by Dan Margalit
U.S. President Barack Obama found himself in an awkward position when he admitted to his nation and to the world that the United States had not yet come up with a strategy to fight the Islamic State group and offshoot terror organizations. But, really, we cannot scoff at him because it is a dilemma that is relatively new to us.
Usually, governments are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to exert military force to achieve goals outside their country's borders. But the Islamic State group problem is more complicated than that. It is not an enemy on a single front, as Saddam Hussein was, but a terrorist organization spread throughout the Middle East, and its human resources are picked from among the citizens of democratic countries, who migrated there from Islamic centers and instead of integrating, radicalized. Europe did not heed the warnings. Instead, it supported migrant rights organizations in favor of migration from Islamic countries, and it is now paying the price.
The radical Islamic world, with groups ranging from Hamas to the Islamic State group, is testing the core principles that democracies swore by until they were challenged in Europe and in the Middle East. These democracies are facing three dilemmas:
1. The United States and its allies, and of course moderate Arab countries, do not want to use ground forces, so they have no choice but to mount a forceful and continuous aerial campaign, otherwise known as "carpet bombing."
What is carpet bombing? The fate of the German city of Dresden during World War II. Not that these terrorist organizations are settled in cities, and the rate of fatalities would be much lower than in 1945. But if Obama wants not just to act but also to win, to defeat and to eradicate without using ground forces, there is no other way. That is, turning a blind eye to the modern international laws of war. No "knock on the roof" policy and no legal expert for each pilot. This is not easy. Every democracy has its own Gideon Levy, who benefits from having his life defended and then condemns the defenders. This is the dilemma, and Obama, who wants to use only airstrikes (and minimal, pinpointed commando operations), needs to decide if he is going to unilaterally change the rules.
2. The United States has to consider joining up with the "Little Satan." In this case, that is Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom Obama shortsightedly did not help overthrow when the rebels were secular and reasonable, and even then he did not make an effort to destroy the chemical weapons store until the last minute. And yet, Assad is now seen as the lesser evil. To join or not to join? A coalition cannot limit the war on Islamic extremism to Iraq alone. It would eventually get to Syria too. Everyone knows that.
3. Democracy in the West will be forced to downscale individual and civil rights. Islamic Shariah police rooting out alcohol in German nightclubs? Those who do not prohibit this kind of thing unless violence is involved will be forced to prohibit it when bombs are being planted. Innocent until proven guilty? If Europe wants to survive, it will carry out administrative detentions against citizens who are the children of immigrants.
Then, when the madness known as the Islamic State group passes, enlightened democracy will never be seen in the same way again.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.