Airstrikes Against ISIS

Airstrikes Against ISIS August 8, 2014

Story here.

I don’t see how they can be avoided.  But at the same time, I don’t see this ending well if we don’t get the refugees out.  Our war of choice has left us with nothing but a series of terrible alternatives and the least terrible is to smash ISIS bad enough that either other Muslims who hate them finish them off (even Al Quaida hates them) and a slightly less crazy regime takes over that doesn’t murder everything in sight but still persecutes the Church and other minorities, or else do a delaying action, get out as many refugees as we can, and watch ISIS rebuild.

I’m glad that Obama is, at long last, taking *some* kind of action.  But I fear that no matter what, the Church in Iraq is screwed along with other minorities there.

If you can, offer prayers and sacrifices for them.  It’s the main thing we lay Catholics can do to help (along, of course, with corporal works of mercy).

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  • Jared Clark

    Our Lady of Victory, pray for us, so that those persecuted by ISIS will be safe, that our military will only strike the guilty, and that peace may be won with as few casualties as possible.

    • Ken


  • MarylandBill

    At the moment the airstrikes and the dropping of supplies seem to be little more than a token gesture to assuage our national conscience. We never should have gone in there, but since we did, we have incurred an obligation to protect the minorities there. I think we need to ultimately organize an evacuation. Of course we won’t because of course where would they go except here.

    • chezami

      that’s my sense too.

      • Brian

        Raining death down on the evil and supplies down to the victims (and extracting them if there’s no safe passage available to them) seem to me to be the appropriate courses of action to follow at this point.

        • chezami

          Bombs don’t blow up evil. They blow up people-indiscriminately. We’ve already slaughtered a 100,000 people. Large numbers of them innocent civlilans. If we launch another war, we kill the refugees we should be evacuating and giving asylum. But the I think lots of Americans wouldn’t mind that. We much prefer violence to responsibility for what we’ve done. I suspect a strong inverse statistical relationship between the “KILL KILL KILL!” crowd and those who want to give these refugees the asylum we absolutely *owe* them.

          • Andy

            It is unfortunate but I think that you are right – so many Americans do not want to see or refuse to accept that our actions in Iraq set the star for what we see now.

          • Brian

            Not a war — taking care of the ISIL forces that are encamped at the base of Mount Sinjar preventing the Yazidi Iraqis from escaping. Seems like a straightforward action since the refugees are not near the ISIL forces. If the two were intermingled, then this wouldn’t be the course of action to follow.

    • Ken

      Is the rest of the world not helping militarily because they view this as our fault? Seems like a cause and justification for an international response. The world should send a message that this is deplorable.

      • Turkish bombs predated US ones so the idea that the “rest of the world not helping militarily” is something you’ll actually have to demonstrate. I don’t think that you can because I don’t think it’s true.

  • Brent

    Why is it always Muslims that we have issues with in regards to persecution? Is there something about Islam that makes a certain percentage of them “kill kill kill”? There are always crazies in every religion, but this seems to be a well-documented trend over the centuries.

  • Julian Barkin

    So let me be devil’s advocate in all this, but does this situation advocate a fifth Crusade, despite knowing our Pope is a peaceful gent who would likely never order it? Btw if you do answer this one with apologetics i am interested to hear why we shouldn’t go to war, or it’s not just.

    • Julian Barkin

      P.s the beheaded children pics and videos are making me sick to my stomach and thinking there is no peaceful solution here

    • chezami

      A crusade is a delusion.

    • St. Martin’s

      I’m going to absolutely, frankly honest here. That thought did cross my mind. It wouldn’t happen – not today. It didn’t work after the rise of strong nation-states which could care less about papal orders. It all went down hill after the first one. Too much commitment on the part of secular powers – just like today. But when the Church could muster popular support with popular preaching, yes, I suspect in theory it could be justified – more than our American Revolution, that’s for sure (which decidedly was not).

      There are too many similarities between Pope Urban II’s descriptions at the Council of Clermont about Turkish atrocities and these now against our fellow Christians. Fact is, that is our spiritual homeland and those are Christians with direct links to the earliest Christianity. I am not a fan of war – not of Bush’s wars or Obama’s and least of all the thought of the Church waging it. Yet…

      There is such a thing as just war. We wouldn’t have to repeat all the atrocities – the anti-Semitism and the rest. The medievals would say – and did say – the war itself was a matter of charity towards the persecuted.

      Yet we might say turn the other cheek and assist the efforts in some other way. Like I said, it was a thought, but as this worsens I can see the fear that the medievals had when Constantinople fell in 1453 and Turkish forces reached as far as Austria and faced the League right into Reformation. Let me reemphasize I am not advocating some existential clash of civilizations – most certainly not. The Islamic world went to extraordinary heights and gave us so much. If nothing else, they share with us the One God, besides Whom there is no other and like none else. But I am saying we can sympathize with the Crusaders whom we as post-Enlightenment Westerners are quick to condemn.

