Friday, September 12, 2014

Narrow response to attacks on Americans is right response

     There ought to be a rule that America can only go to war if the majority of Americans can actually identify the location of the enemy on a map, especially when the enemies are terrorists.

     That said, we Americans are going to have to understand that in this day and age, terrorists are not going to go away, and that a whole lot of people don’t like us. We need to know where terrorists live and what drives them. The challenge for us as a peace-loving people is to figure out how to deal with terrorist groups and the flypaper politics of the Middle East before terror strikes inside our nation again.

     We learned the lessons of 9/11, Afghanistan and our misguided invasion of Iraq. But apparently those lessons were lost on would-be terrorists.

     Many Americans would like to pull the covers over their heads and go back to bed, but it is becoming clearer every day that that’s just not possible. We can debate how our nation got to this point, but the 1,400-year sectarian war in the Middle East continues to threaten to wash ashore.

     We have little chance of stopping it until the people of that region come to their senses. Even so, the beheading of an American journalist by a group of thugs who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was an outrage, and our nation must respond.

     Steven Sotloff wasn’t murdered because he was a reporter, he was murdered because he was an American dedicated to telling the rest of world what was going on in Iraq and Syria. He was murdered because he was exercising a freedom unknown in totalitarian regimes: the freedom of speech that we all enjoy. In other words, he was murdered because he was part of a democratic society. Sotloff could have been any American.

     President Obama’s speech to the nation Wednesday outlined a measured and narrow response to a horrific act. His plan includes air strikes on ISIS forces of an estimated 20,000 men and women. Along with fighter jets, we will send more than 400 military advisors to help Iraqi fighters repel a growing invasion.

     Apparently the lesson of Osama bin Laden, the architect of 9/11 who was tracked down and killed by American forces after 10 years of hunting for him was lost on the ISIS thugs. Also lost was the lesson of American cargo ship captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in 2009 and rescued by the American Navy.

     There will be perils in responding to attacks on American citizens. We must not respond rashly, but not responding in any way will erode our security as a free people.

     It’s time we buckled down and became expert in dealing with terrorists in a narrow, cool, calculating and, when necessary, very lethal way.

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