I've never seen a poll that asked if war is a good thing. I would guess 99 percent of people would agree war is deplorable. And I would be in that group. War causes tremendous pain, especially to the millions of young men and women who do the fighting, and scars the warrior in more ways than one.
Unfortunately, as horrible as war is, it cannot always be avoided. There will always be evil in the world and psychopaths like Hitler, Stalin and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (leader of ISIS) who will gladly ask millions to die or commit unspeakable atrocities to advance their causes. At such moments, our leaders must make the tough decision to confront.
FDR did the right thing when he, along with Congress, involved us in World War II. Actually, we had been "involved" for quite some time, even before we declared war on Japan.
Did we want war? Absolutely not, but FDR recognized evil, unchecked, would eventually impact us. Evil then was Hitler and the Nazis. Evil today is ISIS. So, how does today's challenge with ISIS compare to the situation we faced in the 1940s?
Germany was a world power. Hitler was cruel and brutal, but he and his party hid their most abhorrent acts from the world, and Hitler never suggested he would actually attack the continental United States.
By comparison, I actually agree with President Obama that ISIS is (or at least was) the junior varsity team. They do not have the structure or resources Germany had all those years ago, but to extend the metaphor, if the Lakers just sit on the bench, the JV will win the game.
ISIS is, however, even more evil than Hitler and the Nazi's. These people not only behead innocents and set people on fire, but they actually advertise their brutality. They are proud of it and only hope this blatant display of barbarism will deter countries from confronting them.
They have also made it clear they intend to bring their savagery to the United States. They constantly chant "Death to America," and Baghdadi himself has suggested he will see us in New York. While they are not the power Germany was in 1940, they're more evil and have made direct threats to the United States.
This is why most Americans, while we hate war, believe we must attack ISIS with the intent of eradicating them. But what exactly does that mean?
First, we must stop arguing about what to call them. Call them extremists. Call them terrorists. Call them Islamic terrorists. Call them ISIS. I don't care. I wouldn't call them ISIL however, because that is what they want and it is an aspirational title. Google "The Levant" (the "L" in ISIL) to understand what that includes. Even if the president insists on calling them ISIL, fine, as long as we agree we need to kill them.
Next, while bombing will continue to be an important aspect to this war, I have long believed we will need to put boots on the ground in Iraq. ISIS is embedded in towns like Mosul, Tikrit and Fallujah. We can't bomb these entire cities. We'd kill more innocents than terrorists. The good news is, we know where they are. They're not hiding in caves these days.
Unfortunately, this means our guys will have to go door to door to extricate these thugs. ISIS has 20,000 to 30,000. We probably need to match that with US troops and get a like amount from our coalition partners like France, England, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.
And we need to act now while ISIS is still the JV. I've heard we are attacking Mosul in April. That's great, I guess. It's great we are going. That I know about it already is disturbing. The United States didn't mail its plans for D-Day to Hitler. Please, Mr. President, stop telling our enemies what we will and won't do and when we will start and stop our efforts.
Finally, Congress needs to approve whatever Authorization for Use of Military Force the president wants. Some would argue he already has all the authority he needs from the 2001 authorization given to President Bush. I would at least encourage the president not to handcuff himself by putting a three-year limit on the AUMF or by using language like no "enduring ground troops."
We need to do whatever it takes to eliminate this evil from the world right now. No country in the world supports these goons: not Iran, not Saudi Arabia, certainly not Europe or us. We can worry about jobs for the poor and young people throughout the world when ISIS is gone. The biggest deterrent to recruiting for ISIS is killing its existing membership.
Kevin Canfield of Springdale is author of "Mastering Sales." He also blogs at kevincanfield.blogspot.com and can be emailed at Kkcbsu@cox.net
Commentary on 02/28/2015
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