Late Saturday afternoon, the world learned of another horrific crime against humanity committed in northern Syria at the hands of the Islamic militant group, ISIL. UK-based Syrian opposition activists reported that ISIL had executed 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe in Deir Ezzor. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said many of the tribesmen had been beheaded.
This came one day after Kurdish and Yazidi officials claimed 80 men were executed and dozens of women and children were kidnapped from the Iraqi village of Kawju.
These latest gruesome reports of ISIL butchery are just the most recent from Iraq and Syria. The images in this July 29th article from the Daily Mail UK are graphic and not for the squeamish. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2709433/The-Islamic-State-Killing-Fields-Terror-group-releases-horrifying-video-showing-drive-shootings-suicide-bombings-dozens-victims-rounded-executed.html They show the total commitment to ethnic and religious cleansing by ISIL radicals who believe they are on a mission from God to "purify" the world.
A world away, we sit on the Chicago beaches, or in boats just offshore, on a summer Sunday, gazing up at the sky to watch civilian military and civilian aviators put on a show. This year's annual Chicago Air and Water Show features the U.S. Navy Blue Angels showing off U.S. military precision, strength and skill. As we absorb the soul shaking roar of those planes, remember that on the other side of the world, similar F-18 fighter jets are bringing hope to oppressed civilians while striking fear and wonder of a different kind into the empty hearts of ISIL fighters.
Civilians don't often get to see the military equipment their tax dollars pay for and often don't appreciate the impact those tools have on protecting innocence here and abroad. On this final day of the Chicago Air and Water Show, let's allow our hearts to fill with pride that our nation is the only one willing and capable of defending the human rights of free souls a world away. While every other great country stands by impotently as innocence is shamelessly slaughtered, U.S. pilots are actively helping Kurdish security forces defend helpless citizens under siege in Iraq.
There are naive people who insulate themselves from the harsh realities of a dangerous world where atrocities still occur with disturbing regularity. They refuse to acknowledge that groups and governments still use shocking violence and mass oppression of private citizens to achieve their objectives. They can't imagine nations or groups resorting to brute force to achieve geopolitical advantages that they could never achieve diplomatically. They see U.S. military strength as a waste of money and overkill in the face of their deluded view of a tranquil world full of leaders with good intentions.
While there is waste to be trimmed in the Pentagon budget, the majority of U.S. military spending and investment is not only a wise use of American taxpayer dollars but is also the reason the world is as stable as it is today. Rational world leaders recognize the hopelessness of challenging the U.S. military head on and the irrationality of provoking a U.S. military action by threatening our interests. Recently, the U.S. has been shy about flexing its military muscles as part of diplomacy, sending the signal to bad international actors that their destructive behavior will be tolerated.
Hopefully, that period is behind us and the showcase that we get to enjoy this weekend on our lakefront is the symbolic beginning of our nations' reclamation of it's strong global security leadership position.
The F-18s in our skies bring oohs and aahs. The F-18s in Iraqi and Syrian skies bring hope, justice and much deserved relief for local forces fighting a dark army of intolerance. We should be very proud of that.
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