BAGHDAD — As terror continues in Syria and Iraq, it seems the only consistency in news headlines on terrorism is an acronym: ISIS, and now, the U.S. as well. Are the headlines and, more importantly, Iraq, big enough for the two of them?
A follow-up on a previous article, “Your Questions about the Crisis in Iraq Answered,” this piece seeks to go beyond the background of ISIS and its targets. Instead, with the insight of foreign news correspondents from major news organizations, this article aims at answering questions surrounding a much broader picture, one that includes both the Middle East and the U.S.
What is the U.S. doing about ISIS in Iraq?
This past weekend, in response to questions about U.S. involvement in Iraq, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, chose his words very carefully.
“Assessing and advising and enabling are very different words than attacking, defeating and disrupting,” Dempsey said during a briefing at the Pentagon. “We may get to that point if our national interests drive us there…I am just suggesting to you that we are not there yet.”
Just a week prior to this briefing in Washington, the U.S. ordered 300 more troops to Iraq, with the mission of providing security for the U.S. Embassy, the Baghdad airport and other facilities of high importance within the country.
Meanwhile, Dr. Haider Al-Abadi, Iraqi parliament member and spokesperson for the Dawah Party, gave a bold warning to the U.S.
“We are waiting for the Americans to give us support,” the Iraqi politician said. “If U.S. air strikes [happen], we don’t need Iranian air strikes. If they don’t, then we may need Iranian strikes.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to this warning, arguing that air strikes would be “a complete and total act of irresponsibility.”
With ISIS’ use of guerrilla warfare tactics, including militants living among civilians, it would be incredibly difficult to launch air strikes targeted at ISIS without risking the lives of innocent civilians.
What can average U.S. citizens do about this?
Robert Gates, former head of the Pentagon and former Secretary of Defense, has repeatedly argued that the U.S. can’t win today’s national security challenges with force and military strength alone. Weary of “creeping militarization,” Gates reminds U.S. citizens to “never forget that our nation remains a beacon of light for those in dark places. And that our responsibilities to the world to freedom, to liberty, to the oppressed everywhere are not a burden on the people or the soul of this nation. They are, rather, a blessing.”
One major way for U.S. constituents to enact this change is to support the International Affairs Budget by contacting your local Congressmen and women. The International Affairs Budget, only making up about 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, establishes humanitarian, economic and diplomatic initiatives in areas of crisis, like Iraq and Syria. In the past three years alone, the budget for these initiatives were cut by 20 percent, threatening hopes for future stability in these tumultuous areas abroad. To contact your representatives about this issue, email here. For further information about the International Affairs Budget, click here.
– Blythe Riggan