomes necessary. One overriding principle can certainly be applied in this case. Wherever there are people oppressed and limited in their freedoms, the freedoms of all other peoples are threatened and suffer. And radicals such as ISIS despise the principles of liberty and freedom (of religion and otherwise) that we proffer. On principle alone, their actions become our problems. We need to determine a viable course before such problems become more than just objections in principle.