It's roughly twelve hours before our President, Barack Obama will make a speech to the nation identifying ISIL instead of the ISIS that he does not want to mention or be affiliated with, since it grew up in the Syria that he neglected for short term political advantage. We are a nation tired of war, tired of bearing the physical and financial burdens of two wars that some are willing to forget began with an attack on 9/11. The politics involves the history of 9/11, attacking Osama Bin Laden and his Taliban hosts, the Neo-Con led maneuver to take care of some old business in Iraq and begin the process to democratize the Middle East. We all know it didn't work and the Pottery Barn Rule usually ascribed to General Colin Powell; "You break it, you own it," has turned out to tie the United States to its misadventures going into and getting out of Iraq as well as not going into and then going into Syria. Unfortunately you need a chart and the ability in a children's game to start over to walk on the field of battle that has been misshapen by the deeds of so many actors including and in capital letters the UNITED STATES. The Caliphate declared by ISIS, now the Islamic State represents the decent of an expanding portion of the Middle East into the hands of a group of Islamic fundamentalist who simply will kill all who don't accept their faith, their law and their State.
Some political pundits say Obama is not ready or able to stand up to this. Some say the United States has reached its Zenith and is now a Superpower in decline. Some look squarely at the tradeoffs that this President has made in foreign and domestic policy and believe that he doesn't have the capacity to lead the international community in a manner that can confront and defeat ISIS. Of course that depends first and foremost on what he says tonight and what he, the Congress, the US military and the coalition he is forming do in the days, weeks, months and yes years to come in the wake of the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate. It also depends on what this new self-declared Islamic State does to fight against the FOG; Forces of Good, (why not call it what it is), and whether it adapts in unforeseen ways, (highly likely), to America, Europe and anyone else who stands against it.
Some say that in World War II parlance, by publicly beheading James Foley and doubling down by doing it again to Steven Sotloff, ISIS has "awakened a sleeping giant." But it appears to me that this hyper-brutal Islamic cult did it with its eyes open looking forward to taking on its Western nemesis. In the aftermath of the most recent battle between Israel and Hamas it is clear that we should not expect our enemy to abide by the Geneva Conventions or any other ethical rules, (which may in itself be an oxymoron), of war. We are standing on the edge of the precipice and the Earth itself is shifting away from many of the traditional beliefs that led us into our mastery of the 20th Century and beyond. President Obama, (recently spoke to Scott Pelley of CBS News), characterizing the actions of Russian and its leader Vladimir Putin in moving troops to the Ukrainian border as "not how international law and international norms are observed in the 21st century." I believe that while diplomacy may begin with lofty goals and high-falutin words, the world runs on sweat and axle grease and more often than not it runs largely on primitive motivations that must not be overlooked when facing an enemy that begins by beheading two American journalists, (even as it already slaughtered thousands, crucified hundreds and enslaved innumerable others). While we can't afford to run around as Chicken Little crying out to anyone who hears that "the sky is falling," we should be urgently aware that the battle we are re-entering will cost lives and much indeed that is dear to us here in America.