Right Strategy Needed For War On Terror

We’ve been here too many times before — pondering what to do after terrorists unleash carnage — and the challenges haven’t changed a molecule.

Bombings within an hour of each other last Tuesday, March 22, in the airport and in a subway car in Brussels left at least 34 people dead and 270 injured.

The Islamic State quickly raised its hand and said “We did it,” and there’s little reason to doubt that claim.

It’s the ninth terror incident — eight bombings and one stabbing attack — linked to the IS this year, and is the highest profile incident since the Paris attacks in November 2015.

The death toll so far in 2016 has eclipsed 800, and with three-fourths of the year remaining, there’s plenty of time for more bloodshed.

There already are reports that the IS has forces trained and ready for additional attacks in Europe.

There naturally are fears that the group will target the United States, which have intensified the domestic political rhetoric. Donald Trump is doubling down on his call to block Muslim refugees from the U.S., and fellow Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is advocating increased police surveillance in Muslim neighborhoods here to “patrol and secure (them) before they become radicalized.”

As usual, the rest of the world has reached out in solidarity to the people of Belgium, while flailing away at how to defeat this shadowy and sinister enemy.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday, during a visit to Argentina, said stopping the IS is his “Number 1 priority,” calling it a “scourge of (barbaric) terrorism.” However, Obama said the question is “how do we do it in an intelligent way?”

That’s going to come across as unacceptable and wimpy to the ready, aim, fire crowd who have visions of winning this war — and it is a war, undeclared or not; anyone who thinks otherwise is naive.

Obama has a point, however, and we’ve said similar things in response to past terrorist attacks. Going after these groups with just conventional military hardware and strategy is like chasing a mouse with a sledgehammer: The weapon is unwieldy and there are too many places for the target to hide.

For all its brutality and its retrograde philosophy and values, the IS is a frightfully modern and sophisticated enemy. It has mastered social media — it takes to Twitter to brag about its attacks (and reap praise from its followers), and has enough revenue and assets to have its own minister of finance.

So, it needs to be confronted unconventionally, through infiltration and black ops physically, and outright cyberwar on the Internet. Save the military action for defined and identifiable targets — and hit them hard.

Some say the war on terror can’t be won. It still should be waged, but with the right strategy.

Reprinted from the Jacksonville Daily News

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