Do 30,000+ radical extremist Islamic militants in the Middle East really pose a threat to the rest of the world? When it first began, did Hitler’s Nazi Party pose a threat to world peace when it first began? The answer to the latter nearly took the world to its knees before Germany fell. What do both of these movements have in common?
What we have here is a clash of ideologies. Although it has been reported that only slightly over 20% of the worlds one and a half billion Muslims are sympathetic to the ISIS cause, that number alone is astronomical.
Make no mistake, what is happening in the Middle East is a Holy War with immense implications to the rest of the world. The participants, mostly Sunni Muslims, of ISIS have declared war on their fellow Shia Muslims, Jews and Christians. In a matter of months, their ranks have grown to be in excess of 30,000 and they have established their Caliphate state by occupying portions of Iraq and Syria. Already their presence in other adjacent countries is being felt. This intense fervor comes not just from a desire to acquire territory, but an ideology of forcing their Muslim religion, under Sharia law, on those they conquer and kill those that don’t comply. It appears no one that comes under the control of ISIS is immune. Their brutality is shocking— from beheadings and torchings to mass killing of innocent children and selling of ‘donor’ organs on the black market. Convert to their form of the Muslim religion or die.
This is not so different from when Hitler’s Germany took control of Austria in March 1938 and then, with help of England and France, completed the take over of Czechoslovakia by March 1939. Using the harsh limitations put on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, Hitler’s pretext was Germany’s right to acquire land where German-speaking people lived (policy of lebensraum). But quickly, the takeover became more. Jews, from all parts of the German occupied territory, were rounded up and put in camps, then by the millions, worked to death or systematically exterminated in gas chambers, while the majority of German citizens either didn’t know or looked the other way at what was going on right under their noses. At the end of World War II, the world community promised this almost unimaginable brutality of ethnic cleansing would never be allowed to happen again. In the subcontinent of Africa alone, there are examples where history has proven that promise wrong on numerous occasions.
What seems different, about the participants of ISIS from Hitler’s Nazis, is their willingness to sacrifice their own lives for their ideology and their senseless brutality. A brutality, broadcast to the world community, that almost begs for reprisal. Either the ISIS terrorists feel the world community is so burned out from the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that they are unwilling to make the commitment to eradicate them. Or, they want to draw the opposing countries into a third World War— the flash-points being Israel and Iran developing a nuclear weapon.
The complicating problems are immense: The American public is burned out on getting into another war that results in ‘boots-on-the ground.’ They have accepted drone attacks on Al-Qaeda leaders and targeted bombings. But the ISIS confrontation is different— the terrorists are too spread out and more forces pour into their occupied territories daily. The efforts of the limited sorties flown by US forces, the response by Lebanon in retaliation when their captured pilot was burned to death and Egypt’s response when 21 of their citizens were beheaded in a mass execution, just because they were Christians, is clearly not enough to bring a halt to this expanding threat by ISIS. The President’s representatives have made it known that the US military has planned an invasion into the ISIS controlled territory to retake Mosul in April using using Iraqi troops. So, there is hope other, less public, plans to eradicate ISIS are in the works.
The United States has been the word’s policeman since the end of World War II. President Obama campaigned and won two elections on the promise he would extricate this country from Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, even though Obama claims to be a Christian, his Muslim background has shaped his beliefs that this movement is only by a small part of those that hold onto the Muslim faith. So, he is fundamentally torn with dealing with ISAS as a band of fanatical terrorists versus the religious fanatics that they really are. Although he recognizes the threat they pose, I feel he greatly underestimates their future capabilities if not stopped soon.
As ISIS advances its agenda of domination and destabilization across the Middle East, they have already set their eyes on Rome and, ultimately, Washington, D.C. Is this just wishful thinking by a band of ‘junior varsity’ terrorists, as President Obama compared them to in an interview with New Yorker magazine, released January 20, 2014? Close observers of their advances in taking large areas of Iraq and Syria and the brutality to those they capture, would probably disagree.
History has a way of repeating itself. Hopefully, the world leaders won’t keep looking the other way, until it’s too late!