As the United States once again intervenes militarily in a Middle Eastern civil war (this time in Syria and Iraq), I am reminded of the 2011 western intervention into the Libyan Civil War. Remember three years ago when the western states decided to help Libyan rebels overthrow Muammar Gaddafi’s government? We almost never hear anything about what’s going on in Libya these days. What happened there? 2011 was about a year before I started up this blog, but I remember being vitriolically opposed to the intervention there. How did it turn out? Let’s investigate.
Two American journalists have now been beheaded by the Islamic State–James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Vice President Joe Biden has already declared that he wants to follow ISIS to “the gates of hell.” But why is ISIS doing this, and what should the United States do about it?
So, once again, the United States has decided to intervene militarily in Iraq. Ostensibly, the Obama administration is intervening for humanitarian reasons–to help a number of Yazidis escape from ISIS, the radical Sunni organization that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq. Yet Obama has also signaled that this intervention will be long-term, which means the goals go far beyond getting these Yazidis out of their immediate jam. The real long-term goal is likely the same goal the United States had in Iraq 10 years ago–a stable, democratic, US-friendly government. Ultimately, this intervention rests on the same fundamental misunderstanding of Iraq with which the Bush administration entered in 2003.
Those arguing for US military action in Iraq to stop the advance of ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Iraq and the Levant) frequently claim that if the United States does not take action and ISIS prevails, Iraq will become a launching pad for terrorist attacks against the United States. This argument frequently gets run whenever anyone wants to intervene in a Middle Eastern country, but does it really stand up? Let’s investigate.
The Obama administration is considering taking military action in Iraq against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical Sunni group that has taken up residence in the territory of both states. ISIS, also known as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) recently seized Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Its goal is to seize Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, turning these countries into one united Islamic state. While ISIS’ goals are hostile to US interests in the Middle East (and to the interests of the various peoples they seek to rule over), the United States should take no military action against ISIS. Here’s why.