ISIS beheading: What should U.S. do?

Updated 1:32 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
02:58 - Source: CNN
ISIS beheads American reporter

Story highlights

Frida Ghitis: U.S. cannot give in to ISIS threats, must focus on helping Kurds of Iraq

Ghitis: U.N. resolution should declare that Muslims, rest of the world find ISIS horrific

Ghitis: U.S. should make sure this is not framed as a war against Islam and the West

She says ISIS is a threat to the whole world; Europeans are joining in big numbers

Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of “The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television.” Follow her on Twitter @FridaGhitis. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

CNN —  

American journalist James Foley was murdered, beheaded by an English-speaking member of ISIS, the extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State and has already conquered large swaths of two Middle Eastern countries. The sickening execution, recorded and released online for the world to see, came with a warning to the U.S.: ISIS showed another captive American journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff, and threatened to kill him too if the U.S. does not stop helping those fighting to stop ISIS advances.

The killing and the threat, along with all the evidence ISIS is leaving as it gouges its way across the region, are a direct challenge to the American people, to the U.S. government and to the international community.

Frida Ghitis
Tanya Malott
Frida Ghitis

As it makes increasingly clear what kind of an organization it is, ISIS is sending a message: “Stay out of this, so we can keep driving toward our objective.”

President Obama said Wednesday that “We will do everything we can to protect our people … The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder.”

The U.S. government has crucial steps to take now. First, obviously, it cannot give into ISIS threats and must continue helping dislodge ISIS from northern Iraq where it is engaging in ethnic cleansing against Christians and other minorities; kidnapping, raping and selling women; and massacring people. The U.S. effort should keep a special focus on helping America’s loyal and ideologically moderate friends, the Kurds of Iraq.

At the same time, the U.S. should make a strong diplomatic push to obtain international legitimacy for the campaign to defeat ISIS. It is important to prevent ISIS from scoring a recruiting victory among Muslims and anti-Western and anti-American camps by portraying this as a war between Islam and the West, which it is not.

There are few people on Earth who are not horrified by ISIS. That includes the overwhelming majority of Muslims. The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, called ISIS and al Qaeda “Enemy No. 1” of Islam. Countless Muslims have criticized and condemned them.

ISIS is the enemy of anyone who does not belong to ISIS. They kill minorities, Shiite Muslims and Sunnis who don’t abide by their views. They are virulently opposed to the West, to the U.S., to modernity and to anyone who sees the world differently from their narrow medieval perspective.

The U.S. should seek a U.N. resolution declaring that the international community, including the Muslim world, considers ISIS and its methods repugnant. Any country that disagrees, any government that is not revolted by ISIS and troubled by its methods and its goals, should go on record saying so.