Max Boot argues at Commentary Magazine that is it time to annihilate ISIS. In light of recent atrocities—which are now becoming too numerous to count—it is hard to disagree that ISIS deserves to be completely and utterly destroyed. I don’t pretend to know what the best strategy is to make that happen, but here’s what Boot writes:
“What is needed now is not strongly worded condemnation of Foley’s murder, much less a hashtag campaign. What is needed is a politico-military strategy to annihilate ISIS rather than simply chip around the edges of its burgeoning empire. In the Spectator of London I recently outlined what such a strategy should look like. In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 U.S. advisors and Special Operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria–meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army–to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds… Now it is simply a matter of resources and resolve on the part of the U.S. and its allies.”
Read the rest here.
(HT: John McCormack)
I’m waiting for someone to pipe in a cry out that they should be brought before the UN for crimes against humanity and jailed for their offenses.
While others might take a page from a Metallica album and suggest, ‘Kill ‘Em All’.
Though I wish the U.S. wasn’t providing the majority of resources, (troops, weapons and money). Rest of the world should be as concerned to open their pocketbooks as well.
Boot is one of the people that formulated the strategy that helped create ISIS in Iraq. Many people attribute ISIS’s formation as a response to the Syrian civil war but it has its roots in the Iraqi insurgency. What he ignores is that we were unable to pacify the Sunni jihadists with many more than 10,000 Americans soldiers until we reached a deal with Sunni tribes. The surge did not destroy these jihadists but forced them to remain more or less dormant until the US left Iraq.
The failure of his earlier strategy has helped cause the American public to be reluctant about further involvement of American forces in Iraq. We will have to rely primarily on Iraqi forces with Kurds and Sunni tribes that we can convince to work with the Iraqi government. I don’t see that Boot will get his wish for a larger (10,000) American presence. Perhaps some but probably not to that extent.
This situation is utterly horrific. However, I find it easy to disagree with Mr. Boot and with your endorsement of his position.
Why endorse annihilation?!
We will not overcome evil with evil (1 Peter 3:9). The unrighteous will receive their just reward in due time (Romans 12:19). We have the opportunity to entrust ourselves to our faithful creator and continue to do good – not being surprised that the world grows increasingly hostile towards us (1 Peter 4:19). Why not a call to pray for these warmongering enemies (Matthew 5:43-47)?
Surely we are not afraid of these men (Ps. 56). Why would we need to annihilate them?
Action must be taken, certainly. But annihilation?! Surely we can do better than that.
Matt writes: “But annihilation?! Surely we can do better than that.”
I’m somewhat of a pacifist. I find boxing and UFC morally offensive. Yet, I do believe that there are monsters in this world who cannot be reasoned with and who delight in cruelty for its own sake .. who, for the well-being and safety of decent human beings of any or no religion, should not be in this world. IS falls into this category, I think. I’m not suggesting that they should not be prayed for. Perhaps there is hope even for them. However, when you are finding pleasure in cutting off people’s heads and raping 5-year-old girls, I’m not sure how much hope there is … you’ve reached the nadir of human existence.
Those who are given the task of eliminating even these people will pay a psychological and spiritual toll, though. Perhaps those are who we should be praying for.
God help us
Please don’t misunderstand my objection as a pacifistic one. I don’t have a solution for the moral dilemma that IS puts all of us into. Perhaps violence is necessary; perhaps it is not.
I do know, however, that there is no biblical precedent in a post-resurrection world for a believer in Jesus to call for the annihilation of anyone (no matter what atrocities they may have committed).
The majesty of the Good News we proclaim to the nations is a love for sinners. A hope for sinners. A confidence in a sovereign God who can bring sinners to repentance. It’s so majestic, in fact, that the God we believe in would even give His (B)beloved over to death by the hands of the world He so desperately loves and wants to redeem.
Ours is a Gospel of true power. It is the only force that can overcome evil. We should not be so short sighted and faithless to think that we can just kill other human beings (in the name of justice, safety, God, or whatever) and think that will stop the problem of evil.
We can do better because we know better.
I greatly appreciate your sentiment in your 2nd paragraph. I would assume you disagree with the “just war” theology/theory then?
Thanks, Ian. I don’t think I disagree with the theory of ‘just war’ as much as I disagree with our eagerness to have one.
