Last week the Pentagon admitted to a failed United States military rescue mission resulting in the execution of American journalist James Foley. Foley, along with dozens of other foreign hostages, was captured by the terrorist group ISIS about two years ago. The demands made for the safety of these hostages were both monetary and a tactic to apply political pressure upon other countries. After the failed mission, ISIS militants released a video of the execution of Foley. In the video another American journalist, believed to be Steven Sotloff, was spotted alive. The ISIS militant executor threatened to make Sotloff their next victim of execution unless the U.S. stops airstrikes on militants in Iraq.
The problem is the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists. In fact, American warplanes carried out at least 14 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. During a press conference, President Barack Obama called ISIS a “cancer” that must be annihilated. He added that the U.S. “will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.” He also mentioned that the government would do whatever they have to do to save our people.
It is widely known that the U.S. spends a great deal of money on our military defense. According to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the U.S. spends $640 billion on defense alone. That’s more than the amount of money six other countries spend combined.
Along with spending $640 billion, the U.S. has more than one thousand U.S. bases and military installations in 63 countries all over the world. With that kind of money spent on protecting our country and its people and that many U.S bases and instillations, it is obvious that the safety of the American people is extremely important. But in situations such as terrorist captivity of American people where the U.S. has a zero-tolerance policy for negotiations despite failed rescue missions and ramifications of death, is it the lives of individual Americans or just the lives of the many that matter?
Many people would say that every individual life matters. They would probably follow that up by claiming that America spends enough money on defense to serve and protect every American or some variation of the comment. But that’s just the point. Our military defenses are paid to protect the country as a whole.
As referenced in the Constitution, “We the people” make up the country in which our military have sworn to serve, honor and protect. Although it is agreed that protection against terrorism should be extended to American citizens taken captive, America’s unwillingness to negotiate with terrorists makes it nearly impossible to successfully save hostages in an unknown territory without extreme consequences. Take finding Osama Bin Laden as an example. It took the U.S a decade to accurately locate him after several attempts.
The death and execution of James Foley was indeed tragic and if there were ever an alternate plan for saving hostages it would be fully supported. However, it is important to ensure the safety and lives of the American people as a whole.