U.S. airstrikes that have helped Iraqi and Kurdish forces recapture a strategic dam and halt, at least temporarily, the advance of ISIS terrorists on the Kurdish capital of Irbil are a welcome pushback against a relentless enemy that for a time seemed invincible.
But it may be of no more strategic significance than Jimmy Doolittle’s bombing run against Japan in World War II. Doolittle’s raid gave a psychological boost to the United States, but it had to be followed by much sterner stuff before victory was achieved.
Just as Japan and Germany were once threats to free people, so are Islamic fanatics by whatever label they wear. The beheading of James Foley, an American photojournalist, and a threat to behead a second American kidnapped by ISIS fighters are among the latest of numerous atrocities perpetrated by these fanatics.
While airstrikes, a new government in Baghdad that may or may not fulfill President Obama’s call for “inclusiveness,” and support for Kurdish and other forces battling ISIS are all helpful, something more is needed. An international coalition of armies must be created to fight and defeat ISIS.
Though the U.S. and Britain might help assemble it, the coalition should be led by the Kurds and Muslim nations. If ISIS and the other fanatics don’t represent true Islam, the “moderates” should take the lead in restoring not only their good name but a semblance of order. Obama needs to say that victory is, in fact, the goal. Our enemies are certainly fighting to win.
British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote recently that what ISIS is doing in Iraq and Syria affects us all and “we have no choice but to rise to the challenge” in defeating it. “If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement,” he added, “it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain.”
In fact, the preliminary “targeting” is already happening. The Mail Online reported that ISIS supporters recently distributed leaflets on Oxford Street in London. They want people to abandon Britain and join the new Islamic state. Posters declared “the dawn of a new era has begun.”
Scotland Yard said it was investigating to see whether any anti-terror laws were broken. If not, new laws should be passed. This is sedition, and any nation that tolerates sedition aids in its own demise.
More straight talk from Cameron: “This threat cannot simply be removed by airstrikes alone. We need a tough, intelligent and patient long-term approach that can defeat the terrorist threat at (its) source.”
The “source” is radical Islamism, and because it is an amalgam of religious and political doctrines, people regarded as infidels and deserving of death (that would be us) do not have enough diplomats or U.N. resolutions to dissuade them and so they must be eliminated or subjugated.
Cameron said Britain had recently strengthened its Immigration Act “to deprive naturalised Britons of their citizenship if they are suspected of being involved in terrorist activities.” He should advocate the same for native-born Britons who are being radicalized.
As Cameron correctly noted, “We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous and extreme ideology, which I believe we will be fighting for the rest of my political lifetime.”
Longer, if we don’t fight to win.
Cal Thomas, a columnist with Tribune Content Agency, appears in Opinion on Wednesdays.