Why The United States Must Fight ISIS: Fear, Honor, and Interest

On July 12, 2007, in the midst of cries from politicians to remove troops from Iraq, President George W. Bush issued a warning of the daunting terror threat to come in the future if he decided to take boots off the ground. 

Putting aside your opinion of President Bush and his policies, his assessment was very accurate. After President Obama withdrew American troops from Iraq, despite the advice of our military commanders to keep them stationed there, terrorist organizations were allowed to regain a stronghold in Iraq and begin recruiting terrorists from other regions, such as Syria. With the absence of the United States in Iraq, ISIS has become a major terror threat worldwide. They have proven they aren’t the “JV team” that President Obama once referred to them as. ISIS has beheaded two American journalists and a French hostage, has been linked to a plot to behead people in the streets of Australia, and has killed many women and children in Iraq. The current news surrounding ISIS has reminded me of the 3 reasons why we fight according to Thucydides: fear, honor, and interest. All of these reasons can be applied to why the United States is going to war with ISIS.

Whenever a terrorist organization like ISIS gets a lot of media attention, people can’t help but be fearful and look to their government to do something about it. As strong as our nation is, a terrorist threat is never something that we should take lightly no matter who poses the danger. Even though America is theoretically always in danger of a terrorist attack, we must suppress any known terror groups, like ISIS, before they become more dangerous. In order to stop a future attack and reduce our fear, it’s crucial that the United States acts quickly and definitively to put an end to the ISIS threat and instill some stability in Iraq’s government. Regardless of whether you think the United States is over exaggerating the danger of ISIS or not, it’s important that we stop the terrorist threat in Iraq to alleviate Americans’ fear. If the government doesn’t address our fear of ISIS in a timely manner, then we will allow ISIS to grow and become more intimidating, which will only cause us to fear them more. While I would primarily suggest using diplomacy to settle differences with other nations, terrorist organizations, like ISIS and al Qaeda, have proven to be uninterested in peace and must be handled through military action.

The area controlled by ISIS as of November 2, 2014 is colored in red.

Honor is another reason for American intervention in Iraq. As a world power, some people believe it’s America’s duty to be involved in international affairs and protect democracy around the world. Other people, however, think we need to deviate from our “savior” mentality and avoid involvement on the world stage. Whether you advocate for American intervention or not, the growth of ISIS puts the world in danger, which calls for the United States to live up to its honor as a world leader and address the situation. The U.S. government is also obligated to intervene in the Middle East to serve its duty of protecting the American people both at home and abroad and prevent a possible terror attack on U.S. soil. Deploying troops back to Iraq is more than just defeating ISIS: It’s a matter of defending our honor as the protector of democracy worldwide. If the United States doesn’t fulfill this duty, then who will? We are compelled to intervene in Iraq to live up to our honor as an international watchdog.

The last reason why The United States is at war with ISIS is through interest. It’s in the United States’ best interest to ensure peace internationally. Therefore, we must remain a presence in the Middle East to subdue any terror groups. Even though many Americans are ambivalent about getting involved in foreign affairs, ISIS will continue to grow and become an even greater international threat if the United States doesn’t intervene. Our presence in Iraq will also serve our economic interests in the Middle East.

Lastly, I don’t mean to sound like a war hawk. If I appear eager to deploy troops to Iraq, it’s because I believe the threat ISIS poses to the United States is real. I value the life of American soldiers and certainly don’t want to see any more American blood shed in Iraq. This is simply a matter of eliminating the terrorist threat to reduce our fear, uphold our honor, and protect our interests. When the United States has troops deployed in Iraq, the growth of terrorist organizations is hindered. It’s when U.S. troops leave Iraq that terrorist organizations are able to rally support, gain control of government, and carry out their agenda. It’s critical that U.S. troops be stationed in Iraq for the foreseeable future until there is more stability in the nation’s government.

4 thoughts on “Why The United States Must Fight ISIS: Fear, Honor, and Interest

  1. I want some clarification on what you mean by “finish what we started”. If you take a step back, America’s involvement the middle east, you will see that a lot of terrorist acts were in retaliation of our intervention. I think that you are right when you say America has a duty to promote peace and democracy in the world, but I also believe that we need to discard this “savior mentality” that we entitle to ourselves.


    • By “finishing what we started”, I mean eliminate the terrorist threat to the United States which emanates largely from the Middle East. Given the very nature of terrorism, its total elimination may not be possible. The reason why President Bush deployed troops to Iraq in the first place was to neutralize the terrorist threats posed by Hussein and al Qaeda to the United States and Americans abroad. When President Obama removed all troops from Iraq, it left a hole or vacuum for terrorist organizations to fill and thereby regain control of the region. We were no longer there to stop them and now the threat to America has expanded. That’s why President Obama should return troops to Iraq, to complete the objective that President Bush had started, to protect America. Addressing your idea about terrorist attacks in relation to our intervention, I don’t think it’s fair to say our mere presence causes more terrorist attacks. Radical organizations who want to kill anybody who is not like them or doesn’t believe what they believe, such as ISIS and al Qaeda, plan to carry out attacks on the United States regardless of American intervention in the Middle East. They want to kill us because we exist and don’t believe what they believe, literally defining the word “intolerance.” However, our presence in the Middle East certainly makes Americans more vulnerable to their attacks. Although deploying troops does risk American casualties, which none of us want, I believe our involvement in Iraq to address this immediate threat provides more benefits than drawbacks for the United States and the rest of the world.


  2. Hi jmkraus6!

    I guess another perspective to look at this issue is to think it from the point of view of ISIS. Apparently I am not saying we should support terrorists, but I guess we may find the issue much more complicated if we stands on ISIS’s stance. Again, I will use the 3 reasons from Thucydides: fear, honor and interest. For the ISIS, or I guess the general public in Iraq, the fear to the US maybe prevalent. From their perspectives, the American troops were disturbing their lives one way or another. I guess no one wants to see the soldiers from other countries wandering around their homes. The fear made them equipped themselves with weapons and rose up after American troops withdrew. In terms of honor, I guess the presence of foreign armies on their land is a sort of humiliation to them. The long-lasting dominance of the US on their internal political and social system made them rose up after troops were gone. ISIS wants to represent the Iraq to fight back their honors. In terms of interest, I guess it is what the ISIS most wanted to get. After foreign troops withdrew, ISIS basically has a great opportunity for them to defy the weak Iraq government and gets the land and other interests they want, including the oil resources, which are abundant in Iraq.

    With the analysis of the three reasons from Thucydides, I guess ISIS’s action is also totally justifiable from their perspective. I think if we want to end all these, we should understand the causes and motivations of ISIS by thinking from their point of view. Then we could come out some viable solutions to end it, instead of deploying troops again and holding the reckless opinion of merely “wiping them off the earth”.


  3. I believe your spot on here, through Obamas actions we can see a major rise up in the terrorism activity through ISIS in Iraq. This is a terrorist threat that does need to be taken seriously and eliminated, not only for the safety of the United States, but for also humanitarian reasons. ISIS is murdering thousands of men, women, and children who practice Christianity in Iraq. They go through the towns, wiping them out, and burn their churches. So the reason we need to intervene with ISIS is two fold, and they must be stopped for the good of all.


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