Targeting ISIS: U.S. involvement in foreign affairs

U.S. World Police

Francis Emelogu/The Cougar

Whenever an international crisis takes place, the world looks to the United States to see how the federal government will react. As a global super power, the spotlight is thrown on the U.S. as much as it is on the country or crisis in question.

Just last month, the U.S. chose to involve itself in another conflict in the Middle East against the violent group ISIS. Making large territorial gains over the summer, ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has seized and occupied land in both Iraq and northern Syria. While ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claims to be creating an Islamic State, the barbaric actions of ISIS do not follow the teachings of Islam.

Rather than furthering Islamic ideals of peace, which one would assume from a group claiming to be an Islamic state, ISIS instead perpetuates negative stereotypes surrounding Islam and Muslims by committing violent acts including killing fellow Muslims in the Middle East and the recent beheadings of Western journalists.

Engineering junior Trang Nguyen said she thinks U.S. involvement may not be the best solution, even if it seems necessary.

“Often it feels like the U.S. ends up doing more harm than good, so I’m hesitant to completely support U.S. involvement,” Nguyen said.

For ISIS, the creation of an Islamic state is merely a guise for its desire for power and control of land in the Middle East.

According to the Quran, Muslims may only engage in fighting when it is against those who wage wars without just cause and against those who engage in religious persecution. Ironically, ISIS happens to be guilty of both.

Muslims around the world are condemning the actions of ISIS. In fact, British Muslims began trending the hashtag #notinmyname to argue against the belief that ISIS’s actions reflect Islamic beliefs.

Time reports that initial airstrikes began on Aug. 7 in ISIS controlled areas in Iraq. President Barack Obama decided to go through with the attacks in an attempt to halt ISIS expansion into the Iraqi city of Erbil where U.S. troops are stationed.

While Obama initially wanted to protect U.S. troops in the area and curb ISIS expansion, his new mission is to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, as the U.S. now acknowledges the group as a potential threat to national security.

On the night of Sept. 22, the U.S. began sending airstrikes into ISIS targets in northern Syria, including the city of Raqqa, which ISIS has declared its capital. Due to the strikes, over 160,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey.

The Washington Post reported that while airstrikes have hit several oil refineries, ISIS makes its money from crude oil. These latest strikes are not enough.

Currently, Obama has no plans to send U.S. ground forces. Military advisors have been sent to both Iraq and Syria to train soldiers from the region, however.

The U.S. is also building an international coalition to combat ISIS and keep it from infiltrating the city of Kobane that lies along the border of Turkey and Syria. Other western nations including France, Britain, Denmark and Belgium have also begun launching airstrikes into Syria.

Kurdish Syrian leaders have been asking for American assistance.

“The strikes have shown no effect on the ground, and resistance is very difficult,” said Kurdish activist Abdul Azzizi from Kobane.

“(The) bases of ISIL and all their heavy weapons, vehicles and equipment are in the open air, visible to everyone, but yet they haven’t been targeted by the airstrikes,” said Redur Xelil, a spokesman from Kurdish group People’s Protection Units.

Although Obama has announced that U.S. armed forces will do nothing more than advise Iraqi and Syrian rebel soldiers, it is questionable whether or not this will remain the case. The U.S. and its allies may have hit ISIS strongholds, but keeping ISIS from expanding is only one of the goals. It will be much harder to rollback ISIS influence in its occupied territories.

While it may seem unavoidable to some, the U.S. should reconsider the extent of its involvement in the Middle East. Though it is difficult for the U.S. to avoid involvement in such situations, it is important to consider that one reason why ISIS was able to expand is because it has overtaken countries weakened by war. U.S. troops have been stationed in Iraq — the country in which ISIS originated — for over ten years now.

Because ISIS claims to be an Islamic state, people are misguided in believing that the core principles it acts upon are Islamic. As the Guardian suggests, ISIS is formed on the basis of modern western political history and culture — not traditionally Islamic ideals.

The belief that there is a need for an Islamic state lies in the ideology of the French revolution, in which a state is “founded on a set of principles” rather than the people governed. Politicizing the Islamic religion to fit these revolutionary western ideas is what fuels extremist groups such as ISIS.

The U.S. has been in Iraq for several years, and the weakened state of their army was acknowledged by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey when he explained that it could take eight months to a year to train soldiers to get them up to standard to fight ISIS. Likewise, even if the U.S. advises Syrian rebels, Syria is in a current state of ruin due to the civil war.

Even if the U.S. does prove to be effective in halting ISIS, there is no guarantee that another group will not emerge in the future. The Middle East may boast imperfect governments, but U.S. involvement only fuels the fire.

