ISIS Crisis - Floor Speech
“Will and Ariel Durant, perhaps the most renown recorders of the history of mankind wrote shortly after their landmark 40-year multi-volume work was completed:
“Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted…civilization would die, and we should be savages again.”
It is a warning we must heed. For all of our advancement in self-governance, the rule of law, and the betterment of people’s lives, the world stands in crisis. Our actions toward evil, twisted brands of militant, Islamic, Jihadism in the coming months will determine how humanity navigates the coming century. As Will Durant correctly predicts—we must either prevent the death of civilized life or become savages again.
Responding to the Paris attacks, French President Francois Hollande is correct in saying, “enough is enough.” The coalition of willing defenders of humanity is immense. The world looks toward America for our leadership. Why? Why does it have to be us people ask? For the same reason we ask a trusted colleague for counsel; for the same reason a resident asks a neighbor to help him with a heavy lift; for the same reason a parishioner asks his pastor for guidance in times of crisis; for the same reason a citizen asks a policeman for assistance in times of trouble; and for the same reason those attacked ask a soldier to defend them. For the sake of civilization—WE must provide it. American accommodation of ISIS savagery through lethargy must end.
Should America remain dispassionate and disconnected, she is at risk of losing her moral compass. Are we really an America today that no longer can be moved to action by beheadings, immolations, crucifixions, sexual enslavement and human suffering in the lands that these barbarians have forcibly taken? Are we so self-indulged that we somehow think that leaving ISIS alone is a legitimate option for good in the world?
The President has suggested that ISIS’ actions are acts of genocide. On that we agree. Yizidis have been targeted by ISIS in their genocidal fanaticism. One city overrun lined up all males 12 and above in a gymnasium, separated them into groups and systematically exterminated them. Young Yizidi girls, whose only crime was being born, have been forced into sodomistic, sexual slavery by a godless, evil, Islamic jihadist ideology that also conveniently fits rape and child molestation into a twisted, sinister form of ethics.
In Mosul and Palmyra, Christians have been singled out for destruction of life and property by marking their structures with an Arabic ’N.’ Across Iraq and Syria, Chaldean and Assyrian Christians have been slaughtered while we here in Congress thump our chests about refugees as Americans call on us to turn a blind eye to these ‘Syrian’ refugees that the UN has tried to place with willing churches and sponsors here at home. Have we forgotten that it is the statue of lady justice that is blindfolded as she holds up balanced scales, not the statue of liberty who holds the torch. Lady Liberty is inscribed:
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"?
In the last three weeks, more than 400 people have died in three separate attacks as a Russian Airliner has been blown from the sky, Lebanese worshippers were blown to bits, and youthful French citizens and tourists were massacred as they ate at cafes and watched a concert. As the world has watched in horror, it has also looked to America. Where America leads, nations stand shoulder to shoulder. Where America is absent, tyranny takes its chances and rears its ugly head. But who would have thought America—through constant inaction and listless response, would allow barbarity to prosper.
Since last year, the President has been unable to articulate his strategy to aid our allies in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Israel as they react to the disintegration of Syria on their borders. More broadly, the President has been unable, and possibly unwilling, to form the necessary multi-national coalitions in both the Middle-East and elsewhere that are essential to curb barbarism and provide stability within the Sunni-Arab populations of Iraq and Syria where ISIS has filled all voids.
As a combat veteran of Iraq and other places, this has been difficult to process. In service past, we sacrificed to turn the country around. I watched my American and Iraqi friends die, handled the flesh and blood of Infantry combat, performed brutal personal combat to destroy enemies, and watch with agony as the good people of Iraq suffer in absence of effective government. It is personal because I have lived among the Sunni Arab. I have celebrated their victories, their weddings, their birthdays and their accomplishments. I have broken bread with them and eaten at their communal bowls. And I have mourned as close Sunni-Arab friends have died to acts of terror, mourned when Sunni-Arab educated, intelligent and free people have been expunged by ISIS. They do not want this. They have no place to go. When I lived among them, we told them with conviction and honesty we were there for them. They believed us. Then the President ordered us out.
