Tragedy struck again last week when terrorists attacked Brussels in a series of bombings. Before the smoke even cleared, the Republicans turned this tragedy into a partisan food fight and blamed President Obama – not the terrorists – for the attacks. The air time on Fox News and AM radio was dominated by the likes of such has beens like Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani who went to so far as to allege that President Obama is some kind of traitor. It’s no wonder that the likes of such clownish figures as Trump and Cruz are dominating the GOP nomination race.
The remarks from Donald Trump shortly after the tragic attacks were every bit as ridiculous and intemperate as the ones from the disgraced former House Speaker and former Mayor of New York City. The GOP front runner said that he would be open to using nuclear weapons against ISIS and would bring back the Bush Administration’s illegal and ineffectual torture policies. Trump further displayed his ignorance of national security policy when he said NATO was “obsolete” and U.S. involvement with that organization should be significantly reduced.
GOP Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s response to the Brussels attacks was every bit as ignorant and inflammatory as those from the former reality TV show star. Cruz said we should patrol and secure so-called “Muslim neighborhoods.” The junior Texas Senator’s proposal is unconstitutional and would alienate moderate Muslims around the world who support the international coalition’s effort to defeat ISIS.
Trump and Cruz’s ludicrous response to the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium have the unfortunate and unintended effect of providing aid and comfort to the enemy. Counter-terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, a veteran of Navy intelligence, blasted Trump for doing the propaganda work of ISIS: “Good God, they’re probably cutting videos of this right now. Donald Trump right now is validating the cartoonish view that they tell their operatives…that America is a racist nation, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and that that’s why you must carry out terrorist attacks against them…It’s irresponsible and it needs to stop.”
In sharp contrast to the remarks by the leading GOP contenders, Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders were the adults in the room following the Brussels attacks. Senator Sanders rejected the GOP’s call for “perpetual war” and maintained that we need “to put together a very effective coalition of Muslim nations who lead the effort on the ground, supported by the United States, the U.K., France, and other major powers in the air and through training.” Sanders correctly pointed out that Qatar is currently spending $200 billion to put on the 2020 World Cup and requested that Qatar and other nations in the Persian Gulf spend more money to combat the threat from ISIS.
Hillary Clinton’s remarks on terrorism were as equally realistic and measured as those from the Vermont Senator. Clinton called for an “intelligence surge” and indicated that she would build on the policies already put in place by President Obama. In a foreign policy speech at Stanford University Clinton stated: “It would be a serious mistake to stumble into another costly ground war in the Middle East. If we’ve learned anything from Iraq and Afghanistan it’s that people and nations have to secure their own communities.”
The next President would be wise to maintain and accelerate President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS. Just last week, a U.S. airstrike took out the number two official in ISIS who was in charge of that organization’s finances. Experts described this development as a “hefty body blow” to the Islamic State. According to the Washington Post, during the Obama Administration, U.S. armed forces have taken out over 30,000 terrorists. Jeffrey Goldberg of Atlantic Magazine has labeled President Obama as “the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency.”
Not only is the Islamic State’s leadership structure under heavy strain, ISIS has also lost 40% of the territory it controlled at the peak of it’s power in 2014. The Washington Post has reported: “Front-line commanders no longer speak of a scarily formidable foe but of Islamic State defenses that crumble within days and fighters who flee at the first sign they are under attack.” In addition to those losses on the ground, ISIS has reduced it’s fighters’ salaries by 50% and cut back on other perks for its soldiers.
President Obama has put in place a strategy that is slowly but surely rolling back ISIS. The 2016 election will decide whether or not we continue that winning strategy or go back to the failed policies of George W. Bush. GOP front runner Donald Trump has called for U.S. troops to conquer and hold ISIS oil fields in Syria and Iraq. If the GOP wins this election, the U.S. will once again be involved in another major ground war in the Middle East.
The Democratic Party is the party of national security. Our Presidential candidates will avoid reckless foreign wars and keep the U.S. safe. Despite the failure of the Bush Presidency, the mainstream media still pushes the false conventional wisdom that the GOP is the party of national security. We need to get out the message that the GOP will unwittingly help ISIS and send our young men and women back into combat in the Middle East. We need to get our message out and elect more Democrats in 2016. I know we can do it!