The U.S. faces a difficult decision with serious long-term implications regarding ISIS, the radical Islamic group that recently beheaded an American journalist and commits atrocities against those who don't accept its extreme brand of Islam ("Syria's slippery slope," Aug. 26).
ISIS has grown in numbers, wealth, arms, brutality and territory in Iraq and Syria. Only the recent U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq temporarily prevented a humanitarian disaster there.
Intelligence experts describe ISIS as a national security threat, both to those in the region and to Europe and the U.S. homeland, in the form of ISIS recruits returning to their home countries bent on suicidal acts of mass destruction.
Should the U.S. respond only with humanitarian aid and defensive airstrikes in Iraq, thus avoiding the slippery slope toward another boots-on-the-ground war? Or, should we recognize the ultimate price of inaction and, with congressional and public debate, implement a strategic plan that will defeat and disable ISIS?
To make this decision even more difficult, attacking ISIS in Syria benefits Syrian President Assad, the bloody dictator who used chemical weapons to murder his own people.
Unfortunately, the risk is too great for the U.S. to wait for other nations to step up and see if they can solve the problem. America is the sine qua non for a lasting solution, so it must lead and others must contribute.
If America decides a good offense is our best defense, the strategic plan has to be multilateral and center on the Muslim community. This means Iraqi Kurds, Shia and Sunni Muslims and anti-Assad Syrians all have to be willing to fight and die for their countries alongside those from neighboring Muslim nations.
Finally, Congress must immediately join the American people in a national debate on our role there and then pass a bipartisan resolution authorizing action that best protects the lives of Americans and our allies.
Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore
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