October 1, 2014

Ongoing efforts by the U.S. led coalition to degrade ISIS has led to the emergence of different schools of thought on the best approach to dealing with the Islāmic State. There is the extreme liberal, the extreme conservative and the libertarian conservative all opposed to one another on the counterterrorism strategy against ISIS. They share a common goal of peacemaking but through different routes, based on belief and principle.

The extreme liberal unlike the traditional liberal, wants to do nothing as the safest approach to dealing with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He is of the belief that, ten years of war in Iraq was a failure, that it was a war of opportunity and therefore, unwilling to support another campaign of war in the region. The extreme liberal wants a sit and watch approach to current crisis as the only way to maintain peace and protect innocent civilians from becoming casualties of war.

The ideology and principle against attacking ISIS in Syria and Iraq can be traced back to the first Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, based on finding WMD that was never found in the country, despite convincing arguments that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. The extreme liberal is of the conviction that like previous wars, the current war effort is a plan by the U.S. and its partners, therefore, getting involve violates the sovereignty of the region and as a result, he is unwilling to partake or support Western incursion.

The extreme conservative on the other hand is of the view the West must go all in, even if it means involving both American and coalition troops. He is of the belief that it is unnecessary to negotiate with a terrorist organization, that the only solution to curbing the scourge of terrorism is by taking the fight to ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Unlike the extreme liberal, he does not see any solution in a sit and watch approach but instead, in putting pressure on ISIS and degrading its ability to mount an attack.

To the extreme conservative, the belief that ISIS can be curtailed through negotiation is a fallacy. He believes ISIS like Al Qaeda and the Taliban does not understand the language of diplomacy and the only way to stop an organization bent on destroying Western civilization, is through military power to end its growth and ability to recruit. The extreme conservative will stop at nothing to protect the homeland, that an attack is imminent is enough reason to act and the killing of innocent civilian by terror, creates a compelling interest required to mount a counterterrorism strategy or a bombing response.

The libertarian conservative like the extreme conservative believes attacking ISIS is proper considering the potential threat posed by the organization, however, he wants to exercise some caution in his response. For example, the libertarian supports engaging airstrikes to degrade ISIS in both Syria and Iraq but would not use American and Western troops on the ground. He wants limited roles for foreign forces and prefer Arab boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria to end the misconceived notion of the West versus Islam war.

The libertarian’ call for limited foreign engagement is based on the outcome of previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that led to many foreign casualties and his belief in the principle of liberty, the notion that the conflict zones should have the right to take part and choose their path to peace. Libertarian belief is that better outcomes are possible with Arab troops, instead of foreign boots since the last war in Iraq showed Iraqis want foreign forces out. The libertarian conservative, does not support the do nothing approach of the extreme liberal and would go to war to degrade ISIS however, with caution.

Reconciling the ISIS schools of thought is a long shot due to different ideologies on the right counterterrorism strategy for dealing with ISIS. The extreme liberal wants no war with ISIS but a sit and watch strategy. The extreme conservative wants an all out war with ISIS as a way to degrade the terror group, while the libertarian conservative is willing to wage war but with caution. Despite the differences, all share the common goal of peace, though they lack the consensus on the way to achieving peace.

Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of  ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at Follow on Twitter @san0670.



Categories: Foreign Affairs, Terrorism, U.S. War on Terror, War and Politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. As usual great thoughts .ISIS or any of its affiliates is a threat to National Security and America will not watch while such organisation continues to thrive. The question really is in the approach of involving other western powers,the tactic for aerial attack and absence of boots on the ground and also the covert roles of those who support them. Personally i think that the demise of the Soviet block is not the end of the cold war. Either by the prophetic ordinances of the Bible about signs of the end time ‘ or the nature of man for dominance of the other or altruism in the nature of nations ; groups like Isis will forever spring up. Whether the current approach to degrade ISIS is the best approach is subject to students of history to posit on in their evaluation of the successes or failures garnered when all is “over”


    • Thanks for the insights. You’re right that “groups like ISIS will forever spring up” because terrorism has become a job, that is why Jihadists move everywhere there is a conflict around the world. Terrorism is now a source of income that puts food on the table for insurgents and their families.. Yes, Airstrikes alone may not yield the results needed but if there is going to be boots on the ground, it must be Arab boots to take the fights to ISIS, Western troops will once again be seen as invaders. I support a move that would include ground troops from friendly Arab nations in the region, to help consolidate the air campaign. Yes, just like in Iraq, only history will judge if current counterterrorism strategy is a success or absolute failure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: