The lack of consensus on how to combat ISIS

Staff Writer / Alexa Gohl

The fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL or the Islamic State, has been a topic of concern and debate in the United States. Similarly with the politicians in nearby Washington, the American public and the Mason community have opposing ideas on the best approach to combat the terrorist group.

Since 2014, the U.S. strategy against ISIS has been Operation Inherent Resolve. This is a group of “targeted operations against ISIL terrorists,” according to the U.S. Department of Defense’s website.

“What is happening in Iraq was sparked in part by the Maliki government cracking down on Sunnis and favoring Shias after the US left,” said Policy, Government and International Affairs professor Audrey Kurth Cronin. “Now ISIS military forces in Iraq are led by former Iraqi Baathists and Sunnis who hate their own government.”

Millennials are the least likely, out of all age groups, to advocate for “boots on the ground” to fight against ISIS, according to PEW Research Center study. 59% of adults between the ages of 18-29 oppose troops being sent in to fight ISIS versus the 39% in favor. On a more nationwide scale, 63% of the public agree with the military campaign against the Islamic militant group in Iraq and Syria, while 30% disapprove. millenials

Though some Americans are for the military airstrikes, many Americans, including millennials, are fearful that the U.S. will become too deeply involved in Iraq and Syria.

“I would say that skepticism, combined with the public simply being tired of the emotional and economic toll that war brings for the entire country, is why this generation would be against it,” said senior and history major, Benjamin Williard.

“We have lost a lot of American lives because of the fight. It’s hard to advocate for that,” said sophomore and finance major, Benjamin McCawley.

Politicians are also involved in this situation and have publicly announced their stances in various press conferences. Notably, former Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry, Senior United States Senator John McCain from Arizona, and Ohio Governor John Kasich all advocate for “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria. Junior United States Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, and Junior United States Senator from Virginia, Tim Kaine, are against “boots on the ground.”

According to a White House press release, “Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL — and that’s what they’re doing,” said President Barack Obama.

“The president has authorized U.S. Central Command to work with partner nations to conduct targeted airstrikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL,” according to the U.S. Central Command website. There are currently 50 coalition nations supporting the war on terror.

Each day, our military forces are conducting airstrikes and taking out ISIL fighting positions, tunnel systems, tactical units, rocket storage facilities, ISIL vehicles, excavators, and bridges. The average daily cost for these airstrikes is $8.5 million and the total cost since August 8, 2014 is $1.83 billion, according to the Defense Department website.

With Operation Inherent Resolve in full engagement, some Americans are in support of our troops going to fight ISIS.

“I would be supportive of sending in troops,” said Williard. “I think that by pulling out of Iraq and leaving before the region had stabilized, we have done them a disservice and it is our responsibility to clean up the mess that we helped create.”

But other Americans believe that we should try other options to get our power and credibility back.

“It’s time to recapture our role as a diplomatic superpower,” said Cronin. “That means combining limited military actions such as air strikes and advising Iraqi troops, along with efforts to build not just a regional but a global coalition.”

Illustration Credit: Laura Baker