Maybe it was a coincidence that President Barack Obama’s speech against ISIS fell on the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11. Maybe it was fate. Regardless of what it was, the President’s message was clear. We will no longer put up with this terrorist organization. We will bring it down.
ISIS, also known as ISIL – or the Islamic State – is a Sunni jihadist group in the Middle East, whose goal is to bring Muslim-inhabited regions under its control. Though ISIS has existed for years, it recently changed its name and declared itself to be a caliphate. It came to the attention of the American public due to its capture of large swaths of Iraqi territory, displacement of minority populations, and most recently, its ruthless beheadings of two U.S. journalists, which were posted online.
As a result of the escalating brutal violence, many congressional leaders have pressured Obama to take decisive action. Understandably, after just pulling out of one war in Iraq, President Obama at first appeared hesitant to jump right into a new one. But, his decision was likely inevitable. So, on September 10th, he gave a televised speech to Congress, calling on them to authorize his plan to train and arm the rebels against ISIS.
This fight, though, will not be like the last. Obama assures that no American boots will be fighting on the ground. While some American troops will be sent to Iraq and Syria to help train rebels, no U.S. soldiers will be engaged in direct combat with ISIS. Air strikes will continue to target ISIS strongholds. President Obama also warned that taking down ISIS will be a long-term challenge.
Many people have expressed unhappiness over the fact that the U.S is arming rebels, worrying that the weapons could fall into the wrong hands. However, there are many people in Syria and Iraq who do not agree with ISIS, as demonstrated by the large amounts of people leaving Syria for Turkey. UN officials estimate that about 100,000 people may have left Syria over the span of two days.
The United Kingdom has allied with the United States, arming the rebels as well. In response to this, ISIS posted the beheading of a British aid worker online. Like the other two men killed, he was forced to read off a script, in which he was made to blame British Prime Minister David Cameron for his death.
Unfortunately, for now, ISIS shows no signs of slowing down. However, our government, in conjunction with others, is working on stopping ISIS. President Obama himself said the goal is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. Some peace may also be found in these words of his: “this is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”