Over the past week, there has been extensive media coverage of Muslim terrorist group ISIS killing an American journalist, James Foley. Foley was abducted in Syria late in 2012. Foley’s mother, Diane, said that she had never been prouder of her son, and that he died trying to expose to the world the suffering of the Syrian people. ISIS had said they would release him, if a ransom of millions upon millions of dollars was paid. It wasn’t; his parents didn’t have it, and they certainly weren’t going to get it from the government. There is another American in the video of Foley’s beheading, another journalist, and ISIS members say that he could be killed too, depending on what Obama’s actions in Iraq will be in the future. ISIS wants the U.S. out of Iraq, permanently, and out of Syria, and basically out of the Middle East, period. Pundits have weighed in on every aspect of this issue. Some want ransoms to be paid by the government, to free journalists and American citizens that get themselves captured, like Foley did. There are some who agree with the terrorists, that U.S. troops should just stay out of the Middle East going forward, that it’s none of our business. There are some, mostly on the right, that want us to send a significant contingent of ground troops right back into Iraq again, to try and quell ISIS, which seems to be gaining ground financially and has a lot of support in some regions, ideologically. There’s many ways of looking at all of this. It’s complicated, but here’s how I see it, more or less.
First off, what happened to Foley was tragic, but he knew the risks of being a journalist and going to a war-torn, unstable part of the world, like Syria. He couldn’t be surprised when he was captured, and, unfortunately, beheaded. And the U.S. government couldn’t have paid the ransom. There’s a reason we don’t negotiate with terrorists. It’s because if we give them money, we further their goals worldwide, and also, it will only encourage them to kidnap more Americans, with more ransom demands in mind. That’s bad news for journalists like Foley, but again, he knew the risks. That might sound callous, but that’s just reality.
As far as how much America should be involved in Syria, and Iraq, and Iran, etc, it pretty much goes back to what I’ve said on the site before. These parts of the world have been subjected to bloody conflict and tribalism for thousands of years, and no amount of involvement, directly or indirectly, by the U.S is ever going to change that. We can go into Iraq, in, out, in, out, and no matter how many times we try to “fix” the situation, the area is just going to destabilize as soon as we leave. We can overthrow one dictator, and another is going to step in and take his place. Slaughter is going to continue as long as religious fundamentalism as a part of that world…and let’s face it, that’s pretty much what that part of the world is known for. I’ve spoken before about the people of the Middle East living in the past, holding onto concepts that seem so stupid and outdated to the Western World that it seems almost funny, how far apart the two societies are. But there’s nothing funny about genocide; there’s nothing funny about the atrocities that are committed against religious minorities, women, homosexuals, etc, etc. All I can say is, if you live in that part of the world, leave. Any way that you can, as quickly as you can. Come to the West, because we’re not perfect, but we’re doing way better than most of the rest of the world. If you’re a journalist, stay away. Don’t be like Foley. Or, if you’re a do-gooder, and you just can’t resist reporting the facts in unstable parts of the world, you’d better be ready to accept the consequences. You’d better be ready to pay with your life for your audacity. And as far as U.S. involvement in the region, we need to stay out, unless it’s patently obvious we have literally no other choice. Because no matter how many times we go in, it’s not going to make much difference in the long term. We can’t make these people stop killing each other for their dumb-ass beliefs. That might not be a popular thing to say, but that’s how I see it. Bottom line: there’s ways we wish the world was, and there’s the way the world really is. And in the Middle East, it’s a bad world. Not much to like about it at all.