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US must lead fight against terrorists

A segment of the Islamic community regards America as the Great Satan and is engaged in doing everything in its power to damage us and to kill our people. Thus far, these war-like efforts have not vitally affected our nation, but there have been numerous incidents, including the September 2001 assault, which killed about 3,000 of our citizens. 

The threat is growing with the emergence of the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The Obama administration has been acting like a deer in headlights and, despite its controversial war authorization request, has failed to enunciate an adequate responsive policy to the threat being presented.

An element to the difficulty of the our government is its inability to identify the enemy it is facing. Trapped by political correctness, it eliminated the words “Islamic” and “terrorist” from its lexicon. It was thus left with meaningless phrases such “overseas contingency operation” and “workplace violence” to try to describe circumstances it is mandated to deal with. To this date, our federal government and its leader remain bound by these limitations.

This lack of perception as to the nature of the foe is not restricted to administration officials. There are over 1.6 billion people on this Earth who say they subscribe to the Islamic faith. It is believed that the great majority of them do not subscribe to passages in the Quran which purport to proclaim that Islam must be the dominant religion and that “infidels must convert or die.” But to my knowledge, there is no reliable measure as to the quantum of those in each group. Fair minded people, though, do not wish to tarnish this majority with the opprobrium that must be directed at the militant minority.

Finding a label which responsibly describes forces such as ISIS should be a simple task. It seems clear that members of this group actively profess their belief in Islam by prayer. It is also quite clear that they are prepared to engage in violence to achieve their objectives. In my view, it is appropriate to call them “Islamic terrorists.” Some who may be influenced by political correctness would embellish the phrase by adding “radical” and identify them as “radical Islamic terrorists,” but there is no established meaning as to what an “Islamic terrorist” needs to do or believe to become a “radical Islamic terrorist.”

We should also avoid overreach. One TV anchor recently used the phrase “radical Islamic extremists.” As in this context “radical” and “extremist” mean about the same, the phrase was obviously overkill and double talk.

Gaining an accurate nomenclature, however, is only the beginning of a solution. The virtual eradication of the population of actual ISIS combatants can be achieved by military means. As a major potential target for Islamic terrorism and having the requisite military power, America should be a key part of a coordinated international movement. However, the struggle must also embrace the conviction that there must be brought to a conclusion the notion that any religious order should seek dominance over any other through the use of violence. To this end, it is vital that the Islamic community itself must resolve that it needs to repudiate the use of force to accomplish expansion of its realm. In this regard a reformation of the teachings of the Quran through its Imams, as the Egyptian President al Sisi has recently urged, should occur.

ISIS is a threat to world peace. Its menace may be more immediate to adjoining countries, but its impact is global. Sadly, for so long as Islamic theology contains a jihadist element it will be a magnet for those who wish to disrupt world order. While other Islamic nations should be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS, America’s role will be pivotal. No other nation is likely to be able to assemble, organize and lead a force to achieve what President Obama promised — “the ultimate destruction of ISIS.” But leadership has its consequences. No nation can be a successful leader if it only pledges to fight to the last drop of its allies blood. Rather, America must participate as a full partner in the effort and transcend the Obama caveat about no boots on the ground.

The elimination from the world of ISIS and other Islamic terrorists is an urgent goal and, in my view, our government must embrace it and embark on that mission with resolve, build a solid coalition of nations and commit necessary resources.

Walter Lewis is a retired attorney who lives on Kauai and writes a regular column for The Garden Island

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