When we point fingers at Obama’s failure to come up with a strategy to deal with ISIS we shouldn’t be thinking about the best tactics for killing radicals. Killing radicals is easy. We have already proved that. The real problem and one we will never have a foolproof strategy for is how to kill their beliefs.
Islamic radicals and free speech gone bad
Banning beliefs is a treacherous balancing act for a country founded on religious freedom and free speech rights (see: Freedom of Religion Protects Evil Spread by Islam). Radical Islamists are one of the very few palatable arguments for banning ideas that are indefensible. This presents an enormous problem for an Internet that is still like the Wild West, a good thing for most of us that also plays into the hands of the fringe. We can kill all the radicals we want, but the reach of the Internet is far and their beliefs are not going to die with them.
ISIS strategy: patriotism becomes a PR tactic
A year ago Obama offered lukewarm promises about how we would deal with ISIS:
As Commander-in-Chief, I will always do what is necessary to protect the American people and defend against evolving threats to our homeland. Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back.
And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission. 1
As much as we honor and support our troops, patriotic allusions are not a strategy. They are a PR tactic.
A deteriorating situation in the Middle East that is hammering the White House led to new plans yesterday, a show of 450 U.S. advisers/trainers and a promise of support for Iraqi communities said to be liberated from ISIS.2 As to protecting Americans at home:
More broadly, we will continue our efforts to leverage all instruments of power to counter ISIL globally and most importantly, to protect the US Homeland. 3
The key to that remark is the homeland, something we recently found out may not be all that safe in the TSA’s hands. Airport and employee screening lapses aside, our strategy for protecting America nearly 15 years after 9/11 forges an irresponsible alliance between civil and free speech rights and a religion that will not take responsibility for its actions.
Radical Islam and other beliefs that can’t be destroyed
Radical Islam is not the first intolerable idea worthy of extermination. Symbols from the days of the Nazis are still illegal in Germany. Slavery is absolutely intolerable to America.
Islamic hate is unique in its intolerance. Radicals are bent on destroying everything in their path including Christians and Jews not because of acts committed against Muslims, but because others are different. How do we counter beliefs that justify that?
We are not fighting people. We are fighting ideas which are almost impossible to kill and have the potential for mass appeal because of the enormity of the world’s Muslim population.
Radical Islam gained a new foothold with ISIS. Now we can watch it spread while our politicians cast blame over the lack of a workable military strategy. We can kill all the radicals we want, but this is a loser of a battle that will play out like a Muslim version of Whac-a-Mole until we can agree that the beliefs behind the violence are too dangerous to tolerate.