Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What should we do about the Islamic State?

On November 13, 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks—consisting of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage-taking—occurred in Paris, the capital of France, and its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. Over 120 people were murdered and over 400 injured.

France has temporarily closed its borders, and is reviewing its security procedures related to immigrants. It has also bombed many sites in Syria that they believe harbored terrorists.

How should the United States respond?

For months, the United States has been bombing ISIS and other Islamo-Terrorist targets, mainly using our Special Ops forces to identify targets for our drones.  It is not known how effective this has been. We have not been battling them with our soldiers.
Many in the United States think that we should put 'boots on the ground' to fight ISIS and other terrorists.

But we should learn from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Former President Bush thought that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and helping to install a constitutional democracy there, would lead to an Arab Spring. Not only did this not occur; a plausible argument can be made that it has made matters much worse in much of the Muslim world. ISIS and other terrorist groups can move from country to country, and so defeating them in a war may be virtually impossible to do.

Furthermore, I do not believe we ought to go to war with ISIS. Yes, they would like to destroy us, but they cannot do this from outside of our borders.

More importantly, I think that ISIS and other Islamo-Terrorist groups are able to exist in the countries that they operate in because a significant minority of the population support them. Many support having Sharia Law as the law of the land, as described in the Koran, and Sharia Law allows women virtually no rights. But ISIS is not able to get a foothold in countries like the United Arab Emirates, who will not put up with terrorists. 

And they would not be able to get a foothold in the United States, either, because we would not put up with them. And this is why I do not wish to risk American military lives battling ISIS.

I believe the only way to defeat ISIS and other such Islamo-Terrorist groups is for the MEN in those countries to fight against them. When enough of them decide to do so, ISIS will cease to exist.

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What can the United States do to Protect Itself? 

First, it should be noted that attacks from terrorists in the United States have come from within our country. Terrorists do not have military jets or missiles that can reach us. Also, since 9/11/2001 terrorists attacks here have not killed that many Americans. And another 9/11 type of attack is unlikely just because we reinforced cockpit doors. A terrorist might be able to blow up a jet, but would not be able to take control of one.

At the same time, an internal attack here like the one in Paris would cause a great deal of fear, and our leaders might feel compelled to go to war. The cost in lives and money would be extremely high. And the peaceful Muslims who are here would suffer as well.

The main job of the Commander in Chief of the United States is to preserve and protect the people of the United States. It is not to bring democracy to the world, or to force our values upon other countries. And it is not to prove to the world how nice we are. With that, here are specific suggestions that will enhance our security:

1) As mentioned above, don't go to war with terrorists. 

(If our intelligence agencies find overseas groups who are planning
attacks in America, Special Ops can take them out).

2) We have troops in over 100 countries around the world. We still have tens of thousands in South Korea, and more in Japan, and England, and Turkey. Are these troops sent there to protect America? I don't see how. Let's bring most of them home where they can protect our borders and ports. (They would have to be in the National Guard or Border Patrol to do this).

This would help to prevent a worst-case scenario of a terrorist group sneaking in an atomic bomb.

3) We should build some sort of high-tech fence along our borders that are vulnerable. This, along with the increased protection afforded by an increase in the National Guard and Border Patrol, will help to make sure we let into our country those who we want to be in our country. If we brought home most of the troops we have stationed abroad, we'd save money doing this.

4) Become oil independent from Middle Eastern oil - and Russian oil. After 9/11, we could have gotten all the oil we need from Canada, Mexico, and from our own country within a decade. Sadly, there are some environmentalists here who don't want this. Somehow they think we can just transition out of using oil in a few years. They don't think of how much it would harm the poor in our country to have high gasoline prices. 

5) We have always had immigrants. There are many millions of people that would love to immigrate to the United States. And who can blame them? Where I teach at The University of Texas at Dallas, most of our graduate students in Computer Science and other technical areas, are foreign students, mostly from Asia, but some from almost every country. And there are quite a few Muslims. If they get a degree, and find a job, as most do, let's do a background check and then offer them a Green Card. They are young, talented, and will likely raise their children well, because most come from cultures that value caring for and educating their children.   

Many of the top officials in the FBI, Homeland Security, and the CIA, don't believe we have the ability to do the kinds of background checks needed to keep terrorists from getting in, when we have a large influx of immigrants from predominately Muslim countries, such as those trying to leave Syria. My grandparents are from Syria and Lebanon, and my family still has relatives there. Yet, it would be unwise to allow so many unfortunate immigrants into the United States, until we have a system in place that can minimize the chance of terrorists of getting in. 

And we KNOW they will try. The FBI already has a list of about a thousand immigrants who they are trying to watch carefully, because they are considered a terrorist threat. We don't want to add to this list.

What about the controversial idea of letting in Christians or Jews or those of other religions? I want every immigrant to be vetted, just as you would vett a stranger before you'd let them into your house. But less vetting would be needed for these other religions, because we wouldn't have to vett for ties to terrorist groups.

6) Keep expanding free trade with countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Free trade increases prosperity for all. And prosperity brings education, the desire for freedom, the desire to provide good things for one's family, and lessens the chances that a guy will wander off to join a terrorist group.

A Note to my Muslim Friends in America

If there was an ISIS attack in America as there just was in France, your life here as Muslims would be much more difficult. It would benefit all of us to carefully vett Muslim immigrants.
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Tim Farage is a Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department at The  University of Texas at Dallas. The views expressed herein are those of  the author.

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