My Questions about President Obama’s Address on ISIS

My Questions about President Obama’s Address on ISIS September 11, 2014


It’s almost too ironic that the president announced this on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, which was the beginning of this war that appears to have ever-changing targets and no end.

I have several questions. First, it was around a year ago that President Obama wanted to bomb Syria because of allegations of the use of chemical weapons against ISIS. If we had gone ahead with that plan, it most likely would have destroyed the remaining infrastructure in the war-torn country and handed a total victory to ISIS.

I was totally against this, for a number of reasons. Among those reasons was my concern that bombing Syria would put these “rebels” (as they were called then) in power.

I’m raising this issue because I think it’s pertinent to last night’s speech. I want to wipe out ISIS. I regard that as a regrettable but necessary action to preserve civilization in the Middle East and stop the spread of violence into Europe, Russia, China, America and Australia.

I want to know that we’re going to be bombing ISIS, and not destroying the infrastructures of these countries. In more direct terms, bombing, if it doesn’t have the right targets, will not help end ISIS’ reign of terror. In fact it could do great harm.

Notice also the list of regions and countries that I said were menaced by ISIS. I know that looks like a broad swath for what is essentially a gang of murdering extortionists and pirates. But it is clear that ISIS is drawing murderers from the Muslim populations in all these areas. If the nations in question do not formulate more intelligent and self-preserving policies than they have followed up until now, they will most certainly find themselves dealing with this murderous and genocidal savagery on their home soil.

How does bombing play into that? Is bombing an effective and sufficient response?

I think that bombing will be an insufficient response unless it is accompanied by policy changes that address the issues of what we are going to do with people who go overseas to murder, rape and practice genocide then try to come back to the USA later. We also need to address the issue of how we are going identify people who are living here in the homeland who are funding and aiding ISIS.

I also wonder how, or even if, we are going to address the critical issue of who is funding ISIS. In military terms, cutting off funding to ISIS serves the same function as destroying the manufacturing plants of a nation that has actual war making power. It stops their war-making ability. It appears to me that those of us who oppose terrorist activities have been singularly ineffective at stopping the influx of what must be massive amounts of monies to ISIS.

I wrote two posts yesterday about a blog post calling for violent discrimination against Muslims. This was a single blog post on an obscure website. However, it is clear that ISIS is using the internet and other forms of communication to recruit what must be large numbers of murderers who are actually following through with the murdering. I’ve read that the videos of our reporters being beheaded will be (probably have been already) used to attract and recruit fresh murderers to this ignoble cause.

How are these calls to murder being channeled through the various communities where likely recruits are found? Is it done entirely by the internet? What part does word of mouth play in this? How are we dealing with these web sites?

I’m strongly in favor of freedom of speech. But direct recruitment of murderers to participate in the slaughter of innocent people who are then murdered in great numbers by these same recruits goes beyond the limits of what we ordinarily think of as free speech. It is akin to putting a murder for hire ad on the web. How are we going to deal with this?

We need to re-evalulate our laws that pertain to these issues and make the changes that are necessary to protect this country.

I want to think about this before I say more. Right now, what I mostly have are questions. In the meantime, I am interested in what Public Catholic’s readers think. I hope you will think these things through and share your ideas. I also hope that we can get beyond knee-jerk partisan sloganeering.

This is about genocide against Christians and other religious minorities, war that seems to be going on forever, and our domestic safety here in our homeland. Let’s put aside partisan loyalties and think about what is best for our country.

Here, for your consideration, is our president’s address from last night.

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

14 responses to “My Questions about President Obama’s Address on ISIS”

  1. Rebecca, this war is not new or even recent. All of North Africa and the Middle East used to be Christian until the same forces as IS began a jihad, killing and forcing conversions by rape at the point of the sword. We just need to be honest that this is an ancient conflict with modern tools.
    This will continue for a very long time. However, I’m not sure Americans have enough resolve and a long enough attention span to carry this through.
    Infrastructure can be rebuilt. In many cases it has not been improved in years anyway. We need to protect and defend our brothers and sisters, the innocent and ourselves. They cannot be rebuilt.

  2. Thank you for posting the President’s address. What I would most like to see us do is support the Iraq army and help it take back every town that ISIS has taken over and set up local militias to protect the towns that could then receive those who can return to their own homes and recommence living as they were before they were driven out.

    If surgical air strikes without collateral damage can be made in Syria against the leaders and to take out tanks and weapons and maybe even fighter planes, that would be awesome. Otherwise, I would avoid Syria and focus on supporting ground troops in Iraq.

    There will be very little in terms of instant gratification in this war on terrorism. We are in this for the long haul. This will be Hillary’s war or Christie’s war or whoever our next president turns out to be.

