By Harold W. Pease
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks on the United States I came across an article that claimed that our intelligence community had found a document from AL-Qaeda arguing that Islamic war with the United States could be successful only by bringing us to them. The largely camel driven society could never win otherwise. As I recall it was called the “fly paper trap.” Once in their land they could bleed us gradually for many years in expensive, “no win” to us, wars. Destruction and death to them would feed recruitment needs as long as we were there. They would be fighting to keep their homeland free from us, everyone killed has brothers seeking vengeance who would join the team against us—doubling and tripling our enemies.
Whether this was intentionally the strategy initiated from the top or not, such has been precisely what happened. It is hard to argue that we won in Iraq when a third of the country is now under the control of ISIS and al-Qaeda is poised to return to Afghanistan after our 14-year presence there. We also left behind much weaponry to their benefit. We have been greatly diminished in “blood and treasure.”
Now it seems that we are invited—even enticed—to return. Even the most pacifists of us are enraged by two blood-splattered video portrayals of beheadings of U.S. journalist, tauntingly placed on the Internet to invite our return. First James Foley on August 19, then Steven Joel Sotoff in early September, presumably killed by the same guy with the British accent. After the second beheading the killer then knelt by his next potential victim, David Cawthorne Haines a British citizen, and indicated that other coalition countries with the United States would also be victims if the bombing of ISIS does not stop.
President Barack Obama, with the most intelligence available to him of any person on earth, appears caught off guard, indecisive, even unconcerned with respect to the Caliphate formed during his watch and under his nose by ISIS the last few months. He should have seen it coming. Vice President Joe Biden, minced no words. He said what the President should have said, and what the people needed to hear, after the second beheading, “They should know we will follow them to the Gates of Hell until they are brought to justice.” Still, the Democrats are not together on this one and rightfully so. This means reentering the Middle East in yet another no win war.
What is more horrifying is that only a year ago Republicans Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain advocated teaming up with ISIS (what they then called the rebels) to defeat Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. We were secretly providing them with arms. They were the good guys. Now al-Assad, the guy who gassed his own people, has invited the United States to assist him in getting rid of ISIS in Syria and we may become allies. Even now Presently Obama is considering bombing ISIS in Syria. Nothing could be more upside down. The Middle East is a crag mire, a trap full of quicksand, one giant Islamic family feud of which we can never benefit. Outside of supporting Israel we should not again be caught in the flytrap.
Here is what we should do. We must stop the national insulting beheading of our journalists but without a new war. By now our intelligence knows, or soon will, the name of the Islamic murderer. Let us very publicly offer a million dollars for proof of his demise. Raise this amount periodically, if need be, until even his friends will be tempted to remove him. In the meantime he becomes suspicious of even his closest comrades leading to contention from within. Nothing destroys the effectiveness of a group more than distrust. This also should discourage other would be heinous murders as we would do the same thing to them. If more is needed after this first step we can consider it then.
Give American Islamic groups, who have largely been strangely silent on this issue, an opportunity to show themselves equally horrified by this groups’ “convert or die” philosophy by encouraging them to speak out against and significantly help fund the amounts needed to remove those practicing violence in the name of their religion. This plan saves our “blood and treasure,” creates no new enemies and helps American Islamists show their support for freedom of all religions in this land.
Criminalize, then punish, any U.S. citizen funding or fighting for ISIS. Deny any foreign aid and/or trade preferences to countries supporting ISIS. Encourage free world countries to do the same with respect to their people. Isolate ISIS as we have North Korea. We have allowed ourselves to become the common enemy of the Islamic world. Without our physical presence there, they will return to fighting each other as they have for hundreds of years dissipating their own strength rather than ours.