Programming alert: Oliver North and Leif Babin co-host "War Stories: Fighting ISIS" on the Fox News Channel. Watch Friday March 25 at 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 26 at 1 a.m., 5 a.m., 5 p.m. and midnight ET.
This is a tough question to ask on Good Friday: “Is this any way to fight a war?”
For Christendom, Easter is the holiest of holidays. Yet, graphic images of a mass murder perpetrated by suicidal ISIS terrorists in Brussels, Belgium are flashing around the world. More than 30 are dead and hundreds more are wounded. Consider the response from the Obama administration:
In Cuba, the president of the United States shows his concern by doing “The Wave” at a baseball game beside one of the last two Communist dictators on the planet. Then, to ensure we get the point about America leading from behind, he jets off to Argentina for tango lessons. It’s not just surreal. It’s dangerous.
POTUS tells us ISIS isn’t an “existential threat.” In the next breath the O-Team informs us “defeating ISIS” is the president’s “number one priority.” That’s a relief. Until now we thought it was the dreaded enemy, Climate Change.
Unfortunately, all this is a consistent pattern of behavior from our commander-in-chief – even when ISIS targets Americans. For example:
November 2009: Nidal Hasan murders 13 and wounds 30 at Fort Hood. The Obama administration calls the attack, “workplace violence.”
December 2011: Obama ignores advice from his military commanders and orders all U.S. military personnel out of Iraq. The troops call it “The Obama Bug-Out.” He claims he’s fulfilling a campaign pledge because “Iraq is now a stable democracy.” It’s anything but.
June 2014: The ISIS army, 30,000 strong, swarms out of Syria, capturing broad swaths of Iraq and declares a “Caliphate.” Obama calls ISIS a “JV Team,” says it will be “degraded and destroyed” and later tells us ISIS is “contained.” It’s none of the above. Instead, more than 25,000 young Muslim men and women from around the globe join ISIS.
August 2014: ISIS broadcasts the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley. Our president promises “criminals” who perpetrate atrocities like this “will be brought to justice.” He then goes off to play golf. No one is brought to “justice.”
July 2015: Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez murders four Marines and a Navy Sailor in Chattanooga, TN. Our Commander-in-Chief refuses to call the killer a jihadi; but pledges to stop “lone wolf extremists.”
December 2015: Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik murder 14 and wound 22 at a holiday party in San Bernardino, CA. Mr. Obama calls it a “tragedy” and claims there is “no evidence the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas.” He does note the attack is “a reminder of how easy it is for dangerous people to obtain guns in this country."
Barack Obama’s comments in the aftermath of these events indicate he has no grasp of what needs to be done to protect the American people from ISIS – or any of the radical Islamist terror organizations that have declared war against us.
Our enemies aren’t just “criminals” or “extremists.” They are radical Islamist jihadis – using “trade-names” like Al Qaeda; ISIS; Al-Shabaab; Jemaah Islamiah; Abu Sayef; Hezbollah; Hamas and a host of other titles. No matter the sobriquet – these franchises from hell are one in their goals: force all “Westerners” to withdraw from the “Lands of the Prophet” – and destroy our ally, Israel.
More uncomfortable facts:
ISIS wouldn’t even exist but for the 2011 “Obama Bug-Out” from Iraq and his flaccid response to Bashir Assad’s brutal civil war in Syria.
ISIS isn’t “contained.” The organization and its affiliates now operate from safe havens in 13 countries: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, the Philippines, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Mali and Nigeria. The Obama-Clinton-Kerry legacy: genocide.
Ancient Christian and Yazidi communities are being annihilated. Over a quarter million unarmed men, women and children have already perished. More than 14 million human beings have been driven from their homes in Southwest Asia, Africa and the broader Middle East. The catastrophic number of dead and displaced – the largest since World War II – has already cost over $5 billion and overwhelmed international relief organizations.
Other than the effectiveness of their propaganda and communications, the ISIS “way of war” is extraordinarily brutal and cruel, but hardly sophisticated. ISIS terrorists prefer “soft targets.” They employ local cells to identify their prey, plan operations and commit mass murder – usually with suicidal adherents.
Western intelligence services rely heavily on intercepting communications so ISIS operatives use encrypted voice and data messages and “throw-away” cell phones. Because we are so poor at collecting HUMINT – human intelligence – we’re “shocked and surprised” by their attacks.
None of these problems are intractable if we hire a commander-in-chief worthy of the title – and a Congress willing to fulfill the principal responsibility of government: protecting the lives and liberty of the American people. Some first steps:
1. Define the Enemy: radical Islamists waging war against us.
2. Define Victory: No safe havens – anywhere – for those waging war against us. This doesn’t require landing the 1st Marine Division or the 82nd Airborne in Syria but it will oblige our next president to directly arm the Kurds and build a coalition of Sunni Arabs [e.g., Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UAE & Saudi funding] to destroy ISIS in Syria. Without a safe haven to recruit, train and transmit vicious propaganda, suicidal jihad will become much less attractive.
3. Reinvigorate the CIA and DIA to collect human intelligence overseas. Here at home Encourage task forces like those created by former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in the NYPD to penetrate radical Islamist organizations.
4. Stop telling our enemies things they don’t need to know. Don’t “chest-thump” about successes – like Obama did with the killing of Usama bin Laden – and the Belgians bragging about how “Salah Abdeslam is talking…”
5. Video profile “soft targets” – mass transit sites and other “crowd venues.” The cameras are already there. A trained and attentive security officer should have noted the three Brussels terrorists strolling through the airport. Had a K-9 unit been dispatched when they walked beneath that camera, many lives could have been saved.
6. Allow only fully “vetted” Middle East refugees into the U.S. It’s a “no brainer.”
7. Forget about closing “Gitmo” and stop releasing Jihadis to return to their war against us.
Will these seven steps end the threat of radical Islam? Not immediately. But to start, “We The People” must hire a commander-in-chief as courageous as the soldiers, sailors, Airmen, Guardsmen and Marines who volunteered to protect us all.
Lt. Col. Oliver L. North (ret.) serves as host of the Fox News Channel documentary series "War Stories with Oliver North." From 1983 to 1986, he served as the U.S. government's counterterrorism coordinator on the National Security Council staff. "Counterfeit Lies," is his novel about how Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them. Click here for more information on Oliver North.