The recent release of the horrifying ISIS/James Foley video, showing a hooded member of yet another radical Islamic group in the Middle East beheading an American journalist, brought front page publicity around the world. The murderer is believed to be a British foot soldier from a group known as ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant) or ISIS (Islamic State in Syria), but is also called IS (Islamic State). While ISIS shares with all jihadists everywhere the desire to create a global Islamic caliphate by means of the violent destruction of the West and all “infidels,” what makes ISIS so very dangerous is that it is the first radical Islamic group since 9/11 to actually achieve significant and visible success towards the dream of world domination. They have an army of tens of thousands of armed men, a war chest of billions of dollars, and control of thousands and thousands of square miles in Iraq and Syria. They are on the move and they are dangerous to America.
Despite having a one-time affiliation with al-Qa’eda (ISIS was known during the Bush Administration as al-Qa’eda in Iraq), al-Qa’eda publicly broke its ties with ISIS this past February. According to a Washington Post article, the break was in part because ISIS was deemed too violent and disruptive in their tactics, particularly when it came to dealing with fellow Muslims (ISIS regularly engages in mass executions, beheadings, floggings, and even bans smoking, drinking, music and other perceived un-Islamic behaviors. In their reading of the Koran, the brutality of ISIS is proper because it is mandated as an obligation from God (Allah) and in keeping with the military conquests of their prophet Mohammed from the 7th Century AD. The article notes:
The al-Qaeda statement suggested that the notorious intractability of ISIS, the most extreme of the Islamist groups fighting in Syria, was to blame for the break. It cited the importance of “consultation” and “teamwork,” qualities that ISIS has ignored in its aggressive expansion across northern Syria since it announced its formation last April.
Nevertheless, in winning victory after victory on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria (sometimes against incredible odds), ISIS has inspired jihadists around the globe to either join them (at least 100 Americans are believed to have traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS) or to conduct terror attacks on their own. Indeed, the FBI and DHS recently warned of the threat of terror attacks in the US by those sympathetic to ISIS in retaliation for US airstrikes against the group.
From the perspective of our own national security there are two issues that need to be firmly addressed. First, what can be done to stop the homegrown jihadists in the United States who pledge allegiance to the vision of radical Islam and are no doubt inspired to action by the rise of ISIS? Second, as ISIS grows in strength and develops a firm infrastructure in the Middle East, what can be done to blunt ISIS and their stated desire to send terrorists to the United States to conduct attacks on the homeland?
Although well aware of the rise of ISIS over the past year, President Obama chose to ignore the movement, calling it “JV” in scope. Now, with ISIS gobbling up one-fourth of Iraq in its blitzkrieg, it is clear that the president was the one that was JV in scope. In turn, the limited U.S. airstrikes now ordered by President Obama are helpful but insufficient. And as of this writing, President Obama has simply admitted that he does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS. Not a great signal of strong and decisive leadership. Perhaps, however, President Obama will come to the logical conclusion that massive lawful violence is the only thing that will solve this problem. ISIS has declared its war on America and we must respond in kind.
Obviously, the proper American strategy vis a vis ISIS is simple. The movement must be crushed. The tactics to carry out this strategy are also rather simple.
- First, America must supply the Kurds with every military asset they need to maintain their autonomy in the north of Iraq. ISIS must be kept out. The Kurds are our strongest and most faithful ally in the region (apart from Israel).
- Second, to the degree deemed necessary, America must side with the dictator Assad in Syria to enable us to gather needed intelligence on where ISIS is weakest and strongest in Syria. This notion of using one evil to defeat another evil is pragmatic. In World War II, the US sided with Stalin (who was evil) to defeat Hitler (who was evil and attacking other nations). When Hitler was defeated we began the Cold War with Stalin. Assad is not as bad as ISIS.
- Third, America must use its vast military air power to kill the thousands of ISIS fighters and “stack them like cord wood for a cold winter’s night.” Since ISIS is out in the open, and not an underground movement like al-Qa’eda, this will not be that difficult to accomplish.
The results are certain. Once ISIS is crushed, those that are now inspired by these radical Islamists will retreat back into the shadows of civilized society. In America, you can entertain the vilest thoughts, as long as you do not solicit, conspire, or engage in violence to carry out those thoughts.
If President Obama does nothing or dithers with half measures, there are certainly more attacks to come from ISIS and those inspired by ISIS. In the wake of new set of terrorist attacks on American soil perhaps more will question why America’s leadership didn’t do something about ISIS sooner.