The horrific beheadings of two American journalists by ISIL are meant, at least in part, to terrify and provoke the United States and the western world into striking back in vengeance. The coward who perpetrated these beheadings represents an ideology doomed to failure. It doesn’t take much of a man to slaughter a human being who is worn down by months of imprisonment and bound most likely hand and foot. ISIL has murdered, raped, mutilated and otherwise terrorized innocent people in both Syria and Iraq. Most of their victims have been Muslims. You would think that there would be an outcry by the Muslim world to condemn such barbarism. The brand of Islam practiced by ISIL is not the “peace be with you” brand practiced by the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world today.
The question is; how will the United States respond? President Obama stated that he intends to form a coalition of countries to “degrade and destroy” ISIL. ISIL is an acronym for the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.’ The Levant is the geographical area in the eastern Mediterranean now consisting of Lebanon, Syria and Israel. The president’s response is not based on an emotionally laden, vengeful military response although the U.S. is capable of completely decimating ISIL on the battlefield. It is based on a group of countries to form a coalition, carefully formulate a planned response and eventually destroy ISIL. This strategy is most likely the one ISIL fears most. This strategy is also one in which many in the United States believe is neither vicious nor appropriate enough in response to the ISIL beheadings. Give our leadership time.
Terrorism in all its forms will continue to be applied as a form of warfare in the foreseeable future. With cautious and calculated civilian and military planning and leadership our responses will be successful in achieving stated objectives. In this case our objective is to degrade and destroy ISIL. The other concern, and possibly the more important concern, will be the ideology such extremists believe in and use as an excuse to terrify and murder innocent people. Such an ideology is doomed to failure as good will overcome evil. As a nation we must be careful not to engage in a tit-for-tat strategy based solely on emotions. Using intellect and avoiding the urge to respond emotionally is imperative.
Seeing the photos of James Foley and Steven Sotloff garbed in orange jumpsuits bound and kneeling in the desert was unsettling for all of us. Considering they both knew that they would soon die a horrible death, they died bravely without asking or begging for mercy. In doing so, they showed the courage and resolve that Americans have and stand for against all odds including death.
The prayers of Christians, Jews and Muslims around the world go out to the family, friends and colleagues of our two journalists and for all those butchered by ISIL fanatics. Pray for our leaders and for those who will participate in the degradation and destruction of ISIL.