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Obama Should Effect Peace Through Strength, Not “Containment”

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On the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, it is only fitting that we discuss the real threat Islamic ideology poses today and why the United States must respond with a stronger foreign policy than simply passive aggressive “containment.” MSNBC’s Morning Joe, a popular morning news program, recently discussed ISIS’s reign of terror in Syria and Iraq with its usual smart banter and thoughtful commentary. One guest, however, made a surprising assertion, that ISIS will wage war against any nation that gets in its way of establishing a Sunni Muslim state. Although on the surface this sounds reasonable, it perhaps implies that at bottom this is a land dispute. That’s the same assertion that people made regarding Israel’s recent battle against Hamas. There are intelligent people who truly believe that if America would simply “mind our own business,” or that Israel would go back to its pre-1967 border, that the rocketing and beheadings would stop and the world would be more peaceful. This is wrong, historically, because it does not recognize the real basis of these conflicts and that is, as Prime Minister David Cameron said,

“It is the ‘poisonous ideology of Islamic extremism’ that subjects other Muslims to the brutality of an almost ‘medieval state.’ … This is about a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who wish to abuse Islam on the other.”

The left commonly paints the current conflicts as border disputes over land distributions and harsh political/economic conditions. The current leadership sees the situation as one that can be cured simply with a “holistic approach.” Of course, a holistic approach is all good and well, but we must also acknowledge the truth behind the conflict. When it comes to groups like Boko Haram, Hamas, ISIS, and Al-Shabaab, their goal is not simply land distribution. They’ve made that clear. Their goal is distribution of religion – and they are willing to destroy anyone who gets in the way of that objective. With that mindset, borders are only relevant in the sense that these Muslim extremist groups want to create an Islamic caliphate at all costs. To paint a quick picture of this ideology, Hamas, a known terrorist organization has gained support for its “at all costs” doctrine — using civilians to act as human shields against Israeli missiles in the recent conflict in Gaza. One would think this would deter support, but this extremist religious ideology gains all-out support because it glorifies dying for the cause. An LA Times article said that in a Palestinian research poll, 79% of respondents believed Hamas had won in Israel because of their ability to stand against Israel’s military by ending in a cease fire (which they violated) as opposed to surrendering to Israeli forces. The majority also said that they supported Hamas’ defense of civilians as well as the murder of the three Israeli teens. In the case of Boko Haram, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the extremist group was not motivated by religion. A Washington Examiner article stated that “Boko Haram carried out attacks against Christians in order to provoke Christian counterattacks, which Boko Haram then used as a means of radicalizing moderate Muslims.” The list continues. Al-Shabaab is a terrorist organization that has declared its intention to target Western interests inside and outside Somalia in its creation of an Islamic state in Somalia. My final example is ISIS. If our leadership believes that ISIS is only concerned about Iraq, they are gravely wrong. Recently, an article on the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) stated (referring to ISIS) “they killed Foley because he was an American. They titled the grotesque video of this particular act of barbarism ‘A message to America.'” Furthermore, FPI referenced Sen. Kerry’s tweet that “ISIL must be destroyed,” pointing out the passive voice — furthering Obama’s weak policy of containment. Containment is not a workable solution for extremists. By the way, the threat that British Prime Minister mentioned is not a new phenomenon. It was a threat during the time of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In her 1985 speech to the American Bar Association on terrorism she said,

“Increasingly we see evidence of links between the terrorist groups of different countries. They share funds, training, intelligence and weapons — and a total ruthlessness … [c]ould anything more clearly point up the need for the Governments and security services of all civilised nations to work together against such people? For a victory for terrorism anywhere is a victory for terrorism everywhere.”

The beheadings of American journalists go beyond issues of border disputes; they were a direct act of war — this time pointed at the United States. America has been directly challenged, and Islamic extremist groups around the world are watching for our response. American holds a weighty responsibility regarding these extremist organizations. Islamic militant groups want religious takeover and are willing to destroy anyone, Americans and even Muslims who are not willing to follow their strict interpretation of Sharia Law. President Obama has nearly two years left. America cannot afford to stand by and do nothing during that time. The threat that these organizations pose is real, and weak leadership gives rise to our enemies, not only in the Middle East, but in America as well.