Seventy-four years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a rousing impassioned speech to Congress. As a young boy I listened spellbound. By war’s end, 290,000 American military died in combat, and 670,000 were wounded. War is hell.
The Empire gave no mention of the significance of Monday, Dec. 7. It reported as big front page news our president telling us not to worry and that our (tepid) “strategy” would keep us safe. He waxed enthusiastic about more gun control (California has extremely strict gun control laws), and prohibiting anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons. Never mind that the various killers in France — where there is extreme gun control — acquired illegal weapons. Never mind that the two killers in San Bernardino were not on any no-fly lists, nor were any of the past U.S. terrorists. Never mind the majority of 700,000 people on the no-fly list are good Americans, just like Sen. Ted Kennedy was. I don’t care if perhaps they were just radicalized “lone wolves.” To 14 dead and 21 wounded that makes no difference. Terror is the same whether directed or just encouraged by ISIS.
I’ve been praying that the president would give an FDR style impassioned speech why we must unleash the full might of this nation to obliterate ISIS. I harken back also to Truman and Kennedy, as well as Churchill, who wouldn’t apply half-hearted reactions to imminent real or potential danger from abroad. Our existing “62 nation coalition” is not winning against ISIS. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Diane Feinstein are correct on that score, as is the president’s appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We have had a handful of tactical victories, but the strength and size of ISIS overall is increasing, not decreasing, as they train more recruits into their ranks and their world outreach delivers increasing havoc and terror.
In Iraq 1,800 aircraft (mostly American) flew over 20,000 sorties prior to the entry of the necessary ground troops required in any war to win. We have only flown over the course of 15 months some 4,000 sorties. Tanker refueling sorties accounted for 1,800 plus hundreds of reconnaissance flights. Within the 2,000 or so actual attack aircraft sorties, about 75 percent never dropped any ordinance because of the highly restrictive Rules of Engagement provided by the White House. So now we do seven strikes a day versus 1,100 strikes a day in Desert Storm and over 800 a day in Iraqi Freedom.
War is hell, but we did such a good job with our air campaigns in the two Gulf Wars that combined combat deaths in Iraq were limited to about 3,600. Iraqi troops in each war numbered about 500,000. Estimates of ISIS troop strength is about 30,000. With obliteration of many command and control targets by air, we could mop up the remnants with ground troops in a coalition with other nations. The complexity of Assad remaining in power in Syria is one requiring political solutions.
In Iraq, which we abandoned militarily after defeating Saddam Hussein, we’d also need some troops remaining — just as in the Axis nations after WWII and Bosnia after those conflicts. The mission isn’t actually accomplished until political stabilization occurs. This requires U.S. military deployments for many years. This costs money, but money well spent — as it was in WWII. Freedom isn’t free. We are free because of the sacrifices and the blood of those who have gone before us, and can only be maintained by national sacrifices now and in the future.
Meantime, let us protect ourselves from within by getting rid of all “gun-free zones” to which evil people are drawn knowing there will probably be no one to oppose a killing spree. Gun-free zones mean only criminals and terrorists can carry weapons there. I agree with many sheriffs around the nation who are encouraging those with concealed carry permits to exercise their right to bear arms. In Alaska every non-felon of age has that right without obtaining a permit. An Alaska permit may be acquired, however, and is valid due to reciprocity elsewhere in the U.S., except in 13 Northeast and West coast states.
• Jack Cadigan is a 30-year retired, disabled American veteran who lives in Juneau.