Destroy the Caliphate!
On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the Islamic State posted a video on YouTube showing the decapitation of American journalist James Foley. A second American, Steven Joel Sotloff, was paraded in front of the camera. Foley’s executioner, totally clad in black and speaking with an English accent, stated “the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
It remains to be seen how the administration will respond to this cowardly war crime. Up to this point, their approach has been weak-kneed and contradictory. While the administration reluctantly authorized “limited airstrikes,” it stressed that the United States “will not be dragged into another war in Iraq” nor act as the Iraqi Air Force. James Foley’s execution demonstrates that a more forceful, direct role for the United States military against the Islamic State is required. To an understandably war weary U.S. public, the thought of more blood and treasure being expended to defeat the Islamic State may sound unpleasant. However, at this point, there is no other choice.
Limited airstrikes are not enough. We have to unleash the full military might of the United States on the Islamic State. That may mean boots on the ground -- be it conventional or Special Operations forces. That means that Islamic State forces, equipment, and infrastructure should be targeted relentlessly by U.S. air power. There should be no place in Iraq, the Middle East, or the world for that matter that these Islamist fascists feel safe or have sanctuary. Furthermore, the President should make absolutely clear that any group or country providing financial assistance or quarter to the Islamic State will face the wrath of the U.S. military.
We can no longer be blind to the threat posed by the Islamic State. Obama stated that a political settlement is needed. The absurdity of that statement underscores the extent to which the administration does not understand the threat of Islamist fascism. When will the administration learn that you can’t negotiate or reason with Islamists. As Senator Marco Rubio put it: “For more than a year, ISIL has been murdering civilians, raping women and young girls and enslaving them, and carrying out systematic genocide of anyone who does not share their warped and extremist Islamist views. ISIL cannot be reasoned with, they can’t be negotiated with, and their views of the world is irreconcilable with civilized society.”
For over 30 years, Islamist fascists have been waging war on the United States, culminating with the September 11th attacks. However, the Islamic State is a threat unlike any terrorist or Islamist group we have ever faced. There was a time when an Islamic caliphate sounded like a pipe dream. Due to the administration’s abandonment of Iraq and refusal to recognize our enemy for what it is, the Islamic Caliphate is now a reality. Shashank Joshi noted in the Telegraph: “Terrorist groups have beheaded hostages and prisoners, Westerners and non-Westerners, for many years. What is shocking is not that they are extreme sadists, but that they are extreme sadists with a conventional army and nation-building aspirations. This is what makes them different. By their own admission, their aim is to “drown all of you in blood’. They are incapable of compromise, uninterested in moderation, and hell-bent on territorial expansion.”
Aggravating matters, the threat posed by the Islamic State is not limited to the Middle East. Thousands of American and European Muslims have joined the Islamic State’s ranks. It is only a matter of time before these individuals begin filtering back to their respective countries. Unsurprisingly, the Islamic State already vowed to attack American and European targets.
Unless there is bold action on the part of the West and the United States, the situation may spiral out of control. James Foley’s death is only the beginning. There is only one option at this point -- total and utter annihilation of the Islamist state and its sympathizers.
The author is an attorney, Captain in the Army Reserves, and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Views expressed in this paper are his own, not the Army’s