  3. So, you want to stay out of Cambodia? That’s what staying out of Syria is. I don’t particularly want to take on Syria in any way but we cannot draw any lines with these guys, especially not in public. They need to think we will come after them anywhere anytime. Reestablishing an Iraqi state is a worthwhile endeavor. This is going to take a very long time and a lot of concentration. We need to keep our focus. And pray for the conversion of Muslims to The Lord. That is the only thing that will stop this mess.

  4. One important source of funding we are unwilling to shut off is oil from that region. Petrol dollars from around the world are keeping terrorism alive. We will always be held hostage to the Middle East politics as long as they control the oil we need.

    One question I have for which I’ve never seen an answer is – why are the rich secular muslim nations like Dubai and the UAE, etc. so immune to terrorism? I think there is an answer there if we can understand why. Is it poverty and greed underneath all the religiosity?

  5. One thing that bothers me is that ISIS will use our bombing and anything else we do, as inspiration to their followers and to gain new followers.

    I know that this would be difficult for our pride and for people who want to get elected, but is there any way that we can go to the Islamic religious leaders who have rebuked ISIS and ask for their help? We need to know how to communicate what we are doing in a way that doesn’t inflame the situation. Is there any way that we could put our resources under these people’s leadership so that Muslims will rally around what we are doing? Instead of supporting political leaders, I say we support the important religious leaders of the Mid East countries who understand and stand up against ISIS and what it represents, like the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

  6. They need to think we will come after them anywhere anytime.

    I know that’s what we want them to think. But I think driving them out of Iraq using the Iraq army, the Kurds and Sunni militias is the kind of morale booster we need in the short term.

    Syria really requires a strategy that I think is still yet to be developed. I say let Assad, the moderate rebels and the various terrorist groups including ISIS fight it out among themselves. If there are opportunities to strike from the air without killing civilians, fine. Do it. Otherwise, we need to chalk up small victories in Iraq, first and foremost.

  7. Maybe we also need to be looking at our hypocritical foreign policy that has us so involved in the Middle/Near East and so unconcerned about Africa. Africa is fast becoming the new hotbed of radicalism and we aren’t paying sufficient attention.

  8. “I’m not sure Americans have enough resolve and a long enough attention span to carry this through.”
    Hum…we might sing a different tune when ISIS begins to attack us on our own soil should they make it that far…with so many of us indifferent to what is going on, they just might make it here.

    Every time I start to think that it could happen, especially with Canada to the north of us and their being unreliable, well, I think of all the gun rights owners and hope they will take up arms and teach us who are willing…that we may defend our homeland against the ISIS mob who might show up at our gates.

    Mary, ever Virgin, Patroness of America, pray for us!

  9. I said that because during Viet Nam we stated publicly we would not go into Cambodia, so guess where the Viet Cong set up shop. To prevent that we should be willing to do covert actions against them anywhere. I agree we should let Assad deal with this himself. None of them are good.
    We should not announce what we are going to do.

  10. No, poverty is not responsible. A lot of those inspired to be terrorists are actually doing pretty well. The inspiration is ideological, something worth struggling and dying for.
    As for the oil, we import very little from the Middle East. And the US is the #1 oil producing country in the world now. UAE, Dubai and Qatar export a lot of potential terrorists.
    To shut off the money we need to shut down their access to world banking. Haven’t heard that, but we need to.

  11. Please read something about Islam. Bernard Lewis is a good place to start. There is no Magesterium in Islam, no central authority. Everybody does what they want and their imam says.
    The Grand Mufti of Egypt cooperated with the Muslim Brotherhood before he was against them.

  12. Quick glance at eia statistics on oil imports says you are wrong. We still import a great deal of crude oil from the Middle East. 2013, we imported 1,275,037 thousands of barrels of crude oil from OPEC. Granted, not all of OPEC is middle eastern, but they do and will work together.

    You are correct that we are the #1 oil producing country right now. Saudi Arabia has, however, deliberately cut production. Our levels are unsustainable, I suspect, and, even if not, we are not in any way, energy independent.We are still a net importer of oil.

  13. ISIS can be dealt with in the short-term, in some fashion. But unless the theology and doctrines of Islam are dealt with, these kind of murders and their ‘mass slaughter’ mentality will reappear, as they have done periodically over the last 1400 years, beginning with their leader Mohammed. This apparently is not something President Obama is willing to do.

  14. Please don’t be patronizing. I didn’t say that all Muslims are under a central authority. I said that we need advice on how to communicate and act in a way that doesn’t inflame the situation. We don’t want people in the countries we bomb to see us as invaders (again). We don’t want to be seen as supporting certain regimes (again). Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. We need to try to think outside our typical American viewpoint box. Perhaps by respecting and supporting those religious leaders who are against ISIS, or at least getting their advice, we can manage to not make the same mistakes we have made in the past.