ISIS’ brutal murder of a Jordan pilot and two Japanese hostages is in line with their objective of spreading horror, but this should not make us lose perspective of a religious conflict within the Middle East whose terrorist expressions extend beyond the region.
The massacre perpetrated at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo headquarters, the beheadings and the presence of Sunni extremists in Syria and Iraq are prompting calls from such voices as that of Senator Lindsey Graham and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who suggest that U.S. troops must be sent to Syria to fight ISIS.
It is worrisome to, once again, hear talk of deploying U.S. soldiers in such a light, careless tone. We currently have thousands of war veterans undergoing serious physical and psychological problems due to their numerous tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is true that, 11 years ago, the U.S. inflamed religious tensions in Iraq when they brought down Saddam Hussein, but ISIS’s success has been caused by the persecution of the Sunni minority carried out by Baghdad’s Shiite government. Today, moderate Sunnis would rather live in Mosul under ISIS’s extremist rule than persecuted by the governing Shiites.
This is a religious conflict within Islam, spilling over beyond the region thanks to the expansionist aspirations of ISIS to rule the world and to the power of attraction the turmoil seems to have among some idealistic U.S. and European youths.
This is not easily solved with U.S. bombs, or by sending in thousands of troops, for that matter. We are concerned that Graham and Walker both of whom could be aspiring to the Republican nomination to the 2016 presidential election, resort to the strategy of accusing Obama of weakness regarding foreign policy, seeking to open the door to a military intervention with a proselytizing agenda.
This is both irresponsible as foreign policy and disrespectful to our soldiers, who are supposed to be highly valued while they are sacrificed in impossible missions.
The ISIS challenge requires a cool head, cooperative work among allies and a regional solution. The worst that can be done is to simplify the issue with populist recipes aimed at gaining votes while sacrificing soldiers in wars that, by definition, cannot be won