PROFESSOR JOSHUA LANDIS answers a question proposed by Ripon College President Zach Messitte.         Tim Lyke photo
PROFESSOR JOSHUA LANDIS answers a question proposed by Ripon College President Zach Messitte. Tim Lyke photo

     While ISIS and therefore, Syria, will be key concerns for America’s next president, both major-party presidential candidates speak on the stump about the civil war-ravaged country, but in simple terms.

     Hillary Clinton maintains that America’s goal must be “not to deter or contain ISIS, but to defeat and destroy ISIS.” Donald Trump argues that “these are terrible people in ISIS, not masterminds. And we have to change it from every standpoint.”

     Change it? Destroy it?

     Such tough but trite talk gives Americans no way to thoughtfully assess the candidates’ positions on ISIS, the Middle East and America’s role in the world.  

     Syria is a microcosm of many global maladies: genocide, terrorism, Russian aggression, Middle East instability and despotism. So it is critical that we better understand what it is happening there to better gage each campaign’s meager commentary on Syria and the ISIS threat.

     Ripon residents had an opportunity last week to better understand those issues, thanks to Ripon College’s Center for Politics and the People. It hosted Professor Joshua Landis, one of the world’s leading experts on Syria and a good friend of Ripon President Zach Messitte, who moderated the event featuring his former University of Oklahoma colleague.  

     ... Republicans criticize Obama for standing back from the red line he drew before Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people. Democrats criticize Republicans for threatening to “carpet bomb” an ISIS that is diffused throughout Syria and imbedded among civilians.

     ... No good answers in this vexatious corner of the world.

     Beware of would-be presidents with simple solutions. We’ve been down that path, too many times, and at far too high a cost.
                                               — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Sept. 22, 2016 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.