What you need to know about ISIS


For everyone looking to just read the first sentence of the article and be done, let me help you out: we are kind of at war with the Islamic extremist group, ISIS.

Still here? Awesome. Now let’s talk more in depth about what is actually going on.

Most college students today were between the ages of 5 and 9 when the Twin Towers went down on September 11, 2001. Since that morning, thirteen years ago this week, the words Terrorist and Middle East have been thrown around almost daily in the news. Endless headlines: Al Qaeda, Hamas, Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen. These names, places, and meanings have morphed into one large gray cloud of confusion in my mind, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. But ISIS has really gained the ability to stand out.

Though ISIS was first established April 2013, it is just now that President Obama is taking official action against the group, and it’s about time. ISIS is a terrorist group located in Syria and northern Iraq. President Obama, in his address to the nation Wednesday, explained that ISIS has tried to coin the name “the Islamic State,” despite the fact that they are not associated with the Islamic religion or any state. The group is expanding quickly, forcing the United States and the rest of the world to take the militant group very seriously.

I would have to compare ISIS with something close to a savage assembly of rebels, misfits with a cause that doesn’t even make sense. With violent, brutal tactics, ISIS has gained ground in major Syrian and Iraqi cities and essential geographic territory. Their propaganda videos continually threaten the United States, but that goal hasn’t stopped them from murdering local Muslims and Christians including civilian woman and children.

They show little mercy as they pass through villages, commit public executions and capture Iraqi weapons provided by the United States. In mid-August ISIS pursued actual genocide as they trapped Iraqi Christians on a mountain and essentially waited for them to starve before humanitarian acts from the United States and United Nations intervened.

On August 19th, U.S. journalist James Foley was beheaded on video by an ISIS militant. A few weeks later, September 2nd, another US journalist, Steven Sotloff was beheaded. These acts were inhuman and videotaped in their entirety. That’s disgusting. These kinds of open, ruthless inhuman war acts are something that can be marked as indescribable even coming from a terrorist group. At this point if any Americans weren’t paying attention to ISIS already, they were now.

The United States has to do something. President Obama outlined a long-term strategy to take on ISIS last Wednesday night. Our main course of action consists of air strikes. (There have been 150 successful airstrikes thus far according to the President’s speech). Also, an additional 475 service members will be sent to the Middle East to help train and support local allies on the ground. We are counting on the new Iraqi government and other local Middle Eastern forces to do all the foot work with our advice and intelligence. Obama stressed strongly that combat troops will not be deployed.

A new poll shows that a majority of Americans disapprove of Obama foreign policies but I honestly think this is the best we can do to take on ISIS at the moment. No one wants to send combat troops. We did that a decade ago and how did that turn out? That leaves us with airstrikes, a tactic of war that looks to keep the U.S. casualties and disturbances of daily American life to a minimum. And lastly, if this “coalition” of Middle Eastern support works with U.S. training, that’d be great. What I would like to see though, is some more help from the E.U. Despite the fact that they don’t have verbal threats coming at them almost on a daily basis, Europe is in danger too. For one thing, they are physically a lot closer to the action. They should share the responsibility of ridding the world of ISIS with us, and this job will become a lot more manageable.

Bottom line, we need to do something about ISIS not just to keep Americans safe but to protect human dignity of others. I’ll be the first to say I hate it when the U.S. butts its head into the business of other countries, but if it’s clear that no one is there to protect Syrian and Iraqi minority groups, then humanitarian acts are a necessity. Its 2014; we don’t have room in this world for just insane, savage acts. Humanity as a whole is better than that, and we need to prove it.