The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is an Islamic military group that has seized a large area of land that used to belong to Syria and Iraq. ISIL has a Sunni Muslim orientation, not coincidentally the same orientation as Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq. Many people do not realize that ISIL has the same basic religious philosophy as Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, although ISIL takes it to a different level of violence and intolerance.
Wahhabism is a fundamentalist strain of Islam. The Saudis adopted Wahhabism because they needed to kill other muslims to take over the Arabian Peninsula, and Wahhabism gave them the philosophical excuse to do so. According to Wahhabism, many traditional practices of ordinary Muslims are sacrilegious. So, although the Koran forbids the killing of a Moslem, Wahhabism practically advocates it.
Saudi Arabia has used its treasure from oil to spread Wahhabism throughout the muslim world. Wahhabism preaches the responsibility of Jihad against muslim heretics. The Saudi royal family has done this to cement its self-proclaimed role as guardians of Islam and protectors of Islam's holiest sites: Mecca and Medina.
It was only a matter of time before other groups jumped on the Saudi's extremest bandwagon and started to play the favorite game of conservatives, "Who's the most regressive?" Osama Bin Laden played this game by attacking the "great Satan", the Saudi family's close ally, America. Now ISIL is playing the same game, this time by advertising itself as a pure form of Islam that will not tolerate any foreigners on the soil of the Caliphate.
The Caliph was called the Protector of the Two Sanctuaries, i.e., Mecca and Medina, the role that the Saudis have played for the last century. The Saudis are much more concerned about ISIL as rivals than they were about Saddam Hussein, because Hussein was no threat to supplant them as a religious leader. They did not join George Bush's war against Saddam, but they have already promised air support for the war against ISIL.
While ISIL is a threat to the Saudis and to Syria, they are not much of a threat to the US. ISIL has only regional appeal and power. They are not much worse than the Saudis in terms of their oppressive laws. Look at the laws of Saudi Arabia and you will see that ISIL is their clone.
Now Barack Obama has promised to destroy ISIL. On the face of it, this promise appears less ambitious than Bush's promise to destroy all terrorists, everywhere. Certainly the campaign to destroy ISIL has a stated goal. Like the Iraq War, however, the war against ISIL could be long and costly, once again playing a role in the politics of the Middle East.
While the war against ISIL has a goal and a definite purpose, it is just as open-ended as the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. It is a war against an ideology, not a political state. Weapons that kill people have little effect on ideologies other than to intensify them.
Obama should have refrained from making war on ISIL. It's not clear why he chose to fight openly against ISIL but not against Syria. Perhaps he is afraid that ISIL will defeat Syria in the bloody civil war they have been fighting in that country. If so, he has made a critical error, committing America to a war because he is afraid of the consequences of not fighting.
The US should not be fighting in the Middle East, or anywhere else for that matter. To do so will further erode our national treasure and push our people further into poverty and despair. Money that should go to help the people will instead to to the arms merchants and their pawns in the Congress. This is a dark day for America, only the latest in a series of dark days.