Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fueling ISIS's Fire

            A couple weeks ago, ISIS released a video on the Internet that is being considered the most gruesome execution ever recorded. In the video, Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh was covered in lighter fluid, placed in a black metal cage, and lit on fire. Since last year, ISIS has regularly released videos of individual executions of hostages from around the world, all beheadings. The reason why ISIS decided to burn al-Kasaesbeh is because he is the first Muslim hostage of a nation apart of the coalition. Burning another human alive is not permitted by the Quran but by doing so, ISIS is sending a recruitment message to all Muslims that al-Kasaesbeh was not a true Muslim because he didn’t support ISIS’s cause. Many American skeptics believe that this is a stunt of desperation that proves ISIS is rushing to recruit new soldiers because it is being contained by coalition forces, but I believe ISIS is a bigger threat to the United States than it ever has been before.
            When President Obama made a televised address last September, he said that the United States would “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. Months later, after the release of al-Kasaesbeh’s execution, the White House released its new national security strategy that says the country's objective is to “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS. It may seem that changing the word “destroy” to “defeat” is a small change, but it brings to light the government’s uncertainty with the outcome it will have against ISIS. By saying “defeat”, it is allowing a more open-ended outcome that provides more wiggle room to claim progress and victory.
            Why did Obama say, “destroy” at first though? It seems that there is this American ideal that because of being the superpower it is and having the strongest military in the world, there should be no reason why United States can’t destroy its enemies. After September 11, President Bush also said that hisadministration’s plan was to “destroy” al-Qaeda, but the administration didn’t comprehend the expansiveness of the terrorist organization, and the U.S is still fighting al-Qaeda thirteen years later. If the United States won’t realize that its most dangerous enemy is overlooking the capability of its enemies, then we may still be fighting ISIS thirteen years from now as well.

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