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June 19, 2014 1:24 pm

The U.S. Must Act in the Middle East

avatar by Elliot Hamilton

President Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union address. Photo: Screenshot.

The truth cannot be more clear: the latest United States foreign policy decisions in the Middle East have failed miserably and ignore the reality on the ground.

Following the announcement of the Palestinian unity government between Fatah and Hamas, a group the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization, the United States remained adamant on funding the Palestinian Authority. When jihadists fired rockets into Southern Israel, the United States refused to push Abbas to thwart attacks on the Jewish State.

Now that Netanyahu claims that Hamas kidnapped the three Yeshiva boys in Judea and Samaria, the U.S. should not be using American tax dollars to fund this terrorist group. To add more fuel to the fire, one of those teenagers is an American citizen. The Obama Administration quickly agreed to work with the new Palestinian Authority, yet it has not acted as quickly in either assisting Israel in finding these boys or condemning Hamas and threatening to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority.

The current Administration follows a consistently dangerous pattern when it comes to Middle East foreign policy. Over the past year and a half, the U.S. has been naïve when dealing with the Middle East and its ubiquitous terrorist threats.

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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, colloquially known as ISIS, is running wild in Iraq. The al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic terrorist group actively participates in the Syrian Civil War, hopes to create an Islamic state, and has significantly more power than the governments it challenges. The situation is so dire that the Iraqi government asked the United States to launch airstrikes to protect Baghdad from what seems to be the inevitable push toward the Iraqi capital.

Since the United States withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the country has battled with rising Islamist and terrorist threats to overthrow the Iraqi government. Once ISIS captured Iraq’s second-largest city, the worst-case scenario transitioned from the realm of speculation into the domain indisputable reality. And now, the Iranians are offering to assist Iraq “Ž How could the United States allow Iran to acquire more power and influence given its issues? One does not know.

The “‹ISIS also threatened to murder King Abdullah of Jordan, seeing the Hashemite King as an infidel. If terrorist analysts are correct, then ISIS intends to move from Iraq and Syria into the rest of the Levant, converging in on Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon. Now that ISIS is increasing strength, it has catalyzed a domino effect in regional geopolitics. With much of northern Syria under its control and northern Iraq falling heavily, it remains uncertain what the status of the Middle East will be if ISIS gains influence in the rest of the area.

The United States does not seem to recognize the extent of the growing threat. President Obama has not made a clear decision about how to address this issue. Inaction is certainly worse than acting in a careless way.

American reluctance to properly act against ISIS, Hamas, and various other jihadist entities has culminated into a situation where the United States has no deterrent threat, and waning influence. Ignoring the reality that the Middle East can change in a heartbeat, the United States focused more attention on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks than properly addressing the dangers of Iraq, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East.

There is only so much that our country can do to influence the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But what the United States can do is flex its muscle to ensure that the feeble states that exist in the region do not cave into the realm of chaos and the potential rule of Islamic extremists.

America’s isolationist policies have historically caused problems when the rest of the world is forced to confront (or not confront) these problems on their own. President Obama must act, and act now.

Elliott Hamilton is a senior at Pitzer College, studying economics and politics. He is the Co-President of Claremont Students for Israel and the Jewish Identity Chairman of Alpha Epsilon Pi Chi Chi.

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