Americans are war weary. While no one ever likes war, since network news brought the battles of Vietnam into homes on a nightly basis Americans have been more vocal about their opposition to engaging in battles that do not directly impact our soil. However, the battles of today are vastly different than at any time in our history. Today the war that is waged is not one of country against country where the participants are easily identified by uniform. The battles are not fought according to traditional military style, and civilian casualties are not limited “collateral damage.” Instead we are facing an enemy that sees all human beings as participants, all geographic locations as acceptable fields of battle, and death as a prize. In addition, this enemy has an uncanny ability to blend into their surroundings until that moment of truth when they are ready to pull the trigger, flip the switch or swing the blade.
The events that rocked Paris, and the watching world, Friday night were horrific. To date it has left 132 died, another 350 injured, thousands shaken and a city on lockdown. Unfortunately, this is not the only attack to have occurred in recent weeks. On Thursday, a mere 24 hours before the Paris attacks, two suicide bombers detonated themselves in a crowded marketplace in the southern end of Beirut. The blast killed 43 and injured more than 200. A third bomber was found dead among the carnage, but his explosives had not detonated indicating that it could have been much worse. Add to this list the fact that investigators are now saying that the Russian airliner that crashed in the Saini peninsula just over a week ago, killing all 224 people aboard, was in fact brought down by a bomb as an act of terror. Previous reports had already stated ISIS was taking responsibility for the downed aircraft, but no confirmation had been made. And if these events were not enough, in the last month alone there have been other lone wolf style attacks in Egypt and Yemen inspired by ISIS. None of these include the continued bloodshed in Syria, Iraq and the outlining areas where ISIS continues killing innocent people as it forges ahead with its caliphate.
Although these events have not taken place on American soil, they impact Americans. Be it through solidarity with our allies, sympathy for fellow human beings, empathy for having endured similar circumstances or a fear of what is next. Because the uncomfortable reality is that without a definitive response each new attack breeds emboldened behavior.
Shortly after the attacks in Paris it was reported that ISIS social media accounts were praising the attacks and stating that “The American blood is best, and we will taste it soon.” Despite America’s war weariness these fighters are closing in. According to Harleen Gambhir, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, the current goal of ISIS is “through these regional affiliates and through efforts to create chaos in the wider world, the organization will be able to expand, and perhaps incite a global apocalyptic war.”
France responded to that goal today by dropping 20 bombs on the heart of ISIS in its so called capital city of Raqqa, Syria. French President François Hollande had called the Friday attacks an “act of war” and promised that France would respond. How the US will respond to the continued threats remains to be seen. While President Obama has authorized airstrikes in the last few days, his goal has always been to end US military activities in the region. Meanwhile, GOP Presidential hopefuls have made it known that more needs to be done. Senator Marco Rubio went as far as to say “Key to the success of this is we’re going to have to conduct an increased number of special-operations attacks targeting ISIS leadership and revealing that they are not invincible. They are presenting themselves as this invincible force, and we need to cut off that narrative.” Perhaps France’s swift response will be a blow to ISIS, or perhaps it will only seek to strengthen their resolve. In the meantime while US officials say there are no credible threats against the US, ISIS’s own statements and stated goal appear to be a warning that they are out for blood, and they would love for that blood to be American.
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