Beheading and US foreign policy.
However, I find myself puzzled by where the steps unfolding take us. For starters, the beheading of Americans in this dizzying conflict isn't a new phenomenon. Nick Berg , an American working in Iraq, was graphically beheaded in 2004 and the video of the killing was used by jihadists as propaganda since. The difference, perhaps, was that the Berg murder didn't get as much airplay as ISIS has garnered. Most of the channel of transmission seemed to be jihadist recruitment videos, not mainstream online news and media channels.
More puzzling to me, is that we've responded to public horror at the beheading of westerners with military actions--but only using air assets. In particular, our government has touted the assembly of a coalition of support. The irony to me is that the coalition of support includes Saudi Arabia whose Wahabi version of Islam is a source for the ISIL ideology. And the horrific scenes of beheading the West was presented with are not unusual in Saudi Arabia where death by beheading is the standard even as our air forces fly missions against ISIL.
Admittedly, the executions in Saudi Arabia are not performed by sawing off the head with a knife. The offenses which can lead to the swing of a scimitar and subsequent crucifixion include such things as adultery, sorcery, drug trafficking, and apostasy. I'm not sure how that's different than ISIL's list of deadly sins.
The heart of my concern is that we're signing on with these folks as opposed to their opponents based on what? Not clear here. Not at all clear. The real life geopolitik says that the tribal kingdoms of the gigantic oil resource in the Arabian world are going to be taken down and overrun one of these days by people who think that tribally based governments are an anachronism in the Twenty-First Century. And there is a choice about what kind of people succeed in taking control in those countries. They could be moderates looking for a modern government allied with with the West. They could be ISIL or its descendants.
At some point we have a chance to help choose which direction things unfold in that future. This is that point.