The Urgency of Defeating ISIS


After the terrorist attack in Paris I asked, “Does the U.S. Care about Europe?” Now, after the Brussels attack, it is time to repeat this warning. As the New York Time’s Roger Cohen points out:

  • Over 1 million refugees entered Europe in 2015 alone. Another 136,000 have arrived so far in 2016. This creates a huge financial burden as well as a cultural challenge for a Europe which is already weakened by huge debt and slow economic growth.
  • It will bolster those campaigning to take Britain out of the European Union in the upcoming June referendum. A British departure from the EU will dramatically weaken it and might encourage other countries to leave as well.
  • Islamic State terror plays into the hands of populist demagogues such as presidential candidate Donald Trump and right wing French leader Marine Le Pen.
  • To allow ISIS to have its own territory, and capital city Raqqa in Syria, is a very high risk strategy. It allows the Islamic State to spread its evil not only around the immediate area but all over the world.
  • The question raised most urgently by the Brussels attacks, so soon after Paris, is whether and why Raqqa can be tolerated when Al Qaeda’s Tora Bora sanctuary in Afghanistan was not. Today, the West’s ponderous wait-them-out approach looks like capitulation.

The fundamental question is whether or not the U.S. can refrain from immersing itself in the crises of the Middle East and still maintain its status as the world’s indispensable super power. “George Bush will be remembered harshly for what he did in the Middle East. Barack Obama is gambling that he will be judged well for the things he didn’t do.”  The stakes are very high indeed for both the United States and our European allies.

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