The bombings in Brussels on Tuesday morning is an unambiguous, tragic reminder that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, continues to advance its anti-Western agenda. In the wake of the attacks, presidential candidates immediately expressed their routine “thoughts and prayers” and personal thoughts on combatting the issue at hand. Donald Trump continued to call for enhanced interrogation techniques, and Ted Cruz said Muslim communities should be subjected to enhanced law enforcement–even patrolling in the streets–“before they become radicalized.” John Kasich seemed to disagree slightly with the other GOP candidates, stating that the closing of our borders is not a smart idea (as has been advocated for by Trump). Instead, Kasich insisted that NATO and a combination of Arab nations would help stop ISIS. On the other side on the aisle, Hillary Clinton talked about increasing surveillance, as well as being “strong and steady in how we respond”. Bernie Sanders went on to state his recurring opinion that a global coalition is necessary.
Each candidate’s responses gave Americans insight on what to expect if he or she is elected to the highest office in the land. Any rational person can see major flaws in some of the proposals. For example, Cruz’s suggesting that Muslim communities be monitored to prevent radicalization is simply feeding into the fear mongering rhetoric some GOP candidates sometimes use when a tragedy, like the Brussels attacks, occurs.
Lawrence Pintak, former CBS News Middle East correspondent and founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication in Washington State, said Cruz’s idea is “an uninformed and unenforceable proposal.” Even if Cruz were to convince Americans of such a thing, this solution seems unfeasible in the 21st century.
“Muslims are integrated across the American landscape, they don’t live in ghettos.” Pintak went on to say, “Ill-informed campaign sound bytes like this just feed the ISIS narrative that America is at war with Islam.”
Trump suggested shutting down our borders and expanding our laws on torture policies. When candidates make motions like this, it is clear they don’t have an accurate understanding of the conflict. Trump and Cruz often rationalize that using brute force, or infringing upon civil liberties, is not just a viable option—it’s the only one.
By now, it should be evident that these reactions cater to the agenda of ISIS. The goal of the Islamic State is to further divide Muslims from the rest of the world. Solutions such as carpet-bombing and inhumane treatment of prisoners have only proven to be ineffective, or even worse, exacerbate the problem.
This may seem like an attack on the right, however, Clinton has failed to give a direct stance on how she would solve the issue, which is not surprising for a poll swinger. The former Secretary of State has a proven track record of failed foreign policies, and her support of regime change has made Americans skeptical of her decisions and further involvement in the Middle East. For example, in her emails obtained by Wikileaks, Clinton elected to incessantly bomb Libya rather than seek a democratic solution. These tactics have proven to be just as flawed as those of Trump and Cruz, and do nothing except further radicalize individuals.
Fortunately there is some silver lining; both Kasich, and Sanders seemed to agree that coalition forces and the unification of Arab nations is needed to properly defeat ISIS.
Terrorism can’t be defeated overnight. It is not an enemy that can be bombed away, and certainly does not accurately represent an entire religion with 1.6 billion adherents. The overreactive ideals preached by both Trump and Cruz will never be a practical solution to combat terrorism. It is also imperative that we take a consistent, achievable stance, unlike Democratic front-runner Clinton. Her history of disasters in the Middle East proves she is ill-equipped to handle the most prominent terrorist threats the world has seen so far. To make progress, it must be done in unison. A geopolitical solution is not only smart, but necessary and aligns directly with core American principles.
Photo by Center for American Progress Action Fund
Charlie May recently graduated from the Ramapo College of New Jersey, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. His main focus is politics, national security, foreign affairs, money in politics, and investigative pieces. He hopes to bring a fresh, unique perspective to Bold.