News / USA

    ISIS Beheadings Could Spur US Public Support for Military Response

    An image grab taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) and identified by private terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group purportedly shows U.S. freelance writer Steven Sotloff dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape speaking to the camera before being beheaded by a masked militant (R), Sept. 2, 2014.
    An image grab taken from a video released by the Islamic State (IS) and identified by private terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence Group purportedly shows U.S. freelance writer Steven Sotloff dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape speaking to the camera before being beheaded by a masked militant (R), Sept. 2, 2014.

    As the Obama administration weighed in heavily on Wednesday with stern warnings to Islamic State militants, some U.S. lawmakers are demanding extensive air attacks while others are taking a more measured response.

    The rhetoric could help spur U.S. public support for a military response, analysts say.

    U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, Sep. 3, 2014.U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, Sep. 3, 2014.
    x
    U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, Sep. 3, 2014.
    U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a press conference at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, Sep. 3, 2014.

    President Barack Obama told reporters in Estonia that the U.S. intends to build a coalition to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State militants. Obama spoke after U.S. officials confirmed the veracity of a video that showed the beheading of an American journalist held captive by Islamic State militants.

    Speaking in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden said of IS: “We will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they will reside.”

    Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a likely contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, spoke too in tough language to a conservative conference in Dallas a few days ago.

    ‘“ISIS says they want to go back and reject modernity,” he said. “Well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age!”

    Other lawmakers are urging a more cautious approach and appear willing to give the Obama administration more time to formulate a comprehensive strategy for dealing with ISIS.  

    "It takes time to build a coalition.  We can’t simply bomb first and ask questions later," said Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington State who appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation. "We have to have the right targets and the right support in order to be effective in stopping ISIS.”

    Sotloff’s death and the previous beheading of American journalist James Foley have angered many Americans and that in turn could spur public opinion in support of military strikes against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.

    Sotloff was a native of Florida and state Governor Rick Scott took the unusual step of interrupting a campaign event to announce the reporter's death and condemn those responsible.

    “The people who did this are evil. They are not merely wrong. They are not adversaries," he said. "They are evil.”

    But so far there has been little domestic public polling on the threat posed by ISIS and what the U.S. should do about it.

    A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll taken before the Sotloff murder found Americans split on the question of whether to intervene in Iraq. Twenty-nine percent said the U.S. should not intervene. Twenty-one percent said the U.S. should launch airstrikes to support the Iraqi government, while 22 percent said they didn’t know what the response should be.

    Karlyn Bowman, who monitors U.S. public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said many Americans are likely to see Islamic State as a threat worthy of some form of military response.  

    “Over the course of the summer clearly we saw reluctance to get very involved in the situation in the Middle East,” she said. “We’ve certainly seen a lot of polls. But this represents such a clear danger and with members of Congress and the president talking about how clear the danger is I think public opinion will follow.”

    Bowman also said the gruesome nature of the beheading videos of the two American journalists leads to outrage among the public and a greater determination to support actions that target the terrorists.

    “The nature of the images, just the discussions and being able to hear these people’s voices, it has a very, very powerful effect on public opinion,” she said.

    But public support is not likely to extend to the use of U.S. ground troops, said Ohio State expert John Mueller. Mueller has written extensively about the reluctance of the American public to commit ground forces in the wake of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.  

    “Efforts that are pinprick-like and supportive and do not cost American lives might find a certain amount of tolerance but not anything bigger than that,” he said. “The American public seems to be overwhelmingly fed up with getting into these foreign wars and there is intense wariness about getting involved with ground troops.”

    The public will have plenty of opportunities to express itself in the weeks ahead.

    Congress returns to Washington next week and the U.S. response to the threat posed by Islamic State is likely to be a central focus of debate. Some lawmakers are already urging the president to seek congressional approval before launching a wider military campaign against the extremist group.


    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, the history of take-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: bob van riezen from: grimsby ontario
    September 03, 2014 5:53 PM
    It is interesting that there is a reluctance to support military involvement, however this group hiding behind religious names is evil through and through. Hitlers goons were attracted to the idea that they could beat and eventually murder with impunity. This group is attracted to torture and terrorize and have nothing to with Muslim or Islamic thinking. People who need to hide their face or talk about war without uniforms and killing indiscriminately are subhuman and need to be removed.

    by: Angel Nazario from: 23 Hitchcock rd Worc, MA
    September 03, 2014 5:06 PM
    Should have been done right the first time, send the troops in & let them finish it!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora