Obama’s Stance on ISIS is in The US’ Best Interests

On Sunday, December 18, 2011, Obama brought home the last American troop stationed in Iraq. Following the removal of all US troops, the expectation was that Iraq would form a stable representative government. However, minority groups in Iraq were treated as lower class citizens, and were not represented in government. Some of these minority groups, including radical Sunni jihadists, formed a terrorist organization which now calls itself ISIS or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIS is known for its barbarity. They have killed many civilians, released videotaped beheadings to threaten the United States and used punishments including crucifixion to enforce their beliefs.

The day before 9/11 this year, President Barack Obama gave an address to the nation that he was going to deal with this terrorist threat “through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy… Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIS targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.”

Both Iraq and the United States will benefit from this strategy. Iraqi civilians will receive aid while Iraqi soldiers fight for their country. This is a relatively low-risk military operation, since American troops won’t be fighting on the ground, but rather they will be carrying out airstrikes. Although US troops will be in a war zone where casualties are unavoidable, the choice to operate only through airstrikes will reduce casualties for American soldiers. Another part of Obama’s counterterrorism strategy is having US troops in Iraq “to train and equip [Iraqi and Kurdish] fighters.”

The problem with this strategy begins with the word “equip.” If the United States ends up allying with Iraq, it needs to be guaranteed that it can trust the Iraqi army to use the weapons and intelligence it provides to them to fight terrorism. Given the shaky history between Iraq and the United States, it is a definite risk to provide weapons to Iraq, but allowing ISIS to continue to grow is an even greater risk.

In the early 1990s, the United States backed Kuwait against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and from 2003 to 2011 the United States was at war with Iraq. Although US relations with Iraq have become stronger since the end of the Iraq war, relations are still not ideal.

ISIS is growing in power and inf luence and needs to be stopped before more people are harmed. Supporting Iraq is necessary to stop ISIS. However, providing Iraqi troops with guns and ammunition is not wise. If the Unites States ends up giving Iraqi troops firepower, it would be trusting those troops not to misuse them. Instead, Obama should send troops to Iraq to train the Iraqi army, but not provide the army weapons.

Currently, the House of Representatives has approved of Obama’s proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels to defeat ISIS. The proposal will be sent to the Senate for approval.

This counterterrorism strategy is a gamble, but it is necessary. ISIS plans to continue its destruction and violence and will not stop until opposing forces defeat it. Obama is taking a risk involving the United States in this conflict, but it is a risk worth taking.