Terrorism-related deaths are up 800 percent in the past five years according to a new report. That’s nearly 30,000 people who are killed per year by terrorists. While suicide bombers and gunmen have been killing civilians around the globe almost constantly, it was last week’s coordinated terrorist attacks by ISIS in Brussels that violently shook the world awake. I believe in the power of prayer for the victims and their families, but I also believe in the power of U.S. leadership against this evil. It’s time for the U.S. to get serious about defeating ISIS.
ISIS is not the J.V. team as President Obama famously claimed in 2014. They have attacked our allies, they have driven millions of people from their homelands, and they have attacked us on our own shores in San Bernadino. Being the president is not an episode of “Dancing With the Stars;” the presidency is about being, above all, the Commander in Chief. Rather than dance the Argentine Tango with stars in South America, President Obama and his advisers must come up with a detailed plan to defeat and destroy ISIS.
I recently introduced legislation with Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our bill, “Comprehensive Strategy to Destroy ISIL Act of 2016” will require the President — regardless of whom that may be — to submit a report to Congress that details a strategy to destroy ISIS and its affiliates around the world. Codifying a biennial report to Congress will put pressure on the current and next president to develop and maintain a long term strategy to wipe this enemy off the face of the planet.
I have long been a critic of the current “strategy” to combat ISIS, and even more so, I’ve been a vocal opponent of the overly restrictive rules of engagement our troops are forced to navigate while trying to stay alive.
Right now the President believes the United States’ role is to provide a small sprinkling of Special Operations to advise and train local militaries and conduct some airstrikes (after we’ve dropped pamphlets telling militants to abandon the areas). As General Dempsey said, “there’s not a snowball’s chance” that airstrikes alone will work. It will take a force package great enough to win decisively and that means providing the right funding, tools and munitions, providing troop levels adequate for a quick reaction force to come in if our guys and gals get in trouble, and it means ensuring the right rules of engagement necessary to win and win decisively on the field of battle.
We also need to do more to develop intelligence and target combatants before they detonate themselves or other weapons like in Paris, Brussels and Pakistan. When creating an anti-terrorism plan, it’s important to think about more than just the person who pulls the trigger. A terrorist comes in all shapes and sizes: those who offer shelter, weapons and ammunition, as well as those who turn a blind eye to it, are all terrorists and bear the same level of responsibility. The network is as dangerous as the suicide bomber.
President Obama’s policy in Iraq created power vacuums and is responsible for the rise and spread of ISIS and the refugee crisis. The continual terrorist attacks around the globe will not stop until the United States gets serious about defeating and destroying ISIS, and that requires a detailed strategy. The President has ignored ISIS since day one. If we don’t get serious about the threats we face, it’s only a matter of time before they attack America again.
-- U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke is a Republican from Montana.