Dr. Boozman's Check-up

One only needs to turn on the news and see the barbaric acts committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) to understand that there are people who still want to destroy our freedoms, attack our way of life and cause harm to Americans both here and abroad.

After claiming large swaths of land in Syria, ISIL began a gruesome march toward Mosul, Iraq, executing Christians and religious minorities, displacing thousands, and forcing people to convert to Islam. Along the way, the group sought to eliminate all whom it deems as “non-believers,” by carrying out mass murder of religious minorities in extremely gruesome and vicious ways—including beheadings and crucifixions. The group is continuing its campaign of violence, harassment, and intimidation as it pushes toward Kurdish territory and, its ultimate goal in Iraq-- Baghdad. 

The President—while slow to acknowledge the size, strength and extent of the threat ISIL poses—is correct that we need to take and lead action against this extremist group. That action must be strong and it must be direct. The limited airstrikes conducted in Iraq thus far appear to have slowed ISIL’s progress, but as the President stated last night, more must be done to eradicate this brutal group. ISIL poses a growing threat to the United States and our allies, so I am supportive of the framework to address this threat the President laid out in his speech.

I support what the President is attempting to achieve because we know who the enemy is, we know how they have behaved, and we know they must be stopped. However, we also must have a strategy that truly squashes the threat posed by this terrorist group. Since ISIL poses a threat to more than just the U.S., our approach must be inclusive, which is why support our diplomatic efforts to build a coalition of allies to aid in this fight. Ultimately, the responsibility to protect their citizens and their country will fall on the Iraqis, which is why I also back our diplomatic efforts to support an inclusive, stable and effective government in Iraq.

Perhaps most importantly, the military component of this strategy must be designed by generals, not micromanaged by Washington.  While the President believes he has the authority to act alone, he should bring his plan before Congress to get the feedback of the American people through their elected officials. By doing so, we also send a united message to the world—and more importantly ISIL—that the U.S. is serious and committed to eliminating those who wish to do us harm. 

It’s clear that ISIL has no intention of going down without a fight. The gruesome beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff are evidence of that. ISIL is committed to brutally forcing its warped view on the Middle East and has no desire to stop there. The group has indicated its intentions to attack the U.S. and, perhaps more frighteningly, has the resources and connections to terrorists with western ties to carry out those plans if left unchecked.

ISIL has shown its true colors. We need to confront them. This plan is a step in the right direction.