We soldiers and service members who have sacrificed so much in Iraq weep. We defeated Saddam’s army, toppled the Baathist government, captured and brought a world tyrant to justice, fought an insurgency and stood shoulder to shoulder with disenfranchised Sunni-Arabs and Sunni-Kurds to restore control to Iraq’s government. We turned the country around together with a military pause. Instead of the United States nurturing a nascent Iraqi infrastructure as we have done in the Philippines, Germany, Japan, and South Korea—to give them a future—the President used that pause for abandonment both militarily and diplomatically. Worse, he then used that for political expediency. Where we sacrificed, he quit. When America became absent, radical, evil, Islamic Jihadists filled the gap with cruelty, fear and barbarity before a nascent government and population had the strength to build trust and hold firm.
Whatever the President’s political advantage, whatever the supposed cost saving, whatever the heartfelt conviction of why some believed abandonment was the optimum course of action, it has instead created a political nightmare, and has bled more treasure and lives than any estimates our continued presence might have caused. Moreover, it has sickened the hearts of world humanity to see civilization taking such punishment from savages when a quiver of options have been available to shoot at the heart of the problem. America has the capacity, the intelligence and the goodwill to rally the nations. But it cannot be a unitary effort. It must be collective. It cannot be a defensive effort. It must be offensive to blunt further attack.
As President Hollande of France was saying, “Enough is enough,” President Obama proceeded to tell America and the world what the attacks on Paris were not—and what our actions would not be. Mr. Speaker, this Congress and the American people need rather to hear what the attack was and what our actions will be to make them stop. The President, distracted by his ideological efforts on climate, has failed to see that the world is on fire. But the people of our great Republic have not failed to see it. They are calling on us to stand with France and say, “Enough is enough.”
What should be our immediate actions? How about some of this: Cripple Raqqa. It is clear it is the symbolic center of ISIS power. The President’s cabinet says, “We are worried about collateral damage and civilian casualties.” News flash! The most humane thing we can do to end the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people is to cripple what ISIS draws its strength from. Destroy their infrastructure. Hammer their electricity capacity and drop their transmission lines. Eliminate their cell towers where they draw their communications capacity. Destroy the bridges on their roads of ingress and egress. Hammer the oil refining installations they possess and fund themselves with—we have the ability to rebuild them later but ISIS would be diminished financially by their loss. Put a different way, the most humane thing we can do to protect civilians is to disrupt ISIS’ immediate ability to advance and recruit. And if the US leads, others will stand shoulder to shoulder. We need our president to lead.
To do these immediate actions on Raqqa, we need to take the handcuffs off our military already deployed. Weeks to get approval and missed targets allowing freedom of movement for ISIS is not a way to win anything. It is not enough for the Secretary of Defense to merely ‘endorse’ plans put before him by our military experts. Endorse? That type of equivocation tells our military leaders we don’t have your back. We need the Secretary of Defense to lead! Don’t endorse—Approve them! The Secretary must take the handcuffs off of our pilots and special operations forces that are already deployed. Our warriors know what to hit. They can’t throw punches with handcuffs.
Another action we can take. World opinion and good will is on our side. France has the support of all civilized countries. They will likely have the support of UN-sanctioned effort. They may ask for Article V protections under NATO and would likely get it. So what will America do? Lead. Let’s build the coalition. NATO special ops combined with Kurds and Sunni-Arabs can provide the immediate ground capacity. Safe zones where Assad cannot reach them with airstrikes and barrel bombs will give them determination and hope. Modern civilized allies can provide airpower, logistics, the wealth, and the commitment. Russia has opened the door with statements by Foreign Minister Lavarov that a stabilized Syrian government cannot include Assad. We should walk through that door. That solves having to build new governance. Syria has survived civil war before. She can again. Old structures can have new leaders with new coalitions that provide voice to all Syrians once ISIS is expunged.
In Iraq, we must find a place for the Sunni-Arab and Sunni Kurd to have self-determination without having to turn to ISIS. The fighters exist. But they won’t fight to be enslaved by draconian Shia-Arab governance in Baghdad that gives them no future. With Raqqa squeezed in Syria, we must build the coalition to restore Mosul and Bayjii.
Then, the disenfranchised Sunni-Arab and the Sunni-Kurd must have a place at the table in both Syria and Iraq in post-conflict rebuilding. This will not be possible while savages run free and civilized nations do nothing. America needs to build the coalition on an ISIS-first policy, then we can settle into the less barbaric and less threatening future. We have a window. Do we have a President that will lead?
