Is this war yet?
By Ambassador Francis Rooney
Contrary to the constrained and parsed language that the Obama administration uses to describe the terror radiating from the Middle East, we are at war. The terror attacks in France only underscore this reality. This is a struggle for the values and freedoms the Western world holds dear. The modern secular state where all religious faiths are respected, and the rights of all men and women are to be protected, is under siege. These attacks are neither sporadic “episodes,” nor are they merely criminal. We confront a locally and regionally organized movement with a unifying ideology and global ambitions.
While the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and their ilk are in some ways more complicated than traditional nation states, the underlying ideology has echoes of mid-20th Century fascism. There is tyranny in the beating heart of both movements.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton correctly noted that the enemy are “jihadists,” but shied away from conceding that it is unmistakably and by its own description Islamic. You can argue whether the wave of terror that began with the Iranian Revolution and reached new heights with the Islamic State attacks on France is truly inspired by a perverted interpretation of Islam, or rather the cynical and calculated manipulation of religion for the purpose of hegemonic conquest. Either way, the result is largely the same. The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the constellation of Islamic extremist groups that orbit around them have spread fear across the world. They have imposed a significant “security tax” on free societies. And they have seized significant territory across North Africa and the Middle East.
The question confronting all free societies targeted by these extremists is whether to declare war against those who are waging war against us. If so, what is the best means to mount the kind of wartime response traditionally associated with nation state conflicts?
One possible measure would be an embargo that cuts off extremist held territory in Iraq and Syria from the rest of the world: No cross border movement, no flights in and out, no connection with the global commons. This would essentially treat extremist held territory as a belligerent nation, and it might well entail recognizing the already de facto partition of Iraq and Syria into their Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions. Islamic State leaders believe they occupy a Caliphate, so why should they avoid measures that traditionally constrain aggressor nations?
More punishing measures could also target any governments or non-governmental organizations that nurture or support the terrorists, including the governments of many of our Sunni allies in the Middle East. Even indirect or private support for a radical movement that has declared war on the civilized world should carry a heavy cost, one that creates an incentive for these nations to become part of the solution to a problem that is in many respects of their own making. In short, cut off the money, dry up support, and starve the extremist movement.
The plight of innocent people in areas occupied or contested by these extremists is a humanitarian tragedy on an almost incomprehensible scale. While all innocent people driven from their homes or persecuted by these extremists deserve our help and support, the plight of Christians in this regard is unconscionable. The world needs to help all of the displaced persons created from this conflict, but the ultimate answer to their suffering is to stop the wanton violence and destruction so that they can return home.
A good place to start is the “No Fly Zone” and safe corridor in Syria which Governor Jeb Bush and others have endorsed. Such a safe haven could offer a means to bring humanitarian aid to the displaced, stem the current refugee tide, and serve as a base of operations for more moderate forces opposed to the extremists.
This sad chapter in human affairs will pass, but decisions and actions are urgently needed to hasten the day when the Islamic State and its fellow travelers take their rightful place on the ash heap of history, alongside other extremist movements like fascism, imperialism, and communism. As in past wars, free peoples will ultimately prevail so long as free nations stand united against tyranny, recognizing it under whatever black flag it travels. Appeasement and parsed language, such as we have repeatedly seen from the Obama administration, will not deter hardened jihadists.
Rooney served as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See under George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008, and is author of the book, The Global Vatican
Source: Ambassador Francis Rooney, thehill.com