"Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology -- because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction." [full text]I don't like I.S.I.S. or violent fundamentalists of any sort. However, the American people should be aware they are being sold a bill of goods. They should know something about the record of the salespeople.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, when he was young had the men under his command scalp a French soldier during the French and Indian War. The Virginia legislature was paying for Indian scalps; George thought he should get paid for the French scalp too. Later, there was the Revolutionary War, which was not a tea party. It involved appalling acts of cruelty towards those who remained loyal to the English king. Nor was our Civil War a picnic in the park.
Fast forward through the near-extermination of native American Indian tribes and the grabbing of northern Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines, and you came to the fundamental event of my childhood, the U.S. War Against Vietnam. In that war tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Vietnamese, including civilians, women, and children, were burned to death by U.S. napalm bombings. But no one responsible was ever brought to justice for this.
President Obama himself regularly executes people he believes are his enemies, without bothering to arrest them, to avoid putting them on trial. He refuses to get the U.S. to join the International Criminal Court, which would then be able to charge U.S. citizens with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is just a clever thug, but so are Putin, Obama, Merkel and, as far as I know, many of the world's leaders. Baghdadi is certainly no more barbaric than the Saudi royal family.
I don't want to excuse brutality by pointing to its near universal use by political (and often religious and business) leaders. I believe if the U.S. and other "great powers" would stop interfering, eventually the people of the Middle East would work out states with boundaries that suite them, including a sovereign or autonomous Kurdish state.
Barack Obama proves that going to prep school and Harvard is no insurance against brutality. What should the U.S. government do if we really want peace, democracy, and religious tolerance in the Syria-Iraq region, or anywhere in the world? [Note that I am switching from critical of all violent thugs mode to maneuvering thugs against each other to allow people to get rid of them mode.]
First, we should assist the lesser of the evil brutal thugs in the region, Bashar al-Assad, and his regime. Doing that would win the U.S. a great deal of good will. If Bashar can kick Al Qaeda and ISIS out of Syria, that would perhaps allow the more modern, less religiously orthodox people in Iraq to reduce ISIS back to being a small terrorist group.
Second, we should recognize the Arab state of Palestine. Not only would that win us goodwill in the region, it would tend to dampen the most extreme Islamic elements in Palestine.
Third, we should make peace with Iran. They have done nothing to warrant their ill treatment at our hands.
In fact, we should behave only in the most friendly and ethical way in every region of the world. People have a right to national self-determination. They have a right to not like U.S. policy, or our (admittedly decadent, but fun) culture.
Fourth, we should use our resources to fix our own problems, which are legion. We have brutal drug gang members killing each other daily basis here. We need to offer real hope to all Americans that they can get a fair economic deal without having to turn to crime or subscribe to the hopelessness of permanently working for less than a living wage. We really do need to fix our crumbling infrastructure, help our industries become more globally competitive (and not be cutting wages), and make a much more serious effort to protect the environment and the health of all Americans.
I'd be happy to meet to advise President Obama if he wants to make a turn for the better in his last two years in office. I'd be happy to serve as an emissary to President Bashar if the U.S. wants to make amends. I'd be happy to serve constructively. But in this system, while they may not shoot you just for having peaceful opinions, they certainly are not going to let anyone who is not basically a war criminal anywhere near the ear of any President.