The horrific terror attack in Manchester this week served as yet another reminder of the growing reach of radical Islamic terrorism around the world. ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, has masterminded or inspired several attacks on our own soil, including San Bernardino and Orlando, and has done the same throughout Europe throughout the past few years, culminating with this week’s attack. This is not even to mention the hundreds of plots that have been foiled by intelligence services in that same time span.
Each horrific attack results in the brutal death of innocent civilians. This is followed by reminders to “pray for (insert city name here)” and the usual political finger-pointing and posturing, but each attack is also soon forgotten by the media and general public.
To make matters worse, as pointed out by David French in this excellent piece for National Review, Western political leaders are clearly becoming “comfortable” with some level of terrorism, likely due to the political unpopularity of war in the Middle East. For example, German chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that her people must “live with the danger of terrorism”.
This is in stark contrast to the reaction we should expect to these horrific incidents. Political calculations have no place when a group of truly evil and demented individuals is bent on the destruction of both the Western world and our value system. This group hates both freedom and Judeo-Christian values, and has acted upon this hatred by killing and maiming innocent people on our own soil.
But yet, we have done relatively little to escalate our response to this threat to our way of life, other than a few made-for-TV airstrikes and political posturing.
This is in stark contrast to the reaction these very same nations exhibited to the 9/11 attacks under the much-maligned but relatively successful (at preventing terror attacks, anyway) leadership of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. While clearly, the 9/11 attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda were far more brazen and devastating than any single ISIS attack, ISIS presents the same threat and is deserving of the same fate: utter annihilation.
As Donald Trump mentioned in his speech this week, Middle Eastern countries should bear some of the burden of taking on ISIS, but the reality on the ground is generally that they are either unable or unwilling to do so.
Thus, it is incumbent upon America, as the leader of the free world, to assemble a western-led coalition to demolish ISIS once and for all, whatever it takes. It is a sad reality, but also a simple fact: if we do not take on this responsibility, no one will.
While the strategic aspects are no doubt complex, it is certainly feasible to at the very least put ISIS on the run such that they are focused on self-preservation and cannot orchestrate any more attacks from safe havens in the Middle East. Furthermore, a few major military victories over ISIS would crush the morale of would-be Islamic terrorists worldwide. There were relatively few major terror attacks for several years after 9/11, almost certainly due at least in part to our military activity.
The West’s manpower and firepower is far superior to the enemy’s, as is the righteousness of our position. Our deficiency seems to be in our leaders’ lack of moral courage to confront the threat at the possible expense of their political careers.
How many more innocents have to die? How much more terrorism against women and children will we tolerate on our own soil? If we don’t take on this threat, who will? If not now, when? These are the questions complacent Western leaders should be asking themselves instead of plotting the course of their own electoral futures.