It’s like a punch in the gut. RIP Mr. Sotloff.
ISIS has released a video that shows the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff and says the murder is retaliation for the Obama administration’s continued airstrikes in Iraq.
Sotloff is the second American journalist to be killed by ISIS, and his death comes two weeks after James Foley was executed in a similar video.
What is ISIS’ objective here? Unless they are completely stupid, which they are not, they do not seriously think that beheading Americans on video will convince the United States to cease air strikes. Clearly they are intending to inflame American public opinion. Why?
Here’s what I think… ISIS is goading American into a ground war with the expectation that we will not do it. By doing this, ISIS looks strong and it becomes a powerful recruiting tool and demoralizes their opponents in the territories they occupy. If America did respond by sending in ground troops in large numbers, ISIS would be screwed. They know that. But they have watched our president. He did nothing in Libya to avenge the death of an Ambassador and others. He did nothing in Syria. He pulled out of Iraq. He’s pulling out of Afghanistan. He did nothing in Ukraine. He’s done nothing as Chinese and Russian forces taunt American assets. Obama staked two campaigns on pulling American forces home and downsizing the military. He is not about to reverse course and be forced to admit that he was wrong to abandon Iraq.
Obama has been weighed, measured, and found wanting. They know he won’t respond with force to the beheading of Americans and they are counting on it.