So -- which side is right? Is Islam essentially violent and intolerant or essentially peaceful and pluralistic? Do the guys with the bloody machetes represent Islam, or are they an aberration? I think that anyone who tries to answer this question simply is doing so deliberately in order to score political points.
The president was correct in announcing humanitarian action yesterday in Iraq. He will be helping to prevent genocide. But, more than that, his announcement of limited military action, both to overtly protect US troops and installations, and tacitly support the Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State, is the correct move. In fact, today's air strikes against Islamic State forces outside Irbil serves two purposes. First, it protect U.S. interests in a city we cannot afford to lose, lest we see another Benghazi-type situation there. Second it help the Kurds, our best ally in the region, in their efforts to prevent genocide. This kind of action is the right call. Here's why.
When I was young, a mantra among progressives was that America had to stop operating as global policeman. Vietnam was the signal episode of arrogant and ultimately self-defeating American overreach. But there were plenty of other cases of the U.S. government doing the bidding of oil companies and banana barons, and blithely overthrowing left-democratic governments as well as outright communists (or driving nationalist reformers into the arms of communists.)
The world's most feared jihadi group, the Islamic State (ISIS), is parlaying its dramatic gains in Iraq into Syria. Already flush with cash and weapons, ISIS stands to receive another, invaluable windfall in Aleppo, Syria's largest city prior to the war. Regime forces there are on the verge of encircling opposition militants. Their success in doing so would benefit ISIS as much as it would Bashar al-Assad, throttling the more moderate rebel enemy both share.