By Bekah Paxton, Staff Writer
Memorizing dates and long, less-than-memorable names is important for a history exam. There’s also this test called LIFE, and if we are going to be functioning members of society, we need to know what’s going on in it. This column is here to do “political science” — to break down the interactions of people, states and governments and make some sense of it all.
As an individual who has lived most of my life in post-9/11 America, I’ve grown up with the word “terrorism” in the vernacular. In my mind, the word is linked forever with a picture of people running from a wall of smoke and debris through the gridded streets of New York City. Terrorism to me is chaos, crippling fear and gut-wrenching destruction.
But growing up and hearing about the modern day “reigns of terror” in so many countries, the sharp pain of the word itself begins to dull. I can throw the word ‘terror’ around in a discussion about current events and barely flinch. This is not the mentality that eliminates the harsh reality of terrorism in the world.
First, we have to say the word out loud and know what we are saying. We as a nation have to identify where terrorism plays a part in violence around the world (I’m talking to you, Benghazi cover-up-artists). We cannot witness the cruelty and malicious intent of a world-class terrorist organization, and then dismiss it as a “junior varsity” team.
It has seemed that the White House wanted to ignore dealing with ISIS, as the president seemed to spend more time golfing while American and British civilians were being brutally executed to relay ISIS’s message of real power and relevancy. As previously mentioned, in a January interview for The New Yorker, Obama basically scoffed at the thought of considering ISIS as anything but a localized, powerless group. It actually came a bit of a surprise that he authorized any military strikes at all in the surrounding area, given his previous statements. Therefore, I support the president’s mobilization of the military to officially take out a very real terrorist threat; however, his methods of doing so may also be a bit contrived and may be cause for some disappointment in the eyes of the written law.
So what is “the ISIS crisis”? ISIS stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. As explained in “ISIS Fast Facts” circulated by CNN World, the goal of the organization is to establish an Islamic state, ruled by this group, across the Sunni parts of these two nations. ISIS has amassed power extremely quickly and has a global network of members, infiltrating many western nations, including England and possibly the United States.
Because of the two directly affiliated public executions of civilians as well as the general horrific violence toward the inhabitants of these areas, on September 12, President Obama authorized increased sweeping airstrikes in Syria and Iraq to identify and eliminate “Islamic state extremists,” as quoted by the Associated Press. Although upping the violence is never a good answer to the threat of global terrorist attack, it may be the best option we have, as evidenced by Obama’s out-of-character call for military action.
Interestingly enough, he claims authority is found in parallel actions of President Bush, which began the war on al-Qaeda in Iraq after the September 11 attacks. In claiming this, he is navigating right around the War Powers Act, a piece of legislation intended to balance the powers of the president and Congress in potential war situations.
The president can “make war” (in other words, command the mobilization of military troops to an area) as long as he gives Congress a heads up, and two months later, Congress officially states that the United States is a nation at war. Essentially, the President is saying he does not need to adhere to this instituted method of war-making, because Bush didn’t 13 years ago.
But wait, you say, I thought Obama has, since his nascence as a political power player, attempted to distance himself from all which is related to Bush? This is quite peculiar. Many legislators support the president’s decision to raise the stakes in ISIS-held countries; however, they still believe he needs to go through the motions of taking the decision to Congress, according to a reaction story by the Associated Press.
What does this mean for near-future foreign relations? Perhaps the White House will remain a strong force in combatting terrorism, and will not necessarily shrug off the potential of more terrorist threats, so that evading our written war-making institutions is unnecessary.