What’s Left, Being Right: The Battle Against ISIS


ISIS CRISIS: Rebels in the Middle East post a serious threat to international stability. 

What’s Left: Cleaning Up the Mess We Made 

Sid Wadhera, Class of 2017

Iraq is a mess. And while that’s normally not a good thing, it just so happens that it is our mess, which makes it an especially bad thing. Iraq is our mess for a number of reasons, and the world has heard them over and over again. In fact, the whole Iraq debacle has been bludgeoned over our heads so many times that it is doubtful that anyone will ever forget it. President Obama started his first term with a very noble ideal: extricate the United States from the fiasco in Iraq and move on to more pressing matters (the economy, Afghanistan). The problem, of course, is that by leaving Iraq without adequate preparation, the United States left a gaping pit for sectarian violence and eventually fundamentalism to grow – and grow it did. For the first time since Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the United States is faced with an enormous terror organization, IS (The Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS), bent on conquering the known Islamic world and putting it under their version of Islamic law. Among heinous crimes against humanity, ISIS has also threatened to hoist its flag over the White House.

While the Obama Administration certainly has not cleaned up the mess in Iraq, it is important to remember that the Obama administration only exacerbated the problem; it didn’t start it. Four years ago, President Obama was very glad to cut and run from Iraq, rather than face the disaster his predecessor left him. Unfortunately, it has been almost six years in office for the President; he cannot hide behind President Bush’s mistakes in Iraq (or anything else) for much longer. So it is for that reason that President Obama should be lauded for taking action against ISIS in Iraq.

The targeted airstrikes that the United States has been conducting in coordination with the Iraqi military is a key example of how the United States can use its military might in a constructive, multilateral way to abate a global threat. The precise and targeted use of the United States armed forces to quickly react to global threats is precisely the modern, technologically advanced foreign and defense policy that the United States needs coming in to the 21st century. Though it has taken him nearly six years to figure it out, the president has finally found his footing on foreign policy. He now knows how to effectively and efficiently make the United States a 21st century global superpower that uses its military strength to fight select battles it knows it can win.

Perhaps now President Obama can stop complaining about the problems left behind by President Bush and maybe start fixing them as he promised us all those years ago. If we are lucky, we may even see the Ppesident work things out in Afghanistan, Ukraine and improve relations with North Korea. That, or the next president will spend the first six years of his or her presidency complaining about what an awful situation the last one left behind. Let’s hope for the former. As my mother likes to tell me, there is always a sense of pride in cleaning up one’s own mess.


Being Right: Defeating ISIS . . . But At What Cost? 

Olivia Detato, Class of 2017

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has recently made headlines as it continues to extend control over areas of the Middle East. Many Syrian cities have been under ISIS control for the past year, but ISIS gained attention when the jihadist group expanded into Iraq. Suicide bombings, beheadings and on-site shootings are commonplace in the areas under ISIS control. Over a million individuals have been displaced from their homes in Iraq with thousands continuing to be removed daily.

ISIS was formed as a break-off from the well known terrorist organization Al Qaeda and is led by former Al Qaeda member Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi. For now, ISIS has replaced Al Qaeda as the predominant terrorist group in Iraq, leaving civilians to flee their homes and posing a serious threat to the security of the United States. The group is currently in control of northern Syria and western Iraq. The members of ISIS are fighting to enforce their strict view of Islamic religion and tradition. According to a BBC source, it is now estimated that about 80% of western Syrians have joined the group. Thousands have already been killed in the fighting, including thousands of children.

The jihadist group has taken to recruiting child soldiers. Children are forced from their homes and taught how to use heavy war artillery. Mass killings are documented on video, as ISIS attempts to assert power.

The brutality employed by ISIS has warranted immediate action on behalf of President Obama. The public beheading of James Foley, an American journalist, led to increased national attention.  Over the summer President Obama authorized airstrikes and agreed to send aid to civilians in surrounding areas. Air strikes over Iraq have continued during the last month. In early August, 68 targets were attacked in Northern Iraq by American drones.

ISIS has additionally drawn considerable attention from the international community. In a recent speech, President Obama stated that with a united international coalition, it would not be hard to completely defeat ISIS. Currently countries such as Canada, Denmark, France, Italy and Britain have agreed to send military arms and equipment. Many question the truth in President Obama’s statement and continue to fear for national security.  

Airstrikes alone might not be enough to push back and defeat ISIS. Approval for increased military action must come from Congress, but many are reluctant to engage in the conflict any further. The U.S. is looking for increased cooperation from Turkey in tightening the borders. The use of Turkish military bases could be crucial to leading a campaign against ISIS insurgents. Additionally, many looking to join ISIS forces cross through Turkey to join the campaign. Securing the Turkish border would eliminate the ability of individuals to join the fight. Additionally, help from the Sunnis in Syria is key to defeating ISIS.  

With the 2016 election looming on the horizon, a logical question to pursue is how the unrest in Iraq will affect voters’ decisions. The immediate actions of President Obama and Congress have the vast potential to influence voters’ opinions. Further action on behalf of the U.S. is immanent. While disdain for war under the Bush administration continues to smolder, and the idea of engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East is similarly unappealing, the crisis in Syria and Iraq draws both national security and humanitarian concerns into question. While some people have been fortunate enough to escape the clutches of ISIS, many have not had the same luck.

Because the U.S. is steeped in debt, engaging in war could have gravely negative consequences for the American economy. The manner in which President Obama chooses to respond to ISIS has the potential to sway voters in favor of the GOP as candidates gear up for the upcoming campaign trail. Only time will tell how the American public will react to the President’s course of action regarding ISIS, but we stand united in the affirmation that ISIS must be defeated.