Even Politicians Don’t Grasp the Terror Problem


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I’m not singling Mike Huckabee out here, because he clearly isn’t the only politician that is clueless on this issue.  Donald Trump’s proposal was even farther fetched and completely ignorant.  I’m using Mr. Huckabee’s proposal to respond to because it was the one that happened to show up on my feed today, and seems to be the more mainstream response.

I’ll respond to each point in order:

  1. Close our borders instead of Guantanamo.
    1. First, the fact that you are creating an either/or scenario shows a complete lack of understanding. Gitmo is providing us no benefit in the war on terror and should be closed, but closing borders is just as pointless.
    2. Closing the borders is 1) handing terrorists a win. When we start giving up our freedoms, closing borders, putting TSA security scanners in movie theaters, shopping centers, and restaurants, wiretapping phones, monitoring email and text messaging, banning firearm ownership, etc., we are changing our lifestyle and giving up our freedoms due to our fear of terror — which is exactly the point of terror: to control nations and governments through fear.  2) Secondly, closing borders is ineffective because the greatest threats will pass through closed borders undetected. ISIS and Al Qaeda are recruiting people from nations all across the globe, training them in terror tactics, then sending them back to their home countries to grow their own terror cells. Closed borders is not going to prevent a French, German or U.S. citizen from entering its own country. France knows of at least 1,500 citizens who have joined or are affiliated with terror groups. The U.S. knows of at least 275. Who are the ones who are not yet known? Where are they now? What are the planning next? How will closed borders stop them? We are trying to prevent a single gunman from entering a movie theater and shooting 100 people dead in 30 seconds and we don’t know who the guy is or where he is, and we live in a country with the easiest access to guns in the world. Closing the borders does nothing to address our most real threat.
  2. Refuse to accept refugees (paraphrasing)
    1. The evidence is overwhelming that the terror threat from the refugee population is almost non-existent. These people are fleeing the same terror that we are trying to prevent. ISIS doesn’t need to disguise people as refugees, and it’s a much harder way to get people and weapons into the country. If they can send a French or U.S. citizen back home and then have them acquire needed weapons (or build their own explosives) once they are back home, that is a fool-proof and undetectable method — and the method they are almost exclusively employing. So again, wasting your time and resources on refusing to help people who truly need help does nothing to address the real threat and only serves to fuel further anti-American sentiment.
  3. Build a coalition that will include NATO, Russia, and nations of the Middle East to aggressively destroy ISIS. Nations who refuse to participate will be sanctioned and isolated.
    1. Great!  I’m all in favor. You should probably be prepared to sanction Russia, but let’s get to the heart of this: How do you propose to “aggressively destroy ISIS” (or Al Qaeda or any other terror group)? They don’t have a national identity or government structure. They aren’t tied to a geographic location. They exist in basements, cellars, caves and backrooms all across the globe — there could be a cell operating in your neighborhood. If intelligence learns that there is a cell in a remote building in Iraq, by the time we get the intelligence and a SEAL team can get there, they may have moved to Afghanistan. And unless we are willing to indiscriminately kill innocent civilians the way they do, “bombing the [expletive] out of them” (as Trump suggested) isn’t very feasible. They often purposely use hospitals, schools and heavily populated civilian areas for their centers of operation for this very reason. Identifying their membership is almost impossible, stopping them is even harder. Terrorism is an intelligence, police and military nightmare. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack when you don’t know which haystack to look in or what the needle even looks like. We aren’t trying to stop the Soviet army from marching on U.S. soil. We are trying to identify and prevent a single gunman from entering a movie theater anywhere in the world with an automatic weapon or explosive vest and killing 100 people in one click of a finger. So i’m all in favor of “aggressively destroying” them, but what is your plan to do this?
  4. Revoke any agreement with Iran regarding their nuclear capacity.
    1. OK fine, but how does this solve the terror problem? If what happened in France is ISIS’ responsibility as they claim, what role did the Iranian nuclear agreement play in this? The backbone of the ISIS network is in Syria and Iraq, so you are saying revoking our nuclear agreement with Iran is going to cripple the Syrian and Iraqi ISIS network? I fail to follow your logic.

More than what was said, what is really striking is what went unsaid:

  1. Nothing was said about how we improve and develop our intelligence apparatus. Intelligence is a more valuable weapon in fighting terror than are bombs and guns. We can’t fight anything until we can identify the who, where, and how’s of the operation. You would think any viable plan to counter terror would at least make some mention of how one planned to use intelligence as part of the proposal.
  2. There was no mention of finance. It takes money for these groups to operate. If ISIS sends some American converts back to the states to develop a terror cell and carry out attacks on American soil, somebody is financing them. Money is flowing into the country. Weapons are easy to get, but they cost money. Building explosive devices likewise. There are paper trails. How do you plan to identify this money flow? What actions do you take to hold the financiers accountable? How do you stop the money flow? And so on.

Look, it’s easy for the left to say Bush was a bad guy — he caused this problem by going into Iraq unadvised. It’s easy for the right to say Obama is a bad guy, he hasn’t done enough. The truth is, terrorism isn’t Bush’s fault. It isn’t Obama’s fault. It isn’t the French government’s fault. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and all other freedom-loving people abhor terror and want to see it brought to its knees. The war on terror is an unimaginably difficult war — one that we will always fight at a disadvantage as long as they are willing to target innocent civilians and we are not. If we want to have any chance to make serious headway against this global threat, it’s high time we quit pointing fingers, making our allies into our enemies, and using a serious global threat as fodder for partisan politics. This is the one issue that we need to put nationalism and partisan politics aside and say “We will be united in this cause. Wherever else we might disagree, on this one issue we will join together and fight as one.”

The reason we are losing this war is because terrorism divides us, but unites the jihadists. Sadly it seems all the politicians and most of the public fails to grasp the significance of that point.