      Needless to say, public opinion would not favor the Church as much as the war could be justified, and perhaps non-violence is much more glorious reenactment of Christ’s love. Yet, I will say the thought remains. And when Christians hoped for Prester John to come riding over the hill, we can sympathize.

      In short, Julian, the cause might be just, in theory, but I think John Howard Yoder would say for Christians it is not about acting according to the worldly standards of justice but with the actions of Christ. At the same time I would be loathe blame anyone – a legitimate and authorized actor in world affairs, that is – for advocating taking up arms in this situation.

      As St. John the Baptist, patron of the Knights Templar, said: “He must increase; I must decrease.”

      I do not know.

      St. Martin of Tours, soldier and conscientious objector, pray for us.

      • St. Martin’s

        Of course, if the Iraq War hadn’t happened in the first place, like Blessed Pope John Paul II had warned, we most likely would not be dealing with this mess.

        • We would be dealing with other messe, and not necessarily better ones. Alternate history is a tough game.

      • kenofken

        Bear in mind that a Christian crusade would turn this fight from fundamentalist Islam against everyone to the West against the Islamic world. You will effectively cut off all of the oxygen to the moderates (or even sane) voices in the Muslim world, and ISIS will go from provincial psychotic militia to the defenders of the faith in the eyes of the world’s Muslims. You would achieve the dream of unifying Shiite and Sunni and reenergize Islamist terror after it has been in decline for 10 years in most countries outside of the Iraq-Syria axis.

      • There are plenty of secular reasons for military intervention. What, exactly, are the improvements brought to the table by christianizing the conflict with talk of a Crusade?

        Christians should insist on freedom of religion and liberation of local christians to 1st class citizen standards and fund their local evangelization efforts because they would know what they’re doing. More Campus Crusade for Christ style than anything else, if you want a crusade in the Middle East.

    • kenofken

      Are you committing to leading or fighting in it?

    • Mike Blackadder

      Maybe after this has been going on for a hundred years or so the Pope will make a plea for armed intervention. That’s pretty much how it went the first time.

  • Elmwood

    didn’t FDR send a boat load of Jewish children back to Nazi Germany in WWII?

    we still do almost nothing for war refugees but our politicians don’t blink an eye when it comes to buying new air craft carriers or F-35s, or giving oil and gas companies and wall street tax breaks.

    I say we unleash the wrath of our military might on these murderous Islamic thugs.

    • chezami

      We did that for 10 years. It got us and the refugees where they are now. More war will kill more refugees. We need to evacuate them and give them asylum. I’m not averse to a coalition of nations destroying ISIS, but there’s no guarantee they won’t be replaced by something worse. Which is exactly what happened last time.

      • Mike Blackadder

        I agree that the only clear objective is to evacuate refugees and provide or establish asylum. If coalition forces act to destroy ISIS they ought to remain to maintain peace. Perhaps these coalition forces ought to adopt an opposite policy to what has been tried before and rather than go about arming new regimes so that they can withdraw their troops they ought to disarm those who have not shown a commitment to our humanitarian standards and who have brought these arms into enemy hands.

        What is the more legitimate standard here; respecting national/racial sovereignty or respecting humanitarianism? Establishing a coalition state in Iraq and maintaining security there might be the most effective way to eventually transition to a sovereign Iraq and to have an actor on the ground to encourage peace in the region.

      • What is guaranteed is that a trans-national organization, if not destroyed, will continue to push to fulfill its core mission and its core mission is the world, including your neighborhood and mine, to be under Islamic rule of a particularly nasty and barbarous type.

    • kenofken

      Those murderous thugs are doing their murdering almost entirely with the weapons we bought for the other murderous thugs we installed when we “liberated” Iraq, whose behavior gave them a huge recruiting boost and mandate among Sunnis. If we’re going to continue to “help” this way, we might as well just turn our drones and jets directly on the persecuted minorities and refugees. It would give them a cleaner death than our “saving” them has, or will.

      • Elmwood

        Good points, at least we should use lethal military force to hold them off and give all persecuted minorities asylum in our country for starters.

        • kenofken

          If we find ISIS columns of vehicles and formations in open areas where we can engage them, they should be killed at every opportunity. We can, with airpower, at least deny them the advantages of being a conventional army. You can’t stay in the armor and artillery business for long if you don’t control the skies. We can take away their ability to shell cities and refugee camps and to wage Blitzkrieg-style advances on cities. Of course they will then just revert to classic insurgency, embedding themselves in residential areas and controlling the populace through murder, IEDs etc. Air power is useless then.

