Americans are war-weary. The isolationist/non-interventionist wing of the American left and right perceive American interference abroad as part of the problem in exacerbating instability and breeding extremism and anti-American fervor. They argue for more books and less bombs; in “nation-building” here rather than abroad; in spending American tax-payer treasure on education and infrastructure here at home. They believe that Iraqis and Syrians and Yazidis and Kurds, Sunni and Shia, Arabs and Persians, Pashtuns and Tajiks, and Muslims in general should all solve their own problems without the expense of one more American soldier’s life.
They’re right. They have a point in there…somewhere. But they’re also misguided. What happens abroad does affect us here. It affects our allies. It affects the global market. It affects lives all across the world.
And when it comes to Islamic extremism, that kind of insane violence will not stop at the water’s edge. If it is allowed the breeding ground to survive, thrive, and multiply, well….far better to deal with the metastasizing dangers now than 25 years from now.
In regards to helping Iraq; well, as the pottery barn rule says: “You break it, you own it.”
I do believe that Iraq does need to eventually stand on its own two feet. But 2012 turned out to be premature for the U.S. to exit the stage for a budding democracy in a region of the earth that hasn’t known it. Iraq, as it turned out, wasn’t ready. We surrendered American influence over Maliki during the Obama Administration. Knowing this administration wanted nothing better than to wash their hands of Iraq, there is little surprise that Iran would happily step in and take our place as guide and interventionist-nation over Maliki. The Bush Administration helped moderate Maliki’s sectarian instincts. The Obama Administration all but ignored Iraq. Only two months before SoFA was set to expire, did President Obama send a team of negotiators to make a weak-hearted effort at renegotiation.
At the beginning of 2012, Iraq once again began a downward spiral, almost immediately after American troops uprooted themselves from Iraq. It’s made life worse for Iraq. And a worsened Iraq is not in America’s strategic national interests.
How we handled the Arab Spring? Mubarak in Egypt? Libya? The Green Movement in Iran? Dithering on who to support and not support in Syria? Redline?
Iraq requested aid and military support from the White House back in August and October of 2013. President Obama refused. This was when ISIS was still batting little league, I suppose. By January of 2014 when questioned about ISIS, President Obama dismissed them as a JV team. What does he call them today, I wonder?
I agree with those who believe we should not commit American soldier lives when national security interest is not involved. This is why as heart-breaking as it is, I do not advocate military interventionism in places like Rwanda.
ISIS is different. It does pose an existential threat to the U.S. And if allowed to continue breeding and gaining in strength, we may come to a point where the number of lives it will take to defeat the global jihad movement will be far costlier in lives and in treasure than if we make those kinds of sacrifices now. Before they become a direct, imminent threat.
The near threat that they pose to us is in propaganda and influence over traitors and potential traitors in our midst. Homegrown jihadi-wannabes. And also hidden sleeper-cells already here.
The far threat is what could happen should we stand by and allow for ISIS to continue taking over territory: Takeover of Iraqi oilfields. Collapse of Baghdad and takeover of more land. If Assad’s regime does fall, what will take its place? What if ISIS gets a hold of wmd? There may come a point, if the Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich branches of the two political parties had their way, where absolute non-interventionist policies would see fit that our enemies- whether Sunni extremists via ISIS and al Qaeda or Shia end-time believers through Iranian Khomeinites- will be powerful enough to actually invade our shores by military might.
Does anyone honestly believe that should the global jihad movement takeover Iraq….or Syria….or Yemen….
…That their violence, their takeover will simply cease its expansion? That their religious hatred of the west, Muslims who aren’t sufficiently Islamic enough, and all who occupy the non-Islamic world won’t see them fit to cease with their expansion? With their spread of Islam through violent means?
That this is all created because of OIF? Abu Ghraib? Guantanamo? That Zaraqawi would have been a peaceful falafel shop owner if not for persecution by the West? That the instability and dysfunction of the Middle East is all because of decades of western imperialism and persecution of Muslims?
Our national security interests as it relates to ISIS, al Qaeda, and the global jihad is tied together with the humanitarian crisis happening today.
Marc Thiessen points out how it’s been well-covered in the mainstream news, the plight of Yazidi women and the theology of rape; Boko Haram and the kidnapping of Nigerian girls. But what of the boys? Will jihad ideology die with this generation of Islamist grown-ups?
Mosul Eye posted this sickening indoctrination video earlier this week:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyzsjXB_ntM
Thiessen linked to an NBC report:
Much has been written about ISIS’s monstrous treatment of girls, forcing them to become child brides or sex slaves, passed from fighter to fighter. This is a story about what ISIS is doing to the boys in areas under its control.
Although Ahmed and Mohammed both look like typical young teenagers, pimples and all, the boys were both part of rebel groups fighting against the Syrian regime and ISIS. Mohammed worked as a spotter, using binoculars to help the rebels locate their targets.
“First we were going to (anti-government) demonstrations. Later on we got armed with the Free (Syrian) Army, and we fought the (Bashar) al-Assad regime for three years,” Mohammed says with obvious pride in his voice.
Ahmed started out as a helper, serving the rebels meals and running errands, until he eventually earned enough respect to be given a gun.
The balance of power shifted in in eastern Syria in 2014. After ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Mosul, the group had renewed enthusiasm and new American-made weapons abandoned by the Iraqi army when it broke ranks and collapsed in cowardice. ISIS quickly took over eastern Syria and began its reign of terror. Mohammed, Ahmed and other boys who worked with the rebels went into hiding.
