The other night, I waited, listening to a slew of political analysts hype up the Presidential Address, speculating on what exactly President Obama was going to say, what exactly the strategy is going to be against ISIL, in both Iraq and Syria. At long last, Obama appeared, patriotic backdrop in place, and he said his piece. For exactly fifteen minutes.
“That’s it?” My friend asked. “That’s it, fifteen minutes, on the dot.” I responded. And honestly, her question echoed the same sentiment I was feeling about the address. That’s it?
Understandably, the commander-in-chief cannot provide the exact strategy on internationally broadcasted television against what is being currently touted as freedom’s greatest threat. I appreciate that Obama emphasized that the violence and terror that ISIL is responsible for does not represent the religion of Islam, because many people in our great nation seem to have difficulty grasping that concept. ISIL is a terrorist organization with an end goal to reestablish the Islamic caliphate of the mid-1500s. They are not a sovereign state, nor do they represent the religion of Islam.
But as he spoke, I felt like I was being placated, being told that only 475 soldiers would be sent to the Middle East to fulfill support positions only, that we would only do airstrikes, that we would not be pulled back into another long, dirty war in the Middle East. But will we be?
Claims are being made that that ISIL will be at the very least, a five-year problem. Understandably, Obama is pacifying the same public and the Congress that screamed bloody murder when intervening in Syria during the August of 2012 was a possibility. But for some reason, this feels very different from Syria; even some fellow Democrats expressed a wish that Obama had been a bit more hardline in his speech.
The very public, brutal executions of two American journalists, the executions and displacement of countless other victims of ISIL in the Middle East, Muslim and Christians alike, are beginning to cause a significant amount of discomfort, making ISIL a group we can no longer sweep under the rug. It’s a little early to tell, but shouldn’t we want to do more?
“America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia — from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East — we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity.”
These are words that are inspiring, patriotic, but seem sentimental. Do we, the people of the United States of America, actually still welcome our responsibility to lead; do we as citizens still accept the “enduring burdens” that come alongside the “endless blessings”?
Yes, we are trillions of dollars in debt. Yes, we have significant social welfare issues that are being further stagnated by a childish Congress. Yes, we have problems to deal with, a lot of them. But honestly, what else did we expect? None of the issues we have as a nation are going to be solved in the imminent future, nor will any of these issues erupt if we decided stop half-assing in regards to foreign policy and international aid.
The real question is; where do we go from here? There is more information to seek, but the United States is currently at a crossroads. ISIL has the potential to become a real problem in the future, and the public needs to decide what we want the history books to read. Will ISIL take up a whole book, or a mere paragraph?