Q&A on ISIS with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Q: What is ISIS?
A: A radical group of Islamic extremists operating from the Middle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, ISIL or Islamic State), is escalating its terrorist insurgency throughout the volatile region. ISIS splintered from the terrorist organization al Qaeda and since last year has led an assault on ethnic and religious minorities, seizing control of parts of Iraq and Syria through brutality and sectarian violence. The militant group has declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq and has unleashed ruthless acts of terror to grow its foothold in the region. Its brutal crimes include rape, slavery, crucifixions, mass executions and beheadings. To the horror of Americans and people from around the world, ISIS released videos this summer of the beheadings of two American journalists captured by the jihadist organization. The vicious murders of innocent Americans cannot go unanswered. History teaches us what happens in a moral leadership vacuum. It leaves room for totalitarianism and authoritarianism to take root. In the 21st century, jihadism threatens world peace. The jihadist acts of terror 13 years ago on 9/11 served as an agonizing wake-up call to identify and destroy 21st century threats to U.S. homeland security. These threats have not gone away. America cannot surrender its moral authority to lead. Our policies need to be proactive, not reactive. The number one responsibility of the federal government is to protect national security and American citizens. A timid, lackluster strategy from the United States would encourage the well-funded, well-armed ISIS and other like-minded terrorist organizations to continue ramping up recruiting and radicalizing more militants. Airstrikes and humanitarian assistance were the right steps to take but have not been enough to stop ISIS in its tracks from establishing an extremist Islamic State.
Q: What strategy is needed to terminate ISIS?
A: For starters, the United States must send an unequivocal message that we take care of our own. That message starts with the President of the United States. Regrettably, the administration has lost credibility to decisively handle foreign and military affairs. The President needs to secure the support of the American public and the legislative branch with a clear strategy that will bring reality to his pledge to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Having fought five wars since World War II, Americans are war weary. War puts our sons and daughters into harm’s way and strains the U.S. Treasury. But the United States also can’t afford more delay or indecision or the reticence of an aloof presidency when it comes to matters of national security. Recent foreign policy missteps have given terror networks, such as ISIS, an opportunity to grow and threaten civilized society. The President gave a speech in September about confronting ISIS. He must execute and follow through with strong leadership. The President proposed deploying more air strikes and providing training, equipment and intelligence to partner forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria; using diplomacy to empower the government of Iraq to respect the interests of diverse ethnic and religious groups; and, building broad coalitions with our friends and allies. On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, America must stand strong against those who underestimate our resilience. Let’s lay bare our imperishable commitment to those who have lost life and limb defending our cherished freedoms. As a nation, we mourn for the innocent civilians who suffered from unspeakable acts of terror. America is stronger when we stand together. Together we must stand strong against Islamist radical extremism and threats to our national sovereignty and way of life.