Earlier this month, President Barack Obama delivered a tearful address from the White House rolling out a series of new executive actions to implement gun control while recalling victims of the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. I do not doubt the president’s passion. But, the spectacle of his rollout and the ensuing media circus are in danger of drowning out the hard truth that still remains — this president has no comprehensive strategy to identify, confront and eliminate terrorism.
The terrorist threat abroad and at home has grown tremendously under this president’s rudderless leadership. His decision to allow the Syrian regime to cross red lines unchecked, coupled with an ill-advised rush to pull out of Iraq before our military leadership knew the situation on the ground was stable, created a vacuum giving rise to the bloodthirsty Islamic State.
This terrorist organization is unlike any seen before on the face of the earth. Its reach is massive — claiming ties with groups around the world like Nigeria’s Boko Haram and inspiring homegrown terrorism in the West. Its tactics are brutal — posting online videos of violent beheadings to intimidate its enemies.
The recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have demonstrated the newest threat to the United States and our allies is homegrown terrorism. Inspired by the Islamic State, these assailants were radicalized within our borders and went on to take innocent lives. Our current intelligence, law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies, for all their sophistication, have to change and adapt to this new threat.
Despite the president’s executive actions, we know that greater gun control would not have stopped these attacks from happening. Hardened, radicalized terrorists intent on carrying out attacks will find a way to obtain firearms or create explosives. But greater counter-terrorism efforts coordinated with a strong coalition military response in the Middle East to devastate the Islamic State can stop these attacks before they happen.
The president has shown he is completely incapable of articulating a strategy to eliminate this terrorist threat. He has allowed Vladimir Putin to take the lead in conducting airstrikes in the region while failing to put together a coalition of Arab nations to lead the charge on the ground. In the absence of strong American leadership, the threat of the Islamic State is being allowed to fester.
This president’s default when confronted with a challenge is to politicize and obfuscate. That’s exactly what this gun control executive action is all about. Instead of confronting the hard truth about the San Bernardino attack — the threat of homegrown terrorism is real and we must take advanced measures to stamp it out — he charged headlong into a political fight that will divide our country instead of uniting us. That’s not the leadership this country needs at this difficult time.
In times of uncertainty and fear, our elected officials have an obligation to demonstrate decisive leadership to guide the country forward. There is no question that the Islamic State and the threat of terrorism can be beaten. By giving greater tools to our intelligence and counter terror agencies, coordinating with our allies, and not being afraid to use our military in targeted and smart ways, I believe we will defeat this threat.
Diving into heated political fights at home doesn’t help us achieve that goal.