The U.S. has become so entangled in Middle Eastern affairs that any move that it makes can disrupt their stance in another conflict. For instance, the U.S. has decided to support Syrian rebels and condemn the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, but by trying to contain and drive out ISIS, the U.S. is still assisting Assad in ridding the country of another opponent.

Likewise, by neglecting to consider the inclusion of Iran — the only other Shia government in the Middle East — in their international coalition building, the U.S. loses out on a more powerful ally than Kurdish and Iraqi forces.

Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are also part of the coalition, but have had a history of financing extremist groups. Turkey, another ally, has tolerated a cross border oil trade that helps fund ISIS and has allowed militants to enter Syria through its border.

Pressure is rising for the U.S. to send ground troops if the U.S. is unable to train sufficient troops or if other allies are unable to commit enough ground troops. As ISIS continues to grow and airstrikes prove to have little effect, the U.S. will need to reconsider whether or not Iran is a greater threat. To defeat ISIS, differences may need to be put aside to partner with Iran and drive ISIS out of Iraq and Syria.

Opinion columnist Rama Yousef is a creative writing senior and may be reached at [email protected]


  • Here is the best description i have heard of for the US war against IS that makes sense…..

    “Some of our friends support our enemies and some of our enemies support our friends, and some of our enemies are fighting against our other enemies, whom we want to lose, but we don’t want our enemies who are fighting our enemies to win.“
    “If the people we want to defeat are defeated, they might even be replaced by people we like even less.”

    And all this was started by US invading a country to drive out terrorists who were not actually there until we went in to drive them out.

  • I’ve got a novel idea. Let’s do nothing. Let the Muslims deal with their own
    problems for a change. Let’s let countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait
    with their endless ocean of money and Western-bought armaments figure it out
    instead. Surely they – being practitioners of the religion of compassion and
    peace – will step right up to the plate in our stead.

    OK, you caught me there. You knew I was kidding! You knew what I know which
    is that there is no answer to these Islamic cesspools. Whatever we do will be
    discredited and if we do nothing then Syria will become just another country in
    the endless line of Hell on Earth Islamic countries.

    We cannot save Muslims from themselves. It is like trying to save an
    alcoholic. Until they are ready to abandon their religion – a religion that
    emphasizes aggression and violence and sadism – anything we do will simply be a
    band-aid on a gaping wound.

    Let them go through their DTs on their own. Only then will they be ready for
    our friendship and help, and only then will we find a way forward together as

  • Rama,

    Your selective quoting of the Qur’an and your taking Qur’anic verses out of context might trick some people, but it does not trick me.

    There IS a reason the history of Islam is associated with war and violence instead of peace, and that reason is because Islam calls for jihad against infidels, and because Islam calls for subjugation of non-Muslims, and Islam calls for jihad in the goal of creating a worldwide caliphate.

    So you can play your taqqiya game all you want but it won’t work for those of us who take the time to study Islam objectively as I have done.

  • Hello Rama,
    Congratulations. You have incurred the wrath of Arafat. Not certain who he is, but for the last decade or so he has appeared whenever The Cougar published anything that doesn’t portray Muslims as bloodthirsty savages. It’s all there in The Cougar online archives.
    Throughout his diatribes he did not address any of the points you raised. He never does. He just rants and raves, throws in a few big words, and attacks the author. In case you didn’t notice, he called you a liar (check out the definition of “taqqiya”), although he carefully doesn’t cite any specific thing you wrote. He is a bigot with an agenda. Ignore him.

    • Specifics? Try this.

      Rama writes, “On the night of Sept. 22, the U.S. began sending airstrikes into ISIS targets in northern Syria, including the city of Raqqa, which ISIS has declared its capital. Due to the strikes, over 160,000 Syrians have fled to Turkey.”
      This is at best disingenuous if not an outright lie. Before any airstrikes ISIS’s unbridled aggression had already created something like 3 million refugees, but Rama insinuates these refugees are our fault when it is as clear as day wherever ISIS invades refugees follow.

      • Rama writes, “According to the Quran, Muslims may only engage in fighting when it is against those who wage wars without just cause and against those who engage in religious persecution.”

        This is also false and, in fact, Mohammed and his men fought in many battles against unarmed people, caravans and the like.

        The following supports my information using Islam’s holy books as proof.

        “The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.”

        Here are a few examples:

        Quran (2:191-193) – “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…

        but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)” (Translation is from the Noble Quran) The historical context of this passage is not defensive warfare, since Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries. In fact, the verses urge offensive warfare, in that Muslims are to drive Meccans out of their own city (which they later did). The use of the word “persecution” by some Muslim translators is thus disingenuous (the actual Muslim words for persecution – “idtihad” – and oppression – a variation of “z-l-m” – do not appear in the verse). The actual Arabic comes from “fitna” which can mean disbelief, or the disorder that results from unbelief or temptation. Taken as a whole, the context makes clear that violence is being authorized until “religion is for Allah” – ie. unbelievers desist in their unbelief.

