Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fear is a Losing Strategy

Around the country there is a movement to prevent any Syrian refugees from coming into the United States. The fear is that Daesh (a better, Arabic, name for ISIS, which they hate :-) may infiltrate the refugees as a way to get into the country, which could happen. Of course, the vast majority of the refugees are our natural allies. Many are, after all, fleeing Daesh.

So, in order to prevent some small number of Daesh fighters from possibly getting in, we hurt thousands of our allies. Not exactly brilliant, but it gets much worse.

What is the actual additional threat posed by the refugees?

Millions of people come through our airports, and some of them may well be Daesh fighters. It's a lot easier to get through airport security than the refugee screening process, which is pretty rigorous. After all, airports are how the 9/11 hijackers got in. Getting guns for commando attacks once in the US is certainly no problem.

Daesh also has direct access, through the internet, to almost everyone in the U.S., maybe 300 million people, and there is no question that their recruiting efforts are often successful, leading to home grown terrorists like the Boston marathon bombers.

The total additional threat posed by taking in refugees is miniscule. The vast majority of the threat comes from airports and the internet.

So, to inflict trivial problems on our enemies we hurt thousands of our friends and give Daesh yet another recruitment tool to go along with the presence of foreign forces, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

There is a fundamental military principle that is being ignored here. That principle is "Overwhelming Force at the Critical Point." The critical point in the war with Daesh and their ilk is our relationship with the people of the Arab world and the Muslim community. That is the only place the war can be won. Killing Daesh fighters is necessary, but not decisive. They can be easily replaced and even if Daesh were completely destroyed tomorrow, in a couple of years another similar organization would arise. You don't get rid of a weed by cutting it, you have to dig out the roots.

If we follow the leaders who are folding to fear of Daesh and abandoning our principles, honor, and natural allies will hurt us and lead to far more casualties than if we lived up to our national anthem and made America the "home of the brave."