Opinion: Paris attacks spawn modern-day Reign of Terror? (part 3)
Last week, Reno’s National Security Forum, headed by Retired Col. (and Reagan Administration National Security Team member) Ty Cobb completed its series on the Mid-East crisis, the rise of the Islamic Caliphate “ISIS,” what to do about it and why.
Ty brought outstanding speakers to the Truckee Meadows — among whom were Mid-East Expert Steve Metcalf and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Martin Brantner.
Metcalf, who has spent a great deal of time in the area, has long been an advocate of dealing with the problem by diplomatic means, not military. He described Islam as basically a peaceful religion that his many Muslim friends take very seriously.
The tenets of the faith are very conservative, so there is a built-in tension between Muslims and western customs and practices. He feels that a US military presence in the Mid-East accentuates those differences.
Metcalf explained that the ISIS’s aggression stems from a few hotheads perverting the faith by convincing others that “jihad” means a holy war against all non-Muslims. In fact, he explained, “jihad” means “striving for moral and religious perfection.”
He pointed out that over a protracted period of time, Great Britain, France, Russia and now the United States have all been unsuccessful in solving perceived Islamic problems through military occupation.
He further emphasized that the US would pay a heavy price for continued military intervention, which could lead to us being in the same debtor nation status as Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.
The war in Afghanistan and Iraq is estimated to have cost US taxpayers $4.5 trillion, bringing our national debt to nearly $20 trillion. If and when international capital markets refuse to purchase US bonds, the entire nation will suffer.
General Brantner had heretofore been a proponent of “boots on the ground” to defeat ISIS and other terror organizations. For many of the reasons set out by Metcalf he has come to agree with his viewpoint. To that extent, he believes the Obama Administration’s refusal to pursue a military solution is the appropriate approach to this area of foreign policy.
Although Brantner concedes the current policy is the correct one, he was highly critical of Obama’s execution of that policy, which he called “ineffective.” He pointed out that Muslims can best deal with their own troublemakers.
Although Obama touts his efforts to cobble together a 65-nation coalition to fight terrorists, it was done behind closed doors, and the makeup of that coalition is classified as secret.
Why, for instance, are the Saudis fighting in Yemen when ISIS is in Syria? Diplomatic efforts need to be transparent so all parties can see the efforts being made.
Brantner contrasted Obama’s “do nothing” approach with that of President George H.W. Bush in the 1990 Gulf War; Bush spent many, many hours putting together a coalition, including Muslim nations, to restore Kuwait’s independence from Iraq.
Brantner himself was sent to directly negotiate with foreign leaders. The war, when it came, was swift and sure, and then Americans went home.
Brantner also faulted Obama for failing to engage the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, most members of which are very concerned about more ISIS attacks such as what occurred in Paris last month.
Both speakers agreed that the policies that best serve America’s interests lie in pursuing a diplomatic strategy of minimalizing “holy war” jihadists and promoting economic stability in the region.
US troop involvement should be limited to supplying Free Syrian Army and Kurdish fighters, providing trainers and air strike coordinators. They believe the US should be a world leader in promoting a reformation of Islam to rid it of its warring fringe.
Neither speaker believed that US policies will change to be more effective as long as Obama is in office.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.