ISIS as a National Threat for the US


Nowadays, the international system is based on globalization and its consequent effects. Globalization is one of the primary factors that create challenges for the national security of the US.  In the modern world, the USA faces many dangerous challenges from Russia, ISIS, China, North Korea, and some other countries because of various decisions and its foreign policies. In fact, it is quite difficult to realize which threats are more serious and dangerous because each of them has some influence on the country. Some people believe that Russia poses the greatest threat for the US national security because of its nuclear power. Other researchers and politicians suggest that a conflict with ISIS can cause more troubles to the American government and population that any other threats. The aim of the current research is to prove that the national security advisers of the US have to pay particular attention to ISIS as the most dangerous threat to the US. At the same time, it will provide evidence that the experience-base long-term and peaceful approach of the American government and the Western allies is more likely to bring success in fighting against ISIS than war and aggressive responses.

Why Is It Important?

The international environment is crucial for understanding the threats to the country and its citizens. The absence or presence of various alliances obviously influences the situation in the country and in the international arena as well (Jordan et al. 42). Hence, referring to the relations between the US and the entire Arab world, it is necessary to point out that it has not remained apart in various conflicts on the territory. While the US is not a neighbor to the Arab countries, its international position and economic interest has led to support of Israel, participation in the conflicts in Kuwait and Iraq etc. As a result, the extremist group that aims to get the power in the Arab countries is set against the US and many other countries like France, UK etc. Anyway, it is important to understand that ISIS is quite strong due to their ability to use the weaknesses of their opponents efficiently, effective propaganda and ideology spread, religious appeal, and lack of strong leadership in the Arab countries.

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According to Shinkman, ISIS-related issues are particularly troublesome for the American country and many polls and real-life examples can prove that. If the threat from Russia is theoretical, terrorists’ attacks of ISIS are a reality and have already been felt by practically each American. ISIS is famous for its terrorist attack in September 2011 and for a number of other acts. The actions of ISIS were marked by kidnapping and brutal killing of journalists as well as other civilians (Tuttle 8).  Moreover, this is the richest terrorist group, which has a lot of financial resources to continue threat attacks. After many years without Caliphate, ISIS has declared it and gets support from Nigeria, the Philippines, Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Yemen. Therefore, right now it has organized 35 caliphate groups and continues its development (Gorka and Gorka 2).  Thus, this threat is very dangerous and rapidly grounding on the territory of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and other Arab countries, which makes the consequences of their activities terrible but supported by many Muslims.

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ISIS can be extremely dangerous and have a lot of different forms that will damage the national security system. One of them is a threat to the US economy and market. Financial system damages can lead to the destruction of the supply chain on the global level, which will have the impact on the industry and transportation sectors. In addition, being the main origin of oil deposits, the actions of ISIS will obviously  determine oil prices and distribution. Hence, it exercises as a considerable control over the world economy. Another threat is drug trafficking, which provides an increased level of crimes and corruptions.  The next point is human smuggling, which means ` transportation of people or its attempt, harsh violation of peoples’` rights across the international border with the use of false documents (National Security Council). A similar threat is human trafficking, which involves a forced hold of another person. It can be done in various forms such as forced labor, slavery, debt obligations, and etc. The next aspect is weapon trafficking, which is close to drug dealing (National Security Council). Cybercrime threats play an important role too. Such activity is the most dangerous, because it can affect not only the economy on the national and international levels, but also lead to subsequent possible terrorist attacks (National Security Council). All these actions could be done in different ways by the terrorist organization. Their actions can provide damages for the economy, the national secure system, and public safety in general.

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Historical Factors

The evolution of the US national security policy includes a long time formation of its strategy and structure. The formation began after the Second World War, because of the realization that the USA is one of the most powerful states and has serious enemies. A huge role in the international relationships played the creation of the atomic bomb. For the national security policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were critical. The combat operation in Afghanistan and warfare in Iraq started during the period of Bush administration. The operation in Afghanistan was aimed at defeating the Taliban regime and bin Laden (Jordan et al. 65). During Bush administration, the leader of Iraq Saddam Hussein was defined as a dictator. In 2003, the US forces were in Iraq and provided a series of military operations. Saddam Hussein was caught in December the same year. For the next months, the Coalition Provisional Authority was established to administrate Iraq with the aim of developing a democratic government. However, despite the fact the leaders of Iraq regained sovereignty, situation did not change for the better and the level of violence increased. The conflict became even more difficult because of interruption of Iran and al-Qa`ida. Later, another military strategy was chosen and it was realized in 2007. In 2011, the US military forces  invaded Afghanistan on order to defeat terrorists. The Taliban`s regime was defeated after several months. In spite of this, the USA continued operations and force actions against al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden (Jordan et al. 43-65). ISIS was based on al-Qa`ida, which was formed in Afghanistan in 1979 by Abdullah Azzam. He believed in jihad and its key points such as humiliation of Muslims by the Western powers and regimes, that jihad was supposed to be a personal obligation, otherwise Muslims would be defeated, the reestablishment of the Caliphate. This ideological base is the main power of the group and it has not changed for many years. In 1999, there was a meeting between Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. They were interested similar activities but had different enemies. Bin Laden believed that his main enemies were US and Israel while Zarqawi was against Jordanian regime. Before 2001, Zarqawi was active in Afghanistan, and then he moved his operations to the territories of Iraq and Iran.  Al-Qa`ida in Iraq was founded under the ruling of Zarqawi  in 2004. At this period, terrorist attacks against US forces continued. However, after the death of two leaders - Zarqawi and Bin Laden, the new person has appeared in the arena. Abu Ayyub al-Masri has become the leader of the group. He was also the person that organized the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006. Because of continuous military operations, the American strength declined and it had to call back its troops from Iraq in 2011. At the same time, the terrorist group gained strength and began new operations in Syria in 2013. ISIS stayed in the capital of Anbar Province in 2014 and in the same year the city was controlled by the Iraq forces and ISIS took complete control. After that, they controlled Mosul, Samarra, and Tikrit. In 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi predicted a reformation of the caliphate and called ISIS the Islamic State. He announced himself the Prince of Believers of the state of the future (Gorka and Gorka 4). Therefore, the historical factors led to the emergence of this threat, and right now it is the biggest problem not only of the USA but of  the international community in general.

