What is the boogeyman? According to Wikipedia, the boogeyman "is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults or older children to frighten bad children into good behavior. This monster has no specific appearance, and conceptions about it can vary drastically from household to household within the same community; in many cases, he has no set appearance in the mind of an adult or child, but is simply a non-specific embodiment of terror. Parents may tell their children that if they misbehave, the bogeyman will get them. Bogeymen may target a specific mischief—for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs—or general misbehaviour, depending on what purpose needs serving. In some cases, the bogeyman is a nickname for the Devil."
Today, the boogeyman is the radical Islamic terrorist. Like the boogeyman, Islamic terrorists are non-specific and ever. First it was al-Qaeda, then the Taliban and now ISIS (or ISIL or Islamic State). ISIS went from being a non-threat to now a major threat to the US (Iraq now warning of an ISIS attack using home grown militants to attack New York and Paris). The new boogeyman even cuts off the heads of journalists.
Some say the new boogeyman was given life when President Obama pulled out the troops from Iraq and failed to provide support to Asad protestors. This is too simplistic as it misses the history of Iraq (consisting of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions controlled by the former Baath party), the fact that the US supported al-Maliki (whose anti-Sunni policies were ignored), and the fact that ISIS consists of more than just pissed-off Syrian Sunnis (many of the militants have been recruited from Europe, Asia and even the US).
Just like the boogeyman, the Iraqi government was scared into behaving but it was too late. The Iraqi government had lost territory and now needed the US military to force ISIS out of Iraq. The incursion of ISIS into Iraq and the requisite land-grab meant ISIS would be less focused on causing trouble for Asad and the Syrian government.
The boogeyman next jumped out of Obama's closet in the form of opinion polls. He appeared indifferent an unprepared for sudden change in the abilities of ISIS and his popularity, along with the Democrats, dropped. Not a great thing heading into the mid-term elections so a plan was unveiled to use airpower but avoided putting boots on the ground (even though at least 1,600 troops are already back on the ground in Iraq).
The airstrikes in Iraq were not going to be enough to take out the boogeyman so the Obama administration decided it was time to let everyone know how scary the boogeyman really was. Assessments started to materialize showing how dangerous ISIS was to the US (umm, where were these before hand when the President called them a "junior variety team'?). The only way to protect the US from this boogeyman was to go after them in Syria.
To lessen the appearance that these assessments were just created to allow the US to strike Syria, the Obama administration recruited UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia into conducting strikes as well. Eyebrows should by raising as the UAE is the only nation to have flown counter-terrorist airstrikes AND why would sovereign Arab nations be inclined to strike another sovereign Arab nation at the behest of a Christian nation that one could argue was the cause of the whole mess in the first place?
The photos and videos of the airstrikes, a mainstay of the media since Desert Storm, show the precision of the strikes. Of course one has to wonder how many of those targets may have been also important to the Asad regime and not just the boogeyman.
ISIS is the perfect boogeyman as pictures of its militants show some are Caucasian, meaning "Holy Smokes, Batman!" anyone, even your next door neighbor, could be an ISIS militant! In response, DHS has tried to recruit retailers to report "suspicious" activity (a bit Orwellian but given DHS present doesn't have a cyber-warfare chief, there may be no one there do anything with the data).
Now comes another boogeyman, the one that the US has historically gotten wrong. By striking targets in Syria, ISIS and Asad may find more in common and decide to unite. Or ISIS may grow as more Sunnis are displaced by the bombings. Regardless, what the US tends to always get wrong is what happens next?
We've drug Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar into a conflict with Syria (I know, we are only striking ISIS in Syria but bear with me). What are the histories amongst these countries and could we have started to destabilize the region as a result of this?
Will other nations now take sides with Syria and strike back at our allies? Could this move embolden Hezbollah to strike Israel?
If we force Asad out (which has been a goal of the Obama administration for years), who is going to take his place?
While Obama fights the ISIS boogeyman, it takes the attention away from the ebola outbreak that isn't getting any better. He sent 3,000 troops to Liberia but it remains to be seen exactly what they are expected to do. We really need to be asking what happens when ebola breaks out here?
Obama has already stopped talking about the annexation of Crimea but apparently Putin doesn't lose focus as quickly. Russian Bear bombers and now fighters have been increasing their activities along our airspace. Combine this with some very suspicious drills the bombers were practicing a few weeks ago (flying profiles that would be same if they were to launch cruise missiles) and you wonder if Russia isn't the real threat and ISIS is just to divert our attention.
The boogeyman is a story told to children by parents to frighten them. Unfortunately, too often kids find out that instead of just being a scary story, there really are such things as monsters.