Action Alert!

The dangerous slide toward further US military involvement in the Middle East

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 24, 2015

The gruesome record of atrocities committed by the Islamic State, and the urgent need to save our fellow Christians from persecution, explain the growing support for US military action, recorded in this Pew Research survey. Supporters of some sort of US military intervention now outnumber opponents by more than two-to-one, Pew reports, while the American public is almost evenly split on the wisdom of deploying ground troops.

For more than a decade now, US troops have been heavily involved in Iraq. For four years we have been involved with rebels in Syria. The US even played a role in the Libyan rebellion that ousted Qaddafi. The Islamic State now controls large areas in those same countries: Iraq, Syria, and Libya. So what is it, exactly, that American military action could accomplish? What reason do we have to believe that our intervention now would succeed, whereas our interventions in the recent past have left the doors of the Middle East open to the Islamic jihadists?

Perhaps the most instructive part of the Pew survey addresses that question:

In the new survey, 47% say “using overwhelming military force is the best way to defeat terrorism around the world.” About as many (46%) say that “relying too much on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism.”

Again the opposing viewpoints claim nearly equal backing. They can’t both be right. It is, however, quite possible that they could both be wrong.

The important question is not whether we should intervene to save innocent lives from the scourge of Islamic violence. We should. The question is how we should intervene. At the moment it is not at all clear that any American political and military leaders have a workable plan for defeating terrorism. It is abundantly clear, however, that if such a plan exists, it does not currently command the consensus of support that is necessary for an effective military campaign.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: nix898049 - Feb. 25, 2015 5:16 PM ET USA

    My Goodness, Phil! Are you channeling G.K. Chesterton? Splendid interpretation of the survey results. Bravo!

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Feb. 24, 2015 7:31 PM ET USA

    The blood of Muslims is the seed of Islam. The way to intervene is to airlift suffering Christians to America. We set off the fire that is engulfing them, and it is our duty to rescue them. Besides, we need real Christians in America.