On September 11, 2014, President Barack Obama stood before the nation, and declared that the war on terror has entered a new phase, with a more dangerous adversary. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is proving to be the most vicious, and powerful terrorists group in the Middle East. They have been able to defeat a regular army, and seize huge swaths of Iraqi territory; determined to restore the Islamic empire of ancient times; and impose their version of Islam on everyone, by the point of the sword or by the barrel of a gun. They have slaughtered prisoners of war, non-Moslem Iraqi citizens, brutally executed two Americans and a British citizen.
The President is now finalizing a strategy to fight ISIL, hoping to use American airpower, and Middle Eastern soldiers; and not have to send US troops back on Iraqi soil. Again, we are hearing a US President, calling the nation to action, but promising that our involvement will be limited and quick. I cannot help but recall these lines from William Shakespeare, in his play, Julius Caesar; “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” A president may wish to control the situation, but once the “dogs of war,” are set free, often circumstances beyond a leaders’ control takes over.
I have no idea what is the right course of action. The pacifist in me mourns the amount of blood that will be spilled; both from foe and innocent alike. The realist in me, knows that some action, some military action is needed to curtail the advance of this group, and protect the innocent who are in ISIL’s way. I fear we are entering a new dark and violent period, where brave men and women must once again go into harm’s way.
All that many of us can do, is pray; pray for the suffering innocents, pray for those who are going into combat, and pray that the Holy Spirit break through hard hearts, shine a new light on our violent world, and guide us to peace.