Perhaps no image from 2014 seared itself into my mind so forcefully as the face of the young Jordanian pilot being taken into captivity by ISIS fighters. He looks traumatized, terrified and very young. He has not been heard from since. First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh is a soldier, a warrior, trained for war. Yet he’s hardly more than a boy, 26, younger than my youngest son. His training had stressed that capture – that torture – was possible. But he could not have been prepared for this. He was married in July, a proud, handsome young pilot, now paraded before the world without his pants. His is the face of war, as much as are those of his hooded captors. And this is what war does. It devours our young.
If ever there were a just war – by which I mean a war waged to stop a greater evil such as genocide, slavery or conquest – the fight against ISIS seems to meet its definition. But too often a just war morphs into a holy war, waged to impose a particular set of beliefs on others. Even now the lieutenant’s family appeals “to the jihadists to welcome him as a fellow Muslim.” I would do anything to save my family, but Kasasbeh’s fate should be a matter of his humanity, not his religion.