Following Tuesday's release of a video depicting the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, numerous voices are warning that a U.S. rush to escalate military intervention would only further devastate the region.
The U.S. government on Wednesday confirmed that a video released Tuesday by ISIS depicting the beheading U.S. freelance journalist James Foley is authentic. In the gruesome footage, a masked ISIS fighter states that the killing is in retaliation for U.S. military attacks on ISIS in Iraq and threatens to take the life of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, who appeared to be in their captivity in the video footage.
President Obama stated at a Wednesday news conference in Martha's Vineyard that the U.S. response to Foley's death "will be vigilant and will be relentless." He continued, "when people harm Americans anywhere, we do what's necessary to see justice done."
Subsequent to Obama's comments, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that "U.S. officials say military planners are weighing the possibility of sending more American forces to Iraq mainly to provide additional security around Baghdad." It was not clear in the report whether this potential deployment is a response to Foley's murder. The U.S. has launched numerous air strikes on Iraq since Tuesday.
But critics say that U.S. military escalation is not the answer.
Owen Jones argued in a Guardian article published Wednesday that a U.S. military response would only play into the hands of ISIS.
Foley’s murder will inevitably intensify calls for further western military involvement. Those agitating for such a course of action have a number of questions to answer. The “war on terror” began 13 years ago. It has involved bombs raining down on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. And with what success? Jihadism is stronger than ever; Isis is not only more extreme than al-Qaida, but what it has achieved surely exceeds Osama bin Laden’s wildest ambitions.
...Nobody is pretending that Isis is going to be defeated by a few rousing renditions of Kumbaya. But Isis strategists must surely crave further western military involvement. As the Norwegian terrorism expert, Thomas Hegghammer, put it: “Isis seems to be doing everything it can (short of attacks in the west) to draw the US into the conflict.”
D.S. Wright writes for FireDogLake:
Ironically, the strength of ISIS is partly a the result of the US interfering with Iraq by toppling Saddam and giving the weapons ISIS now possesses to a dysfunctional Iraqi military. Is there any evidence that interfering again with Iraq’s internal politics will yield a better outcome?
Foley, who was 40 years old at the time of his death, was working as a freelance journalist for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse in Syria when he was captured from the northwest of the country on Nov. 22, 2012. He had been reporting from the Middle East for five years, including Afghanistan and Libya, and was previously captured and held for 44 days while reporting from the latter. Following his abduction, Foley's family and loved ones had launched a global campaign for his release.
The Committee to Protect Journalists released a statement Tuesday condemning Foley's murder in Syria which "has been the most dangerous country in the world for journalists for more than two years." According to the organization, at least 69 journalists have been killed covering the ongoing conflict in Syria, over 80 have been kidnapped, and approximately 20—local as well as international—are currently missing.
In a message on the Free James Foley Facebook page, James Foley's mother Diane Foley states, "We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people."
"We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages," she continues. "Like Jim, they are innocents."