According to the papers, ISIS – or ISIL or the Islamic State – has released another gruesome video, this one a full 55 minutes long showing various torture scenes and hostages being forced to dig their own graves.
What is ISIS trying to accomplish?
I suppose they might argue that they are carrying out the wrath of God against those who defile His commands. But the campaigns are too slick, too cruel, too obviously being directed by a master-mind with some specific goal in mind.
Are they trying to terrify local inhabitants into submission? I think that, although that is one of their goals, the videos would not feature the torture and beheadings of foreigners if they were targeted specifically at the local population.
So are they trying to use the anti-American feeling and resentment built up as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation? The U.S. certainly did not know what they were doing in Iraq, and often made things worse for millions of people than they were under Saddam Hussein. Nor did the U.S. manage to reduce the ethnic tensions that had built up between the various religious groups.
I think they are trying to accomplish something more than that. I suspect ISIS trying to goad the US and UK into sending military to join the ground fight – that are they reasoning that the presence of American and other Western troops will so alienate the people in Iran and Syria and other neighbouring countries that they will support ISIS instead.
I absolutely support President Obama’s attempt with John Kerry to bring together a real coalition of middle-eastern countries to join the fight against ISIS. Because if the people there are not determined to overthrow ISIS, in the long run, ISIS will win. For the same reason, I think it would be a dreadful mistake to send our own ground troops in. We are using air power to support those indigenous fighters already there. It’s got to be their fight this time, not that of the West. We can help. We can give support.
But we will only make things worse if we make it our war.