US Response to Beheading
The best that Obama has so far been able to say following confirmation of the beheading of a US journalist by Islamic State is that airstrikes will continue and “the US would do what it must to protect its citizens”. However, it now appears that earlier on Obama had approved an attempt by special forces to rescue Foley and, as previously announced, he had also contemplated the use of military to “rescue” the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar.
It is also reported that the Abbott government had considered involving an elite Special Air Services regiment if such a US rescue mission had eventuated (see AFR article below). It seems clear that Australia and some European countries would be prepared to send troops to Iraq if Obama were to decide to do so. That the beheader appears to have been British would likely confirm the implication that Cameron would join in.
With the continuation of US air strikes, it seems likely that the other US journalist held by IS will also be beheaded. But will the continuation of the now widely condemned barbarism, and the appeal from Iraqi Christians, lead Obama to reverse his decision not to put troops on the ground?
An article published in the Wall St Journal (see below) suggests a connection between what is being allowed to happen in Iraq and in Ferguson, US, where police forces have acquired military equipment to use in controlling the riots there. The author argues that, in both cases, the failure to prevent or control disorder has led to violence. He refers to the recognition in New York that “broken windows” sent a (successful) signal to the police force there that neglecting disorder leads to crime. But he expresses no confidence that Obama will act to help restore order within Iraq.
Reactions in Australia and Indonesia
Abbott’s strong adverse reaction to the beheading has been widely reported, except in The Age which did not report his statements at all. Labor’s Tanya Pilbersek reportedly said it highlighted the brutality of the Islamic State and “the terrible risks faced more generally by foreign correspondents reporting in war zones”.
Abbott has also criticised the failure of some Muslim groups to attend the talks he held. With the heading “Evil threatens Australia” the Herald Sun editorial is also critical (see below).
Encouragingly, in an interview with Greg Sheridan Indonesian President Yudhoyono has been very critical of IS and urged international leaders to work together to combat radicalism. He indicated that Indonesia is not an Islamic state (small s).