Others’ Opinion: Islamic State strategy comes at crucial time

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, September 10, 2014

There is truth-affirming timing about terrorism in President Obama on Wednesday detailing to America his plan to battle Islamic State militants.

Thursday not only memorializes the 13th anniversary of the terror attacks of 9/11, but it marks the second anniversary of terrorists attacking the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

The truth affirmed is simple: It’s impossible to eliminate terrorism. As this board has noted since America decided to invade Afghanistan targeting the Taliban, the best the world can expect is to limit terrorism.

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At the least, that means creating and utilizing a global coalition focused on taking the fight to terrorists on their lands, restricting their reach and resources, and backstopping those efforts with an engaged and vigilant global citizenry — one unwilling to let extremism dominate.

The rise of the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq the past several months represents a failure on all those fronts, which is what makes the president’s speech Wednesday so important. Delivering it on the eve of two 9/11 anniversaries only reinforces the magnitude of what happens when the world is not united against — and focused on — this battle.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges facing Obama is giving Americans a clear picture of the threat the Islamic State poses to this nation and why it’s important to take the fight to its home turf.

Although Obama has not offered many details about his plans, he did state Sunday it will embrace a global approach and involve military, diplomatic and economic platforms. He also indicated U.S. troops are more likely to take a supporting role, relying instead on ground forces from Turkey, Iraq and other Midle East nations to lead the military fight. U.S. air strikes, though, will continue. Whether those might extend into Syria remains unclear.

In rolling out the rest of America’s strategy, it will be most crucial he gets congressional support along with backing from the public.

That the 9/11 anniversary looms Thursday might boost his appeal in the short term, but in the long term, the president needs to put forth a solid, multifaceted plan built around a global approach to stunting the growing power and threat of the Islamic State.

Thirteen years later, we’ve learned terrorism can’t be eliminated.

—The St. Cloud Times