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Tanner Barnett

October 21, 2014


An international crisis has been developing in parts of Iraq and Syria and is spreading like
an epidemic to the corners of the Middle East. It is taking the lives of thousands of innocent
civilians while injecting fear into the minds of the global community. While the majority of
people oppose its radical ideologies and disturbing fear tactics, it gains support from members
scattered around the globe who agree with its radical views. The need for a proper and sufficient
plan of action is dire; the repercussions of acting too much or too little could create even more
problems in the future. It is the Islamic State and it is undeniably the most pressing current issue
on the US agenda.
As found through my Assignment 1 observed through a series of documentaries following
ISIS and Kurdish Peshmerga activity in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better
known as ISIS, is a Sunni jihadist organization that was once a part of the jihadist group AlQaeda, the terrorists responsible for the attacks on September 11th. ISIS is growing rapidly, while
currently controlling approximately 30% of the combined countries with access to Syrian oil,
Iraqi water, weapons, and supplies. The primary goal of ISIS is to establish a caliphate, a state
controlled by an Islamic ruler, expanding into the surrounding countries of the Middle East while
eradicating all false religions and those who worship them (Barnett 2014). ISIS establishes a
strong presence in the region by dominating more aspects of civilians lives such as collecting
taxes and growing healthcare. ISIS has received support from civilians for liberating the often
neglected voice of Sunni Muslims within the Shia powered Syrian and Iraqi governments. On the
contrary, ISIS is threat to countless people and is becoming more popularly associated with the
accounts of violent beheadings and persecutions flooding the news, turning most people against

the organization. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Iraqi military remain a huge opposition to
ISIS military advancements, while rescuing religious minorities escaping ISIS persecution.
(Barnett 2014). ISIS continues to grow despite its radical views on religion and politics from
large numbers of Muslims and sympathizers, from military advancements made against the Iraqi
military, and possible clandestine funding from Middle Eastern governments. More accounts are
arising as the events in the Middle East continue to unfold.
The increased presence of the global terrorist organization headquartered out of the Middle
East known as the Islamic State has raised concerns for US and has led to arguments concerning
the proper plan of action. There are important factors that determine the severity of our response
including consequences on the economy, the benefits eliminating the threat, upholding American
values, and international law. The US must consider our past responses to terrorist threats, like
9/11 and the declared war on terror, and their consequences in order to set strategic, long term
goals and limitations. Throughout this paper I will consider the already contentious US response
to the self-proclaimed Islamic State as well as develop my stance on the situation. My purpose
here is not to propose what our systemic response as a country would look like, but rather
suggest components of a response that could serve as a strong first step. While I have not
personally completely formulated a proper response against ISIS, I oppose the unclear and
ineffective plan of action the US has currently put in place of arming Syrian rebels and launching
an air campaign. Please take note that my views will fall closely in line with conservative and
libertarian ideals and I encourage readers to analyze the facts on their own to arise with a more
personalized opinion. I desire to stay informed about current events and their implications
because they have an impact on my life.

Literature Review
In an interview with former representative and Army Colonel, Allen West, he describes the
feckless foreign policy of the US upon dealing with ISIS as weak by sending advisors, launching
airstrikes, and arming Syrian rebel groups, especially considering Obamas hypocrisy in an
Islamist army when he supplies Islamic militias in Libya leading to the countries destabilization;
while officials Hilary Clinton and John Kerry downsize the capabilities and strength of ISIS,
West speaks about ISIS as a serious issue and a US responsibility. According to West, he says
the US couldve prevented the rapid growth of ISIS by using forces during the Iraq war to secure
the borders to let Iraq stabilize reducing vulnerability to sectarian sway, and by keeping AlMaliki from getting rid of the well trained Sunni generals under his command; now the US must
take responsibility for the situation and eliminate the threat to the American people as well as the
surrounding vulnerable countries. As a retired lieutenant colonel, West says the military needs a
clear mission from Washington before it can properly combat ISIS and prevent them from
establishing a caliphate, ultimately putting Israel, our ally, in danger. ISIS is greatly funded and
supported by Qatar. The emphasis of Wests goals in not about rebuilding Iraq, which some
officials infer is the goal, its about eliminating ISIS and sending a message to terrorist
organizations that the US will not tolerate nor negotiate with terrorist.
In another source, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner also believes the current
US plan of action will not accomplish the goal of destroying ISIS by stating that the US will
need to put troops in Syria to resolve the ISIS conflict. The terrorist organization has made the
intent of murdering Americans and destroying the US very clear and now the US must strike first
to prevent paying a heavy price. The Obama administration continues to stress the concept that

