Thursday, March 24, 2016

Cruz on counterterrorism

In the wake of the jihadist attack in Brussels, Ted Cruz said:

For years, the west has tried to deny this enemy exists out of a combination of political correctness and fear. We can no longer afford either.
Our European allies are now seeing what comes of a toxic mix of migrants who have been infiltrated by terrorists and isolated, radical Muslim neighborhoods.
We will do what we can to help them fight this scourge, and redouble our efforts to make sure it does not happen here.
We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence.
We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.
We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration.
And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS.
The days of the United States voluntarily surrendering to the enemy to show how progressive and enlightened we can be are at an end. Our country is at stake.

I agree with most of this. That said:

i) What does he mean about "empowering" law enforcement. Is that just a synonym for giving them permission to do stuff they already have the legal authority to do, which might offend against political correctness, or does he mean expanding police power? If the latter, I disagree. 

ii) What does it mean to "secure" Muslim neighborhoods? Sounds like checkpoints, but that can't be what he means, so does it mean anything at all, or does it just sound impressive?

iii) However, my underlying problem is with the notion that we should take for granted the existence of jihadist hotbeds in our country, and respond by heightened policing of Muslim neighborhoods. That's a recipe for a surveillance state. Moreover, it means we knowingly harbor communities that nurture terrorism, then try to counteract that. But that's treating symptoms. If Muslims are a major source of domestic terrorism, why should they be allowed to live here in the first place? 

Likewise, saying we need to "utterly destroy ISIS" sounds great, but as someone who lived through the Viet Nam war, Iraq war, and Afghanistan war, I'm less than sanguine about those triumphalistic pronouncements. 

Problem is, the entire Mideast is booby-trapped. If you defuse one bomb, you set off another bomb (figuratively speaking).

In terms of bombing, does ISIS present compact targets? How well can we pick out ISIS fighters from the general population? Or is it basically carpet bombing?

And then, according to military analysts like Fred Kagan and David French, you need boots on the ground to go block by block, door-to-door, and floor by floor in a mopping up operation. That will get a lot of American G.I.'s killed or maimed. Is it worth it? 

Then there's the power vacuum. Do we leave Assad in place? Prop him up? Try to topple him and replace him with a puppet gov't or "coalition" gov't? If so, we will need to prop that up, too. 

To what extent will we need an occupation force? What about the Russians? 

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