In cooperation with the French, we must go into Syria with elements of the Marines and Army and eliminate the geographical safe haven of ISIS. The fundamental lesson of 9/11 is that the West cannot allow terrorists to occupy ground secure enough to train jihadis, gather men and resources and have the luxury of time to plot attacks like the one in Paris. That means sending Americans into war. Again.
I despise the euphemisms employed by politicians to describe a commitment of this kind such as “boots on the ground.” Americans, with their French allies will have to send men and women into combat. Some will die. Many will be grievously wounded.
Let one of the ‘heroes’ running for office speak to that fact.
ISIS is an apocalyptic cult. They will not accept negotiation. They will not stop. They must be defeated militarily. Again, the less than 1% of American men and women in the armed forces should be asked to make another sacrifice. They will understand. They know their responsibilities.
They will have to retake towns, hold ground, carve out safe zones for refugees. Diplomats will have to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria. The refugee problem cannot be solved in isolation. These other parts must be put in place.
Do we understand our responsibilities? However, this is arranged, the American public should be taxed to pay for this effort, for the creation of safe camps, for the full cost of taking care of our wounded for as long as necessary and for the full cost of the war.
Second, we should take heart from the actions of the French who have pledged to continue to accept Syrian refugees. They can teach us something about how to balance courage and compassion.
Finally, we too must take in refugees. A part of our soul is at stake here.
Beginning in 1978 we took in 823,000 Vietnamese refugees from the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Some were temporarily housed in Indiantown Gap not far from my home. We responded to that crisis with honor.
Now awful human beings like Trump, Carson, Christie and Cruz call the Syrian refugees “rabid dogs”. They describe measures for ‘Muslims’ already living here that are the equivalent of a police state — tracking devices, the closing of mosques, their internment without trial. Their language is wild and inflammatory, stoked in xenophobia and fear.
These are men who want to occupy an office that requires reason, calm, a balancing of contradictory facts, a sense of history, a respect for the rule of law? God help us.
The Syrian Refugees are human beings fleeing a barbarous civil war. They are made up of families, men, women and children with the same souls as you and I.
Let us not act out our worst impulses. We have done so before.
In May of 1939 more than 900 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany on the SS St. Louis were refused entry into the United States because of a xenophobic, Anti-Semitic reaction in Congress and among a sizable portion of the American electorate. They were returned to Germany. Almost 30% of those human beings — families, men, women and children with the same souls as you and I — were murdered by the Nazis.
There is this too — a verse from the New Testament seems apt here. From St. Matthew on the Slaying of the Infants:
“13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under ….”
Christ the infant was sheltered in Egypt when Herod murdered children by the score in Palestine.
It is our turn to provide shelter from the storm.
At our best we are a stubborn, decent and brave people. It is time to show those qualities again and to not let the worst among us, political jackals and smug propagandists, cowards really, persuade us to act dishonorably.