Terrorism is a method, a tactic, not a state, ideology, or political entity. It will continue to exist so long as there are even a few willing to commit suicide to kill others. We defeated Nazi Germany, yet fascism still exists. The Soviet Union collapsed, yet communism is still practiced in the most populated nation on earth. We can dismantle ISIS and its remnants, and others like it will still undertake isolated attacks on Western civilization.
When candidates for president propose full-scale mobilization and deployment of division sized combat units, plus air and sea support, to the Middle East (once again), they are seriously misleading the American people and deluding only themselves. We can propose World War III, or IV as some believe, but to think it will be fought in any way similar to the first two World Wars is a mistake of epic proportions.
Start with these facts: nation-state wars are virtually non-existent; the nature of conflict has changed dramatically; ISIS is trying to become a "state", but is failing; conflict is being waged by radical fundamentalists, ethnic nationalists, and clans, tribes, and gangs; 21st century conflict resembles mass crime rather than traditional warfare; the center of conflict is a 1300 year clash between Sunnis and Shia.
Because so few national candidates in either party have taken the time and trouble to study history, let alone military history, and understood the transformation of global conflict, they continue to revert to 20th century models and methods. They rely on advisors from previous administrations with the wrong experience or young graduate students without experience. They do not read Andrew Bacevich, Richard Clarke, or Elliot Cohen.
We have the most powerful military forces in human history, National Guard and Reserves, and very large State and local police forces. We now have a Department of Homeland Security that combines the Customs, Border Patrol, and Coast Guard, as a few of us proposed before 9/11. A visa application can take two or more years to be issued. Still, we have yet to find a way to examine the human heart.
Instead of relief with the end of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war, the transformation of conflict has produced a new kind of fear--fear that despite all our military and law enforcement protection we may be killed at the shopping mall. The powerful gun manufacturing lobby has encouraged that fear, to its great profit, and insidiously promoted the belief that Americans cannot trust their own government.
The loss of confidence in government, fostered by many in government, is a more serious threat to American security than ISIS. There is no American alive today who can destroy confidence in our government and expect to restore it by being elected.
An arsenal in every American home will not make us secure. It will make the gun manufacturers even more rich. No segment of our society is more concerned with the gun epidemic than our police forces.
Ask yourself this: If every student on campus, every churchgoer, every shopkeeper, every moviegoer, every sports fan, every business person is carrying a gun, will you feel more or less secure?