President Obama has offered what so many have called for a strategy and a plan to destroy ISIS - the latest and strongest iteration of the jihadist movement that now engulfs the middle east, north Africa, the horn of Africa, Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic,and the Asian nations of Burma, Indonesia, and the Philippines
Whether they are Islamic fundamentalists or thugs and bullies these people have declared war on everyone else, they slaughter Christians, Jews, Muslims who do not accept their version of Islamic theology (especially Shiites), and anyone who is not them.
As the President said in his speech of Sept. 10 only America has been able to lead the nations of the world when international crises arise. Only America can unite the humanitarian nations to help contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa; only America could stand forth and push for the sanctions against Russia in a non war attempt to preserve the independence of Ukraine. And, it is clear that only America can unite the western and Middle Eastern world against this threat from ISIS
But, will America follow the President. Already the Republicans complain that he isn’t doing enough soon enough. And many on the left raise questions like “What is the end game?” “How long will it take?”. The hindsight offered by history often causes us to forget what was occurring at other times. In 1942 if FDR was asked what the end game was he would have said the unconditional surrender of Germany and Japan. As for how long it would take he would have said as long as it takes. As for the unforeseen consequences Roosevelt and Churchill did not foresee two Germany’s as part of a cold war for 45 years. Nor did Stalin envision a democratic Japan allied with the West.
Evidently we now expect our President not only to be courageous, cautious, thoughtful, emotional, wise and in tough with the common people, but also clairvoyant.
Should the President have armed the Syrian moderates sooner? Yes. Should he have bombed Assad’s forces in 2013? Yes. But, the same can be said of the things that Britain and France should have done in 1937 and 1938 and didn’t.
We do not have the luxury of playing partisan politics with foreign policy. It took two World Wars to teach us that and I believe we successfully navigated the Cold War because we adhered to that non partisanship.
We have an intelligent thoughtful President who like Woodrow Wilson has done all he could to keep us out of new wars. But as we learned with Russia in Ukraine you need a partner if you wish to engage in the dance of Peace.
In the case of ISIS there is no partner and while many nations should, and will join us we Americans have to be willing to support our President and as JFK entreated us “bear any burden” to preserve the basic values which of not only our nation but of the major religions and cultures of the world.
11 September 2014