There’s a nice article at the guardian on Republican presidential candidates’ ideas on how to fight ISIS: “Anti-Isis proposals floated at Republican debate would likely be war crimes”.
Senator Ted Cruz proposed carpet bombing ISIS troops wherever they are. Later he amended that suggestion to exclude carpet bombing a city. But I think the article’s assessment of his strategy is correct:
“Because Isis largely embeds in cities with the civilian population that it claims to rule, Cruz’s plan would by definition entail wholesale bombing of places where hundreds of thousands of people – many the victims of Isis crimes themselves – live.”
You can’t bomb ISIS out of existence. They do not have a discrete army in a relatively isolated location. Cruz’ bombing plan is immoral because of the massive civilian casualties that can be reasonably anticipated, and the low likelihood that ISIS would actually be defeated in this way.
Presidential Candidate Donald Trump proposed a different strategy, which is also immoral. He suggested killing their family members. As a direct targeting of innocent civilians, this plan is a type of murder. It is not moral, regardless of the intended end, to directly target innocent civilians in warfare. And the idea that this type of killing would somehow deter ISIS from its attacks is absurd. If you kill the family members of terrorists, then they have an additional motivation to continue their attacks.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson made perplexing comments in the recent debate, seeming to indicate approval for massive civilian casualties, as long as ISIS were defeated:
Asked by the moderator whether he was “OK with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians”, Carson replied: “You got it. You got it.”
Again, such a strategy is gravely immoral. Directly targeting innocent civilians is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. Directly targeting only enemy combatants, in a just war, is not intrinsically evil, but it would still be gravely immoral if the reasonably anticipated deaths of innocents gravely outweighs any reasonably anticipated good consequences. Given that this type of bombing would not be likely to stop ISIS, the deaths of so many innocents makes the act gravely immoral.
Jeb Bush’s plan for fighting ISIS is to ramp up our military attacks, including possible use of ground troops. While there is nothing specifically immoral in his plan to use the military to target enemy combatants, I do not believe that we can defeat ISIS with military force. It would be too difficult to use bombing campaigns, since civilian casualties would be excessive, resulting in few viable targets. And there is no way that we could put enough troops in the region to make a difference.
But there is another reason ISIS cannot be defeated by bombing or troops on the ground. They recruit from the Islamic population based on the extremist idea that Islam is destined by God to conquer the whole world, making the entire planet into one large Islamic State. That is why they call themselves “the Islamic State” and not “the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. This idea that the whole world should be forced to convert to Islam (to the extremist version of Islam, of course), is very attractive to many Muslims. So ISIS has no difficulty recruiting new soldiers to continue their atrocities.
The parallels between ISIS and the Nazis of World War 2 is striking. The Nazis recruited supporters on the basis of their claim to be a master race, which was destined to conquer and rule the world. ISIS has the same approach: tell people that they are better than everyone else, due to their religion (or in the case of Nazism their race), and promise them a great deal of power. In a narcissistic sinful world, this offer is effective in finding many willing new recruits.
So we are not merely fighting the military attacks of ISIS, but we are also fighting their ideology. The suggestion that if we throw enough bullets and bombs at ISIS, they will disappear is foolish. And it has been disproved by history. Recall that the U.S. approach to the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia was to use increasing amounts of force: more bombings and more soldiers. Yet this approach failed, despite the limited military capabilities of our opponents. And now sinful politicians are making the same mistake all over again.
World War 3 is approaching fast. ISIS will continue to gain territory. Iran will obtain nuclear weapons. Hassan Rouhani will be Supreme Leader and President of Iran at the same time. ISIS and Iran will make a pact to join together against the West. Next, they will quickly conquer all of the Arab/Muslim nations of the Middle East and northern Africa. Once united as one group of nations, they will undertake World War 3 against the U.S. and Europe.
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