The Gates of Hades are open and the Hounds of Hell let loose. They are raping, torturing and beheading their way through Iraq and Syria, killing everyone who stands in their way – Americans, Christians, even their fellow Muslims. We can’t negotiate with them, or buy them off, or contain them. They cannot be rehabilitated or intimidated. They must be stopped in their tracks and killed. Evil doesn’t disappear with benign neglect; it grows, expands and is emboldened.
The question is – what is the best way to do it? American boots on the ground haven’t worked in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or even Vietnam, and sending them back into the region not only won’t succeed, it will give ISIS even more opportunities to take prisoners. If we have learned anything from dealing with evil, it’s that it can be stopped only in the neighborhood, by its neighbors.
First, arm the Kurds with everything they need. They’re the toughest fighters in the Middle East and the only ones willing to stand up to ISIS. But they don’t have modern weapons, and ISIS has state-of-the-art U.S. weapons the Iraqi Army abandoned when they ran away from them in June. We should give the Kurds heavy weapons and bomb every ISIS convoy that moves.
Second, send John Kerry back to the Middle East, checkbook and arms catalog in hand, to forge a new anti-jihadist coalition of moderate Sunni states, the Kurds and Israel. Tell the Saudis and others that they must stop their wealthy people from supporting ISIS and radical Islam. Six months ago, this wasn’t possible. But ISIS, in its quest to establish a caliphate across North Africa and throughout the Middle East, has declared war on them, and they realize it’s their heads on the stakes next. Suddenly they’ve got skin in the game. Let them join in destroying ISIS, and give them whatever they need to do it.
Third, get serious about protecting the American homeland. We have an undefended southern border. Political correctness has created a homeland defense effort that treats Granny from Grand Rapids on the way to Disney World the same as it treats a young man with multiple entry stamps from Syria or Pakistan. By focusing on everyone, you’re focusing on no one. Start winnowing out those American and European passport holders on the basis of terrorist behavior patterns, and zero in on them. Belgian intelligence estimates there are 7,000 European and several hundred American jihadists in Syria and Iraq. When they go home, they won’t open a falafel shop and join the Rotary Club. They’ll return to their homelands to bring the fight to the West.
Finally, atmospherics are important. President Obama should get off the golf course and into the White House Situation Room. The first statement he issues is important, because the world – not just his liberal base – is watching. The Kurds are watching; the moderate Sunni leaders are watching; ISIS, the caliphate and the new caliph are watching.
No more we’re studying the video. No more ISIS is just a “JV team wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey.” And, please, Mr. President, no more telegraphing to the world what we’re NOT going to do. Stop your chant of “no boots on the ground.” Even though we probably won’t send American ground forces back to Iraq, there is no need to let them know that. Instead, say you will protect Americans wherever they are, anywhere in the world, and let them quake in their sandals.
President Carter tried and failed to negotiate with radical Islamists when they took American diplomats hostage in Tehran. President Reagan’s team tried to trade hostages. Others have tried to ransom hostages. It never works. All it does is encourage terrorists to take more hostages. There are thousands of American civilians, contractors and aid workers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bring them home immediately.
In the late 1980s my Pentagon colleague, Lt. Col. William “Rich” Higgins, was taken hostage while on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. He was tortured, beaten and ultimately hanged. Now we’ve had an American journalist taken hostage and beheaded, with the promise that another will be beheaded soon.
There is no compromise with the Hounds of Hell. Send them back from whence they came.