ISIS is a name I have heard a lot in the news recently, but did know much about them. I learned from research that they are an extremist group in the Middle East. I had also heard President Obama’s speech regarding this group, and wanted to learn more about the complicated situation in the Middle East. ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and “The aim of ISIS is to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and in Syria. ISIS is known for killing dozens of people at a time and carrying out public executions, crucifixions and other acts. It has taken over large swaths of northern and western Iraq.” ISIS has been taking over towns and villages throughout Syria and Iraq and now has accumulated a sizable amount of land. The continued invasions are a threat to U.S. national security, which is why this is such an important issue.
President Obama announced on August 8th that targeted airstrikes would be used on ISIS. On September 2nd, they posted a gruesome video of the group beheading an American journalist, and another similar video September 13, this time to a British captive.
A common question is, should the U.S get involved in foreign military affairs? This highly debated topic on U.S military involvement got me thinking about a topic we discussed in class; why do people fight and get involved in war? Obama has laid out his plan for dealing with the ISIS conflict, and it includes training Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS on behave of the U.S. He is also relying on Kurdish troops in northern Iraq to push ISIS forces south. In addition to training these troops, President Obama plans on using targeted airstrikes to combat the ISIS movement in Syria and Iraq. Some politicians are arguing that this plan is not enough, and that more must be done to resolve this ISIS crisis (no pun intended.) Now the question ties back into our lecture on September 11, “Politics and Violence.” We discussed Thucydides in Book 23 of The Iliad entitled The Funeral Games, and his views on why people fight: “Everyone fights for fear, honor or interest.” Does President Obama’s plan for dealing with ISIS apply to fear, honor or interest? I would argue that Obama’s plan is to instill fear within ISIS, and protect the interests of the U.S in the Middle East (foreign relations and oil). I would consider fighting to instill fear as fighting on the grounds of interest (interest would be to become feared), so President Obama’s plan is based on the virtue of fighting for interest. By eliminating or diminishing the power and size of ISIS, there would be little to no threat from ISIS, but with the growing “popularity” of the group through social media, through propaganda videos and heavy recruitment, the U.S. is fearful of another 9/11 tragedy. Although the U.S will not send troops on the ground in Syria or Iraq, mostly due to the overwhelming want of the American people to not be involved in a conflict following Iraq, the U.S will be training other individuals and armies to do the fighting for them as well as continuing airstrikes. We are outsourcing the ground fight to the Kurdish and Syrians rebels, because reducing the ISIS presence is a mutually beneficial outcome.
Since the U.S. is in the process of implementing the plan in Iraq and Syria, how will ISIS respond? Thucydides also stated during The Funeral Games, “Violence begets more violence.” With the U.S plan, would ISIS respond with a terrorist attack on U.S soil? Would they focus on just the threat they would have to deal with in Syria and Iraq posed by the U.S, Kurdish and Syrian rebels? There is no way to know what will come from the plan President Obama has set in place but it does beg the question, will there ever be an end in this battle? The U.S is responding to the killing of innocent Americans by ISIS, but if Thucydides quote holds true, violence will continue to ensue as long as there is retaliation. By injecting ourselves into this matter, I believe that we will eventually become heavily involved, as we became in Iraq 10 years ago. However, if we don’t involve ourselves, ISIS could take over more of the Middle East, and could pose an even larger threat to the world. By protecting our interests now, we hope to eliminate a future, larger threat to the world and ourselves.