“I stayed at home for seven months,” Mohammed said. “Later on, ISIS started arresting members of the Free (Syrian) Army. One of the detainees told them that I was also member.”
Mohammed didn’t know he’d been informed on until a group of ISIS fighters showed up at his door to seize him.
Ahmed managed to escape eastern Syria when ISIS moved in, but found himself in an unfamiliar part of the country without friends, money or options.
“ISIS guaranteed if we returned, they would guarantee our safety,” Ahmed said. “I needed to see my family. (ISIS) said if I go back, give up my weapon and that I wouldn’t be harmed.” He took ISIS at its word and returned to eastern Syria.
After Mohammed was discovered and arrested, he was locked in an ISIS jail for two months. He says he was in a room with 75 other boys and men. He says they were all tortured savagely, beating his shins with bats and applying electric shocks to his genitals.
“Many people died there. No water, no electricity. They provided water twice a day. We used the toilet once a day,” Mohammed said.
Ahmed found out ISIS’s offer of amnesty came with conditions. After returning to eastern Syria, he was ordered to “repent” by going an ISIS indoctrination school. He says special attention was given to boys like him for brainwashing.
“They talked about Osama bin Laden, and how he attacked the twin towers. They were saying that they need to do that again,” Ahmed said. “They also talked about the attack on the French newspaper (Charlie Hebdo). They said this was made by the Islamic State. They were so happy.”
After behind tortured, Mohammed was released from prison and also sentenced to repent by going to the ISIS indoctrination school. But Mohammed was convinced that if he went to the school, he’d be sent to the front lines to die or used as a suicide bomber. Mohammed decided to try to escape with a group of friends.
One of them turned him in.
‘This is the judgment of God’
Within a few hours, Mohammed was brought before an ISIS judge. His crime was trying to escape ISIS-held areas, thereby choosing to leave the realm of “true Islam” for the land of the infidels, which ISIS considers everywhere else.
“He said to me ‘This is the judgment of God. You were going to the land of the infidels… so you are like them. Your leg and arm must be cut off.'”
The punishment was carried out the next day. What Mohammed described is graphic and may be difficult to read, but it demonstrates ISIS’s systemic brutality against those who oppose it, including young boys.
The “chopping” ritual is carried out in a carnival-like atmosphere with an assembled crowd cheering and jeering as the condemned are brought to a city square. A section of honor in the square is reserved for the children of foreign fighters.
The sons of foreign fighters are expected to cheer and jeer the loudest. They’re being trained, both Ahmed and Mohammed say, to be elite members of ISIS’s next generation of suicide bombers and foreign terrorists. Sometimes the sons of foreign fighters carry out executions themselves, erasing their respect for human life while they’re still impressionable.
Mohammed’s punishment was to have his opposing limbs cut off: his right hand (considered in Islamic culture to the “clean” hand) and his left foot. ISIS attempts to make the horrific ritual appear hygienic. The ISIS members who held Mohammed’s limbs in place wore surgical gloves and squirted iodine on his hand and foot. Mohammed says he was given an injection. He doesn’t know what it was but says he was told it would calm him down.
ISIS members tied Mohammed’s arm and leg with tourniquets to cut off the blood flow to his hand and foot. The purpose of the amputations is not to kill the victim, but maim him forever. The tourniquets were left on for about 15 minutes. Then, Mohammed’s arm was stretched out on a block of wood. A large meat cleaver was placed on top of his wrist at the point where the cut would be made. A man with a mallet smashed the back of the cleaver so it would cut straight through bone and flesh. Mohammed and three others identified the man who carried out the punishment as an Iraqi from ISIS’s “chopping committee” known by the nickname “The Bulldozer.”
The first chop was met with celebratory cries of Allahu Akbar — God is greatest.’ The ritual was repeated to cut off his foot. Mohammed was then taken to an ISIS clinic where his skin was stretched and sewn over the stumps. Mohammed’s mother picked him up from the clinic, brought him home and smuggled him to Turkey a few days later.
‘Who wants to be a martyr?’
After indoctrination school, Ahmed thought he’d finally paid his dues and that ISIS would make good on its promise of amnesty. Unlike Mohammed, Ahmed was cooperating. But ISIS kept adding demands. As the brainwashing course was wrapping up, Ahmed was told he was now an ISIS fighter and was being sent to the frontline. With no idea where he was going, Ahmed was loaded on a bus and taken to Anbar province in Iraq. He managed to escape from there to Turkey.
Ahmed says ISIS repeatedly tried to convince him and the other boys at indoctrination school to become suicide bombers. Some agreed.
“They asked us, “Who wants to be a martyr?’ One of the boys who was with us, he was 12 years old. He blew himself up in an area called Haditha (in Iraq),” Ahmed said.
Mohammed and Ahmed both say ISIS is trying to create a fresh crop of radicals by targeting boys.
“They are fooling children with money,” Mohammed said. “They are fooling them to bomb themselves. They give a boy some money, or a bicycle, and after two days they take him in a car to bomb himself. They target children the most. They focus on children, because children are unaware of anything in this life.”
Read more from the link, if you’d like.
ISIS may not currently be ravaging these United States and killing our countrymen by the thousands; but,
If it’s not happening in your country
that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Think about #Mosul
It is happening to our world. And to our fellow human beings.
And it will not stop. It will not shrink. It will not stop at the water’s edge and leave us alone simply because we are currently disengaged while others fight for their very existence.
I reject the anti-American belief that we or the CIA created ISIS. That is conspiratorial myth-making and political wishful propaganda. We didn’t create ISIS. But I believe we have a duty to wipe it from the face of the planet.