ISIS’ recent attacks raise Americans’ concerns

Pierce Godwin

The idea that “America is the greatest country in the world” holds true to most Americans. However, people are starting to wonder whether this statement still stands. According to a poll on Gallup’s website for the week of Sept. 12, President Barack Obama has an approval rating of 41 percent and Congress holds a 13 percent approval rating.
A poll held by NBC and The Wall Street Journal showed that 61 percent of Americans believe that taking military actions against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is in our nation’s best interest.
An article by CNN last week stated that ISIS has quickly become one of the largest and most feared terror organizations. The group is responsible for the deaths of two American journalists, a British aide, and many of the citizens whom it claims to be representing and defending.
Many Americans are disappointed by Obama’s foreign policy regarding the issue. Since the beginning of 2012, an American Embassy has been bombed, an American ambassador to Libya was killed in a 13-hour standoff, and a U.S. soldier who was held hostage was traded for five known terrorists.
People are questioning the current administration’s actions, wondering whether it has been slow to react to ISIS or has chosen to take a go-slow approach. I believe both.
In my opinion, the Obama administration definitely underestimated the size and ability of the terrorist group, but has postponed attacking it so ISIS’ potential as a legitimate terror group could be fully analyzed. In an interview earlier this month on “Meet the Press,” Obama said that we are dealing with a “junior varsity” team. However, according to military intelligence, ISIS has more than 30,000 members.
While Obama’s final term is heading into its second half with his lowest approval rating since taking office, many people are wondering whether this conflict can be resolved before the next administration. Simply put, I do not think so.
Since President Ronald Reagan, every president has issued a statement of conflict in the Middle East: Reagan demanded an end to the Iran hostage crisis, George H.W. Bush announced the start of the Gulf War to stop Saddam Hussein’s human rights violations, Bill Clinton sent troops to Afghanistan and Sudan because Osama bin Laden posed an imminent threat to the United States, and George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” after the Sept. 11 attacks.
As in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, ISIS is trying to mask its actions behind its religion, but it is nothing more than politics. The 9/11 attack was politically motivated: Al-Qaida targeted the World Trade Center, a symbol of economic freedom, and the Pentagon, a symbol of military strength, and it is speculated that the last plane, which crashed into a field, was headed for the White House, a symbol of democracy. The attacks targeted neither churches nor temples.
In today’s world, the United States must maintain a presence in the Middle East. After World War II, the United States established military bases in Germany and Japan, which are still in use today. I believe this is the reason we should continue to have a presence in the Middle East. President George W. Bush warned the nation in 2007 that removing our presence in Iraq would result in mass killings on a horrific scale, and terrorist groups would use Iraq as a safe haven to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.
Terrorist organizations are not new. Terrorist attacks occurring on our soil are always a possibility. Most Americans know that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks, but do not know that he was also behind an attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.
The History Channel’s documentary “The World Trade Center” recaps the bombing of the North Tower. On Feb. 26, 1993, a truck loaded with a bomb drove into the underground parking garage. Once exploded, it killed six, injured at least 1,000, and caused over $500 million in damage. The mastermind behind the attack, Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, was a follower of bin Laden. In a 1997 interview, bin Laden denied knowing Yousef; however, he admitted that he knew his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mohammed was also one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks.
At this point, the United States needs to consider re-establishing a presence in Iraq. Obama’s plan to withdraw troops from Iraq was one of good merit, but the circumstances have changed. This is no longer an issue of administrative policy, but one of protection of the people whom the government serves.
America used to stand for strength, and I believe that we still do. The issue is that we focus more on playing politics and less on taking the appropriate steps. America has started a new airstrike campaign in Iraq, but many are questioning whether that is enough.
ISIS is reported to bring in more than $30 million a month on black market oil sales. This kind of funding makes ISIS a significant group. To be effective, the U.S. should consider strategic attacks that would harm ISIS financially, before it is too late.

Pierce Godwin is a junior multimedia journalism major from Montgomery.

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