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The West’s best response to IS



Published: Thu, September 4, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

Miami Herald: The most horrifying aspect of the execution of freelance journalist Steven Sotloff is the utter inhumanity of it — a gruesome beheading captured on video for maximum exposure. Also chilling is the cold-blooded and brutal nature of this sadistic outrage, the taking of a human life as a public spectacle to make a political point.

The first reaction is horror because of the sheer cruelty of this act, aimed at inflicting maximum pain on both the victim and the audience, followed closely by grief. In the case of Sotloff, whose mother vainly pleaded with the heartless killers to spare her son’s life, the pain hits close to home. Our thoughts and our hearts are with the grief-stricken family.

Neither the outrage over the killing nor the terrifying nature of the crime should blind anyone to the underlying issues, nor should they wrongly influence the response. The executioner, a masked coward, calmly declared that the killing was a reprisal for the bombing campaign carried out by the United States against the Islamic State in Syria. Message: The more you bomb, the more Americans we will kill.

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The United States cannot comply with this sort of blackmail. No country can allow a terrorist group to control its foreign policy. Similarly, outrage, however well justified it may be, cannot be allowed to guide American policy.

The armchair generals urging an immediate American response should be mindful of the warning of the real generals who have say dealing effectively with the IS won’t be easy.

The best response is a coordinated Western response led by the United States that includes American allies in Europe and elsewhere. President Barack Obama must lead, but devising a hasty strategy in response to public pressure or domestic politics will almost surely be foundro


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