A few days ago President Obama finally announced that the United States will commence with airstrikes in Iraq to push back ISIL.
I want to be on board, I want to cheer, I want to put politics aside and give him credit. But I just can’t; it would be a dishonest to myself. The truth is that it’s great that we are finally going to do something in response to this psychotic terror group but it’s all coming a little too late.
As President Obama said in his speech announcing the strikes:
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”
Except, here’s the problem: the massacre has already happened and much of the damage is done. I can pretty much point to any day from the time it was clear that ISIL was a problem (maybe as far back as January) until now, and be able to name an atrocity ISIL perpetrated. To name a few:
On June 27th, it was reported that ISIL was conducting mass executions of Iranian citizens in Syria and then throwing their bodies over cliffs.
On June 29th, ISIL crucified 9 men in Aleppo.
On July 23rd ISIL killed 31 people in a Baghdad suicide bombing.
ON July 24th ISIL took over a Syrian army base and killed 85 soldiers.
On July 30th ISIL celebrated Eid, a Muslim holiday, by releasing a 30 minute video of a killing spree.
On August 7th ISIL beheaded a group of Christian children and put their heads on stakes for display in a community park.
And now on August 10th ISIL killed 500 Yazidis, buried some alive including women and children.
The list goes on…and on…and on…
Now I am not one to say that America needs to be involved in every conflict in the world – but this is a region that we are active in and could have pushed back the terrorists without a ground invasion. All Obama had to do was act with fortitude and call for airstrikes. Instead he waited, because as he said in his speech on the 7th of this month:
“First, I said in June — as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq — that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it.”
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, he needed months to figure out if military action is necessary. Mr. President, sorry but it has been clear to everyone, except maybe you, for months that the Iraqis need our assistance and a true leader would have acted swiftly. Don’t elevate yourself for delaying and deliberating while people were slaughtered.
So I am furious and the rest of the world should be furious with me. The reason I love my country so much is that on this brutal planet, when there is no one else to help, when cries for mercy go unanswered, where there is no justice, and when the villainous prey on the innocent, there would always be America; the one hope.
But not this time. I wish I was just being demagogic but unfortunately it is the truth. Around June 21st, ISIL members entered the house of an Assyrian family and demanded they pay a poll tax. The family told them that they didn’t have the money. So the ISIL terrorists proceeded to rape the mother and daughter in front of the husband. The husband was so traumatized that he committed suicide. I highlight this story not to exploit it but to point out the Godless, dark nature in which these peoples’ lives were destroyed. In that moment they probably prayed and screamed for help. But no one came. It is up to us humans to save ourselves and in the past, while hated by many foreign powers, we were the ones to go in and save others’ lives. I cannot get stop replaying the scene above in my head. Why couldn’t America have done something, why weren’t we the bastion of hope and liberty that we once were? This to me is what the current administration has taken from us: our exceptionalism.
President Obama has said it again and again: he doesn’t want us to take the lead in world conflicts, he doesn’t want America to be the shining light in the dark. For example, remember the intervention in Libya in 2011? Addressing America’s role in the conflict he famously said,
“Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone. … Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role.”
The past months were not a time when we needed a politician, a President who sits around slowly contemplating his actions. We needed a leader who is decisive, confident, and not afraid to be hated because he believes America should help.
President Obama has repeatedly demonstrated his failure to lead and to act. During his August 6th press conference he said “I think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly.” Really, that’s your censure on an clear cut terrorist group that hides rockets in schools? Irresponsible? No. Irresponsible is what my little brother is when he doesn’t clean his room. Charles Krauthammer said it best:
“Frat boys are extraordinarily irresponsible. Hamas is a terrorist organization that’s killing people. Words matter when your trying to lead a country and trying to lead a world. I’m stunned by how poorly he uses them.”
The President also said “I have no sympathy for Hamas…”
He’s clueless. He actually believes that he is taking action or making some sort of bold statement by declaring that he doesn’t feel bad for Hamas. It’s like “Uhhhh, we would hope so.” That’s not leadership, that’s not breaking news. We expect you to come out and say, “Hamas is a terrorist group, the Israelis are the good guys, and the world needs to assist in every way possible to eradicate the Earth of this depraved organization that is preying on the free and democratic state of Israel.”
Let me show you how it’s done:
On September 11th America was viciously attacked by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.
President Bush just nine days later:
Now, this war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion. It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago, where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat.
Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.
We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest.
And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.
From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice, we’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans.
And on October 7th, 2001 – less than a month later – America initiated strikes in Afghanistan. That’s how leadership is done.
For now though, it seems that if someone around the world is suffering, and his or her faith is slowly slipping away with each passing moment and every unanswered plea for help, there is unsettling doubt that America is coming to the rescue.