THE BLOG

More Powerful Than the March of Mighty Armies

02/07/2015 03:33 pm ET | Updated Apr 09, 2015

The war movie American Sniper and the media discussion of the recent horrific videotaped executions of American citizens and foreign nationals by ISIS have ignited of an "eye for an eye" revenge sentiment among a growing number of Americans. These sentiments are causing some members Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to re-examine the Obama administration's foreign policy mantra of "no boots on the ground" in the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa (Boko Haram) areas of conflict.

This is becoming new background music to Congress' repetitive actions to repeal Obamacare, enact legislation approving the Keystone Pipeline, defund his executive actions reforming immigration, and legislation to limit's Obama's initiative to conclude a nuclear arms deal with Iran.

These matters could potentially have a lasting impact on President Obama's legacy, overshadowing other historic aspects of his presidency.

We believe, however, that THE greatest threat to his legacy could be a failure to clearly explain and bring to current account the international and domestic consequences of President George Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The rise of animus and hatred toward the United States in the Middle East is a direct consequence of our military intervention in Iraq and support of despotic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, etc. There is widespread perception among Arabs and Muslims, no matter what are the actual facts, that we support Israel's continued occupation and settlement on Palestinian land. These occupied lands are essential for the geographical establishment of viable Palestinian State

Much of the above is fuel that has ignited the sparks of Arab and Muslim anger, sowing the seeds and fertilizing the soil for the growth of ISIS. This anger, coupled with the failure of the respective governments in most of the Middle East countries to address the immediate economic and educational needs of their restless populations has created a virus of virulent anger toward the United States.

One of the "canary in the coal mine" domestic consequences of all of this is the rise of a new paradigm of social justice concern among college and university students across our nation. This new paradigm is that traditional support for Israel is eroding among a new generation of many students on our college campuses. Again, perception is everything. We are regrettably perceived as the principal enablers of actions by Israel in the Middle East.

Against this background, we have a president, who is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He is between a "rock and a hard place" in terms of his Constitutional duty as commander and chief to protect our nation from "foreign enemies" and the moral mandate of nonviolence and peace in his Nobel Prize.

We would like to believe that President Obama and his military advisors are astute enough to know that any military "victory" over ISIS is likely to be of limited duration. In another context. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr would often quote the French author, Victor Hugo: "More powerful that the March of Mighty Armies is an Ideal Whose Time Has Come"

President Obama in his recent speech at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, said:

We also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge -- or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon. From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism -- terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions.

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities -- the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own.

The President should reach out to Arab and Muslim Religious leaders around the world and enlist their participation in the convocation of an International Religious Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The agenda of such a conference should be the application of the theme of the recent National Prayer Breakfast: promoting religious tolerance.

Potentially, such a conference could be the post-911 idea whose time has now come. As it could be be more enduring and powerful than the march of any mighty ISIS armies across the Middle East. More importantly, it could provide a more constructive and positive response to the national impulse for revenge stimulated by "American Sniper" and the repetitive media frenzy over ISIS publicized executions