The recent theme in the media regarding the US’ handling of the Islamic State (ISIS) has been that President Obama hasn’t gone far enough. Politicians from both parties have echoed this sentiment as well.
“I think it’s time for him to say more and do more,” Jane Harman (D), a former House member from California, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich agreed with her the next day and told Blitzer the US needs to target ISIS in Syria, suggesting that the 124 airstrikes launched against them in Iraq aren’t enough.
Late last month, the FBI and Homeland Security said there “are no specific or credible terror threats to the US homeland from [ISIS},” according to the Washington Post. The New York Times also reported that Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the Defense Department didn’t think that ISIS had “the capability right now to conduct a major attack on the US homeland.”
But images of the brutal attacks on Iraqis and the graphic videos of journalists being killed have generated strong emotions similar to those after the 9/11 attacks. Two reporters who publicly supported the Iraq war, however, are urging for the US government to be more cautious with this fight.
Jeff Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, told the Huffington Post, “I feel the atmosphere today is, in some ways, similar to the atmosphere in 2003, when we thought there was less time to deal with Saddam [Hussein] than there was.”
Goldberg, who describes himself as “dispositionally interventionist,” told HuffPo, “We saw the consequences of an administration launching a war without a strategy in Iraq.” He added that, as a result of that war, it’s better for Obama to admit “he doesn’t have a strategy than to lie that he has a strategy when he does not.”
Tom Friedman, columnist for the New York Times and an Iraq war supporter, wrote on Tuesday that “we were in a hurry, myself included, to change things after 9/11, and when you’re in a hurry you ignore complexities that come back to haunt you later.”
“There are no words to describe the vileness of the video beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS,” Friedman wrote, “but I have no doubt that they’re meant to get us to overreact, a la 9/11, and rush of without a strategy. ISIS is awful, but it is not a threat to America’s homeland.”
After the mess that was made when Bush and Cheney pushed America into a war it wasn’t ready for, which cost millions of dollars and thousands of lives, taking the time to handle the ISIS situation properly is the best course of action. Maybe continuing the airstrikes will be effective, and maybe the US will need to send troops into Syria. Regardless of the actions the government decides to take with ISIS, getting it done right is more important than the knee-jerk, emotional response to get it done fast.