The next step in the war on terror: The beginning of a new Iraq War?
The observation that history repeats itself might be valid, at least in the case of the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria. During the previous months, the world has witnessed many heinous crimes against innocent people ranging from the massacres of civilians to the beheadings of journalists, and with their declaration of a new caliphate, the group responsible has made themselves globally known as the Islamic State. Accordingly, this has provoked a seemingly rapid response among Western leaders who are now working on stopping the terrorist organization in its destructive path. Now the question on many people’s mind is whether or not we are witnessing the early days of a new war in the region.
Although the United States – who are the leaders of the newly-formed coalition against the Islamic state – haven’t yet embarked on a large scale attack with the help of ground troops, they have been fighting the enemy since the beginning of August with the use of airstrikes. According to president Obama, who has described the Islamic State as a ”network of death”, there will be no negotiations with the enemy since the only thing they are capable of understanding is ”the language of force”. The United States counteraggressive tone in this new conflict seems to be backed by a majority of the American people. In a recent poll, Americans say they support President Obamas decision to use airstrikes in Syria. Iraq, however, is a different topic altogether. In what seems to be a reminder of the dissatisfaction with the previous Iraq war, Americans believe it would be a mistake to send actual ground troops to the region.
Meanwhile, the former chief of the Pentagon, Leon Panetta, makes the worrying prediction that a war with the Islamic State could go on for nearly 30 years. Panetta is previously known for criticizing the presidents decisions regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011. This, he claims, created a power vacuum due to the fact that the Iraqi government wasn’t capable of keeping the peace and maintaning security within the region.
So, is this just another repetition of previous historical events? There could possibly be a case made for that, although one should take into consideration what kind of enemy the West and its allies has chosen to fight this time around. The Islamic State is, contrary to its name, not an actual state since it’s not recognized by any other nation. Compared to the Iraq war, where the enemy was the country’s regime, this new conflict seems to have an entirely different nature altogether. In any case, it does seem like we are witnessing a new war in both Iraq and Syria. Really, what remains to be seen is whether or not the conflict, which has been labeled as a ”counterterrorism campaign”, will be called a war by various government officials.