Opinion

ALS CHallenge ISn’t Cool

PRIYA SUNDARESAN

OPINION EDITOR   

   Two handcuffed men in tangerine-colored jumpsuits sink into a pillow of painfully scorching hot sand, their lives at the mercy of a heartless, masked executioner who holds a blade to their throats. Their final words are not a sentimental “goodbye” reserved for their loved ones, but a seemingly scripted, stone-cold message directed at the United States government. It appears that against their will, these captive American men state that the United States could have prevented their impending fate, yet it was a failure on the part of the United States that has led to what will ensue. Suddenly, the militant executioner draws the blade across the throats of the men, and while the chapter of their lives closes, a new chapter of ISIS extremism
has begun.

   James Foley, a freelance war correspondent documenting the Syrian Civil War, was abducted on Nov. 22, 2012 in Syria by ISIS officials on suspicion of possessing “espionage equipment” – i.e. his camera, which is only reasonable considering he was a journalist. Shortly following his abduction, ISIS demanded a ransom of $132 million, but the United States government remained steadfast in its “no negotiation” policy. While ISIS continued to kidnap many American journalists in this fashion, the United States government continued to drag its heels, resisting any sort of consensus or negotiation. On Aug. 19, a little over one month ago, ISIS released a shockingly grotesque video documenting the beheading of James Foley, as an ominous threat to the United States.

  Steven Sotloff was another American journalist whose fate paralleled Foley’s. Sotloff, a Florida native, was crossing the Turkey-Syria border when he was kidnapped by ISIS officials and immediately imprisoned in Ar-Raqqah, a city in northeastern Syria. Sotloff was an Israeli-American Jew, and the United States government and Sotloff’s family attempted to conceal his religious identity from his captors, but to no avail. Shortly following the beheading of Foley, ISIS released a public statement that Obama’s subsequent move would determine the fate of Sotloff.  It was at this time that the United States fired fourteen missiles aimed at ISIS, and hence, Sotloff was beheaded on Aug. 27, 2014.

   On Sept. 13, British aid worker David Haines was beheaded, marking a third victim in this brutal succession of ruthless decapitations. The beheading of Haines indicated that ISIS is not only on bad terms with the United States, but also on bad terms with any other country that is associated with the United States.

   This situation evokes many questions, but primarily, what should the United States (particularly Obama) do going forward, in order to prevent this fate from falling upon other journalists? As of right now, the United States is treading on very thin ice, and the government needs to play its cards right. Personally, I believe that Obama needs to greatly reduce U.S. military involvement with ISIS, as this will only aggravate the situation. Also, Obama needs to take a hint; if the United States continues to turn a cold shoulder to negotiation, then what will ISIS do with the host of American captives it gathers? While succumbing to a powerful, dissolute system like ISIS may look poor for the United States, this is preferable compared to the slaughter of American journalists by the masses. On the whole, after all the sacrifices American journalists have made for our nation, the least the United States government can do is sacrifice its ego, by beginning to negotiate with ISIS.

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