According to a new online survey conducted by AlJazeera.net, 81% of the channel’s fans support the army of terrorists known as the Islamic State. Of the 38,000+ responses to the poll, only 19% voted NO when asked whether or not they approved of ISIS’ deathmarch through Iraq and Syria. The Arabic-language channel is watched largely by Sunni Muslims in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries. Those familiar with the network may not be surprised to see so many of its viewers respond this way. Al Jazeera has long been accused of supporting Sunni terrorists with their journalism, if not with actual funds.
While it would be a mistake to put too much emphasis on an online poll, this does go to show that there is a strong wellspring of support for the Islamic State. It would be a bigger mistake to underestimate the degree to which this savage group has captured the hearts and minds of young Muslims. What is obviously evil to us is seen as righteous rebellion to many. People are drawn to strength, and ISIS has been thumbing its nose at the United States for more than a year now.
Obama’s plan thus far has been to minimize them. He has acknowledged the “JV squad” mistake, but his speeches make it seem as though he still views them through that naive lens. He positions them as losers, as if trying to psych them out with trash talk. They aren’t listening. Their supporters aren’t listening. These speeches only give Americans the impression that these guys are no big deal. And maybe that’s the real point. Obama doesn’t want to wake up one morning and find the American people ready for war. He wants to finish out his presidency by living up to the Nobel Peace Prize he was unjustly awarded in 2008.
But we do not have peace now, even if our troops are not “on the ground.” The air campaign against ISIS has had its successes – more than 12,000 Islamic State fighters have been killed in the strikes. But it didn’t keep ISIS from capturing Ramadi, and it has not been enough to drive them from their headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. There, civilians have grown so used to the ISIS presence that they go to and from their headquarters for services, treating them just as they would any local government. And because there are standing orders that place the safety of the citizens above all else, the U.S. is often powerless to strike ISIS’ most attractive targets.
In the meantime, they are growing. They are gaining support. For every fighter we kill, two more come in to take their place. It is of course honorable and wise to limit civilian casualties, but how many people are we condemning to death by allowing this to continue? We need to decide whether we are going to let ISIS take Iraq or not. If not, it’s time for a plan. A real plan without restrictions. To get to that plan, we need a president who is willing to make the tough call.
And that…that’s something we just don’t have.