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The Greyhound

How the United States should handle ISIS after the Paris attacks


If we must act, then we must act. This writer does not pretend to have any particular insight into the intricacies of geopolitical diplomacy or posturing, nor experience in military policy or tactics. But what this writer does know is that there is an enemy of America out there — an enemy who has already proved capable of international terrorism. If this enemy is to be defeated, the U.S. must be at the vanguard of the attack. It is not our choice, but our responsibility.

I do not presume to know what the correct response is to the Paris terrorist attacks committed by ISIS. Many will argue as to whether airstrikes should be increased, ground troops should be deployed, or if an entirely new approach needs to be taken. This college senior possesses neither the knowledge nor the experience to determine if any or none of these options should be our projected course of action. But it does not take decades of military or political service to determine that no matter what the West’s response is to the enemy we definitively face in Syria, the U.S. must stand at the vanguard.

For better or for worse, there is no country in the world that is more equipped, more funded, and, fortunately or unfortunately, more experienced, than the U.S. is in dealing with modern international terrorism based in the Middle East. Regardless of what the finalized strategy for defeating ISIS becomes, the U.S. must be at the front of the solution, not passively assenting. Whether the strategy be more military based, as is likely, but even more diplomatic, the U.S. needs to be directly involved in whatever process we decide to undertake to defeat ISIS.

This is not to say that other countries, as we have been reminded, have not faced and endured the suffering of this brand of terrorism, nor is it to say that they themselves have not been a vital part of curbing it in the past. But as much power and rallied motivation as these fellow nations possess, it still does not measure up to what the U.S. is capable of.

After World War II, the U.S. assumed the responsibility as the protector of the values of the West: democracy, free speech, and the like. It is quite clear that there is an enemy that is actively seeking to disrupt, and if given the opportunity, destroy all such aspects of our society. It is true, that in our time as defenders of such liberties, we have suppressed them in other countries when we believed such nations might fall to the ideologies of our enemies. But those experiences must give us context and perspective for our next move, not preclude us from making one.

The arguments against military involvement largely stem from our concern over being dragged into yet another conflict in the region, ultimately resulting in the loss of more American lives, and the sense that things will never change. I can sympathize, and even agree, with these concerns. But our past experiences should inform our decisions, not make them for us. If we must bomb, then we bomb. If we arm, then we arm. And if it is decided, which may still seem unlikely, but nevertheless, that the only way to stop ISIS is to deploy our own troops, then our previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should provide vital perspective, but should not prevent us from engaging. We do not always get to choose whenever we fight. That means that sometimes we may have to fight, even if we are more than rightfully war weary. If that is determined to be the case, then we cannot be afraid to engage, in spite of our fears.

We often refer to ourselves as the “greatest country in the world,” and while the rest of the world may disagree considerably, there is no doubt that we are the most militarily advanced nations in the world, that we are still the world’s only remaining “superpower.” When an enemy such as ISIS has gained such an advantage that they can launch direct attacks at the West, there is no reason why anything short of our absolute best should be at the vanguard to defeat them. We can argue over what should have been done in the past, and consider what unintended consequences our actions may cause, but we have no choice now, but to face this enemy head on. To defeat our enemy, this world will need a superpower response, be it military or diplomatic.

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How the United States should handle ISIS after the Paris attacks