First, let’s do that math:
Every ISIS jihadist must be killed. If there is a hope for capturing and deprogramming, I’m all for it. But it’s time-intensive, and we don’t have that luxury. I would love to take each Islamist, separately, and walk him through the immorality of his toxic beliefs. But if there are too many who believe we are all better off dead in some made-up heaven than alive on this hopeful earth – deprogramming can’t stop that. The only recourse is elimination by our military. And for our civilians, hardening all soft targets in our lives.
Next, the battle:
We must prove their fantasy a joke, in front of all Muslims. This is not just my opinion. It’s from those great warriors who kill these fiends for a living.
Speaking of our trained and ready soldiers, this is what they live for and dream of. You don’t join the military for the health insurance, or to distribute water bottles. You join to protect our freedoms and conquer evil. Is there anything more evil and freedom-threatening than ISIS?
So let’s dispel the myth of the “chicken-hawk.” The military works for us, and it loves its work. It would insult it to think otherwise. Imagine applying the chicken-hawk argument to other areas of government. “I would never ask Congress to approve money to build roads if I weren’t prepared to build those roads myself.”
The next president should declare war – not on terror (which is like a war on war; it’s nonsense) – but against the enemy. Just name it.
Our forces must be overwhelming, with enough troops to walk through an entire city. ISIS is a coward by strategy. Given a choice to fight armed men or blow up a school full of children, ISIS will always do the kids. The Islamist fighting tactic is universal, from the West Bank to Orlando: You “fight” only when you can kill unarmed or terrified people. If there’s a scent of opposition, ISIS retreats. So our men must eradicate it, on the ground. Ultimately we must go in and dig out the cancer using the bare hands of our heroes.
At home, there are many things you can do.
Like self-defense training. Unfortunately, the kind of training we need – which is to instruct citizens how to overcome attacks (“Think like 93" is my motto, based on the heroism of Flight 93 passengers on 9/11) – is in short supply. The understanding, of course, is you may die when confronting a terrorist. But as a friend once said: better to die that way than emphysema. He’s right. I would prefer to die strangling a jihadist than in bed surrounded by grieving relatives. But I am 51. So I’ve had a good run.
We need an industry for this. When I was growing up in northern California, the yearly drills focused on earthquake preparedness. I can still remember racing to place my young body under a door jam. Although once I’d figure out what to do in an actual earthquake, it’s pretty much done.
Not with terror. It’s an unfolding event that can last hours, often ending well before the police get there. We can mitigate that.
We need to start doing terror drills at work, in bars, at school.
If you own a business, you need to protect your employees, with armed security outside and inside too. We must make Islamism a universal hassle for everyone (Muslims, tourists, teenagers, students). It’s about resetting the mindset, viewing it as a persistent problem, not an existential threat.
Also, this idea that disrupting your life means “the terrorists have won” is pure BS. Disruption is the only way to beat them. Because right now, a majority of our population refuses to take this fight seriously. Its ambivalence is shaken only momentarily by Twitter trends. To get it to understand the threat, make it feel the consequences of ISIS through our monotonous diligence. If you cannot name the horror right now, you might after it becomes a pain in your ass.
This “hardening” should be a major at colleges, a vocation as revered as engineering. If we have an employment problem in America, then solve it with a new career path: “Fortification: the hardening of soft targets.”
Terror is like water; it seeks the most vulnerable path. As we successfully harden soft targets (planes, airports), Islamists will always find other options.
Shooting up clubs and community centers is what you do when you can’t do anything else. And attacks on airports will now focus beyond the periphery of security.
Every area where there are humans congregating, we should treat preciously. If someone’s going to attack a joint like that, the very best they can do is shoot up a checkpoint on the periphery.
We agonize over the quantity of security, but we never question the effort it takes to paint a bridge, or combat climate change, or protect the Oscars. We can solve this problem if we make it an “industry that solves this problem.”
Of course, that shifts targets. Terrorists prefer travel hubs, because we all travel – hence, targeting airports. It’s all about the spectacle, and of course, creating “terror.”
The next strategies will marry chemicals to technology. Buy a drone online, pack it full of anthrax, fly it over a concert. It could also take shape in the tampering of food and water, spiking products or water supplies with poisons.
Remember, 9/11 was enabled by a box-cutter: A tool purchased at the local hardware store turned a jetliner into a ballistic missile. But now, for the “lone wolf” – which is nothing more than a self-activated sleeper cell – it will be knives or guns accompanying a flurry of horror in a café or theater. It’s impossible to stop everyone, but that should not stop us from trying.
But enough about us.
What about ISIS? What if there’s another way? Which leads to my final, absurd suggestion:
Give them what they want.
What if we let them have an Islamic State? Temporarily, of course.
I call this the sandcastle theory. If you’re going to kick over a sandcastle, you wait until the kid’s built it. The more sand in one spot, the more you can kick over.
Establishing an Islamic state establishes their end.
But!!! – What if that’s the whole point?
Maybe this is just their plea to us: a large-scale version of “suicide by cop.” Please shoot me before I shoot you!
If they’re just establishing an Islamic state to prepare for death, why can’t we help?
I bet they’re wondering why it’s taking us so long to figure this out.