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ISIS Beheadings
Perdicaris Alive or Al-Baghdadi Dead?

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.

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  • Pete

    “Jacksonian firestorm in American politics that would transform the country’s foreign policy stance in short order. ”

    Perhaps so, Mr. Mead. But do your kiddies understand what that might mean? Do you yourself understand, Mr. Mead?

    If not, here’s some help.

    In any military action against the islamic enemy, collateral damage (the death of so-called ‘innocent civilians,’ massive infrastructure destruction, etc.) would hold extremely low priority relative to 1) the military mission and 2) the safety of U.S. troops.

    Some liberal voice might complain, but nobody will listen to them or care.

    As to the muslims in this country, they’ll go from being a protected and tolerated group under the aegis of multiculturalism to being highly suspect. Remember how the Japanese fared after Pearl Harbor? Well?

    And with any luck, the United Nations will underestimate this shift in American attitude, act uppity, and get itself permanently kicked out of the U.S. What a blessing!

    The Jacksonian would have a lot more up their sleeves I’m sure but this gives you a taste of what their agenda would look like.

    • Andrew Allison

      Good points Pete. The only sensible path would be that adopted by the Israelis, namely damn the infrastructure, civilian and approbation costs of destroying this cancer. As for US Muslims, the conspicuous absence of any criticism of the perversion of their religion together with the active radicalism in Europe deserves, if not demands, suspicion that their loyalties lie with their religion not the countries which have welcomed and succored them. The defunding and ejection of the UN is an incidental outcome devoutly to be wished for. Count me as a Jacksonian.

      • lukelea

        “As for US Muslims, the conspicuous absence of any criticism of the perversion of their religion. . .” But is it the perversion of Islam, to taking it to the letter?

      • Jojo Jobxyzone

        The Israelis did anything but “damn the infrastructure, civilian and approbation costs of destroying this cancer”. They tried their best to avoid collateral damage. If they had gone all out, the 2000 Palestinian causalities would have occurred during the first hour of the war – not during nearly two months of relentless Palestinian rocket fire.

    • Corlyss

      I’m all for it, whatever the name.

  • colagirl

    I’m not holding my breath.

  • Fat_Man

    An excellent history of the Pericardis affair by Barbara Tuchman:

  • Fat_Man

    My guess is that Obama’s most likely response to this change in public feeling is to assume the fetal position and pretend that he can’t hear you.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I’m not even close to wanting to go after the Sunni Jihadist ISIS, and certainly not with the incompetent Obama as Commander in Chief. What is the objective? What is the strategy for achieving this objective? Why not let the Sunni Jihadists focus all their resources on killing the Shiite Jihadists, and visa versa? Isn’t Jihadists killing other Jihadists exactly what we want? Is a better situation even possible? Why should we interfere when they are doing exactly what we want them to do? Why spend our treasure and shed American blood, when nothing better can be achieved than the situation as it now exists? As a side benefit, with all their resources focused on killing each other, they are now reduced to begging for Jihadists living in the west to perform acts of terrorism on their own dime and without support of any kind.

    We spent thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and a decade planting the seed of Democracy in the middle-east, and Obama couldn’t wait to abandon that seedling to die. Why should we expect a better result this time? How do you fight a backward barbarian culture that continually spawns more suicidal terrorists? Bush tried to change the culture, and drain the swamp so to speak, by planting the seed of Democracy in the middle of the culture’s territory. But again Obama couldn’t be bothered to leave a few thousand troops to protect the seedling while it grew strong. He just took credit for what Bush created, and then left it to die.

    To review; the situation now is second best to actually affecting change on the backward Islamic culture, but at least it doesn’t cost us anything, and American troops aren’t dying by the thousands.

    • Corlyss

      “Why should we expect a better result this time?”

