From The Wall Street Journal:
An uneasy electorate will try to decide who is best prepared to protect the U.S.
By Damian Paletta | Updated March 22, 2016 4:29 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The terrorist attacks in Brussels posed an immediate test for the winnowing field of presidential candidates, who offered sharp reactions Tuesday as an uneasy electorate tries to decide who is best prepared to confront global radicalism.
The Brussels explosions occurred just four days after officials arrested Salah Abdeslam, whom they believe was involved in planning the large-scale terror attacks in Paris last year that killed 130 people. They also occurred the same day voters in Arizona and Utah were to cast ballots in both parties’ presidential contests and Idaho Democrats were holding caucuses.
Several major terror attacks have unfolded since the 2016 presidential race began in earnest, including a December shooting spree in California that killed 14 people, and each has redrawn the contours of the presidential contest. The race in recent months, though, has pivoted largely to discussions of trade and immigration policy.
The Brussels explosions could snap the focus of the electorate, and the candidates, back to the dangers posed by terrorists, who have killed hundreds of people in the past 18 months despite the aggressive efforts of intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world.
Donald Trump, in an interview on Fox News, cited the attacks as a validation of his aggressive rhetoric, which has drawn criticism from leaders of both parties. “I’ve been talking about this for a long time, and look at Brussels,” Mr. Trump said. “Brussels was a beautiful city, a beautiful place with zero crime, and now it’s a disaster city.”
Brussels also serves as headquarters for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance that Mr. Trump said this week is drawing an excessive amount of U.S. resources. Mr. Trump’s two remaining GOP rivals seized on the attacks to criticizes his stance on NATO. . . . .
Mr. Trump in particular has earned broad support and forceful condemnation for his tough talk on combating terrorism. He has said he would consider punishing terrorist’s family members to deter people from joining Islamic State, and that he’d use harsh interrogation techniques to extract information. He has also drawn attention proposing a temporary ban on the entry of most Muslims into the U.S.
That proposal, made just days after the Dec. 2, 2015, terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., was condemned by leaders of both parties, but Mr. Trump has stood by it and many of his backers now voice support for the idea. Mr. Trump has also vowed to build a 1,000-mile wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to protect the U.S. from unwanted and illegal immigrants.
There’s more at the original, but one thing is clear: Mr Trump has set forth the most aggressive, most active plan for dealing with Islamist terrorism of any of the candidates.
Mr Trump’s appeal is simple: he is seen by everyone as a fighter, as someone who will not back down, who, if attacked, will strike back even harder, and who doesn’t really care what other people think about it. His past political positions, which were very much standard Democratic just a few years ago, notwithstanding, a lot of conservative Republicans have flocked to his banner simply because he is a fighter. And if it becomes a choice between Mr Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next November, not many people are going to see Mrs Clinton as better able to protect the United States. Her tenure as Secretary was marked by few successes, naïveté, and her few failures were spectacular ones. She even said that “We didn’t lose a single person” in Libya, being politically tin-eared enough to think that she could somehow limit her comments to just the timeline in which Moammar Gadhafi was deposed, and think that everyone would somehow separate out the four men who were killed, on her watch, in Benghazi. If the election comes down to a question of whether Mrs Clinton would be a good President when it comes to protecting America from terrorism, her actual record just plain stinks.
The new conservative party, Alternative for Germany, recently shook up the German political scene, winning seats in state elections. The reasons include more than AfG’s anti-immigration stance, and its condemnation of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policies of welcoming the Middle Eastern refugees, but you can count on it: the Brussels terrorist bombings will have the political effect of pushing more of the more-liberal-than-Americans European populations toward more hostility toward the Arab immigrants. Liberal Sweden is seeing the rise of the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, and the citizenry are terrified by the “no go” zones, immigrant-controlled areas where the police simply do not enter. Donald Trump offers the very simple solution of locking the doors to new Muslim immigrants, and expelling the bad ones already here, while Mrs Clinton is going out of her way to not be offensive to Muslims; that will only solidify Mr Trump’s support.
In 2001, al Qaeda launched the most successful terrorist attack in history, striking a huge blow against the United States. Osama bin Laden was overjoyed, but the result of that attack was the decimation of al Qaeda and the isolation and exile of Mr bin Laden, finally punctuated by a SEAL Team 6 bullet in his brain. For al Qaeda, the September 11th attacks were as successful for them as the Pearl Harbor attack was for the Japanese, in both the short and long term.
At the moment, Da’ish is more of a problem in Europe than it is here, but Americans can see what is happening over there. Mr Trump is offering a plan to try to stop more Da’ish infiltrators from getting here in the first place, and a lot of Americans will see that as nothing but common sense. In the end, the American presidential election is the most important election in the world, as important in Germany as it is in Georgia, in Brussels as it is in Boston, and Da’ish are making things easier for Donald Trump.