As sparks continue to fly in the wake of the attacks on Paris, the nation is torn on how to respond. The situation with the Islamic State looks grimmer than ever, but President Obama is holding fast to his current policies. The administration has approached the situation in Syria through intelligence dissemination and airstrikes, an approach about which American citizens are increasingly uncertain.
With the world reeling from the shock of the attack, this uncertainty is not without cause. In the global community, France, aided by US intelligence, swiftly conducted airstrikes against ISIL only a few days after the attacks happened. France has reached out utilizing the legislation of the European Union to garner support from the other European nations, who have unanimously pledged their support, although not they have not resolved to exert military force. French President Hollande is in the process of urging President Obama to greater urgency in the campaign against ISIL because of the problems posed not only by the threat of terror, but also by the refugee problem the Syrian crisis is creating. The threat of terror has escalated over the past month, with 21 terrorist attacks occurring globally since Nov. 1st. According to UN estimates, over 6.5 million refugees have been displaced, and stats from the New York Times put the number of dead over 200,000. It is likely that even more have been killed since access to information in ISIL controlled territory is limited.
The question is not whether or not something needs to be done, but how it should been done. During a press conference in Turkey three days after the attacks in Paris, President Obama urged the public to have faith in his current policy of intervening in the situation through providing training and munitions to Syrian rebels in order to fight the Islamic State in conjunction with an air campaign against ISIL targets, insisting that this policy is working, and will suffice to resolve this conflict.
Meanwhile, Presidential candidate Jeb Bush criticizes the current approach, “America has had enough of empty words, of declarations detached from reality of an administration with no strategy or no intention of victory,” he says, “ The United States – in conjunction with our Nato allies and more Arab partners – will need to increase our presence on the ground,”
Opponents of a ground offensive against ISIL fear repeating history with the invasion of Iraq. John Kerry voices this opinion in the following, “Most people don’t think that another invasion by Americans in yet another Muslim country in which the local citizens are not prepared to fight back and hold the land that you then gain makes a lot of sense, which is why our strategy – and there is a strategy and it is clear and it’s working, not as fast as anybody would like, but working.”
Time is not something that Europe can afford. President Hollande explains this concern in the following, “It’s the foreign fighters but it’s also the migrants crisis which is dividing the Europeans, destabilising the continent, so we have to act quickly, telling the US administration the core interests of the Europeans, your best allies, are at stake.”
The delicate balance between prudence and the urgent need for decisive action contribute to what is already unfolding as complicated situation. In the following months many questions remain. If France eventually declares war on ISIL and invokes Article Five of the NATO alliance, all of NATO will be required to declare war on ISIL. The only thing certain about the future is that the world is changing.
“War cannot be avoided, only postponed.” -Niccolò Machiavelli