Published on Tuesday, October 21, 2014 by Andy Ramirez
Fighting again wages in the Middle East as members from a multinational coalition led by the United States battle against extremist militant fighters of the Islamic State terrorist group, often referred to as ISIS, ISIL, or simply IS. Much of the heavy fighting is taking place in Iraq and Syria, where Kurdish ground forces, backed by US led airstrikes, are battling to reclaim lost territory. On October 6, ISIS captured a key Turkish border town, which heightened regional tensions as the world looks to the US led coalition for a response against this growing threat.
For decades, the United States has been war weary from years of fighting in the Middle East against terrorist groups. Thousands of American lives have been lost to these radical terrorists, ranging from combat ground troops, to international journalists being brutally beheaded in massively publicized videos. For the first time in a number of years, policy makers in Washington agree that America should be involved in fighting these extremists, but some are torn about the extent to which the American military and government should be involved. Public opinion is split between a limited military role, with economic and political leadership being the primary involvement, to America taking a large military role.
While nobody desires warfare and death, there are some instances in which there is simply no other effective alternative. ISIS is determined to destroy all ethnic and religious groups that do not conform to their beliefs, and are willing to rape, murder, or destroy anyone that opposes them. This includes not only soldiers, but also innocent women and children. This type of radical extremism is a stain upon the human race, and warrants the full extent of international law to bring these brutal criminals to justice. This difficult task will require leadership on behalf of the United States, as well as other major world powers, in coordinating political, economic, and military measures to destroy the terrorists and restore order to the embattled people of Iraq and Syria that live in constant fear of death. Leadership is one of the key deciding factors that will ultimately cause this war on terror to succeed or to fail.
However, leadership alone doesn’t win wars. That task falls to the fighting men and women of the world’s militaries. In order to effectively make use of global American leadership, the Army, Air Force, and Navy should join our overseas allies and fight alongside them to contain, control, and crush ISIS before it spreads. Currently, our military involvement serves primarily as a supporting role in airstrikes. However, this may prove to be insufficient, as evidenced by the fact that coalition and anti-terrorist forces are losing ground battles to the extremists. This is due to the loose organization and lack of experience of many of those fighting on the ground, but if American military advisers and ground soldiers had more of a presence, ISIS would be unable to claim nearly as many victories as they have. For this reason, politicians should consider not only taking more of a leadership role, but also approving more of a ground, air, and sea presence in the region to promote stability.
Many may be reading this with weary eyes, and think that it isn’t worth it to fight yet another war against yet another terrorist group. It all seems so distant, as if it isn’t ‘our fight’, and the problem belongs to someone else in some distant land. Memories of the Iraq war, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban are brought up, and how many innocent lives it took in those campaigns. Some may argue that every soldier is a life; everyone has family, friends, a wife, or kids, and that another war isn’t worth a single life more. In many ways, that is absolutely true. However, is that not true for the innocent victims of terrorist aggression in foreign nations? As a country, we must ask ourselves how we will respond to evil in our time. Will we bow out, surrender, and give up? Will we forget and turn a blind eye to the cries and suffering of our fellow humans? Or will we, as Americans and humans, rise to the challenge, and pay the difficult price to ensure that every man, woman, and child can sleep a little more soundly at night, and wake up with the promise of a better future, devoid of terrorism and hatred? If we refuse to fight evil, we admit failure and open the door for other evils to propagate and prey upon the weak. Every American and coalition soldier who has died fighting terrorism would have been lost in vain if we give up on the goals they paid the ultimate sacrifice to achieve. This would be a tragedy in and of itself, compounded by the further loss of innocent life that would occur under the heavy hand of ISIS.
Someone has to be the voice for the broken, the defender of the weak. If not us, then who? If not now, when? The time has come for America to face the threats of the world with resolve and determination, staying forever true to the ideals of freedom and equal opportunity for all humanity.