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Military intervention against ISIS is working

Submitted by Scott Foster on March 16, 2016 – 4:20 pmNo Comment

A special debate in the field of U.S. foreign policy has been raging for many years through several presidential administrations: under what circumstances should our country use military intervention to further its security aims? In today’s environment where many different types of “terrorist” organizations exist, what criteria should be used in determining our policies? The answer to these questions largely determine the stance I decided to take on what should be done about the particular organization in question for this discussion: ISIS, or, the Islamic State.

The reason I favor military action against ISIS is because the organization’s deeds and beliefs meet the two criteria I see as crucial in determining whether we as a society decide to resort to violence. The first criterion involves whether or not the opposing country or terrorist organization can be classified as a “proven threat” to the safety and security of the United States, our allies, or their citizens abroad. By “proven threat” I mean that the country or organization has published a clear intent to initiate acts of violence or has already demonstrated their willingness to engage in them. It would seem reasonably safe to say that both of these are true in the case of ISIS, for their horrific exploits and threats have made worldwide news for many months.

The second test I apply has to do with the balance between the potential gains and losses to the country both during and after the proposed military action. In the case of Iraq, for example, our country spent much needed resources (in addition to the price paid in damaged bodies and psyches) for a very small return on that investment. Even if Sadaam Hussein had developed WMDs (the main reason we supposedly invaded), this technology was, at best, a relatively crude and unsophisticated type of weapon system that had never been used against an allied country and posed almost no threat to the United States. The price of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, however, were staggering to say the least. The Iraq war cost the U.S. between 1.7 and 2 trillion dollars in immediate costs, and much more importantly, lead to almost 4,500 casualties. This is a premier example of what happens when a cost analysis of any proposed military intervention is not thoroughly prepared and rigorously analyzed.

The way we have dealt with ISIS, however, has been reasonably successful so far. The United States responded to a clear and present threat to the safety of American citizens and those of our allies around the world. The response has also been a measured one…we have not committed large amounts of ground troops yet, but we have succeeded in significantly weakening ISIS. This month, a study was published authored by expert defense analysts at IHS Janes looking at the progress of the Islamic State. The study found that ISIS had lost nearly a quarter of its territory in the last fifteen months, that the direct attacks on the oil production of ISIS was choking off its funding, and that the perception of its leadership may be eroding. Yet, the United States has not borne an enormous cost in treasure or blood to get these results, and has had what costs there are involved with the attacks lessened by the cooperation of allies like Great Britain. Military intervention works if it is used only against a clear threat, when our military has a clear mission, and when the correct amount of force is utilized to accomplish the mission…one that has been thoroughly analyzed and found to be absolutely necessary and cost efficient in dollars and blood.


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