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?
There is no easy answer to this problem. For starters, there isn’t anything that can be “done” short of an all out war, if we were to do anything. But they are truly threatening, and there will be dire consquences, for the people of the Middle East in the short term, and for the rest of the world long term, if we don’t do anything. I believe they are dangerous, and serious. It is a state, whether recognized as one or not. And they will grow. They are a threat to everyone, including other Muslims.
Sure, they may not be a direct threat to us now, but they will be. They’re the Nazi Germany of the Middle East. And our options are either appeasement, or total war, just as it was with Nazi Germany. And whether now or later, we will be facing them in a global war at some point, even if our current response is to do nothing. It is not dissimilar to the situation we face with Russia. Short of an all out war, a real war, with a draft, with rationing, with war bonds, there is little we can do to stop Russia. And in both cases, we must ask ourselves if such a war would be worth it?
Worth it or not, I don’t think we have the will, desire, or even an effective capacity to do anything about it. And I’m certainly not someone who is going to vote for another war. If we do engage in total war, it will be because we have no other options, and are “forced” into war, just as it was WWII. But make no mistake, there is no middle ground between these two options- either the Islamic State is a presence we accept, with all that will entail, or we go to war. And the first option will more than likely lead to war anyway.
But my heart aches for the people in the Middle East, for whom peace and freedom in the same breath seems nigh impossible. By all appearances, most people in the Middle East do not want what the Islamic State is trying to accomplish. Certainly not the way the Islamic State wants, anyway. But Bagdhadi and his his army are just violent enough to beat everyone they capture into submission, or just eliminate them in a fashion reminiscent of the killing fields of Pol Pot. And I wish there was a way to help our fellow human beings in the Middle East resist them.