Last week, the Obama administration decided to engage the threat of ISIS(or ISIL) in Syria. For all intents and purposes, it’s safe to say we are going to war in Syria even if the administration won’t. The big debate surrounding the decision, which is filled with memories of a not-to-distant war-filled past, is whether or not these militants pose a real threat to the US. Some claim that danger is lurking around each corner and we must take the fight to them, while others think that US involvement will only further exacerbate the growing hatred and violence that is infecting the Middle East.
In my view there is a little bit of both in play here. I do believe that airstrikes are warranted because of the immediate threat within Iraq that this group poses. Danger is present, this cannot be denied but our foreign policy throughout the years has played a pretty significant role in creating this threat. So, while it is important to make sure that these extremists don’t gain anymore ground, we need to be playing much more of a secondary role and forcing those who have more skin in the game, the EU and the Middle East, to take the lead.
Nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE surely need to step in here to ensure that they are not caught up in the fever that is ISIS. They have an opportunity to demonstrate an important leadership role in the region. Any military moves made by any of the Islamic countries, with the intent to disarm and degrade ISIS would speak volumes to the rest of the world. It would speak even louder to those closest to them. These countries could be reason ISIS is beaten, if they would so choose to take that responsibility.
I don’t think America can continue roaming around the world putting out everyone’s fires. At some point other governments need to take responsibility and fight for themselves. We have created a lot of hate and discontent around the world, as seen by ISIS, simply by interjecting ourselves as some sort of international hero who are ready to plant the seeds of democracy as we see fit. Some people just don’t see things the same way we do and at some point we need to take that into consideration. It’s hard for us to swallow that people disagree with our way of life, or that they prefer theirs to ours but everyone is different and we need to begin to realize this.
It doesn’t help that we dump 20% of our budget into Department of Defense. As the old saying goes, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” rings pretty true. Although I might modify it to something like this “When you spent trillions of dollars on the best hammer money could buy, you’re going to want to find something to pound it with.” This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t keep a large, technically advanced military, just that a slightly smaller one may help with costs at home, as well as forcing us to think twice about the engagements we choose to participate in.
The US faces many threats, both inside and outside of our borders and ISIS is just another to add to the list. The hyperbolic threats that people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain are so often making, do nothing to apply the proper solutions to the problem. They just simply pour gas on the fire. On the other hand, Obama’s constant pragmatism (which may border on indecisiveness) does not help the situation either. What we need is strong leadership paired with the ability to evaluate and rationalize in a timely manner. Currently we seem to be lacking in both respects when it comes to government in general. However, if it were up to me, I would pressure the EU and the Middle East to get in the drivers seat. We’ll read the map for ya.