Is peace a possibility?

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Many who once marched against the war on Iraq and detest U.S. domination have made a change in their attitude on American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Why? The Islamic State. Americans have been appalled by the awful killings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, two American hostages held by the Islamic State. The justness of vengeance against their killers is something everyone agrees on. The terror-engulfing methods of ISIS make it easy to arbitrarily approach the vaporization of the Islamic extremist group; airstrikes can destroy bodies, but they can’t destroy political antagonisms. Nor would a renewed occupation solve the problem.

When high levels of insecurity and violence are increasingly expanding, time is of the essence. The ISIS threat is eroding the borders of both Iraq and Syria, and it represents an immediate and significant threat to the surrounding region. The conflict in Syria alone has created the largest humanitarian crisis the world has faced in decades. Some 9 million Syrians have fled their homes, and 3 million Syrians are now refugees, making them the world’s largest refugee population and placing a tremendous burden on neighboring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The need for action is apparent, but if there is a solution, can it be a non-military initiative? The simple answer is no. The more complex answer is that with limited military involvement a secure stage can be set for more diplomatic approaches to the reconstruction of the region. Through a long-term multinational cooperation with leading individuals in economics, public diplomacy and religion there are great opportunities to restore peace to this region of conflict, but immediate needs call for the containment of the threat posed by ISIS. Without such an intervention, alleviating the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of Syrians and Iraqis and restoring territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria is impossible.

Austin Jensen
Sandy

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