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Which is a Greater Threat to World Peace? USA vs. ISIS


Photo credit: Dustin Keeslar

Written by: Logan HurshOctober 29, 2014

Reporter Caleb Bonham, from Campus Reform, posed the question “Which is a bigger threat to world peace America or ISIS?” to students at Harvard University. I was anticipating a lot of the students to claim that it was ISIS. Obviously, ISIS, right? They’re killing innocent people. There are images of ISIS members pointing guns at infants, of a beheaded toddler and countless stories of women being held captive for fear of death.

However, perhaps we are growing more self-aware as a nation. Within the ivy covered walls of academia the growing trend amongst students is a sense of world view that is less heard of throughout Washington and main-stream media. Younger American’s are more critical of the role the US has in the world – or at least that is what you would think after watching the video.

In every clip portrayed students claim that America is the biggest threat to world peace. Many students thought that as a western country, who holds the majority of the power in the world, that we have a responsibility to ensure world peace, and we are, inadvertently, to blame for ISIS gaining power. These points of views echoed and resonated with the familiar sentiment I’ve heard many times before,  that we as American’s believe that it is our power, responsibility and purpose to ensure that the world gets along with one another. As a result of our influence our school of thought should be to educate the world and in turn they become our pupils in the quest for world peace. (As long as that peace follows our code of ethics.)

This critical assessment of the US is rampant throughout not just the United States, but worldwide.  A global survey conducted at the end of 2013 by the Worldwide Independent Network and Gallup found that there were strong feelings of disdain for the United States. In this research 24% of people believed that the U.S. was the biggest danger to peace. Thirteen percent of American’s were reported as believing that their country was the biggest threat.

The students interviewed at Harvard fell within that 13% margin.

“In many ways, I have to think it’s America because America is making decisions that are much more likely to affect the world,” one student said.

“As a western civilization, we are to blame for a lot of the problems that we are facing now,” another student said. “I don’t think anyone would argue that we didn’t create the problem of ISIS ourselves.”

What is striking about these claims is that the students recognize that the US is influential and has the potential to make a larger impact on world peace or conflict than other nations, but tend to see our role as more negative and focus on that then the potential we have.

James Lutz, professor of Political Science at IPFW, thinks that without US involvement things would be worse, not better.

“The United States is obviously involved at some level in conflicts around the world,” Lutz said. “Things that the United States does or does not do can contribute to conditions that lead to outbreaks of fighting just as the things that other countries do can contribute to outbreaks of violence. Of course, it is difficult to predict where violence will occur. Is the United States contributing to violence in Iraq and Syria? Obviously, yes. Would there be violence in Iran and Syria without US involvement? Obviously, yes as well Would the violence be greater with US involvement or without US involvement? Very difficult to say, but I would venture to say that the level of violence would probably be greater if the United States stood aside.”

Personally, I think an easier question to be answer would be, “Which came first the chicken or the egg?”


Mikaela Conley contributed to this story.