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The Islamic State Has Set the Trap, We Are about to Fall Prey

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Execution of James Foley
Execution of James Foley
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The Islamic State Has Set the Trap
We Are About to Fall Prey
Robert Ross

The beheading of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff got our attention. In the video the executioner taunts President Obama: "Your military air force has attacked us daily . . .your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims. Any attempt to deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under an Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people." President Obama responded by continuing the U.S bombing in Iraq.
From Martha's Vineyard Obama said: "The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless."
With thirteen hundred advisers on the ground in Iraq, another beheading will undoubtedly result in an increase in this number, along with an increase in airstrikes and possibly moving another carrier battle group into the region. This is what the Islamic State expects the U.S. to do. We're following a predictable script.
The Islamic State now controls over a third of Iraqi land, seven oil fields and two small refineries in northern Iraq. The 'State' also controls about 60 percent of Syria's oil producing fields in its eastern region. The oil is sold on the black market, bringing in as much as $2 million per day. The group's total assets are purported to be $2 billion. Recent estimates place the number of fighters at 25,000 with up to half being foreign born. Thousands of IS fighters are from Europe and according to a senior US official: "We know that there are several hundred American passport holders running around with ISIS in Syria or Iraq."
And, they're a savvy group; savvy enough to know how we would respond to the executions. They set the trap, we've taken the bait.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated: "This is beyond anything we've seen. We must prepare for everything." He went on to call the group an "imminent threat to every interest we have." So, the 'State' can easily draw us into an extended air and ground war in Iraq and Syria. Their tactics are deliberate and well thought-out. Ours are not. So, we are about to fall prey.
Our options are limited; they vow to establish a caliphate -- a unified Islamic government ruled by a caliph, stretching from western Syria across Iraq to the eastern border with Iran. Let them! Draw a circle around the land owned by the 'State' and give it to them. In the process, go against our stated policy and pay the ransom for any American hostages currently being held. Our strategies in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan have failed. It is time to exit the Middle East.
The alternative? We can engage them in what could be a decade long war, costing billions or trillions of dollars and American lives, bankrupting us for generations to come.
If the heavily armed neighboring countries of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, and Iraq itself, wants to fight -- let them do it on their own, with no American advisers or equipment. The trillions of dollars spent and thousands of American lives lost over the last two decades have brought us to this point: war weary, a dysfunctional foreign policy and financially unable to continue fighting other nation's conflicts.
It's time to look at the mess we're a part of in the Middle East and recognize that the disintegration of Iraq is a symptom of policies that don't work. Let's not continue our mistakes. This is someone else's fight. Not ours.

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Robert Ross is a San Diego based writer. He's a columnist for a Southern California magazine and has written on everything from finance to politics. When not writing he enjoys all the outdoor activities that California has to offer, from skiing (more...)

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The Islamic State Has Set the Trap, We Are about to Fall Prey

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