Marco Cáceres di Iorio

ISIS Bogeyman Syndrome

The reason it is important to get it right (and not go off all half-cocked) with regard to analyzing and understanding the true motives behind Omar Mateen’s killing rampage in Orlando is because if we get it wrong and assume that it was all simply because he was a radical Islamic terrorist allied with ISIS, then that has the potential to create mass fear within the American public and calls for “doing more” to destroy ISIS.

This “doing more” essentially means more aerial bombing of ISIS-controlled towns and cities in Syria and northern Iraq, as well as other areas of the Arab world, including Libya, because Americans generally do not want to send troops to die in the Middle East. We tend to prefer so-called “clean wars” in which none of “Ours” die or get wounded, but lots of “Theirs” do.

But while aerial bombing may kill some ISIS fighters, maybe even a lot, it would certainly kill countless innocent civilians, and thus it would create even more intense hatred for the US in the Middle East and around the world among Muslims. Ironically, what we would end up doing is assisting ISIS in its recruiting efforts, creating more terrorists, in general, and thus expanding the problem immeasurably. When we ask the question, “Why do they hate us so?” Well, the aerial bombing may offer a little clue.

The idea that the US is not “doing enough” to combat ISIS is a political one, not a military tactical or strategic one. Bombs are not a tactic or a strategy, they are a weapon. And simply dropping more of them isn’t, in and of itself, going to make things better or make the US a tougher, more respected nation. It simply slaughters more people and creates infinite new reasons to take revenge on the US.

Here are some recent relevant quotes about what I’m trying to convey…

I don’t see how Orlando would cause us to change our operations. We’re already at war with ISIL, and are already working to accelerate that campaign wherever we can.
— Capt. Jeff Davis, US Navy spokesperson
The bottom line is [more bombing] has absolutely no bearing on individuals like Omar Mateen in Orlando, who obviously had some mental issues—like his absolute hatred of gays, lesbians and [the] transgender community, Just wantonly increasing bombing against extremist radical groups in Iraq, Syria, etc. is not going to have a bearing on individuals in the United States and change their behavior.

— Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek (served as the chief US military adviser in Iraq from 2013-2015)


That last minute 911 call declaring loyalty to ISIS may offer one piece of the puzzle, but it falls painfully short of telling the full story. The danger is that many people just do not want to hear the full story. What they appear to want is an excuse to justify their own fears. And they seem to also want everyone else to fear alongside them.

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