American troops will not be sent to combat the ISIS threat, instead by arming Syrian rebel
groups, the conflict can be resolved.
On the other hand, Aaron D. Millers article from CNN, and Paul Pillars Terrorism and US
Foreign Policy suggests that US involvement in the Middle East has done nothing to improve the
current conditions or tensions. When getting involved in the Middle East, The US has often
ignored these key factors, things we cannot change, the demographics and location of the Middle
East, specifically Iraq. Ending Saddams regime creating a huge sectarian chaotic conflict we are
stuck in and cannot back out of. In a failed attempt to rebuild the Iraqi government and its
military, the US has poured over 25 billion dollars and the power has yet to stabilize; the people
were angry and became vulnerable to jihadist persuasion, wanting to protect their own interest.
Iraq is being used as a game board of other Middle Eastern countries who support terrorism. The
US plan of action to fighting ISIS should including coordination with regional partners such as
Iran, Turkey, Jordan, and, Saudi Arabia, while stabilizing the Iraqi government (Miller June 30,
2014). One top this, Paul Pillar gives an insight in Islamic based terrorist groups in general,
stating Islamic terrorism is one of the most prominent forms of religious terrorism emerging
since the end of the cold war. The Afghan war stimulated terrorism by providing terror-related
skills to militants, fighters of different nationalities established a networking opportunity for
connections, and had a major confidence booster for defeating Soviets. Afghan is full of terrorist
left over from conflict (Pillar 2001). By choosing to intervene in the Middle East, the US would
launch itself yet again into a long complicated useless effort to change a religious tension that
has lasted long before the US was even discovered, only to lead to more chaos and disaster.
In her article from CNN, Frida Ghitis take a more indirect approach to the problem by
suggesting the manner of how the US should deal with the situation. The beheading James Foley

was one of the first to be beheaded publicly by an ISIS militant and is an attempt to send a
message to US to stay out of the Middle East. The US must not overreact to the reporters
beheading, which is exactly what ISIS wanted, and should try to obtain support from the
international community with its plan of action. Lastly the US must understand the issue is
complicated due to the existence of an interconnected web of ISIS, the Assad Regime and the
Hezbollah; any action is going to have negative consequences.
While the response of Texas Governor Rick Perry and conservative commentator Glenn
Beck are different, both acknowledge that the US and its people must take initial steps to
understanding the conflict and protecting American citizens. Perry believes that unsecure borders
is a threat to national security because of the risk that Islamic terrorist can cross the border to
harm Americans; he says while securing the southern border must be a step in the US plan of
action, the current US plan is insufficient to accomplishing its goal of destroying ISIS
(Kasperowicz August 21, 2014). Beck emphasizes the need to educate ourselves as informed
citizens about the regions history as a first step. Beck claims that we havent learned our lesson
in dealing with the Middle East because we dont know what they are fighting about; no matter
how we try to force American ideals on these people it doesnt work and we will not spend
another dollar. Beck references the Sykes-Picot agreement signed in 1916 Britain and France
agreeing to divide the Ottoman empire in spheres of influences in order to weaken its overall
power. ISIS is trying to reestablish the caliphate and we are helping them by getting rid of these
dictators set in place by the Sykes-Picot agreement. Beck predicts that after Assad is toppled
there will be a domino effect to the rest of the governments (Howerton October 9, 2014).
Entering the Conversation

The problem with most of the plans that are being proposed to resolve the ISIS conflict is
they lack a strategic approach considering long term consequences. The USs plan for an air
campaign and armament of Syrian rebels. The focus of the USs objective should be addressing
the organizations capabilities for worldwide terror and harm and attack the problem at its roots.
Even if the US were to acknowledge that ISIS must be destroyed beyond the point of operational
incapability by answering with a more severe response, the US would be launched into another
long, resource-exhausting hunt for a terrorist organization whose growth is dependent on the
intrusion of the US. Other
An important aspect of a strategic long term approach to resolving the issues with ISIS is
to consider the importance Middle Eastern sovereignty and autonomy and the destructive role the
US plays. There is an old adage that says you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or you
can teach him to fish and feed him for a lifetime. The US has been providing weapons and
training to the Iraqi army and Syrian rebels in order to fight ISIS, but the US cannot continue to
fight others battles and deny them the ability to succeed and fail by itself. The people of Iraq
and Syria are currently dealing with ISIS as a direct threat, but ISIS plans to expand past Iraq and
Syria into the whole Middle East. The governments and citizens must determine if ISIS qualifies
as a threat requiring reaction and recognize when their time is right to take responsibility and
defend themselves. Victories won against ISIS without US influence by the Syrian rebels, the
Kurdish-Peshmerga, Iraqi Army, etc. will hold more value to the people and greatly impact the
morale and confidence of those who fight ISIS. The current US mindset ignores the destructive
aspects of having a heavily involved role in Middle East conflict, just as the parents of an
offspring must allow the child to experience failure and hardship in order to develop values of