The ISIS threat for the national security system of the USA nowadays is much more important than the other ones because of its critical activity and previous history of the opposition.  For now, this is a well-organized group with many advantages. One of them is that it is ruled by a charismatic and successful leader and other chief commanders, who are skilled enough to provide efficient control in all areas. The next advantage is good equipment, which helps the group to plan and realize terrorist attacks. Another aspect is its adaptability because ISIS can be easily transformed from an insurgent group to a hybrid terrorist organization that carries out terrorist attacks (Eisenstadt 4). One of the biggest strengths is its propaganda and effective recruitment. According to the statistical data, ISIS is much more effective in the recruitment process than al-Qa`ida. Moreover, they are very organized and effectively use social media and the Internet in the USA to recruit followers, mostly young people (Blanchard and Humud 13). Overall, ISIS activities are very dangerous not only for the national security system of the US for now but for the entire world. As it has been predicted, the terrorist group raised its weapons in Egypt, consolidated the control over the central coast of Libya, announced the creation of more groups in North Caucasus of Russia and generally supported numerous attacks on the Ramadan day (Blanchard and Humud 23). Consequently, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become the background for the formation of ISIS and should be considered when choosing the most effective strategies and policies to eliminate this threat.

Required Policies

The above-mentioned groups act as cruel enemies and cause numerous deaths. That is why, considering such a threat, it is critical to pay attention to some aspects of developing a proper national security policy.  Therefore, the national security must prevent harmful actions and focus on the threats from other countries. Nowadays, worldwide challenges have a huge impact on the development of effective national security strategies. One of them is a portfolio approach, which helps to learn from previous mistakes, to predict potential threats, and be prepared to give a quick response. Such a strategy has to include military and partner training and exercises, which will help to be ready for possible attacks. Another strategy is the improvement of technologies because nowadays dynamic changes in many spheres make it more difficult to predict new threats (Pavel). In the case of ISIS, the majority of researchers and politicians report that defeat is the main mission of the US. However, the truth is that such a solution should resemble a kind of “déjà vu.” Tackling the ISIS problem must be focused on the underlying reasons of its appearance, and on Iraq and Syria conflicts in particular.

The military invasion should not be used as a means to stop the international conflict. Hence, providing Middle East with weapons must be stopped to become the first step towards peace. The troops of all the countries have to take a step back and curb violence. For example, Linetsky pointed out two possible approaches to address ISIS. According to his view, the patient diplomacy of the Western allies in Syria and Iraq will be more effective than military operations (Linetsky). Otherwise, the conflict, which is likely to last for more years, will cause too many civilian casualties, who may not be responsible for the conflict in any way. In addition, the countries that fight against ISIS should establish some local political institutions in one of the Arab IS-governed territories in order to prove that they can provide a better option of governance than ISIS (Linetsky).Such a parallel governmental structure can become a real chance to defeat ISIS by peaceful means. At the same time, it will save millions lives and money. However, these are the perspectives for a long-term implementation.

The national security should refer to the short-term results as well. As far as the number of kidnapping and killing incidents carried out by ISIS is constantly growing, limiting the travelling of civilians and journalists to the territory is highly desirable. Tuttle emphasizes that there are no “truly safe places to travel” in the Middle East (Tuttle 8). While an absolute ban on visiting the territory is inappropriate, it is necessary to provide those who travel with a greater degree of support. In addition, the control of entring to the country must remain under a strict control. It is an important task for the police and all possible security departments to remain watchful and take care of public security. Anyway, strategic planning and high level of attentiveness are vital to tackling all issues, especially those that are internationally dangerous.


To sum it up, ISIS threat is one of the most dangerous ones that can influence the national security of the US and even the entire world. The impact on the world economy, market, drug and weapons distribution, and terroristic acts throughout the world and particularly on the territories of the US, France, or the UK prove that the ISIS threat is quite serious on the global level. The above-mentioned analysis shows how this threat, which mostly predetermined by the international political development, leads to serious safety disturbance on the domestic level. Mainly, strong religious beliefs, rapid reactions, and strong ideological propaganda contribute to the strength of the terroristic organization. With regard to the current situation and historical experiences, the aggressive defeat of ISIS will hardly become a successful and appropriate policy on the part of the Western states. Instead, it is more appropriate to use peaceful and long-term oriented diplomacy in order to reach success and stabilize the situation.

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