It may be hard to imagine now, as we reel over the wreckage of another dark day in Europe. But a world without ISIS means more security and prosperity for people around the world.
Last week a tremendous decision was made in Washington, D.C. – one for which people of faith around the world have been praying for quite some time.
After continued pressure from the U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of State John Kerry has finally recognized that the Islamic State’s actions against Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims is tantamount to genocide. The House of Representatives was simply the last in a long string of pleas from many groups including NGOs, churches, and media outlets for the U.S. government to call the ongoing slaughter, enslavement, or displacement of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria exactly what it is.
This declaration is crucial not only in the fight for the rights of religious minorities in the region, but also in the ongoing struggle to defeat ISIS itself. Just this week, ISIS fighters killed 31 civilians and wounded 270 more in a ferocious bombing of air and metro transport sites in Brussels, Belgium. This attack comes on the heels of the capture of the last known suspect in the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, who helped plan the killing of more than 100 civilians in the November massacre, and follows vicious attacks by other terrorist groups in Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Ivory Coast. And ISIS has promised even more carnage, vowing to send 400 trained fighters across European cities in a new wave of violence.
With the declaration of genocide, it’s time for the United States to stop playing games with regards to its military strategy against ISIS. Cultural defiance and vows to push for peace do not cause the violence of a large, wealthy, and well-organized group of extremists to cower.
Moreover, unlike when Al-Qaeda or Hamas were the main militants, ISIS’s claims to be a new caliphate present a unique opportunity for halting the tide of militants continually rushing to join their ranks. Dealing a decisive military blow to ISIS on their home territory not only decimates their hub of influence and operations, it also de-legitimizes their apocalyptic ideology, which they believe guarantees the return of the Mahdi following a massive ground war with 82 nations.
A US-led ground campaign has easy military superiority over ISIS and can deal a decisive blow that will drastically shrink their global reach. No, the war on terror won’t be over, then, as there will also be extremists to counter through education, diplomacy, or military action. But the threat will be greatly reduced.
What would a world without ISIS look like?
It may be hard to imagine now, as we reel over the wreckage of another dark day in Europe. But a world without ISIS means more security and prosperity for people around the world. For religious minorities in the crosshairs of the Islamic State, the disappearance of this threat to their daily lives means a return to freedom of worship, a return to life without slavery, torture, and the targeting of loved ones and friends, and a return to dearly missed homelands.
Not only that, but the defeat of ISIS means a return to security and prosperity for targeted countries, countries such as France and Belgium where ordinary civilians have been subjected to extreme violence or daily anxiety.
The U.S. State Department’s acknowledgement of genocide is the first step towards implementing decisive action to crush the threat of the Islamic State once and for all. President Obama would do well to consider that he has a golden opportunity to secure the rights and freedoms of Christians, Muslims, and many other worshipers around the world.
Let’s hope he seizes it while he has the chance.