A new War on Terror is needed to defeat ISIS

Obama has a lot to learn from George W Bush (centre) in the fight against ISIS

Another day, another ISIS atrocity – today’s headlines bring the news that 45 people have been burned to death in western Iraq at the hands of this murderous terrorist organisation. This comes just days after ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, and only a few weeks after a Jordanian pilot was also burned to death. These are no longer isolated incidents of brutality – this is a full-scale war between good and evil.

It is not fashionable or politically savvy to talk in these black and white terms – indeed, phrases of such moral absolutism are shunned by most Western politicians, who spend the majority of their time reminding voters that groups such as ISIS are not representative of the wider Islamic community. Such assurances are indeed true, yet they are far from necessary; after all, Islamic extremism is not a new phenomenon, and as such people have had more than enough time to distinguish between moderate and radical Muslim practices.

In the rise of ISIS we see the clearest embodiment of evil since the events of 9/11, yet the reactions of Washington to these two events couldn’t be more different. Following the attacks on the World Trade Centre at the hands of al Qaeda, George W Bush did not mince his words or bend over backwards to be accommodating and politically correct. He spoke plainly of the evil nature of the attacks, encouraged America’s allies to join a ‘coalition of the willing’ against global terrorism, and in his 2002 State of the Union address labeled state sponsors of terrorism an ‘axis of evil.’

Bush was lambasted for his use of such language, and just over a decade later the concept of a War on Terror has been largely abandoned and discredited. However, the threat posed by terrorism has not gone away, and the current activities of ISIS and its affiliates demonstrate the foolishness and naivety of those politicians who believe a co-ordinated strategy against such threats is unnecessary and excessive.

The last three months have seen incidents of terrorism take place in Sydney, Paris and Copenhagen, proving that ISIS does not just pose a threat to the Middle East. As with al Qaeda, this is a group which is driven by a highly dangerous hardline ideology, and as such wishes to spread that warped dogma to every nation in an attempt to replace liberal democracy with radical Islam. It is therefore vital that the West responds to such a threat with a substantial military strategy.

Certain world leaders have wasted no time in delivering such a response; Jordan’s King Abdullah II won plaudits from the American right earlier this month when he quoted a Clint Eastwood movie whilst promising a ‘relentless war’ against ISIS following its brutal murder of a Jordanian pilot, and yesterday President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt launched bombings on ISIS targets in Libya in retaliation against the group’s latest mass butchering.

These leaders are to be commended for their proactive stance against ISIS, yet they also highlight the staggering lack of action from the current occupant of the White House. Barack Obama has been criticised by Republicans and even some Democrats for his slow response to ISIS, and has now created yet another mess for himself by failing to publicly refer to the fact that the 21 Egyptians who were killed in Libya last week were Christians.

Obama’s actions not only contrast unfavourably with the way in which his predecessor responded to terrorism, but also with the reactions of other current leaders who have been explicit in their condemnation of ISIS’s targeting of Christians. British Prime Minister David Cameron described how he was ‘appalled by the murder of Christians in Libya’ and warned Libya against harbouring terrorists, whilst Pope Francis claimed that the victims were murdered specifically because of their faith.

The USA and its allies need to take a much tougher line against ISIS and its affiliates, and declare a new War on Terror which will not cease until ISIS is destroyed and the roots of extremism are extinguished. Inaction is not an option, and as such the Obama administration needs to use every resource available to build an international coalition and fight against this evil organisation. It may be politically convenient to consign George W Bush to the history books, but his approach to foreign policy is one which still remains highly relevant in 2015.

George Reeves

Published on my blog at http://georgereeves1994.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/a-new-war-on-terror-is-needed-to-defeat.html

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