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After a continual barrage of media hype surrounding a group of Islamist fighters in Iraq and Syria the American people are scared that the homeland is in jeopardy. According to a CNN/ORC Poll, 45% of Americans see that ISIS is a “very serious threat to the US.” That number parallels what Americans thought of Al Qaeda in 2003. 90% of Americans, according to the poll, believe ISIS is some level of threat to the US. Despite ISIS being a regional group trying to establish an caliphate in the Middle East and zero evidence to back up the claim, 70% of Americans also think ISIS has agents in the US ready to strike.

While media distortions are a large part of why the public has become hysterical on ISIS, part of the response is also due to a game ISIS itself has been playing. After the US began killing members of ISIS in Iraq, ISIS retaliated by beheading two American journalists and released highly produced videos of the killings so they would have maximum media impact.

As Matthew Hoh points out, the beheadings may be bait. The US intervening may be exactly what ISIS wants at this point. That like the killings in Iraq by Al Qaeda that led to US blunders in Fallujah, ISIS is setting the US up for a similar overreaction.

Now, in 2014, with the ghastly beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, America is poised to make the same mistakes. While escalating American airstrikes and sending more troops to Iraq may assuage the fear and horror affecting the American public, and motivating America’s politicians, acting on those feelings will ensure greater conflict and loss.

The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, requires the United States to serve as a villain in order for the Islamic State to receive manpower, logistics and financial support from Sunni Muslim communities. Additionally, an American military re-entry into the Iraqi Civil War in support of Shia and Kurdish factions, without lasting and serious political concessions from Baghdad towards Sunni grievances, will worsen the same political disenfranchisement and sense of existential danger that has pushed the Sunnis to align with the Islamic State. In the short-term American bombs may hurt the Islamic State, but in the long-term it is what they need and want.

By hyping and attacking ISIS the US and corporate media is doing more than feeding its own war economy, it is legitimizing ISIS among Sunni Muslims who feel betrayed and antagonistic towards the Shitte dominated government in Baghdad and the Alawite run government in Syria. For some in the region, nothing will make ISIS more popular than being attacked by the US.

US intervention in Iraq overthrowing the government of Saddam Hussein helped bring ISIS to power, will more US intervention really destroy ISIS or will it provided the credibility and legitimacy ISIS needs to expand beyond a regional threat? Has the US actually won any wars in the Middle East recently?

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.