Washington, D. - Once again terrorists have struck. And around the world, starting with France, citizens are defiantly cringing. They wait for the next shoe to drop and fear that the Islamic State (ISIS) is a centipede. They stampede in panic when hearing firecrackers at a memorial rally. Colored lights proclaim “Vive la France” (just as “We are all Charlie” in January).
French President Francois Hollande declares the terrorism in Paris was an “act of war,” and France will strike back. Then French aircraft hit a couple of targets in Raqqa, an ISIS-controlled city in Syria. Pinpricks anyone?
And we announced U.S. attacks on trucks smuggling crude oil produced in Syria—when the real answer is to bomb pumping stations/refineries in the oil fields. More pinpricks.
Clearly the terrorists are all-but-amused at our stomped ant hill reaction. Their announcements almost drip with contempt when remarking that the scent of blood in Parisian nostrils will be long lasting. Doubtless they believe our societies are corrupt, dissipated, atheistic manure heaps (a “capital of prostitution and obscenity”); blots on the globe they will eradicate by direct subjugation or by permitting these societies to self-neuter in fear. They blithely threaten bloodshed in Russia proper, having already claimed credit for blowing up the Russian passenger plane flying from Sinai.
Intelligence agencies are baffled over the coordination of the attackers, their ability to secure high-powered weapons and sophisticated explosives, and execute coordinated attacks despite expensive, well-staffed counterintelligence operations. Nobody seemed concerned at the prevalence of military-age males in the refugee streams.
There is no compromise with ISIS.
Just as there is no compromise with a rattlesnake in your home. It must be beheaded—it is feckless to try to remove some of its rattles. Nor does one attempt to kill individual hornets buzzing about your head. You must locate the nest and burn it out.
We must stop terrorism and the terrorists at the source.
Of course, one can adopt an opt-out approach assuming, as does Canada, that one is far enough away (and with Canada reducing military participation against ISIS effectively to zero) that ISIS terrorists will find more lucrative targets.
Or, frankly, terror can work. After 10 bombs blew up four Madrid trains in March 2004, reportedly in retaliation for Spanish participation in the “coalition of the willing” to implement regime change in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Madrid has kept an extremely low profile in anti-Islamic action. And it hasn’t been subsequently attacked. Apparently, 191 dead and over 2,000 injured was a compelling lesson.
But if Europe and the West, including the United States, are to maintain any pretense of global leadership, let alone protect its citizens from periodic murder by uncompromising, religious fanatics, we must act.
It is not that we lack means to destroy ISIS. It isn’t a question of ‘Can we?’ but of ‘Will we?’ The will to act is the imperative.
It is not that we lack means. European, United States, Arab, and (yes) Russian forces are more than militarily capable of destroying ISIS insurgency and drive it from its current operating bases.
It isn’t a question of “Can we?” but of “Will we?” But the will to act is the imperative.
We have done it previously. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush and his adroit Secretary of State Jim Baker designed and orchestrated a coalition to defeat Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait. It was massively coordinated, incorporating major forces from 34 nations, including combat divisions from France, the U.K., Egypt, as well as the United States. We secured a series of U.N. resolutions endorsing action against Saddam’s aggression in Kuwait.
Comparable action against ISIS is vital. We need not, however, design an intricate, Desert Shield-Desert Storm alliance to address ISIS. What we do need is rapid action and, in this regard, rapidly deployable light infantry units (U.S. airborne brigades, Marines, French Foreign Legion, British Special Forces, Russian Spetsnaz) are readily available. Backed by even greater airpower deployments, these should suffice to destroy ISIS. Of course, we would want as wide an array of Arabic forces, particularly Iraqi Kurdish forces, as is immediately available to participate.
The key is quick reaction. We must act while ISIS laughter is still echoing in our ears.
Make no mistake, however, this will not be a stroll-in-the-desert Iraq-Kuwait 1991 or Gulf War 2003 exercise. We should expect brutal, bloody fighting as ISIS forces are fanatically driven religious zealots.
We must also move past the 21st century axiom that every military casualty is a tragedy. Sometimes it is useful to remember history and appreciate that a victory can have nasty costs: On June 6, 1944 (D-Day), Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.
Nevertheless, whatever the price to eliminate ISIS, we must pay it.