As I sat down to write this blog post I was torn and conflicted. I cringe at the very mention of the beheadings that have occurred. I find that act to be so reprehensible and barbaric. My first reaction is to want retribution for those lives that were taken so needlessly. But, at the same time, there is a little voice that keeps asking, “are we being drawn again into a war that will end badly?’ Sadly, I simply don’t know. Yet, there is no shortage of those who will tell us what we should be doing. There, are as always, experts who are only too happy to tell us what is really going on. But who really has the answer? Who should we trust?
Over the last few weeks we have been surrounded by news of ISIS. I say surrounded because it is literally all around. It is on Twitter, YouTube, all newscasts, all news feeds and in the punditry. This group and its exploits have seemingly met the criteria to become a new international scourge. I say this not in an effort to diminish ISIS’ horrific behavior. They are surely ignoring all acceptable international standards of warfare. Yet, they are not the first group to act barbarically towards their real or perceived enemies. History is filled with such examples. However, today’s media environment seems to magnify and enhance ISIS to a level never before confronted by the Western World. Given this new media reality, it is difficult to separate fact from hype. That is of particular concern given our most recent history in Iraq and the unstoppable drive to invade to rid the world of another scourge. Will we look back on our actions against ISIS, whatever they turn out to be, with the same sense of regret and feelings of betrayal that accompany our discussions of Iraq? Again, who should we trust to tell us the truth and lead us in the right direction?
There is little doubt that today’s rapid-fire and ever-present media creates a new environment for presidential decision-making. When we compound that with “shoot from the hip” congressional comments from candidates who have no responsibility for policy implementation, the President finds himself under great pressure to respond. While we have all been appalled by the barbaric executions of two American journalists, we hope that our leaders act based on a complete understanding and appreciation of how those actions will impact on our nation now and tomorrow. We do not want a leader that is reactive and emotional, but rather one that is pragmatic and purposeful. This isn’t to say that President Obama can deliberate forever. But deliberation and careful consideration of consequences of any action is what was sorely lacking in our last leader.
President Obama has often been criticized for his seemingly slow and excruciatingly deliberative style. There are those who view this as indecisiveness and weakness. The Neocons of the Bush years are drooling over the opportunity for America to again show its muscle in the Middle East. There are calls from all sides for America to take the lead and rid the world of its latest scourge. But the President is listening not to those who will gain politically or economically from such a commitment, but rather to a war-weary nation. Balancing the need to deal with ISIS with the need to respond to the many other pressing issues confronting our nation is the responsibility of only one man. All of the other voices seeking attention have personal agendas.
Again, I come back to the question of who do you trust to make the right decision? If it is President Obama, make sure that he has all of the support he needs in your vote in November. I fear for our future both domestically and internationally should the GOP take charge in both houses.