The ISIS beheadings were a master stroke to provoke the Americans.
How barbaric, appalling, uncivilized, atrocious. merciless. Ninety percent of Americans now see ISIS as a serious threat and seem willing to ignore that “Thou shalt not kill” prohibition. If ISIS did a televised crucifixion of the next hostage it would show this to be yet another Crusade; a religious war and nearly 100 percent of this good Christian nation would sign up to support the carnage.
We prefer to do our killing more antiseptically: remotely, refined, expensively humane. Some technician in a bunker in New Mexico pushes a button and a drone over Iraq or Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen fires a Hellfire missile that kills a terrorist or two or wipes out a wedding party. It’s usually worth four column inches on page seven of the New York Times, and no knife to clean.
What’s wrong with this picture. The U.S. spent billions and years training and equipping the Iraqi army. At the first contact with ISIS troops, the Iraqis abandoned their weapons, striped off their uniforms and ran. ISIS picked up all this stuff and we are now fighting the best equipped force ever, thanks to Uncle Sam. We are bombing our own HumVees and MRAPs. The clamor now is to train and equip the Syrian rebels and it will happen in Saudi Arabia of all places. How can our memory be so short?
A generation ago, in 1990, Saddam Hassan invaded Kuwait and then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney sent thousands of troops to Saudi Arabia and built an airbase on hallowed ground. They stayed for three years. The troops understood they were in the Gulf on behalf of Israel, but Cheney instructed them not to say anything that would offend their hosts.
Militant Islamists, led by Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi, didn’t like that. They resented armed infidels desecrating their holy lands. When the towers fell on 9/11, 15 of the 18 flyers were from Saudi Arabia. There is such as a thing as asking for it, or in President Bush’s’ words, “Bring it on.”
Our leaders are proposing to halt ISIS momentum and reverse territorial gains by picking one or more of the options on the Graham/McCain scale of loving, compassionate solutions: roll back, weaken, contain, defeat, destroy, annihilate, eliminate or just plain crush.
Any solution that just kills more people will not be effective. We must look at nonlethal solutions. Otherwise the escalation and retaliation cycle will continue to involve us in unending war.
One final question. Why have we not asked Israel to contribute? They have had recent experience in killing Sunnis in Gaza and should be eager to help.