Obama’s ISIS Plan


ISIS Territorial Control in Middle East

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.







2 thoughts on “Obama’s ISIS Plan

  1. I really enjoyed your post and think that relating ISIS to “fear, honor and interest” is spot on. However, you mention that other politicians do not necessarily believe that Obama’s plan is tough enough. If his plan was to instill fear, do you think that he would have constructed a more intense plan? Or does the fact that the U.S is taking action at all mean to instill fear? Although underlying interest of foreign relations and oil is a motivating factor in U.S involvement, what about the interest of the people who you say overwhelmingly do not want to be involved? This reminds me of Machiavelli’s ideal Prince in a way. Overall, great post! Very informative.


    1. I think you make an excellent point in stating that the current American plan is only achievable because it is mutually beneficial (to us and to those in the Middle East who are opposed to ISIS). However, I feel this scenario becomes complicated because the entire populations of Iraq and Syria are not entirely opposed to the actions of ISIS (which is why they have gained power and popularity). Many Iraqi and Syrian individuals are supportive or indifferent to ISIS, so, if we were to deploy American ground troops again, it would be very possible that the United States could become the villains in these affairs, not ISIS.


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