Red v. Blue: ISIS

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A new weekly column in which Gettysburg’s College Republicans and College Democrats will engage in debate about issues in the news. 

By Conor Brooks, President and Izzie Gibson Penrose, Vice President, Gettysburg College Democrats

We should start by acknowledging that the previous article was written before significant developments in the Obama administration’s ISIS strategy were revealed. On September 10th President Obama addressed the nation declaring that, “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL…If you threaten America you will find no safe haven.” This response article will not be focused on analyzing the merit of Obama’s plan, in fairness to the Republican columnist. Instead we will focus on two things: where ISIS came from and the importance of delaying the release of a strategy until it is fully prepared.

The College Republicans article stated that, “Justification for the US involvement in Iraq [in 2003] is a whole other issue, but our abrupt withdrawal was done in a way that invited a group like ISIS to fill the power vacuum.” Suffice it to say that we believe a nine-year war based on irrefutably false intel –that was known to be false by the Bush administration— is not simply an “other issue.” US involvement in Iraq was a mistake of such proportions that if the government ever hopes to redeem itself in the eyes of the people, and the world, it cannot be made again.

As far as the “abrupt withdrawal” is concerned, United States military forces withdrew from Iraq over the course of two and a half years. The withdrawal began in 2009 but was not complete until the final 50,000 troops were brought back home in December of 2011. During that time, and arguably our whole occupation, our troops trained and prepared Iraqi security forces for our departure. Waiting longer would not have produced a more stable country.

In fact, our early attempts to stabilize the Iraqi government created the instability. According to a report by the United States Government Accountability Office, overall security conditions in Iraq “have deteriorated and grown more complex” since June 2003. The “power vacuum” had already been created, and our presence was doing nothing to prevent it.

Our early 2000s entrance into Iraq (not to mention wars like Grenada and Vietnam) proves that haste in matters of foreign conflict and national security can prove detrimental. While it is easy to criticize President Obama for lack of action, having the patience and dedication to work out a plan that will be successful may well have saved the United States from entrance into another disastrous war.

All that being said, it is important to recognize elements of the plan that we have in place including: more advanced and targeted airstrikes on ISIS fighters, a growing public support for intervention with appropriate restraint, and the backing of a coalition of nations willing to contribute to countering ISIS. We have chosen a path of measured action, and we will not be divided by politics.

In the words of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, “The President knows how to destroy terrorists and their organization; Osama bin Laden is proof of that.” Let’s step back and let the President do the job we have twice elected him to do.

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Author: Isabel Gibson Penrose

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