No matter what it is, it is your civic responsibility to develop an informed opinion about the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and what the United States should do about it. As our generation begins to enter the “real world,” the decisions being made about ISIS today will affect us for years to come. I am not telling you what to think about ISIS, I am saying to think about ISIS. If you are ill-informed now, then you will have no right to complain about the outcome in the future. Our generation is one that cannot be silenced, and being informed is the first step.
The goal of ISIS is to establish a “caliphate” over the area; this would be an Islamic-political system of tyranny. ISIS’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who ISIS believes to be the successor to Mohammad, would be considered the leader of the caliphate, or the “caliph.” The caliphate that ISIS hopes to establish will only include Sunni Muslims, not Shia. Those not prescribing to their extreme interpretation of Islam are either given the chance to convert, or killed immediately. In its spread, the group has hosted mass killings, claimed non-Muslim women as sex slaves and sold children into slave trade. It is estimated that nearly 2 million, and possibly more, have been displaced because of ISIS.
Our generation considers itself to be a progressive one; we are tech-savvy, forward thinking and open to diversity. But a millennial cannot adopt this image while ignoring the suffering on the other side of the world. Some believe that the U.S. is involved only to protect oil interests, not human rights. Others believe that the U.S. can only worsen the situation, and has no right or reason to become involved. Supporters of involvement cite the U.S.’s role in global peacekeeping and national security.
No matter the view, it is important to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing that is taking place and realize what could come of this terrorist group in both the near and distant future. Ignorance is not bliss. There is reason to both sides of the argument, but to not have an opinion at all is to do a disservice to those who have lost their lives and livelihood to ISIS.
Another consideration is the amount of funding that a campaign against ISIS would require. The spending will likely increase, as measures for ground forces and increased involvement in the region gain traction. To date, the U.S. has spent over $1 billion in its campaign against ISIS, nearly $7 million to $10 million each day. Increased involvement seems to mirror the botched Iraq war. According to a recent study at Brown University, the Iraq war cost over $2 trillion, and $490 billion in benefits is still owed to veterans, which interest rates could grow to as much as $6 trillion. These were the monetary costs of the war; it does not take social costs, such as the burden of families, into account.
Our generation is entering the working force, or has already entered. Soon, we will be responsible for paying for these wars. So, we must ask ourselves, is it worth it to fight ISIS, and to what degree? If you do not have an opinion on this matter now, you will be in no place to judge in the future; whether it’s higher taxes, or an ISIS caliphate in the Middle East.
Yet another potential major consequence regards Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is one of the most corrupt leaders in the world. To form an alliance with him would mean associating with all of the terrible things that he has done. In many ways, he is as bad as ISIS. Nevertheless, an allegiance with his regime could greatly increase the effectiveness of combating ISIS. Doing so could also cause irreversible harm to the legacy and social fabric of the U.S., one that our generation has to live with. We must know the evils of both Assad and ISIS, weigh them against each other, and make a decision. As with the other issues, a lack of knowledge now is dangerous. We will be living with the results of this question for the rest of our lives.
Millennials will soon shoulder the responsibilities now held by others, and the decisions being made now are going to be with us for the rest of our lives. The way that the U.S. handles ISIS is at the forefront of those decisions.
As we approach the final two years of Obama’s presidency, the ISIS debate is likely to be a serious topic in the next election. Do not blindly cast a vote, understand what is happening, develop an opinion, and vote for a candidate who represents your interests. To not have an opinion is worse than having a bad one. Our generation must have a voice in the issues that we face. Being informed is the first step in participating in democracy.
Contact reporter Hunter Ross at email@example.com