— Round 1 —
I do not challenge any claims to the fact that ISIS is capable of attacking the U.S. Nor would I advocate for any policy which treated the organization as something which should be ignored. On the other hand, if our aim is to protect our country from escalated violence, I do not see the continuation of recent American war policy as the answer to this problem.
It appears to me that violence is cyclical. When violence is committed, and is immediately reciprocated, there are not many instances where peace is made--I'm talking in the grand scheme of history. Take, for instance, the First and Second World Wars. The First World War began after diplomatic frustration came to a head and culminated in an assassination. By the time the First World War was over, the Treaty of Versailles was signed. This left the losing powers at a great disadvantage, and Hitler used it extensively to justify the Second World War.
Another example is the current unrest between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Both sides have been using violence in order to take what they want by force. This has been going on for millennia, and there is still no resolution. This example, in particular, has many similarities to ISIS in the sense that both sides are fighting based off beliefs. Both sides believe they are entitled to their land based off ancient religious and political texts. Violence has not created a resolution in thousands of years. It has had more than enough time to prove itself as an effective diplomatic solution, and it has not been able to meet the challenge.
More on the issue of fundamentalism. If ISIS is already willing to die for their cause, and indeed they believe it furthers their cause, what threat could the American military possibly pose to them? To ISIS, war is their ticket. Think of their children, seeing their fathers killed and championed as great men. Their deaths do nothing but add to the ranks of their cause by strengthening their beliefs.
It is belief that lies at the core of this conflict. You cannot kill a belief system by killing people. If anything, it's like throwing water on a grease fire. Eventually a new generation of military aged people will arise and try again. If war makes peace, then the 20th century was the most peaceful century of recorded history. To me that is an absurd statement. But it should be true if war is as effective as American culture believes.
I think an alternative solution is needed. If we respond with violence, we will be met with violence; which we will respond to, again, with violence. This does not sound like a solution to me.
I wholeheartedly agree with you about war not being an answer to end violence. In fact, I think diplomacy should always precede any military intervention and should only be used when all else fails. However, in order to negotiate a deal for peace, the other wide must be willing to engage in talks.
I would argue that the first war in Iraq was a mistake beyond comprehension and left a huge power vacuum in the country. Iraq has been ill equipped to create a government that equally represents all of its' people. That is besides the point, thought. ISIS has taken advantage of that power vacuum and is hell bent on instituting Sharia law.
ISIS is a different beast than Hamas, al-Qaeda, and representative governments. ISIS represents absolute terror and chaos and wants nothing less than Sharia law throughout the world. In fact, in their charter indicates not only a desire to complete terrorist attacks on American soil, they want to see the destruction of the Western World. ISIS is so insane that both al-Qaeda and Hamas are scared of them. How can you negotiate a peace deal with a faction hell bent on destruction and death?
ISIS has taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq while leaving absolute destruction in its' path. It has bragged about beheading, slaughtering, crucifying and killing thousands of "infidels." The only language this terrorist organization understands is violence and death. Are you ok with ISIS running rampant and killing thousands of innocent men, women, and children? The United States, and the rest of the world, is between a rock and hard place. The options are pretty limited at this point; we can either let ISIS continue to institute Sharia law, while killing thousands for not complying, or we can intervene and protect who we can and limit the number of deaths.
If we respond with peace, we will continue to be met with death and destruction. If we respond with violence, we will continue to be met with violence. Again, to barter any truce agreement, one must posses something the opposite side desires. Unfortunately, ISIS wants nothing less than the absolute destruction of any "infidels" and any country that stands in its way. America is not only in its' sights, they are blood thirsty to kill any American they can get their hands on.
I absolutely hate war and death, but the United States is dealing with conundrum with any choice it makes. If you have any alternative to convince ISIS that they cannot continue to kill innocent people, I am ready to hear it. This organization is organized around a core belief that infidels must die, no questions asked. And they have shown they are willing to die for this belief. Are you willing to sacrifice innocent people while we attempt to negotiate with a terror group that does not want peace?
— Round 2 —
I do not wish to sit back and do nothing. I am also aware that ISIS does not want peace, but war. Which is why I cannot understand why America thinks that by giving ISIS what it wants, we are somehow foiling their plans.
