Opinion: Caution is not inaction

Ryan McCarthy

There’s a lot to say about the ISIL situation and Obama’s handling of the crisis, but with only 400 words to say it, the conclusions I’ve made regarding it cannot be explained as detailed as I would have liked.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), is the official name used by the State Department. Levant refers to Syria and its neighboring nations. ISIL began in Iraq with connections to Al Qaeda and joined with rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria about a year ago.

Obama has received sharp criticism from conservatives over a perceived lack of action in dealing with this organization, and the point that should be made is caution is not equivalent to inaction. It should be noted that ISIL is, in all likelihood, not an immediate threat to the Western world.

The first goal in their mission is to cleanse the Muslim religion of contamination from reformations and “contaminants” before they move on to non-Islamic regions. They are part of a radical sect of Sunni Islam and regard anyone who does not identify with them as infidels, Muslim or not. This is not to say they shouldn’t be dealt with, but there is room to take an amount of caution in our action that was not used in 2003 with the decision to invade Iraq. The situation is much more complicated than a fight between good and evil.

After Saddam Hussein’s regime ended, Nouri al-Maliki became Prime Minister, putting a Shiite in power after decades of Sunni rule. Maliki isolated the Sunnis, thus making a group like ISIL more appealing. In Syria, we can’t easily help Assad’s government because a year ago we were considering taking action against him for use of chemical weapons. The problem is not merely the presence of ISIL, and the president understands this.

Obama wants this: a role in this conflict, though a wisely limited one, where order in the region will remain even after our role has declined. This includes continuing the air strikes, not as the primary attack against ISIL but as support for the ground assaults lead by the regional nations including Iraq and those in the Levant area. Also, the creation of stable governments that are more inclusive and do not isolate other sects of Islam.

This problem will not be solved merely by another Iraq war, as in many ways this problem was created by the last one. Another U.S. invasion will be another temporary and short-lived solution that only deals with one dimension of the problem. 

Ryan McCarthy is sophomore political science major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].