On September 2, 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video that displayed the beheading of American freelance journalist, Steven Sotloff. In this video, the ISIS representative directs a statement towards Obama and claims that as long as the United States continues with airstrikes in Iraq, ISIS will continue to kill Western hostages. The phrase, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” seems fitting.
A few days after the release of this video, President Obama announced his six-point plan to defeat ISIS. However, his plan does not insinuate that the United States is going to remove military presence from Iraq, like ISIS requested. In fact, his plan amps up the military presence by equipping Syrian rebels and Iraqi soldiers, bombing Iraq and Syria, and gaining help from international allies. Fight fire with fire, right? Let the “best man” win, right? No, it’s not that simple because ISIS has a wild card, the Western hostages. ISIS continues to threaten the lives of these hostages. Is it possible that these threats are just that, threats? Considering that ISIS has already publicly beheaded three Western hostages, James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines, these threats are real and should be taken seriously.
Foley and Sotloff were American freelance journalist who were held hostage for over a year. In Sotloff’s beheading video, ISIS explicitly blames the death of Sotloff on the United States military involvement in Iraq and claims that until this involvement is terminated, more Western hostages will continue to die. Is it really this simple? Withdraw military involvement and the hostages will be saved? President Obama does not believe so because he configured the six-point plan to defeat ISIS. Therefore, ISIS retaliates in the exact manner they warned they would, by beheading the next threatened Western hostage, David Haines. Haines was a British aid worker and ISIS beheaded him to “send a message to the allies of America”. He is the third to be killed by ISIS and may not be the last.
The situation is a catch-22. How do we stop these beheading and death threats without military involvement in Iraq, knowing ISIS cannot be defeated without intervention? Even if we comply with their demands and pull military involvement to save the hostages, who is to say they won’t continue their attacks on Western lives?