First, the innocents. They must be protected. You and I agree here. We should not sit back while people are slaughtered. But there are alternatives, I believe. Physical removal of all innocents should continue to be a top priority. Any country that is truly sympathetic to their suffering should be willing to accept refugees.
War, on the other hand, will not result in innocents being protected. [Tom Englehardt] (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-engelhardt/american-wars-civilian-deaths_b_2432379.html) brought this up last year. The website iraqbodycount.com has a rough tally of civilian deaths since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. They number somewhere between 127,000-143,000 innocent men, women, and children; dead due to the inevitable consequences of war. If our goal is to protect innocent people, I do not see how war on ISIS will achieve that objective, or have any better consequences than what ISIS is already instigating. The thought, in this instance, is not all that counts.
Secondly, ISIS themselves. We have both said already that ISIS is a fundamentalist group. Their core motivation is not economic, but ideological. This is cliche, but what we have is a battle for hearts and minds. This conflict will be won based on which side gains the most followers. If we go into Iraq and engage in total war with ISIS. Innocents will die. They will be referred to as "collateral damage." This will not result in more sympathy or forgiveness. We will not stand out as the better people to follow. Instead, we will leave children homeless and without families, and ISIS will take them and tell them "these Westerners killed your family. Allah wants them dead."
As dangerous as ISIS is, they are still a religious minority. Much of the Muslim world does not support these tactics, and they possess the cultural connection with these people to reach out and stand out as a peaceful choice compared to ISIS. The Pope has also expressed willingness to help refugees. These organizations are extensive and can help in humanitarian aid and finding places where innocents can escape the threats of violence.
In order to destroy an enemy that centers on belief, we have to destroy the belief, not the believers. We must appear as if our way of treating people is better than theirs. War cannot accomplish that objective.
ISIS does not want war, it wants death, destruction and all "infidels" to either convert or die. To think a passive approach will equate to de-escalation of a radical terrorist group is patently absurd. Belief systems are incredibly powerful and to think somehow "changing the belief system" of a radical group will inevitably lead to peace is not only naive, it is dangerous. The beliefs of these individuals have been reinforced for years and they are convinced they are called by Allah to institute Sharia law throughout the world.
I would posit the majority of these individuals are what the western world calls "psychopaths." ISIS takes pride in beheading, shooting, crucifying, and killing innocent people. They make Charles Manson look humane. I highly doubt these individuals have created conditions in which the brain can effectively develop empathy, understanding and a sense of good-will and respect. When they teach their kids to kill infidels from a young age, the brain has little chance to develop appropriately (source here). How do you go about changing such conditions to prevent the slaughter of innocent people?
The motivation for the Iraqi war, in my estimation, was not only misguided from the beginning, it was morally wrong. As I stated in my previous point, I think the Iraqi war left a massive power vacuum in Iraq that allowed for a radical group like ISIS to gain ground. Comparing ISIS to the original Iraqi was is inappropriate. We should have never invaded Iraq in the first place.
Asking other countries in the Middle East to take in refugees will not solve the problem. Before Obama ordered "limited airstrikes," which is an act of war, the Yazidi people from northern Iraq were stranded on a mountain. The airstrikes helped cleared a path for the Yazidis to get out of the country and into Syria. Without the aid of the U.S. military, these individuals would have been slaughtered or died of starvation. How should the world intervene in a situation like that?
ISIS is not going to just disappear if displaced citizens become refugees in other countries. In fact, that approach will only make the radical terrorist group stronger. Again, ISIS does not want a piece of land and they are not interested in brokering some peace deal, they are interested in instituting Sharia law and killing anyone and everyone who gets in their way. How would you go about "destroying beliefs" of ISIS? Who are they willing to listen to?
Again, I am never a proponent of war and I think diplomacy should always be our first recourse. I also agree that war seldom leads to peace. Unfortunately, this war is not about peace, it is about protecting the world from a radical terrorist group that has no interest in peace.
Whether we like it or not, we are already at war with ISIS. I really don't know if we have a choice, sadly. They are hell bent on bringing terror, and only terror.