In a case such as the mass slaughter by the Islamic State group in Iraq, military intervention may be warranted, justified, and even morally required of people around the world. However, we must look back at history and realize how we came to this point. The 2003-2011 war in Iraq was a primary reason as to why the new Islamic State has come into existence.
Yes, you read that right. The U.S. led effort to topple Saddam Hussein has brought us to where Iraq is today. This is because it was either ignored, or unknown to U.S. policymakers that Saddam was actually creating a balance of power in the region. First, his regime kept Iran at bay by keeping Iranian efforts focused against Iraq, rather than on Israel or America.
Second, terrorist groups like ISIS could not come into existence because of the iron fist rule of Saddam. Those kinds of groups simply would not be tolerated. But unfortunately, Saddam was an evil man, and killed many of his own people. He was certainly no friend of the US, that is for sure.
However, when he was removed from power, that balance was thrown out, and the region destabilized. The only reason why a group like the Islamic State did not rise up sooner was because of US military presence preventing such from happening.
When the US pulled military forces in 2011, the vacuum of power and leadership was an opportunity too good for psychopathic radicals to resist.
So here we are today. Do we get involved in what seems to be a morally justifiable war? That’s a damn good question. If we do nothing, hundreds of thousands will die. If we get involved, hundreds of thousands will die.
In recent days, an American journalist has been executed by the group, which has caused political leaders to pay attention to the situation more than before. Now it seems that the mass violence perpetrated by the Islamic State cannot be ignored any longer.
Before any involvement takes place, however, there must be an end game for this. In both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the end game plan appeared to be poorly thought out as many variables were simply left out of the equation. For instance, the idea that either Iraq or Afghanistan could support a democratic regime is simply a false belief because the culture of those states prevents the success of anything near democratic.
Policymakers must take these failures into account before considering any intervention in the region. This point was heavily emphasized by Senator Rand Paul in a recent op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.
To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.
Just as the toppling of Saddam enabled the Islamic State to rise to power, the same would have potentially happened if America intervened in the Syrian civil war. To clarify, neither sides in that conflict are of any benefit to American interests or values. We do not support tyrannical regimes, but we do no support terrorist groups either (at least in theory).
There must be full public debate before action is taken. Congress must take up the issue before bombings of the Islamic State commence, although the bombings already have. Such bombing will simply exacerbate the problem if there is no clear goal defined by the Congress and Americans at large.
Yes, we do want to see this evil group eradicated, but America cannot do it unilaterally; not because of international relations theories that call for multilateralism as the only appropriate method of war strategy, but because we have more than enough problems within our own country without taking on those of an entire region.
Simply stated, the people in the region must start to stand for themselves, because if they do not genuinely want our help, we can do nothing for them. Such has been seen though, mainly with the Kurds in the northern regions of Iraq. For though the U.S. trained Iraqi army has utterly failed in the fight against the Islamic State, the Kurds have actually made some ground in the fight. This then begs the question about the Kurds themselves, and their quest for statehood, a topic which we have already covered.
There may very well come a time when this so called Islamic State topples Assad in Syria, King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, the unstable new regime in Egypt, etc. However, in trying to prevent future conflict, our foreign policy cannot be using a shotgun approach. An end game plan must be constructed so that groups like the Islamic State cannot rise up again, which may prove to be one of the greatest challenges in international relations in the 21st century. But we cannot do it by ourselves, because we cannot solve all of the problems in the world. All sides of the debate need to recognize this before action is taken, because believing that America can solve very global issue is a policy that will lead to decline on the domestic and international levels.