Last month, the Islamic State, monstrous psychopaths that they are, proudly claimed they brought down a Russian plane over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. And, they took responsibility for a bombing in Beirut, all before their followers killed 129 people and left 352 wounded in Paris on Friday.
They wanted to kill more last week and, no doubt, they intend to keep on killing in the future. Their followers refer to the deaths as “miracles.”
In Paris they went after what analysts call “soft targets,” areas that are undefended. We see these “targets” as people - people enjoying a pleasant evening with friends, having meals at cafes, listening to live music and watching a soccer match.
Following the horror in Paris, French President Hollande said his nation is “at war” with ISIS. And our own president has said we are “united against this threat.”
But what exactly does that mean?
The French are dropping bombs on ISIS targets in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. We’ve pledged more airstrikes. This is a good start; we’ve wondered why there haven’t been more intense attacks against the terrorists all along.
Whatever our overall strategy becomes, it should be focused on specific military targets, coordinated with other countries in the region. And where is NATO in all this? France has been attacked by an outside power. NATO members must do as Falcons fans are encouraged to do each Sunday and “Rise Up.” This is a Western fight because ISIS has made it a Western fight.
In the wake of Friday night’s attacks in Paris, the French have said they “will lead the fight and will be ruthless.” In the aftermath of such horror, words like these are what many, like us, want to hear. We want our leaders to say they will retaliate for atrocities like these that left a pregnant woman hanging out of a window above a Parisian street clinging for her life while trying to escape madmen.
But strongly worded statements of solidarity and pledges to defeat ISIS from Western leaders are simply sound bites unless they are converted into a tangible strategy. With each attack comes a lot of talk. From politicians and journalists to eyewitnesses and those of us watching as it unfolds on television, we all express our shock and outrage at what happened. The real test of our resolve comes six months or a year later when our military is still fighting the beast.
Up until the Paris attacks, ISIS had successfully called the West’s bluff. They were convinced we wouldn’t send ground troops to the areas of Iraq and Syria. And so far they’ve been right. Our strategy has depended virtually on the air war and training Iraqi troops and secular Syrian rebels.
But ISIS has grown too strong to be taken down by such a piecemeal effort.
We hope the Paris attacks will act as a political tipping point, bringing more Europeans – and Russia - closer to our policy to destroy ISIS. They are weakening but they won’t be defeated unless the powers act together.
Just bombing them won’t work.
ISIS has gotten what they want so far and we need to take it back with a united military front, much like the World Wars, where you round up your allies and take care of business.