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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 observations in the first assignment, 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 Al-Qaeda, 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 expanding into the surrounding countries of the Middle East while eradicating all false
religions and those who worship them. 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
(Barnett 2014). The support for ISIS is growing around the globe despite the organizations

radical views on religion and politics, particularly in the UK where Muslims supporters of ISIS
have been rallying a call of duty to aid the caliphate. 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 have led to the consideration to
stop them. There are important factors that determine the severity of our response including the
consequences on the economy, the benefits eliminating the threat, following 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 goals and limitations.
Throughout this paper we will consider the already contentious US response to the selfproclaimed Islamic State. My purpose here is to propose what our systemic response as a country
would look like. Please take note that my views will fall closely in line with conservative and
libertarian ideals and I encourage readers to analyze the facts 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.
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 Al-

Maliki 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. West discusses Al-Malikis lack of leadership towards fighting
ISIS and his past record of replacing his well-trained generals with his own Shiite and attempting
to assassinate his own VP. As a retired lieutenant colonel, West says the military wants a clear
mission in order to combat ISIS and prevent them from establishing, ultimately putting our ally,
Israel, in danger. ISIS is greatly funded and supported by Qatar. Must address the problem before
it grows too strong. The emphasis of Wests goals in not about rebuilding Iraq, 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 believe 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 what Paul Pillars Terrorism
and US Foreign Policy suggests that US involvement in the Middle East, from funding Islamic
militias to overthrow dictators to rebuilding Iraq after the fall of Saddams regime, has done
nothing to improve the conditions or tensions. When getting involved in the Middle East 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. The US reestablished the Iraqi government,
poured 25 million dollars into Iraqi army and Iraq is still messed up; 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. 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. 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. 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.
The problem with most of the plans that are being proposed to resolve the ISIS conflict
lack a strategic approaches about long term consequences. The USs plan for an air campaign
and armament of Syrian rebels is only a short term solution to a serious long term problem.
Airstrikes work for great for the purpose of containment, but the 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. If people understand this concept of an infinitely supplied terrorist
organization, then their actions certainly dont match their words.

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, and still is, providing weapons and
training to the Iraqi army for a prolonged period of time in order to fight terrorism, but the US
cannot continue to fight Iraqs battles and deny Iraq the ability to succeed and fail by itself. The
people of Iraq and Syria, and more importantly the Middle East as ISIS will inevitably spread
past the boundaries of the two countries, 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 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 and
morals, and people effected 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

Barnett, Tanner. 2014. Assignment 1. Unpublished Manuscript
Britain and France conclude Sykes-Picot agreement. History.com. Accessed October 13, 2014.
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Howerton, Jason. "The First Thing Glenn Beck Says the U.S. Needs to Do Before Taking
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Accessed October 7, 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/30/opinion/miller-what-obamashould-do-about-iraq/
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