Wicker calls for U.S. leadership in wake of ISIS attacks

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Islamic State’s ruthless murder of innocent civilians is a heartbreaking reminder of the hate that exists toward those of us that love freedom. Following the devastating attacks in Paris and Beirut that claimed nearly 200 lives, the message is loud and clear: We cannot let our guard down.
President Should Heed Advice of Military Leaders
The President’s assertion that the Islamic State is “contained” does not reflect the reality and severity of the terror threats against the United States and our Western European allies. Confronting these threats will take more than half-measures from the Administration, which has sent mixed messages about U.S. resolve in Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State occupies significant swaths of territory. Instead, President Obama should reassess his strategy with our military generals and admirals and then provide what they need to win this fight and prevent the Islamic State from establishing a permanent foothold in the Middle East.
The United States cannot eradicate the Islamic State alone. This mission will take a coalition of nations and will not happen overnight. I do not advocate sending large numbers of American soldiers beyond the U.S. special forces already in Syria. Our Arab partners have indicated a willingness to put troops on the ground, but American leadership is critical to mobilizing international support. Direct combat should be driven by our regional allies, who understand all too well what is at stake if this savage ideology persists. We cannot want to defeat the Islamic State more than our friends in the Middle East.
Tougher Screening Needed for Refugees
Islamic extremists already have threatened to target the United States, underscoring the need for robust intelligence-gathering and defense of our homeland. This includes the thorough screening of Syrian refugees. I agree with Governor Bryant’s opposition to the placement of refugees in Mississippi without such measures in place. We know that one of the Paris attackers used a fake Syrian passport to enter Europe, confirming the recent warning by National Intelligence Director James Clapper that the Islamic State could infiltrate operatives among refugees. The American people deserve the assurance that those we allow on our shores do not wish to do us harm. The Administration should pause the process of accepting Syrian refugees until we can verify that these individuals are not a threat to national security.
White House Should Abandon Gitmo Transfer
The same caution should apply to the President’s intentions to close Guantanamo Bay, which he was expected to announce this month. Congress has repeatedly voted against the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo to the United States – a stance supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans. Instead of simply delaying these plans, the White House should abandon them altogether.
Our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones in Paris and Beirut. We can honor their lives by doing everything possible to prevent this senseless killing from happening once again. The world needs America’s leadership and resolve.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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