How to Get Serious About Ending the ISIS War

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By Sarah Lazare
Foreign Policy in Focus
February 4, 2015

The expanding U.S.-led war on the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, has largely fallen off the radar of U.S. social movements.

Many (but not all) who were active in anti-war organizing over the past decade have turned away from this conflict. The dearth of public debate is conspicuous, even as the U.S. government sinks the country deeper into yet another open-ended and ill-defined military operation. The refrain “it will take years” has become such a common utterance by the Obama administration that it slips by barely noticed.

There are many reasons for the relative silence in the face of this latest military escalation. I would venture that one of them is the sheer complexity of the situation on the ground in Iraq and Syria — as well as the real humanitarian crisis posed by the rise of ISIS, the many-layered power struggles across the wider Middle East, and the difficulty of building connections with grassroots movements in countries bearing the brunt of the violence.

But the answer to complexity is not to do nothing. In fact, great crimes and historic blunders — from Palestine to South Africa to Afghanistan — have been tacitly enabled by people who chose not to take action, perhaps because the situation seemed too complex to engage. When millions of lives are on the line, inaction is unacceptable.

The task is to figure out what to do.

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