Is ISIS trying to evoke an uncontrollable outbreak of American war fever? That may not be what the Potemkin Caliphate wants, but its practice of barbarically murdering captive Americans while spouting venomous and mocking rhetoric against the United States is the surest method of achieving this result.Not content with one grotesque beheading, the ego-tripping nihilists who claim the mantle of classical Islam beheaded a second American journalist, The New York Times reports:
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has beheaded Steven J. Sotloff, the second American executed by the Islamic militant group, and posted a video of it on the Internet, the SITE Intelligence Group, a research organization that tracks jihadist web postings, said Tuesday.
The execution of Mr. Sotloff, 31, came despite pleas from his mother aimed directly at ISIS’s top leader seeking mercy for her son, a freelance journalist who was captured in northern Syria a year ago.
Word of Mr. Sotloff’s beheading came two weeks after James Foley, 40, another American journalist, was beheaded by ISIS, which warned that Mr. Sotloff would be the next to die…
American public opinion oscillates throughout history. There are times when nothing overseas disturbs us; even as Hitler marched into Paris in 1940, most Americans were still more eager to stay out of World War II than to do anything about Nazi Germany. After the Pearl Harbor attack, American public opinion flipped into the savage wartime mood that saw the United States kill more than a million foreign civilians in bombing raids on Germany and Japan.
Disheartened by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lacking confidence in the nation’s political leaders, until recently the American people have been more interested in ignoring the world than in dealing with it. Now, with everyone from Putin to ISIS treating the United States with undisguised contempt, public opinion is beginning to stir.
We aren’t there yet, but ISIS isn’t far from igniting a Jacksonian firestorm in American politics that would transform the country’s foreign policy stance in short order. As if bent on its own destruction, ISIS has more hostages and is uttering its usual dark, barbaric threats against them:
The SITE group also said ISIS was threatening a third captive, a Briton it identified as David Cawthorne Haines, as the next beheading victim.
At least two other Americans are believed to be held by ISIS.
There are few things in the world more terrifying than the American people in full pursuit of an enemy that is cowardly, treacherous, and mistreats American prisoners. ISIS is, according to some, planning terror attacks on American soil and on the soil of our NATO allies. It is impossible to tell in advance what the tipping point will be that sets off something like the post 9/11 reaction or something even stronger. (Americans have a tendency to respond with more violence and less restraint after a second offense.)
As it is, we are already in a new political stage. How long before even war-weary Americans start to echo our traditional, more muscular approach to such threats? Responding to a 1904 kidnapping, that of Greek-American Ion Perdicaris by Moroccan bandit Mulai er Raisuli, Theodore Roosevelt famously secured his election with the rallying cry, “This government wants Perdicaris alive, or Raisuli dead.”
With even Rand Paul calling for action against ISIS and the Obama Administration trying to sound tough, perhaps we shall soon hear a chorus emerge from the 2016 candidates: our captives alive or ISIS dead. If past history is any guide, once things reach that stage, American public opinion won’t care much about any collateral damage in a war of revenge.