Columnist: We are losing the ‘war on terror’

By: Chris Zimmer – Columnist, Senior

It’s easy to label the “war on terror” as a bunch of B.S. For the last 15 years, trillions of dollars have been spent, there have been thousands of casualties, and it seems as if it will never end. According to a Gallup poll conducted from Jan. 6-10, terrorism was considered the third most important problem facing the United States behind dissatisfaction with the government and the state of the economy. Defeating ISIS, though, was tied for ninth place. Does that come as a surprise, though? Not at all. However, that needs to move up on the list of concerns. Why? We’re losing.

The FBI defines terrorism as “violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law; appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

Everyone has their own opinions on resolving terrorism. Whether it be gun control, limiting immigration or going to war, at the end of the day, embracing the “war on terror” both at home and overseas is a common value for the candidates—whether it be against domestic psychopaths or radical Islamic jihadists.

And the United States presidential election is no doubt heating up. So far, we have witnessed six Republican and four Democratic debates. Both parties have radically different views on a plethora of issues, but there is one thing all the front-runners can agree on: We should be fighting terrorism and defeating ISIS. For example, on the right, Donald Trump’s solution is “bombing the s–t out of them” and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wants “boots on the ground.” On the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants an international coalition to take on ISIS and Hillary Clinton wants social media companies to be help stop terrorist networking and recruiting.

It was in Anthony Talbott’s, Ph.D., global politics class my very first semester freshman year when I truly embraced the stance on how the “war on terrorism” was and is a joke. He explained how the United States didn’t declare war on another country, but an ideology and worldview: radical Islam. He compared it to our country’s “war on drugs,” and he is completely right. This ideology will never go away no matter what.  No matter how troops are deployed to fight these jihadists, their beliefs and teachings will be passed on to the next generation.

However, I’ve become a “flip-flopper” since then due to how it has personally affected me. My older brother witnessed the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. My dad witnessed the shootings and bombings from his hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 14, 2016. I’m thankful to God their lives were spared. If my brother was a few hundred feet closer and if my dad was out on the streets…they’d be dead.

I’m thankful my family members were not killed or physically injured, but I’ll admit those were the most emotionally disturbing times of my life. I’m not telling you this because I want my fellow pupils and professors to feel sorry for me. I’m telling you this because we are losing the “war on terror.”

Just re-read the definition and think of the billions of people around the world who are harmed by these heinous acts. I believe we should do everything we can to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and all the other sinister gangs in the world. It might mean raising taxes and cutting back on social welfare, but I truly believe the United States should continue to engage in this war rather than just arm the rebels and develop strategies for others to fight. We have the strongest military in the world, and with that power comes responsibility. Think of those men, women and children in Iraq and Syria who are living in a state of fear all the time. Think of the refugees fleeing through Europe. I truly believe we have all the resources necessary to eradicate radical Islam.

It’s easy to be apathetic about it. These groups are based thousands of miles away, but their actions can hit us right here at home. No matter who is elected president, I hope as Commander-in-Chief, he or she leads us to victory against terrorism. If ISIS and other radical Islam continue to terrorize the world, it’s our fault. As the great scientist Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

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