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Do World Leaders Actually Know How to Respond to Terrorism?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

A vehicle attack in London. Another in Sweden. A subway bombing in Russia and attacks against Christians in Egypt. The attacks by jihadists just continue.

It seems like world leaders are completely out of ideas.


Here in America, Republican policymakers and terror experts told the public that we just needed a president willing to identify the threat. The Obama administration was the only obstacle to ultimate victory.

Now that the threat has been named (radical Islam), officials have been forced to fall back on their preferred method for action: engineer a solution that contains the exact ingredients necessary to please opposing opinions and inspire their political base - an answer that will lead to decisive action everywhere and avoid unintended consequences anywhere. An impossible standard that can never be met.

The war against radical Islam might well become Obamacare for national security. Americans will continue to suffer, while elected officials dither.

War hawks try to explain away the absence of a plan by claiming that delicate geniuses are test-tubing the most complete, well-rounded approach to defeating jihadists. Leaders bicker over who can render the broadest definition of terrorism - one that offends no one and saves everyone. When that’s settled, “allies” in the Middle East will act offended at what the government believes to be the most inoffensive title possible.


Meanwhile, this hubris then manifests itself in the defense sector, where experts and industry claim they can build weaponry that will literally sniff out a jihadist among civilians and explode the bad guy dead, all the while dispersing candy to the innocent within the blast zone. They just need $50 billion and a 20 year contract.

The modern liberal, especially the European variety, is even more useless in this regard. These secular overlords have the audacity to determine that a jihadist cannot be a Muslim or identify as one, but a 10-year-old boy can become a girl. Their only solution is to facilitate behavior that reflects their preconceived notions. Save Bill Maher, the progressive seems incapable of even admitting the threat might even be related to Islam, bastardized interpretation or otherwise. Instead, they draw moral equivalencies among all belief systems, only to lead us down another path of worthless strategy. No one can expect adequate protection from those that would cling to a conviction in the face of devastating evidence to the contrary.

Those willing to fight this war, regardless of party affiliation, should consider several things.

First, we must know our values and apply them without compromise. Strategy can change. Principles do not. Nikki Haley has put this practice to good use at the United Nations where the United States rightly refuses to continue to play along with the hypocrisy of those bashing Israel. The same unbalanced minds that attack the Jewish state for “human rights abuses,” are some of the same that fund, support or otherwise endorse Islamic terror. Standing firm here will have positive effects downstream.


Second, especially for Republican establishment types, appreciate the nuances but don’t fall into analysis paralysis. The two attacks against Christians in Egypt, for instance, are rooted in the Islamic State’s hyper-Sunni identity and its mission to spark wars along religious lines. They know that this puts western officials in a pinch because either the west responds and faces the inevitable accusations of being the crusades revisited. Or it responds tacitly, which allows terrorism to grow.

Do not concern yourself with trying to disprove an untrue statement. Do not respond to the frame that others create. Instead, just say you are the martyr-maker they’ve asked for, and be on your way.

Lastly, stop fighting the last war. Yes, it’s similar to communism but it cannot be addressed in the same way. The enemy requires quick, decisive action, applied relentlessly on multiple fronts. It requires investment in the less sexy areas of psychological warfare, financial interdiction, and intelligence gathering and requires a vision of what success looks like.

At least for now, President Trump cannot be held responsible for bringing in experts who claimed to have solutions or listening to elected officials who crowed for the past eight years. In fact, unsaddled by the typical worries of political careerists, President Trump has already made major changes to the national security team, clearly unfazed that some will call these early adjustments a sign of a troubled presidency.


Let’s just hope this war doesn’t become the “you can keep your doctor” moment for Republicans. The consequences are far more deadly.

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