        Quran (2:244) – “Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things.”

        Quran (2:216) – “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time. From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people into raiding merchant caravans for loot.

        Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

        Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”. This speaks directly of polytheists, yet it also includes Christians, since they believe in the Trinity (ie. what Muhammad incorrectly believed to be ‘joining companions to Allah’).

        Quran (4:74) – “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” The martyrs of Islam are unlike the early Christians, who were led meekly to the slaughter. These Muslims are killed in battle as they attempt to inflict death and destruction for the cause of Allah. This is the theological basis for today’s suicide bombers.

        Quran (4:76) – “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…”

        Quran (4:89) – “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.”

        • Here some additional “specific” quotes from the hadiths this time supporting Islamic aggression.

          Bukhari (52:177) – Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

          Bukhari (52:256) – The Prophet… was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, “They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans).” In this command, Muhammad establishes that it is permissible to kill non-combatants in the process of killing a perceived enemy. This provides justification for the many Islamic terror bombings.

          Bukhari (52:65) – The Prophet said, ‘He who fights that Allah’s Word, Islam, should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause. Muhammad’s words are the basis for offensive Jihad – spreading Islam by force. This is how it was understood by his companions, and by the terrorists of today.

          Bukhari (52:220) – Allah’s Apostle said… ‘I have been made victorious with terror’

          Abu Dawud (14:2526) – The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, “There is no god but Allah” and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist)

          Abu Dawud (14:2527) – The Prophet said: Striving in the path of Allah (jihad) is incumbent on you along with every ruler, whether he is pious or impious

          Muslim (1:33) – the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

          Bukhari (8:387) – Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’. And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally.”

          Muslim (1:30) – “The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah.”

          Bukhari (52:73) – “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords’.”

          Bukhari (11:626) – [Muhammad said:] “I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those, who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes.”

          Muslim (1:149) – “Abu Dharr reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is the best? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Belief in Allah and Jihad in His cause…”

          Muslim (20:4645) – “…He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa’id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!”

          Muslim (20:4696) – “the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: ‘One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihad died the death of a hypocrite.'”

          Muslim (19:4321-4323) – Three separate hadith in which Muhammad shrugs over the news that innocent children were killed in a raid by his men against unbelievers. His response: “They are of them (meaning the enemy).”

  • Hello Rama,
    Arafat takes issue when you say that 160,000 refugees had fled US bombing. He writes that “…this is disingenuous if not an outright lie.”
    It is demonstrably true that large numbers of people living in ISIS controlled areas fled to Turkey when the United States began bombing. When you force trolls to list specific issues they wind up saying stupid and untrue things.
    His claim that you were blaming US policy for an earlier group of refugees who fled as ISIS advanced towards their homes demonstrates that his reading comprehension skills are limited or he is distorting what you wrote to fit his prejudices. The only refugees you mentioned were those fleeing the US bombing, and those refugees were a direct result of US policy. (Literary note to Arafat. The refugees you mentioned were fleeing ISIS, not following ISIS.)
    Arafat’s list of citations demonstrating that Islam promotes bloodthirsty savagery is dishonest. While condemning you for your “…selective quoting from the Koran and taking verses of the Koran out of context…” he proceeds to do exactly that. Rather than face accusations of “…selective quoting from the Koran…” I’ll just recommend a trip to the bookstore. There are usually half a dozen translations of the Koran on the shelves. (Theological note to Arafat. Islam has only one holy book, the Koran. Everything else is commentary.)

    • We need a jizya tax here in the United States. All non-Muslims should pay the tax. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the parts of Syria not under Assad’s control, are all examples that show Islam’s superiority of tolerance over Western style fake “tolerance. When Muslim immigration to Europe reaches the demographic victory needed for Islamic hegemony in Europe, we can make all Europe as tolerant as Somalia and Pakistan. America will take longer, but it will also one day become a paradise.

  • The United States government funds and arms ISIS against Assad. Saudi Arabia. Turkey, and Israel are enemies of Assad(defender of Christians in Syria) and therefore support ISIS in there geopolitical power play. The US government has to bomb some of the terrorists so the average football or basketball fan won’t know whats really going on.

  • Thanks to the US government, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, Christians in Syria get routinely kidnapped, beheaded, and raped by Muslims. Without all that cash and weapons coming out of Washington, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where would the “freedom fighters” get the means to kill so many Christians that were previously protected by Assad? Nobody gives a damn about Syrian Christians. McCain met with terrorists who beheaded Christians. Obama supports Al Qaeda in their fight against Assad. Christians are pure collateral damage in the grande vision of a more powerful US, Israeli, and Saudi Arabian influence in the Middle East.

    Parish priest, 20 Christians kidnapped in Syria


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