On Friday morning, hours before news broke that terrorists killed 129 people and wounded hundreds of other innocent victims in coordinated, bloody attacks all around Paris, President Obama told Americans that “we have contained” the advance of the Islamic State.
Now that the Islamic State is claiming credit for these attacks, we know just how wrong he was.
After Paris, it’s clear: Doing the minimum won’t make us safe. It’s time the president stopped hedging and took meaningful steps to defend us and our allies.
The president was right when he called the Islamic State a cancer, but it is a cancer that metastasized on his watch. Paris is proof. So are Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa. What we saw Friday we will see here if we continue on the present course. It’s time to change that course, secure the safety of our homeland and preserve our democratic values. Now is the time, not merely to contain the Islamic State, but to eradicate it once and for all.
We must begin by identifying the enemy. We will not defeat it if we are afraid to call it by its name. These heinous acts of terror are waged by radical Islamists: jihadists. And the Islamic State represents the branch of this ideology that currently poses the greatest threat. Islam is not the enemy, but the enemy lives within Islam. Accordingly, the broader Islamic world will play a critical role in this war.
We must wage the war to defeat the enemy, not merely to harass it. For over a year, the president has clung to the hope that an air campaign is sufficient. It demonstrably is not. He must call in the best military minds from the United States and NATO, actually listen to what they have to say and finally construct a comprehensive strategy that integrates our effort with the Kurds, Turks, Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians.
Leading Muslim nations and peoples must immediately engage in a sustained global campaign to promote tolerance and eschew violence. The Islamic State’s recruiting propaganda must be countered by a much larger, more focused effort to discredit it and replace it with traditional Islamic values.
The West must stop the insanity of welcoming hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East without knowing who exactly they are. Women, children and the elderly, perhaps, but not thousands upon thousands of single young men.
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.
We must do what it takes.