      We shouldn’t. Even Bush, who still draws bile from too many voters, lost his nerve just when his actions were starting to pay off, i.e., in 2004 in the Siege of Fallujah. I’ll never forget the Marine general, who was flabbergasted at orders to stand down just as they began the offensive because the ankle-biters and hand-wringers went into overdrive about civilian casualties and destruction of historic sites, “Doesn’t the President understand what a Marine division would do when he ordered us in?” Now they got tons of civilian victims of ISIS, who don’t like historic sites that are not theirs. People don’t seem to understand the choice is between some damage by contrite westerners who will repair whatever they break, and the Forces of Evil that will destroy everything in their path. It’s the perfect vs. the good, always a dangerous choice.

  • lukelea

    “We aren’t there yet, but ISIS isn’t far from igniting a Jacksonian firestorm in American politics”

    So we are going to be taunted into war by these sociopathic showoffs?

  • Angel Martin

    if ISIS is successful in provoking a Jacksonian response, step #1 will be getting rid of Obama and Biden

  • Moorthy S Muthuswamy

    Surely, responding with overwhelming violence is a message that has long been missing.
    But none of that takes away from the fact we have yet to figure out what
    makes so many Muslims to take to violence.

    More so now, we need few good men and women who can do social science of radicalism right!

    • Duperray

      Moorthy, In the West, when a State declares war to another, it is a moral sin. At opposite, usage of violence as last expedient to protect its own population is no longer a sin but a duty.
      Unfortunately, when religious authorities trigger a fatwa, immediate violence against non-believers is a duty, conquer their land whenever possible and impose charia. This does not mean that every muslim is happy about executing this duty.
      So far, West has only responded with too much moderation, very long investigation time, long court suits and mild sentences; All these signs were taken as proof of western cowardice. Which has been West’s answer to destroyed Boeing 747 at Lockerbie? Nil. Stupid leftists thinkers with pink spectacles drove us to a dead end.

      Let me remind you about Gadhafi, the exuberant dictator from 1969 to 1986, openly supporting terrorists all across the world. Reagan bombed Lybia and his home by 1986. Suddenly Gadhafi ceased to call for attacks, lower his voice, became quiet and almost respectable (he was received with honors in some european countries..). WHY? Because West showed him muscle and determination.

      9/11 bombing should have been immediately answered with a murderous air force attack on a large Middle East city (taken as the global culprit) randomly selected.
      Only a massive West muscle and determination can stop mullah’s dreams to conquer (for as long as both are shown by us, because they all dream to reconquer West since their 1683 at Vienna siege defeat.

  • DougPage171
  • Arkeygeezer

    Before everyone gets lathered up on war fever because of the beheading of two “journalists”, it should be noted that these “journalists” were there for the adventure and to make some money.

    These “free-lance journalists” travel to war zones, embed themselves with the terrorists, report what the terrorists allow them to report, refuse to reveal their sources to any civil authority, and get paid by American media outlets. They are willingly used by the terrorists as their public relations agents which are paid for by Time magazine, the NY Times, Washington Post, and other media companies which make money by reporting grisly stories about civilian atrocities committed by whichever government the terrorists are fighting.

    I don’t feel the need to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers to get revenge for these beheadings.

  • Fat_Man

    This just in:

    Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the United States will follow militant group ISIS “to the gates of Hell.”

    “The American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully understand,” Biden said in the wake of the killing of a second American journalist by the extremist group. “As a nation we are united and when people harm Americans we don’t retreat, we don’t forget.”

    “We take care of those who are grieving and when that’s finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of Hell until they are brought to justice because Hell is where they will reside,” he said.

    September 3rd 2014, 2:07 pm

    • Fat_Man

      I wonder if Biden is talking to his boss, or shooting off his yap, as he so often does.

      I am standing by my prediction that Obama will respond by going into the fetal position.

    • Dan

      he meant that literally too =)

  • Jmaci

    Unfortunately, ISIS is likely to snatch a handful of average U.S. tourists or some U.S. troops and stage a YouTube beheadathon. That might elicit a strong response from Obama, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • lukelea

    “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.”

    Some examples might be nice.

  • Rahul Rai

    Air strikes have been carried out by the US on IS positions in Iraq and already has hundreds of personnel shoring up diplomatic security in Iraq.

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