Saddam Hussein in the 1990s and currently Bashar al-Assad -- the heads of the Baath party in Iraq and Syria -- both played the religious card. However, Baathist doctrine in Iraq and Syria is basically irreligious. The Saudis are using religion as their excuse now, labeling the recent mass executions as preserving their religion when they are actually a message to frighten their citizens into submission.
"[On] a normal day, we see massacres and a lot of airstrikes," one man said, speaking in Arabic. "What has become not normal ... is if you don't hear any attacks, if you don't hear bullets being fired, if you don't see any signs of war -- this is something we're not used to. We've become used to war."
President Barack Obama won election in 2008 promising an end to "dumb wars," and since then, he's vowed to avoid major troop commitments. Yet, even after all the fallout from recent interventions -- including, more recently, the spread of ISIS terrorism to Europe -- foreign policy hawks keep pushing Obama to send ground troops to Syria.