Only fools negotiate with evil personified

This still image made from video released by Islamic State group militants and posted on the website of the SITE Intelligence Group in this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 file photo, purportedly shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh standing in a cage just before being burned to death by his captors. (AP Photo/SITE Intelligence Group, File)

Philosophers, poets and playwrights have argued since time immemorial whether there are in this world such things as absolute good and absolute evil. John Milton, in Paradise Lost, drew Satan as an heroically evil character presiding over a hell into which he and his followers were cast by a god who brooked no disobedience or challenge to his authority. That Milton’s Satan was the very personification of evil, no careful reader could doubt. But the god Milton sketched is not the benevolent, all-powerful deity many religions presume him (or her) to be. If he were, how could he allow the horrible things that happen every day in the world in which we live? How could he let little children, the innocent, his most loyal worshipers, suffer so from terrible diseases, brutal poverty, inexplicable accidents, great storms? I leave it to philosophers and men of the cloth to answer this conundrum.

The evil actions of evil men and evil societies, however, are things man, not gods, must confront and repel if civilization is not to be thrust into the medieval hell envisioned by Islamic terrorists. That point was made, or certainly should have been, by a video ISIS released to the world on Tuesday. It shows the burning alive of a captured and caged Jordanian pilot. This act of moral depravity is thought to have occurred on Jan. 3, well before ISIS engaged in fraudulent negotiations with Jordan and Japan to release the pilot and two captured Japanese men, one a journalist and the other an aid worker, both of whom were subsequently beheaded.

In retribution for the murder of the Jordanian pilot, Jordan’s King Abdullah II had two convicted terrorist murderers hanged within hours of the video’s release.

An American woman is being held hostage by ISIS. What do you think will happen when a U.S. serviceman is captured? How will our president respond?

There was a saying current 75 or so years ago: You can’t do business with Hitler. It should be evident to almost everyone today that you can’t do business with Islamic terrorists, either. You must kill them before they kill you. Had Hitler been confronted and his Nazi movement destroyed when the atrocities associated with them first became known, an estimated 50 million would not have died in World War II. There would have been no Holocaust. There would have been no Israel threatened with nuclear devastation today.

When the last U.S. combat forces were withdrawn from Iraq, fulfilling a campaign pledge made by Barack Obama, ISIS, a brutal offshoot of al-Qaida, was a little cloud on the horizon. Having captured huge quantities of U.S.-supplied war materiel abandoned by the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army, ISIS now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria. It is a clear and present danger. It, or similar terrorist movements have sprung up in Europe, North and Central Africa, Asia, and likely even here in America. (Earlier this week, a particularly disgusting scene was enacted at the University of California-Davis. Student “activists” shouting “Allahu Akbar!” disrupted a meeting of Jewish students.)

It is time, long past time actually, that America resumes a position of leadership not just to contain a self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate — it is far too late for that — but to destroy it. Like it or not, Barack Obama is a war president. It is something he has largely brought upon himself. Now, he must act like one. He must unify this country. He must rally the troops. The non-existent coalition he keeps talking about must be brought into being and galvanized into action.

Satan has escaped the burning lake into which he and his lesser demons were cast by a vengeful god. He must be stopped. It’s a dirty and certain to be a bloody job, but somebody has to do it.

If not Obama, who?

If not now, when?

R.L. Schreadley is a former Post and Courier executive editor.