Congress is currently debating whether to authorize military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as both ISIL and ISIS, is a terrorist organization so extreme that even al-Qaida has denied association with them, according to the Guardian. They have killed thousands in the name of promoting extremist Islamic agendas with offshoots cropping up in North Africa and many supporters, perhaps thousands, recruited through social media worldwide.
Two weeks ago, President Barack Obama asked Congress for authorization to send limited military resources to assist local forces, conduct rescue operations of American personnel and act in advisory and informational capacities, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Aminta Arrington, assistant professor of intercultural studies, says that limited, supportive American involvement is the right way to go.
“They (ISIS) are trying to bring the U.S. in,” she said. “They say, let’s make this about Islam and the West.”
The propagandist nature of ISIS is one of its key features. Graeme Wood writes for The Atlantic that Westerners ignore ISIS’s religious nature at their own peril. ISIS is a group preparing for an imminent apocalypse attempting to follow the “prophetic methodology” of Muhammad.
If the United States emphasizes ISIS’s offensive actions as threats to Western culture, then ISIS will only have stronger tools for its recruiting propaganda, said Arrington, adding that moderate Muslims’ condemnation of ISIS speaks much louder.
“We should be saying, all you peaceful Muslims, we stand with you,” said Arrington. “Let us know how to help you.”
Much like Christian end-days groups, Wood predicted that ISIS will peter out when no apocalypse is forthcoming. Arrington agreed.
“The right strategy would be to support our allies in the Middle East quietly,” she said. “Allow them to keep ISIS contained until it dies on its own.”
However, many commentators have raised concerns about whether ISIS’s collapse could leave a dangerous power vacuum in Syria. Syria’s current civil war has left its infrastructure weak, and ISIS has taken advantage of the country’s instability.
The Syrian civil war is between anti-government protesters and the administration of president Bashar al-Assad, who are best known for their dubious claims that the Syrian government had nothing to do with the use of Sarin gas on Syrian civilians in 2013.
The U.S. has never supported Assad, and the vagueness of Obama’s proposal has left many congressmen wondering what will happen in Syria if ISIS is destroyed there.