Only unified security strategy will protect U.S. against Islamist threat.
Today: Paris attacks
CAL: A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that “83% of registered voters say they believe a terrorist attack in the United States resulting in large casualties is likely in the near future.” The Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Va., David Bowers, equated the threat posed by a large influx of Syrian refugees to the period during World War II when President Franklin Roosevelt established internment camps for loyal Japanese Americans because of a fearful public.
Bowers apologized for the comparison. But somewhere between locking them all up, which could not and should not happen, and welcoming them all without sufficient background checks lies the answer. While fear of the unknown and legitimate fear of a repeat of the Paris massacre by the Islamic State terrorist group in the U.S. is understandable, policy should not be made based solely on fear. This can result in an overreaction that might produce the loss of civil liberties and encourage our enemies.
BOB: My college-age daughter didn’t want to come home for Thanksgiving because she feared terrorists would board her plane. I assured her every precaution was being taken, but in the back of my mind I wondered if that was true. Fear is the terrorists’ ultimate weapon, and thus far they have done a good job instilling fear in Western Europe and increasingly in the U.S. In the aftermath of Paris, I understand why Americans are frightened, but this should not mean refusing admission to Syrian refugees who are fleeing ISIL if we have all the appropriate background checks to ensure they are not terrorists.
CAL: “If” is the big question and concern. Some people who clamor for extensive background checks on every American trying to purchase a gun seem OK with allowing tens of thousands of Syrians to come here with little prospect that background checks will be extensive enough. There may not be sufficient information on many of these refugees, or a database from which one can retrieve background about them.
BOB: Two U.S. officials told CNN that FBI Director James Comey has expressed serious concerns about legislation passed in the House that would require national security officials to certify personally whether a prospective refugee should be allowed to enter. While authorities have access to information about the background of most gun purchasers in the U.S., that kind of information is simply not available for the Syrian refugees. Most who are fleeing terrorists are not terrorists. The U.S. has always been a beacon of hope for those who are fleeing oppression. We need to do our part with these Syrians.
CAL: What ought to concern everyone is the refusal of some — such as President Obama and Hillary Clinton — to label the jihadists for what they are. The Islamic terrorists are not hiding their tactics or motivations. They say they get their orders from the Quran. If we refuse to acknowledge the obvious, how does that help us in this war between civilizations? We can’t change their minds because they are motivated by religious zeal. The goal of both political parties should not be to “empathize” with them, as Hillary has said, but rather to defeat them.
BOB: I do not understand President Obama or Hillary Clinton’s refusal to call these thugs what they are, which is Islamic terrorists. I suppose their concern is we will alienate most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. They should recognize many of these people are not friendly to the U.S. anyway, and that privately they have as much to fear, if not more, of ISIL than we do.
CAL: Those who believe in “climate change” like to criticize people they call “climate change deniers,” and yet many of them are in denial about the motives and goals of the jihadists. I submit these killers are far more a clear and present danger. They are not hiding their goals. They want to subjugate the world under their caliphate and are happy to commit mass murder in pursuit of that objective.
BOB: One example of bipartisanship that is encouraging is an agreement between Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. They want any foreign visitor who has been to Iraq or Syria in the last five years to be required to obtain a regular visa, even if he or she would normally receive a visa waiver as a citizen of one of 40 countries the U.S. exempts from visa requirements. As a Washington Post editorial noted, “This may affect only several thousand people, (but) it would add depth to U.S. homeland defense.”
CAL: I agree. And it might help reduce the anxiety level of many Americans and lessen calls for draconian measures that could affect our constitutionally protected privacy. The response to ISIL should be bipartisan and multinational. If ever there was a time when political considerations should be set aside, this is it. But how do we reach bipartisanship during an election season when politicians and interest groups will use anything — including terrorism — for their benefit? Where are the statesmen (and women) of the past who could rise above the fray and put the interests and survival of the nation before their own partisan political concerns?
BOB: Terrorists don’t discriminate between Democrats and Republicans. ISIL just might be the catalyst to bring us together, as happened after 9/11.