To the editor:
When ISIS and its radicals bring their war on Christians to our shores, as Robert Lee warns us in his Aug. 16-17 piece, given his determination, training and access to ammo and firearms, I doubt you could find a better man to share your foxhole than he. Before these radicals come ashore in their ubiquitous, combat-ready pickup trucks, though, let’s take a look at the situation.
What seems like a long time ago, Saddam Hussein was firmly in control of Iraq, and as unpleasant as the man could surely be, the radicals who existed there were mostly contained within his tight fist. But about 12 years ago, it became clear to Washington that Iraq’s phantom weapons of mass destruction weighed as a greater threat to our security than any good that Saddam was doing for us, so he had to go.
As we are much more efficient at destroying things with our military than we are reconstructing a nation with the assistance of our military, Saddam was gone in short order and eight years of mismanagement of Iraq — as well as radicalization of more militants — ensued.
Make no mistake, America is not to blame for all of the ills in that region, but one could reasonably wonder why we did not leave well enough alone. While President Obama is open to fair criticism over this and other foreign policy choices, I would rather he think through our options than rush in the combat divisions. Owing to an America now weary from years of casualties and repeated troop deployments, that choice is now very compromised. Still, the world looks to us for answers.
Material and strategic support for the Kurds, likely our best friends in that region, deserves strong consideration. That will require calculations vis-a-vis our NATO allies in Turkey, but I doubt they are interested in having ISIS too close to their border, either. Searching out and drying up ISIS’s financial support must be a priority, too.
And as some elements of Al Qaida are now distancing themselves from ISIS, wouldn’t it prove a strange twist of foreign policy relativism if we find ourselves even tenuously aligned with the likes of Iran, or President Bashar al-Assad in Syria?
I commend Mr. Lee for lending his strong voice to concerns about radical Islam in the Middle East and how it could threaten us. Still, as those terrible videos firm our resolve, let us temper our emotions as we search for solutions — diplomatic ones everywhere that we can, military ones only where we must.