We Do What We Must…

Operation Iraqi Freedom  ll/Operation Phantom Fury

Unless you live under a rock, you know what ISIS is. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has gotten a lot of news coverage in the last few months. This extremist group uses the media as scare tactics to try and strong hand the foreign powers into not intervening in their quest for a “caliphate” — an Islamic state under the rule of a community of religious scholars guided by a supreme leader, the caliph or khalifah, which is generally taken to mean the successor to the Prophet Muhammad. To achieve this goal they have built up a death toll of over 1,000 men, women, and children, those that have not fled and are still alive, live in constant fear of what the next day may bring. After the public beheadings of western civilians, the American people started to speak their minds. 


Airstrikes can be both effective but harm a larger target than initially intended.

Many American citizens called for some sort of intervention in Iraq and Syria. Mostly this was out of fear of an attack from across the sea. The government did not disappoint. Airstrikes started occurring in the heavily ISIS populated territory to try and weaken their forces, and it worked. The current death toll from these airstrikes is estimated at around 800. The majority of these deaths are from ISIS militants however, there were also many civilian casualties. At the moment it is estimated to be around 50 innocent men, women, and children have been killed by these airstrikes. This does not encompass all the civilians that could have been killed because it is still very hard for officials to get into some of these war torn areas to make accurate counts.

How far is too far?

In Niccolo Machiavelli’s Princehe confront the problem of “dirty hands.” This is, essentially, the problem where someone in power needs to make a decision that is considered morally wrong but there is a good reason for doing it.  This leads to the fact that the American government had to make one of these choices when they decided to lead airstrikes to weaken the ISIS troops. These airstrikes have been able to kill over 800 members of ISIS which have weakened the advancing troops. There have also been reports that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been seriously wounded or possibly even killed in these bombings.

A lot of good has come from these airstrikes and many improvements are being made on the ground. America has shown the world that they will not back down from a threat from terrorists. However, innocent civilians have also had to pay the price of these airstrikes. Many of the civilians in the war torn region are thankful that foreign countries are intervening and trying to stop the terrorist group from taking over; but many citizens also feel that they will be the ones in the most danger if these airstrikes continue.

One citizen from Raqqa, a city that took most of the hits from these airstrikes, told reporters, “Our city will be destroyed, we will pay with our blood,” Abu Ibrahim says. “It will be a very big war, and in big wars, the civilian will pay.” While thankful that foreign powers are taking a stand in this civil war, they are also worried that they will take the hardest blow with the destruction of their cities and the deaths of the innocent.

The airstrikes were originally used for a good purpose but they have grave consequences for some. Machiavelli would say that the government had good intentions but had to do something that most people would say is wrong. They weighed the value of the lives of a few innocent against the opportunity to weaken the ISIS militants. Thus leading to another classic “dirty hands” scenario.


One comment

  1. azaryff · November 14, 2014

    Though I agree with your overarching point, I think it’s a little more nuanced. I think you highlight civilian casualties well, but that’s not all that’s wrong with methods employed by the US to bring down ISIS. They’ve been arming Kurdish rebels in the region as well and the other day one of the US weapons airdrops was intercepted by ISIS. Their decision also becomes harder due to the fact that Kurds are against Erdogan, the Turkish Prez, but the US wants to keep good relations with Turkey; the Kurds are against ISIS who’s against Assad who the US (and pretty much anyone with common sense) hates; add in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar and you have a total geopolitical mess. So I really agree with you that it gets pretty dirty on the ground and the US has hard decisions to make but I think there’s some nuances that you could have included 🙂


Comments are closed.