Fighting the War on Terror

The president’s recent speech highlighted his strategy -- or a better description, his non-strategy. Unfortunately, it was the same old rhetoric with no new measures. As usual when he is criticized, he always resorts to saying the opposition is not offering any suggestions. On December 15th the Republican candidates will once again debate. They might want to listen to these national security officials who gave their suggestions to American Thinker on how the War on Terror should be fought.

The Republican candidates might want to follow the lead of Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, who told American Thinker, “If the president's description was trending in the right direction, his prescription was fairly static. Indeed, the bulk of the speech comprised the president cataloging what we have been doing, why it represented wisdom, and why more robust action, described as being ‘drawn once more into a long and costly ground war’, a proposal I have heard almost no one make, would be counterproductive.”

Everyone interviewed wants Americans to understand that Islamic terrorism is organized and they are equal opportunity killers. They do not care about anyone’s race, religion, sex, or ethnicity, “that the global Jihad is noninclusive and is made up of intolerant Muslim Supremacists.” 

With that said, this president’s inaction can lead to dire results. As former Vice-President Cheney pointed out to James Rosen in Cheney: One On One, about the Israeli take out of the Syrian nuclear reactor, “I think we were lucky that the Israelis did, because later on, obviously, ISIS controls the territory where the nuclear reactor was.” This hammers the point home that Americans cannot just sit back and play spectator. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is someone who never just does the talk. This is never more evident than when he recently went to Iraq.  He noted that ISIL, headquartered in Raqqa, Syria, must be attacked to “destroy the caliphate before we get hit at home. I would send up to 10000 ground forces, liberate Ramadi and Mosul, and send trainers at the battalion level so the Iraqis are less likely to break and run. In Syria I would work with Sunni armies from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to go in and destroy the caliphate.  They should make up about 90% of the ground force, but we need to partner with these people in the region who will do the heavy lifting. I also think the Syrians should pick their next leader. The way we win this war is to help the region hold and build that can contain the threat.”

Hayden agrees with this strategy. He sees this not as a law-enforcement issue until terrorism can be forced below a threshold where it no longer is a national security problem. Specifically, he would embed more Special Forces troops to give confidence and complement those Middle Eastern soldiers, give the Jordanians and the Kurds anything they want, create safe havens, and probably protect it with no-fly zones. He commented to American Thinker, “the strategy has been underresourced and overregulated, especially concerning the rules of engagement. We had great restrictions on how we would use air power in order to avoid collateral damage of civilian loss. The strategic effect was more collateral damage, more civilian loss, like in France.”

Regarding the NSA and the megadata program, Chad Sweet, the national chairman of the Cruz campaign, and former Homeland Security Chief of Staff during the Bush administration, defends Senator Ted Cruz’s position, “The senator has struck the right balance on both maintaining our ability to track, prosecute or kill terrorists, while not gathering without a warrant millions of law-abiding citizen’s phone records.”

Yet, Hayden insists that it is an important tool in fighting the War on Terror. Without it, the hands of intelligence officials are tied. He pointed out, “Within a few days of our ending the megadata program San Bernardino happened. The program was designed to catch exactly these kinds of people that did not have a big footprint.”

Another controversial program is sequestration. Senator Graham told American Thinker “these cuts are not only gutting the military, but are also gutting the FBI. I would set aside these budget cuts, if I were president, that are going to devastate the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. I would reinstate the NSA program as robust as possible within a constitutional limit.”

Hayden emphasized that many in the military see one positive coming out of sequestration. “In talking with a bunch of Air Force people they pointed out that since sequestration they have been granted a budget every year, which allows them to make plans.”

Because of the president’s in action, General Michael Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency describes this war as a long-term fight, especially since ISIS has expanded in size, scale within different regions, and has strengthened organizationally. “This radical Islamist cancer has metastasized to places in West Africa, North Africa, Central Asia, and Bangladesh. Their intent is world domination, and I consider them one of the most effective terrorist movements historically.”

He sees it as a huge mistake if the strategy is limited to just a military component. However, he does think America has a habit of participating in wars instead of fighting to win wars. Flynn says there is a need to reform the economic system of the greater Middle East. He also would tell the Arab world “we need your assistance in not accepting immoral behavior.”  Using the example of what was done in the Balkans in the 1990s, Flynn wants to break parts of Iraq, Syria, and the Lebanese border into sectors to be handled separately. After, “we begin to achieve conditions of security and stability, we would need an enormous reconstruction, like a Marshall Plan, but paid for by the Arab nations.”

Senator Graham summarized it best, “Currently ISIL is enlarged, rich, and entrenched. I want to make them small, poor, and on the run. In this way they worry more about us than we worry about them.” President Obama and the Republican candidates need to listen to those who have made suggestions because America appears to be failing in the war against radical Islam.

The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.