hard work and perseverance. If the countries of the Middle East do not take arms against an
enemy on the doorsteps of their own home, the US does not need to be assisting a helpless effort.
The US must consider the impact of an intervention will have on its reputation and
relationship with the people of the Middle East. The US has been involved in the Middle East,
arguably since the First World War starting with consent to the Sykes-Picot agreement used to
shatter the powerful Ottoman Empire. One can imagine what kind of impact a prolonged
influence on a specific region may have on that regions people, specifically, people in the
Middle East that are affect by US intervention in a negative way that form similarly negative
opinions towards the US. It is reasonable to predict these people formulating these negative
views on the US will raise their children to believe similar views, just as a majority of people
have been raised all over the world. The passing down of ideals and beliefs is a vital contributor
to tradition and identity. This build up negative views towards the US, clashing ideologies,
morals, and people affected by civilian casualties inevitably resulting from US ground troops and
airstrikes, forms a culture of hatred that is generations and generations strong. These people are
the ones whose anger and hatred towards the US makes them vulnerable to Jihad persuasion,
strengthening the organization. The US could be aiding ISIS in recruiting new members simply
by continuing to combat the global terrorist organization. While being a vital factor into
analyzing the long term consequences of US intervention, this is a concept none of the sources
have recognized as a viable option.
The focus of US efforts so far have been fighting ISIS in the Middle East, but ISIS is
rightfully identified as a global terrorist organization. Events in the US, UK, and now Canada
emphasize the strong support of the organization worldwide from Jihadist Muslims and Islamic
sympathizers. Our negligent government refuses to properly inform the American people about

the eminent threat of jihadist violence, not thousands of miles away, but violence that will
suffocate the liberties of law abiding American citizens through a broken political system and
break down the doors of American homes. Part of a long term strategic plan for the US must
include a way to protect the American citizens from ISIS violence in the home land, without
sacrificing the natural rights of individuals; plans that exclude such a premise will be major
failure of our democracy and have devastating effects on the lives and morals of America.
To recap, the US has devised and emplaced a plan of action to deal with the threat of ISIS
in the Middle East including the arming of Syrian rebel groups, sending advisors to train the
Iraqi army, and launching an airstrike campaign against high value ISIS targets; many people
have varying opinions on how the US should be responding ranging from military intervention,
to partial ideas for what a first step should look like. Most of the sources lack a strategy focused
on long term consequences, specifically because they do not recognize how ineffective US
intervention has been in the past and how spoon feeding broken countries back to health in order
to fight terrorism is a counterproductive and destructive tactic. I acknowledge that my
contribution to the argument is by no means a gauge for what the right answer is to solving the
rapidly growing ISIS conflict, nor do I have plan of action to propse for the US to properly
combat the threat of ISIS, but through continued critical thinking and debate of informed
citizens, we can devise a solution to this problem.

Important connections between Iraq and ISIS- 1. US cannot act against ISIS without affecting
Iraq and Syria. 2. ISIS could be collaborating with Assad and Al-Maliki 3. Helping Iraq fight
ISIS. Add extra viewpoint. Reinforce points made with citations.

Annotated Bibliography
Barnett, Tanner. 2014. Assignment 1. Unpublished Manuscript
Britain and France conclude Sykes-Picot agreement. History.com. Accessed October 13, 2014.
http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/britain-and-france-conclude-sykes-picotagreement
Ghitis, Frida. "ISIS Beheading: What Should U.S. Do?" CNN. January 1, 1970. Accessed
October 7, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/20/opinion/ghitis-isis-foleybeheading/
Howerton, Jason. "The First Thing Glenn Beck Says the U.S. Needs to Do Before Taking
Further Action Against the Islamic State." The Blaze. October 9, 2014. Accessed October
9, 2014. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/10/09/the-first-thing-glenn-beck-says-theu-s-needs-to-do-before-taking-further-action-against-the-islamic-state/
Janet Mefford Interview with Allen West
Kasperowicz, Pete. "Rick Perry Hits Obama on Link between Weak Border Enforcement, ISIS
Threat." The Blaze. August 21, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2014.
http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2014/08/21/rick-perry-hits-obama-on-link-between-weakborder- enforcement-isis-threat
Miller, Aaron David. "How to Keep ISIS Terror from U.S. Shores." CNN. June 30, 2014.
Accessed October 7, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/30/opinion/miller-what-obamashould-do-about-iraq/
Pillar, Paul R. Terrorism and US Foreign Policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Inst. Press, 2001

Pilkington, Ed. "Top Republican Calls for US Ground War amid Fresh Strikes on Isis." The
Guardian. September 28, 2014. Accessed October 7, 2014.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/28/us-attack-new-isis-targets-syrian-border