In early August, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatened America (“ISIS: 'We Will Raise The Flag Of Allah In The White House”, The daily Caller, August 8, 2014). In mid- August, ISIS threatened America again (“ISIS Now Openly Threatening Attacking US Targets”, Business Insider, August 20, 2014). In late August, ISIS published a horrific video showing a beheading in order to put an exclamation point on yet another threat against America (“ISIS Beheads Kursidh Soldier, Threatens US in Video”, Newsmax, August 29, 2014).
Amid growing alarm—and calls for the US to bomb ISIS in Syria—US President Barack Obama was, apparently, speechless (“Obama: ‘No strategy yet’ on Islamic State”, Times of Israel, August 29, 2014). Even as ISIS executed scores of Syrian troops and spread fear and death across Iraq and Syria, the US appeared to freeze with indecision.
While the US sat silent, ISIS captured 43 UN peacekeepers along the Syrian-Israel border. A laptop computer found in Syria contained evidence of a search to deploy chemical weapons (“ISIS laptop reveals project to build biological”, YNET, September 1, 2014). Reports appeared describing ‘waves of ethnic cleansings’ in Northern Iraq (“Iraq crisis: Islamic State accused of ethnic cleansing”, BBC, September 2, 2014).
Still, there was no comment from the US.
The horror reports didn’t end. ISIS was committing "acts of inhumanity which are on an unimaginable scale" (ibid). Mass killings were occurring in Iraq. ISIS was carrying out “despicable crimes” which have “transformed rural areas of Sinjar [in Iraq] into blood-soaked killing fields” (ibid).
The US was silent.
Perhaps as a response to the ISIS campaign “to obliterate” in Iraq “all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims" (ibid), the US stepped up and said, it wouldn’t be afraid of ISIS (“Obama: US will not be intimidated by Isis 'barbarism' “, The Guardian, September 3, 2014). A few days later, President Obama made it known that he would definitely confront ISIS—once he had an international coalition (“ISIS: Obama looks for International Support”, The Guardian, September 8, 2014).
None of this sounded like the Citadel of Freedom rising to protect us against barbarians. It sounded more like someone lost looking for assistance.
Finally, on the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of the 9/11 Islamic Jihad attacks against America (on Wednesday night, September 10, 2014), US President Obama, the leader of the most powerful free nation in the world, revealed what he would do about ISIS.
He would not only fight ISIS, he would aim to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ it. But he would do it on the cheap: he would commit no troops to the fight. He would do it with air power.
He forgot to tell us that there is no historical evidence that air power could destroy an asymmetrical enemy.
He said he’d consulted with allies abroad. He said he’d lead a broad coalition. But he named no names, other than Iraq. Are his allies shy?
He’d been searching for international support for at least a week. Where was it?
To be sure, Obama told us that the US would not act alone. He would fight ISIS by supporting Syrian rebels (and their friends) who, we notice, are the kind of people who’d be more than happy to use all the American training and equipment they’ll receive to turn against America and American interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.
He also told us that Iraq was going to have to fight for itself, too. America wasn’t going to fight its fight for it. Nor would America take the place of Arab partners in the region who would have to play a role.
That’s the ‘coalition’ Obama said he will fight with. It’s not exactly ‘overwhelming’ force. It’s not exactly a coalition of committed Western and Regional leaders. It’s pretty anaemic.
In his speech, Obama also seemed to dare ISIS to attack the US. He did this in the way he announced his new strategy.
He didn’t just announce that he would fight ISIS because it was a barbarian force that needed to be stopped. He didn’t just say that ISIS was a threat to all of us.
He said, ‘If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven’. That made it personal. He seemed to be saying, ‘you think you can threaten me?’
Really? ISIS doesn’t appear to be a sophisticated organization, one that would ignore such personal bravado. It’s a gang of barbarians. The only thing they know is how to kill, up-close-and-personal. If the leader of the free world threatens ISIS for threatening America, you can be sure that ISIS will rise to the challenge.
They may attack America just to show Obama that his threats are laughable.
The G-d of Israel is watching.