          My concern is that this will evolve according to the inevitable logic of war. Air power will never be enough, so having taken responsibility for the country, we’ll have “advisers” (already do), a “limited presence” of groundtroops to protect them. Then it will be redoployment of tens and hundreds of thousands of troops to “stabilize” the country with no real objectives or endgames. Then we’ll install some new sectarian kleptocrat/warlord who must be a pro-Western democrat, because he went to university and wears Brooks Brothers suits.

          Then the withdraw date will keep receding to 2000-and-never because if we leave, all of the deaths and other costs will have meant nothing.

          • Mike Blackadder

            I think that your analysis is exactly right. And this is what it looks like to lay down your life for your brother. Looking at America as an entity that can collectively engage in moral or immoral behavior we hope to adopt a policy that does not abandon innocent people to perish under an evil regime. But when you think of the individual American sons and daughters who will perish in a policy to fight war in Iraq again and that in the end it might not matter, you realize the very difficult decisions that our leaders face; even if they are wanting with all their heart to do the right thing.

      • The whitewashing of Saddam’s regime and the very real problems he was causing is disgusting. One of the giveaways is the scare quotes put around the word liberated. Saddam’s regime was pro-genocide, pro-rape as political punishment, and pro-chemical weapons.

        Christians in Saddam’s Iraq were slaves who negotiated a better deal than they might have otherwise. What happened is that they were liberated, and immediately forces attempted to re-enslave them. Your advocacy of one form of slavery above another would be permissible if that were all that was possible. Actual freedom should be plan A.

        In a US context, it would be like being against the 13th amendment because of the rise of the KKK. That’s not a moral position to take.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    There are at least three places to contribute to help them:

    1) Asia News is doing an “Adopt-a-Christian from Mosul” campaign. The money will go directly to Patriarch Sako in Baghdad for him and his staff to distribute.…/Adopt-a-Christian-from-Mosul…

    2) CRS is getting money together as well:

    3) Aid to the Church in Need is doing the same thing:;jsessionid=94AA49F57BFEEAE1BF92AC63417FFA3E.app337b?idb=1158611273&df_id=5900&5900.donation=form1&idb=0&AddInterest=1461

  • Julian Barkin

    On a positive note, this is from my Archdiocese blog, Toronto, on how we can help our brethren in the East:

  • anna lisa

    Airstrikes. Just the word releases endorphins into the male brain. We were living in Marin county when W decided to bomb Iraq. Everyone was glued to their TVs every evening. It was the most popular reality TV around. My (libertarian) father convinced my oldest son the was completely unethical. He explained to him that Saddam Hussein was a secular ruler, and was protecting the Christians there. The kids in his religion class ridiculed him. He was the *only* one debating against the war. In Marin county! Two of the boys from big Catholic families that he knew signed up for the Marines. One of them barely escaped Fellujah. The people in our local old folks home were the only ones that protested. They stood on the street corners with homemade signs, chanted “no blood for oil!” They played the tambourine and guitar and sang anti-war songs. They made me see old hippies in a whole new light.

    • anna lisa

      (the war was completely unethical)

    • Dave G.

      All I can say anymore is, thank God for the Catholic Blogosphere.

      • anna lisa

        Heh. I’m going to take that as a compliment, though I’m not in full agreement.
        @Mark you’re one of the good reasons why I keep coming back. You speak in a language that my older kids can relate to. I send them your stuff all the time (which have sparked a few lively debates…:)

  • kirthigdon

    Obomber strikes again; it’s sad and sickening. The IS army may be destroyed or degraded, but the IS ideology will live on fueled by the desire for vengeance on the part of victims of US bombing. And many, perhaps most Catholics will be cheer-leading for this war as they have for so many others, without regard to anything the Pope says.
    Kirt Higdon

    • The islamic state ideology can be fought in two ways. One way is by reducing the number of muslims through conversion to religious options that, as a practical matter, do not have that on the menu of choices. The second way by tracking and supporting the movements within Islam so that they win the muslim civil war.

      Bombs without this ideological work have exactly the pernicious result that you lay out. I fail to see how the anti-violence imam who tells his young congregation member not to go to Iraq before the young man goes, is harmed in his ‘told you so’ work afterwards if the bombs dropped on his head came from the US or Turkey. Could you lay out how that works in real life? What makes American bombs worse than Turkish bombs?

  • Mike Blackadder

    I would hope that these airstrikes are somewhat coordinated with ground forces to help evacuate these people. I agree with Mark that the choice of warfare is not the path anyone wants to go down, and for good reason. At the same time I think that we have to try to help these people at least that their lives may be spared. Long term policy is a wholly different thing from the immediate need of these Iraqi civilians who are trapped who need help right away. I don’t think that the holy father would disagree with the use of military force when it is directed as a means of evacuating these people to safety and when no alternative presents itself but to wait for them to die.

    • Mike Blackadder

      Not that I would expect him to actually SAY that, which would perhaps amount to (if such influence still existed among states) the calling of the next Crusade.