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What should America do about ISIS?

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Does ISIS pose a threat to America, and if so, what do you think of the current U.S. policy of airstrikes only?

The following is an excerpt from an an article written about the first Western journalist allowed inside access to ISIS:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/inside-isis-the-first-western-journalist-ever-given-access-to-the-islamic-state-has-just-returned--and-this-is-what-he-discovered-9938438.html

Once within Isis territory, Todenhöfer said his strongest impression was “that Isis is much stronger than we think here”. He said it now has “dimensions larger than the UK”, and is supported by “an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in any other warzone”.

“Each day, hundreds of willing fighters arrive from all over the world,” he told tz. “For me it is incomprehensible.”

Todenhöfer claims to have been able to move among Isis fighters, observing their living conditions and equipment. On his Facebook page, he has posted images which he said show German Heckler & Koch MG3 machine guns in the hands of Isis. “Someday this German MG could be directed to us,” he said.

@EjmAlrai Jürgen Todenhöfer arrived today turkey. Back from 10d in IS. pic.twitter.com/2tp3s6H79z

— Tommy Mommy (@watchpigs) December 16, 2014

Isis’s fighters themselves sleep, he said, in barracks formed from “the shells of bombed-out houses”. They number around 5,000 in Mosul, and are spread so widely that were the US to bomb them all “they would have to reduce the whole of Mosul to ruins”, he said.

Todenhöfer says that this ultimately means Isis cannot be beaten by Western intervention or air strikes – despite US claims last week that they have proven effective. “With every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases,” he said.

It seems to me that if we have a reason to be involved at all, we ought to be more aggressive to prevent the organization from growing. At what point would it be time to consider using nuke bombs?

Edited by happiness
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I don't think it's likely that nuclear weapons will be necessary. What we have to do in order to figure out if ISIS poses a big enough threat for it to be necessary both to stay there, and to bomb more aggressively. If there's a risk that ISIS could become a powerful enough threat to pose a danger to the West, then we next need to weigh the cost of civilian deaths against both the current threat posed by ISIS, and the potential future threat.

 

If we can take ISIS out now without collateral damage, then we should do it. If there's a risk that ISIS might expand if we don't escalate our bombing campaign, then we need to change strategies. Sending troops in to fight ISIS on the ground, and decreasing the risk of civilian casualties, would be ideal. But it's better to act aggressively now if it means avoiding a worse conflict later.

 

I would also say that there needs to be more participation from the international community if we're going to defeat ISIS. America shouldn't have to be the world's policemen. Other countries which ISIS poses a threat to need to pull their weight as well. I also think that our long-term goal should be peace in the Middle East, and in the short term we should work toward cooperation with other countries there to defeat ISIS. (While I agree with Rand that we have a right to attack any dictatorship if it makes us safer, I don't think this is the case when it comes to being engaged in war in the Middle East in the long term.)

 

Edit: There's a further moral issue as well. ISIS is not a government in any sense. It is not something that was established by any state authority, or any entity which was willingly given any legitimacy by the general population of the territories it controls. It's a terrorist organization which has conquered land within existing nation-states using brute force. So I don't know if the argument that they are morally responsible for civilian deaths caused in the course of defending the West would apply in the same way as if they were an established government that had turned into a dictatorship.

 

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. government's own foreign policy failures are partly responsible for creating ISIS -- both by messing up in Iraq, and creating an unstabled political situation, and by lending both moral and material support to the rebels in Syria, many of whom are now the core of ISIS's fighting force.

Edited by Eamon Arasbard
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The situation is further complicated by the fact that the U.S. government's own foreign policy failures are partly responsible for creating ISIS -- both by messing up in Iraq, and creating an unstabled political situation

The US removed Saddam Hussein, and put in place a democratic government in his stead. The only way I can think of that the US messed up was by using American troops as a police force, while occupying Iraq. That caused most of the casualties among US military personnel, but it didn't contribute to the rise of ISIS in any way.

What specific "mess up" are you referring to, that caused the rise of ISIS?

and by lending both moral and material support to the rebels in Syria, many of whom are now the core of ISIS's fighting force.

Name a few. Or at least one. Just name one person or group the US supported, that is now fighting for ISIS.

There's a further moral issue as well. ISIS is not a government in any sense. It is not something that was established by any state authority, or any entity which was willingly given any legitimacy by the general population of the territories it controls. It's a terrorist organization which has conquered land within existing nation-states using brute force. So I don't know if the argument that they are morally responsible for civilian deaths caused in the course of defending the West would apply in the same way as if they were an established government that had turned into a dictatorship.

ISIS is obviously a government. And of course they are morally responsible for what happens to the people they rule over. Edited by Nicky
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The question asked was what should America do about ISIS?

 

I prefer not to be negative, but it's required here.  If you are old enough, you may remember an idea. It was held in the free world, in the decades before the break up of the Soviet Bloc, by a limited number of people who understood the philosophical foundation beneath the political ideas of freedom and liberty. 

 

This idea expressed a concern that citizens of totalitarian countries would cease to be inspired to desire change because countries like America were steadily losing their image as the beacon of liberty and opportunity by slowly adopting policies in line with the fascist and socialist tendencies at the economic base of their totalitarian homelands.  I'm wondering, especially with the availability of information on the internet,  whether this idea is even more true today as relates to things like ISIS? 

 

Let's say you're a normal young person living in a Muslim community almost anywhere.  Your parents are just trying to make a living, support their kids, and enjoy their lives (the world is populated primarily by these people, not by Bin Ladens, the Saudi royals, or the political elites in America or elsewhere).  You're maybe between age 16 and 25 and you've been raised with few ideas outside of your religious life, even if they are the mainstream, non-violent, ideas.  You believe there's got to be more to life and you search the web about liberty and freedom in America and about the struggle of disenfranchised people,  loosely of Arab and Islamic heritage.  You are looking for meaning in life.

 

Today, for the average person, what would be so different about America if you didn't know or understand the founding principles, basing your view on the speeches of current newsmakers, political or otherwise - or basing your judgment on the interpreted history of Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, etc. and the modern history of decisions, personal and public, of leaders like Bill Clinton and George Bush? 

 

In the wider conceptual sense, ISIS is the current result of the skepticism that develops among average citizens after a period of new philosophical development that has failed to provide opportunity for those willing, able, and interested in living life by seeking happiness through supporting their own values.  Other examples of this in history are the rise of Roman Catholicism after ca. 500AD, the Reformation ca.1500AD, and the American experiment based on ideas ca. 1700AD.  The current crisis is related to the failure of communism and socialism, with a background of America no longer providing a clear alternative. (This is not an academic paper, it was not edited, and these observations are not meant to represent the total of historical cause and effect, they are examples of one overlooked influence used here to make a point).  

 

Yes, we have to protect our concrete and current interests as relate to the activities of ISIS and the activities of recent past, and future movements.  But these challenges will never stop as long as America bases its policies, domestic and international, on principles inconsistent with those upon which the country was based. 

 

The philosophical foundation of those principles in ethics and law do not need to be internalized by all citizens, but they do by people like those attracted to this site.  Those principles are based in the metaphysics of Aristotle as extended by Ms. Rand and others now and in future, and by epistemological principles developed by Ms. Rand and others now and in future.  We don't all have to know about and agree on the axioms in meta/ep, but some of us must be able to reduce the concepts of liberty and freedom epistemologically to metaphysical axioms when the debate requires foundation.  The founding fathers did some great things, but the previous part of this paragraph is the basis of their failure and the legacy we deal with today.  Thanks, Jack

Edited by jacassidy2
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