I think of it like divorce: just because there are certain circumstances where divorce is biblically justified doesn’t mean someone HAS to get a divorce. There are other options.
A ‘Just War’ is a last resort. A call for the annihilation of a people without first employing any other course of diplomatic (or spiritual) force makes such a call unjust.
What do you think?
While I (kind of) applaud your hope for a peaceful resolution, just remember that no one is calling for the church to annihilate anyone.
The government has been given the sword as a minister of Christ. They must use it.
The argument may be now is not the time or this will do more damage than help or something like that, but we dare not take biblical passages calling believers to peace and overcoming evil and apply them to a non-believing government.
I must have not made myself clear; forgive me.
I consider Dr. Burk a brother in Christ and have a great deal of respect for him. However, I find his calling for the annihilation of a group of people unbiblical and inconsistent with the Gospel we both proclaim. My comments & suggestions on this post are not pointed at our government, but are legitimate questions that I am looking forward to hearing answered by Dr. Burk.
All governments (not just the United States) bear the sword. Why are Christians, to whom Biblical passages calling us to peace and overcoming evil DO apply, imploring our non-believing government not just to violence, but to annihilation?
This is what I do not understand.
The context of Romans 13 is Romans 12:19-21. These ideas are linked by the hope-filled reality that God is above even the highest powers of the land (wether they are a recognized state or not). If that is so, then we do not need to call our government to annihilate a people. Instead, we are free to overcome evil with good regardless of what type of government we live beneath.
So, you’re right. These passages don’t apply to the government; they apply to me, to us, to the church. Where is the evidence of OUR obedience to these Texts in this situation?
Daryl, do you think Christians should implore the US Government to annihilate ISIS? If so, could you please help me understand what Biblical principles guide your decision?
I wish they could be smashed (and wiped out, to a man), but the trouble is groups like this melt quickly and easily into a crowd, only to reappear once the smashing has ended.
True, and you cannot annihilate an ideology like that which drives the likes of ISIS or Al Qaeda. We have killed thousands of extremists and Islamic militants in the last decade and have not come close to annihilating this threat. In fact, a campaign of annihilation will sow the seeds to produce a new generation of radicalized militants worse than the one before as has happened in the wake of the Afghanistan/Iraq wars.
“But if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely.”
“Legend, Mr. Wayne.”
“It can be done” are some of the most dangerous and open-ended words that can be spoken by a world superpower.
The intentions that seek to annihilate ISIS are the very same sort of intentions that implemented the foreign policy that helped to create ISIS in the first place Not through some sort of grand conspiracy, but rather short-sighted decisions.. It turns into a nasty loop, in my opinion.
At what point do we look at history and take a step back and think to ourselves “We’ve been here before. We’ve tried this before, and it hasn’t worked”?
“to work with moderate elements..”….. I think we’ve heard that line before!
I must say that Max Boot’s comfort with the word “imperialism” is disconcerting. As best I can tell from his columns–He really is one of those “strange birds” who think imperialism is, on the whole, a good thing and we should have more of it.
Weren’t we in Iraq because it was time to annihilate Saddam and his followers? And didn’t we go to Afghanistan because it was time to annihilate the Taliban? How did that work out?
Don’t get me wrong, ISIS must be strongly opposed. But it must be opposed in ways that isolate it from Muslims, especially radical Muslims. In other words, we can’t fight ISIS in a way that causes radical Muslims to choose the lesser of two evils. Otherwise, even if we beat ISIS, other groups will emerge. After all, ISIS arose out of the ashes of previous interventions.
While searching for other’s thoughts on the latest ISIS horrendous acts, I came upon this site.
I too, donot pretend to know what exactly we should do, but my biggest fear is, this monster will infiltrated into our country, as I am sure it already has begun, and we will be subjected to their brutality right here in our U.S. I believe we have become too complacent, believing this horrendous horror will not happen to us.
But we sit back and do nothing, and that scares me to death. Something has to happen to stop them.
They don’t want to make nice with us. They will just as soon take our heads off as we are shaking their hands.
Throughout history, there have been bad people, who, once put in prison, admitted that they could never be reformed, and if they were to be released back into society, they would simply go out and continue their acts, admitting they needed to be put to death.