Op-ed: Mr. President, Stop Making Excuses for ISIS
Published in The Washington Times
By Rep. Tom Rooney, FL-17
Last week, the horror of the Islamic State reached barbaric new levels with the release of a video showing the terrorists burning a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage. This came on the heels of dozens of videos showing the group torturing and murdering hostages, including most recently the beheading of two Japanese men. Reports spread of children being tortured, killed, or sold into slavery.
Much of the world, particularly in the Middle East, erupted with outrage. The intention of the video was to frighten Arabs away from joining alliances to defeat the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and "Daesh"), but it had the opposite effect. Middle Eastern leaders condemned the execution. The people of Jordan cheered King Abdullah II when he ordered the immediate execution of two ISIS prisoners and then launched attacks on ISIS targets.
With our Arab partners turned squarely against the Islamic State for its atrocities, the United States has the opportunity to rally support for decisive action to defeat and destroy this threat. Unfortunately, President Obama has not seized this chance.
Instead, he attended the National Prayer Breakfast and stated that, "Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ."
I was shocked by this statement. What on earth does the President think the crusades have to do with ISIS? What does the modern day United States have to do with the Crusades? My people were still picking potatoes in Ireland! And why would he insult Christians across the world by creating a false equivalency between their beliefs and the actions of ISIS? Most importantly, why would he make this excuse for barbaric acts of murder?
I guess I should not have been surprised. President Obama has consistently tried to make excuses for all the problems he has faced. He inherited the war. He inherited the financial crisis. So what? Move forward! You, Mr Obama, wanted this job, didn't you? We so desperately need leadership right now, not excuses. Instead, the President talks as if a college professor waxing about humanity and all of its flaws without recognizing that we're evolving, beyond religious wars, and beyond slavery. That's what happens when great men like Abraham Lincoln inspire human beings to do the right thing at the right time in history.
From a man who promised hope and change, this is just disappointing. Even if President Obama is right, even if all of those factors are true, he was elected to lead this country. Who cares what has been? Where are you, Mr. president, going to lead us over the next two years? Unfortunately, it looks like he is just biding his time to be done with us. His college professorship will be here soon enough.
The King of Jordan, a man I have had the privilege of meeting on numerous occasions, donned military fatigues and promised his nation's response "will be heard by the world" and pledged "relentless war" to defeat ISIS. Our President might as well have said, "Well ... Christians kinda, sorta did it first a thousand years ago, so let's not get too high and mighty in our response." Absurd, and embarrassing.
President Obama has continually failed to produce a strategy that has any hope of defeating ISIS. He continues pushing a plan of utilizing underwhelming force that handcuffs our military. Launching airstrikes, arming and training so-called moderate rebels, and then expecting them to finish the job of destroying the Islamic State in Syria is doomed to fail. In fact, it is failing.
As the Islamic State's influence, forces, and atrocities grow by the day, we must have a strategy that stands a chance of destroying them in their tracks. If we are willing to put American lives at risk to fight the Islamic State, including the pilots who will carry out these attacks and the advisers who will be training the rebels, then they deserve a plan worthy of their service and sacrifice. The President will soon ask Congress for a new authorization for use of military force. Let's hope it has one objective: to defeat and destroy ISIS, whatever that takes.
We can defeat the Islamic State, but it will require real leadership and a new strategy. It is not too late to seize this opportunity, build a vast coalition, and crush ISIS.
Mr. President, Islamic terrorism is real, and they aim to destroy us today. This isn't 1150 or 1850; it's 2015 and you're in charge. It's time to lead.
Rep. Tom Rooney, FL-17, sits on the House Intelligence Committee and is Chairman of the Intelligence Subcommittee on Emerging Threats.