Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Preempting Disaster

Myron Magnet at City Journal asks what a responsible president would do, given the dangers that face us today:
When a British-educated Muslim terrorist beheads an American journalist to display the sentiments of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria toward the United States; when photos of a Chicago office building and the White House appear on social media with hard-to-deny evidence in the pictures that ISIS is here in our own country with ill intent; when a peace-preaching imam in Canada reports that ISIS is recruiting among his flock; when an experienced U.S. senator warns of ISIS plans to blow up an American city; and when a top ex-intelligence officer cautions that ISIS terrorists have “very likely” entered the United States along with the flood of illegal immigrants surging through our southern border, what would a responsible president do?

Surely, for starters, he would use the National Guard to seal the border with Mexico, as a matter of national security, let alone national sovereignty. He would surely order the Transportation Security Administration to stop at once allowing illegal aliens to board commercial airliners without the usual government-issued identification, as is now reportedly happening routinely, perhaps allowing terrorists to move freely throughout the nation. He would order the FBI to track down illegals who are already here, and at the very least deport the suspicious and the criminal, and he would aid and encourage local law-enforcement agencies to do the same thing, rather than hinder them.

He would insist that all legal roadblocks against scrutinizing jihadist websites and social media be cleared away, and he would then monitor vigilantly, sending investigators where appropriate. He would also encourage the efforts of local police and regional joint terrorist task forces to infiltrate mosques and campus centers, and to cultivate friendly Muslim informants, on the watch for jihadist recruiters.
The unspoken corollary to all this, of course, is that the current administration is doing none of these things.

At any rate, Magnet points out that Muslims in America are much more moderate than their co-religionists elsewhere in the world but that 1% of American Muslims think terrorism is often justified. This is alarming when one realizes that there are approximately 7 million Muslims in America, which means there are about 70,000 Muslims in this country who are potential terrorists. Pretty scary.

On a related topic, retired general Anthony Zinni made a very sensible observation regarding the need to eliminate ISIS on Sunday's Meet the Press:
“The boots on the ground question is always the toughest one,” Zinni said. “I wish we were not so paranoid about boots on the ground. We can’t even define it! There’s going to have to be special operations forces,” even with air strikes.

“Very simply put, if you put two brigades on the ground of U.S. forces, they would push ISIS back to Syria in a heartbeat and probably take less time, less cost, and I think in the long run fewer casualties overall.”
Every time someone talks about what we should do about ISIS they're quick to assure their listeners that they're not talking about putting "boots on the ground." It's like listening to people talking about race who always have to preface their comments by assuring us that they're "not racist, but."

If it takes infantry to destroy ISIS then send in the infantry. Mr. Obama seems determined not to arm the Kurds (or the Ukrainians) so that they can defend themselves so he leaves himself no other options but to do nothing (except air attacks when large numbers of civilians are in danger) or to insert American ground forces. Of course he's reluctant to do the latter because not only does it go against his normal aversion to the use of force, but it's also an admission of failure of his Middle East policy.

One objection to the assertion that we need to excise this cancer before it spreads is that raised by commentators like the estimable George Will who argue that the combined armed forces of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq could easily overwhelm ISIS, so why should we sacrifice American blood to do it? Let the Arab countries take care of their own problems. This would be wise advice if ISIS were just an Arab problem, but it's not. ISIS is a threat to us, and eliminating them is not something we should do for the Arab world's sake, we should do it for ours. If the Arabs insist on doing nothing then we will suffer the consequences of an ascendent terrorist state of unprecedented violence and evil. It's galling that the Arabs are so feckless and cowardly, but to refuse for that reason to eliminate a clear and present danger to us would be folly born of spite.