Here are some immediate short-term measures. Launch cyber attacks on ISIS recruiting websites. While intercept of communications is important and we want to track their movements and intentions, we cannot confuse that with allowing ISIS propaganda to reach into our free communities to turn misguided youth into neighborhood attackers. Intercept what we must, but attack what draws recruitment and copycat actions in the first place. We cannot just be defensive in this area. Part of reducing home-grown terrorists is to cut off the juice from ISIS abroad. They should not have a free hand in our free speech.
Now let’s talk about immediate counter messaging. Here is where EVERY American can help. American news stations and newsprint can join the fight by not putting ISIS produced videos and imagery on American networks as B-Roll on our newscasts and in articles in our newspapers! Replace it rather with cross-hairs and explosions of their defeat or show the world their acts of barbarity and the human suffering they have created for their own people. Use that for B-Roll. America must stop aiding and abetting these evil savages that use our free press, our laws and our protections to destroy ours. Americans, write your local news stations and tell them to stop!
Mr. Speaker, I want to shift my focus now to the refugee crisis. While I have tried to focus my comments on actions we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become them. America is a lamp that lightens the horizon of civilized and free mankind. The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly. If we use our passions, anger and fear were to snuff out her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. Period.
Here are some Syrian refugee facts you may not know. Despite a long established, multi-layered system to vett and bring refugees into the United States; despite biometric and biographic screening; despite intelligence vetting with the National Counter-Terrorism Center, The FBIs Terrorist Screening Center and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security; added to the fact that Syrian refugees receive additional screening due to national security concerns and most of them are women and children; coupled with the fact that only a total of 1900 have entered the country in the last four years, Americans across the country are calling on Lady Liberty to drop her torch and give the stiff arm with perhaps another gesture.
I want you to listen carefully to these statements by members of Congress in response to a refugee bill. Not illegals. Not permanent residents—but refugees. People fleeing for their lives. Listen to these statements.
[Fighting immigration is] “the best vote-getting argument…The politician can beat his breast and proclaim his loyalty to America.” “He can tell the unemployed man that he is out of work because some alien has a job.”
Here’s another one. [Congress must] “protect the youth of America from this foreign invasion.”
And how about this one, “American Children Have First Claim to America’s Charity”
There are many more but these quotes were from 1939. The refugee bill was not for Muslim and Christian Syrians or Iraqi Muslims, Christians and Yizidis. It was for German Jews. While it was true that Germany was a threat, the refugees were not—they were 20,000 children. Not only did that bill of 1939 not pass, but that Congress, with the same speech and rhetoric I am hearing in recent days in this august chamber, passed hurdle after hurdle to make it more difficult for those refugees to enter. They were unfortunately successful.
Mr. Speaker, America protects her liberty and defends her shores not by punishing those who would be free. She does it by guarding liberty with her life. Americans need to sacrifice and wake up. We must not become them. They win if we give up who we are and even more so without a fight.
We guard our way of life by vigilance. We must be watchful. We have to have each others back and be alert to dangers around us. We must speak up when we see something unusual. By maintaining who we are amidst the threat, amidst the hatred, amidst the trials, we win. Patrick Henry did not say give me Safety or give me Death! He said Give me Liberty.
We have defended our way of life for 240 years. Now we as Americans must defend it again. We must defend it when the critic sitting on the couch in his underwear eating his bag of cheese puffs is pecking out hatred and vitriol. We must defend it and have courage when voters are caught up with sincere passion demanding security that might kill our liberty. We must defend it with our warriors who have worked hard to keep the fight off our shores by being vigilant and aware at home and while looking after their families. We will always have threats. But liberty, when lost, takes generations, if ever, to regain.
I am asking all Americans to pray for our President. How much time have we spent on our knees at home for our leaders? How much counsel have we sought from the Almighty? It is God who has given us the spark of freedom. It is He we must return to. He will take us and guide us in times of crisis if we only ask him and humble ourselves and seek His face as a nation.
Mr. Speaker, we would not even have a nation without the aid of France. Lady Liberty would not stand on our shores without the generosity of France. And now, as civilization faces peril and trial, we must stand the test shoulder to shoulder with France. This Congress. Our people. Our way of life.”