How Should the United States Combat ISIS?

Article by Krista Melville

For the past year, the United States has been in a proxy war, a war instigated by a major power that does not itself become involved,  with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also sometimes referred to as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant. This Islamic extremist terrorist group has been crusading through the Middle East and taking control of many of the countries it has passed through.

Photo by Thierry Ehrmann
Photo Credit: Thierry Ehrmann

The countries that the group has been invading include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. ISIS has made it apparent that the United States is considered their enemy, and they have made direct threats on our country. They have taken citizens of the United States as prisoners and executed them in malicious and violent ways. The question our government must now confront is, how do we confront the threat that ISIS presents to our nation.


There really is no one answer to this question. Many people, usually strong conservatives, support destroying the whole area ISIS had invaded while others, usually liberals, propose that we stay out of it completely, but it is impossible to do either of those.  There are many reasons as to why the United States must be involved. The U.S. relies on oil, and the Middle East produces 66% of the world’s oil. We rely so heavily on oil, that it interferes with our international conquests. The U.S. government could never let a terrorist control the oil fields in the Middle East. I believe that this has a lot to do with prices, but it also likely has to do with keeping the U.S. as a world superpower.


Aside from oil, it is also necessary to pick up arms against ISIS so that the American people do not feel that ISIS is a serious threat to the American way of life. There are also many reasons as to why the United States cannot completely destroy the area. The main–and most important–reason is that there are too many civilians and it would be an atrocity for the U.S. military to wipe them all out. If America blew up the whole region, I would say we could easily be compared to Hitler as we would exterminate a huge number of Arabs.


The United States has been forced to intervene in the ISIS situation not only due to threats against the U.S., but I believe this is also due to the fact that the U.S. government can not allow ISIS to gain control of resources such as oil, although U.S. officials are hesitant to acknowledge this. The United States is utilizing a variety of ways to protect its citizens such as funding rebel groups like the ones in Syria, using photos and videos to identify areas where ISIS is located and cutting off supplies to the areas they have invaded. One of the most innovative tactics, however, is using social media posts from known ISIS members to locate their forces.


In June of 2015, U.S. security forces located and bombed an ISIS stronghold simply by scanning social media. An ISIS member posted a selfie to Twitter, which ended up being a fatal mistake. The United States military used the Twitter post to track and locate the ISIS base. They then proceeded to order airstrikes on the site.


Drones have also played an important part in the war against ISIS. They are able to get surveillance on areas that are too dangerous to send our own soldiers into and allow the United States to accurately attack places without putting troops at risk.


Air attacks also require little manpower since all that is needed are people to fly the planes. They can also be done at less risky times, such as in the night, in order to assure better safety for the soldiers in the planes. With the right technology, air strikes can be very accurate.


The major problem with these strikes is that no matter what type of technology they have on the aircraft, the pilot cannot tell if the people inside or around the building are militants or innocent civilians. Misinformation in these situations could lead to the death of innocent people. Many human rights activists argue that before we use military tactics, such as drone strikes, operators should be confident that their targets are not civilians and are indeed terrorists. This is a valid point, but waiting too long could give ISIS militants an opportunity to move and gain an even stronger hold on the Middle East, and it could become a hold that outside forces are no longer able to combat.


There have been several reports of United States ordered air strikes that have killed U.S. hostages and a large number of innocent civilians in the Middle East. These events have created a large uproar in certain groups of Americans, mostly those who oppose U.S. presence in the Middle East. Any innocent life lost in the war on terrorism, or any war for that matter, is a life to grieve over, but the reality of the situation is that in order to ensure the safety of United State’s citizens and a large majority of citizens all over the world, there will be civilian casualties just like in any other major war this world has seen.

Photo Credit: MOHAMMED AL-KHATIEB/AFP/Getty Images

Many activists around the world point out that America and other powers in the Middle East do not put enough value on the lives of those civilians killed by our weaponry.This point does make a lot of sense, but if the tables were turned and the war was on American soil, wouldn’t the American citizens want other countries to be considerate of their lives? The likely answer to that question is yes, we would want them to watch where they drop their bombs.
Even though defense and attack tactics are always progressing with the help of technology, the war with ISIS rages on and the United States continue to develop new technological innovations to track down members of ISIS. Hopefully one day all of our men and women in the armed forces can come home for good, knowing that ISIS is no more, and the United States and the rest of the world can be safe from terrorism.


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