By John David Dyche
Last year this column called for giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt and allowing his strategy against ISIS, or the Islamic State, an opportunity to work. We did, but it didn’t.
The U.S. failed miserably, but expensively, in training opposition forces to fight the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The limited American bombing campaign was likewise ineffective.
On Friday, shortly before the Islamic State attacked in Paris, Obama said “we have contained” the Islamic State, which may be true in terms of territory. He admitted, however, that we had not been able to “completely decapitate their command and control structures.”
Paris proved this. It was a dramatic extension of the terrorist organization’s activity and international reach.
Neither Obama nor any of his critics had done a good job of explaining to the American people how and why the Islamic State constitutes an imminent or serious threat to U.S. national security interests. Paris did that, too.
Obama had already escalated American efforts against the Islamic State by putting 50 Special Forces commandos in Syria. The administration insisted that they would not have a direct combat role, but they are boots on the ground nonetheless.
It is almost inevitable that sooner or later an American soldier will be captured and brutally and graphically killed by the Islamic State. In the pre-Paris environment we could only wonder how the American people would react to such an atrocity.
Whether Americans would have demanded disengagement or escalation was an open question. After Paris there is only one possible position.
The U.S. must lead an international coalition to destroy these Islamist barbarians. No one wants this, but we can no longer avoid it, though some, including Obama, will still try.
In the Republican presidential debate a few days before Paris, Senator Marco Rubio had warned of the advance of ISIS. His words carry even more power post-Paris.
"They are coming to us. They recruit Americans using social media. … Either they win or we win, and we had better take this risk seriously, it is not going away on its own."
Rubio is clear about how he would lead in the aftermath of Paris. "This is clearly an act of war and an attack on one of our NATO allies, and we should invoke Article 5 of the NATO agreement, and bring everyone together to put together a coalition to confront this challenge."
Mitt Romney, the Republican Obama beat in 2012, is right when he says, "Only America can lead this war, and that leadership means being willing to devote whatever resources are required to win -- even boots on the ground. We have the best-equipped and most dedicated military for good reason. The president must stop trying to placate his political base by saying what he won’t do and tell Americans what he will do."
But the Obama administration refuses to lead. It instead sent out national security advisor Ben Rhodes, who misled the American people on both Benghazi and the Iranian nuclear deal, to incredibly advocate for allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. next year.
Likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, on whose watch as Secretary of State the Islamic State metastasized, amazingly wants to allow in 65,000. Clinton, who recently included Republicans but not ISIS among those she was proud to have as an "enemy," cannot even bring herself to utter the phrase "radical Islam."
Rubio, on the other hand, says, "We won’t be able to take more refugees. It’s not that we don’t want to, it’s that we can’t. Because there’s no way to background check someone who’s coming from Syria."
He explains, "You can have a thousand people come in and 999 of them are just poor people fleeing oppression and violence. But one of them is an ISIS fighter -- if that’s the case -- you have a problem."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, also a Republican presidential candidate, concurs. "We need to immediately declare a halt to any plans to bring refugees that may have been infiltrated by ISIS to the United States." Cruz says Christian refugees pose no such risk.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is open to accepting Syrian refugees, but also puts priority on Christian ones. "I think we need to do thorough screening and take in a limited number. … We should focus our efforts as it relates to the refugees for the Christians that are being slaughtered."
The U.S. must also lead in finding safe alternative places for legitimate refugees to find safety from Syrian war. But the contemplated numbers simply cannot come here now.
The more or less passive Obama policy had its chance and has failed. The prospect of more war is a bitter one for Americans, but the barbarians bent on our ultimate destruction dictate that this is a long, life or death struggle in which victory is our only option.
America and what used to be called Christendom or Western Civilization need a leader who is up to the challenge. Otherwise, we may next be dealing with the fallout, figuratively and literally, from a nuclear version of the Paris attacks, but in New York.
(John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche)
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