To Win War on Terror, We Need Laser Focus

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It’s been nearly a year since an ISIS-inspired terrorist shot and killed dozens of people in an Orlando nightclub, but the specter of Islamic terrorism continues to hang over the U.S. and the greater Western world. President Trump rode to victory last November on the promise of destroying ISIS once and for all, and there is every indication that our military has finally been given the freedom to do just that in Iraq and Afghanistan. The murky geopolitical situation in Syria will make the Islamic State’s final destruction trickier, but we trust that Trump can make it happen.

That said, the destruction of the ISIS caliphate is only one part of the larger war on terror. To turn back the tide of Islamic extremism will take more than airstrikes or even ground forces. It will require an enormous shift in the way the United States goes after this threat. It will take laser focus.

As a candidate, Trump took the first step towards realizing that focus when he began calling Islamic terrorism…well, Islamic terrorism. That was something the Obama administration simply wouldn’t do, claiming that term was putting divisions between ourselves and our much-needed Muslim allies – a ridiculous argument that the American people never bought for a second. Maybe that was Obama’s real purpose, maybe it was just cover for a deeper, more sinister cowardice. Either way, you can’t sharply focus on an enemy you aren’t willing to name. Hopefully, the days of pussyfooting around the truth are over.

But swapping out one name for another is a trivial step in the grand scheme of things. As a symbol, it is only powerful if the rest of our anti-terror strategy follows the cue.

That can start by remembering the difference between the victims of terrorism and its perpetrators. This was one of the sorriest aspects of the Obama administration and one we’re glad to be rid of. Every time there was an attack, President Obama would use it as a platform to preach against Islamophobia. Maybe there’s a place for that message, but it isn’t in the wake of a bloodstained massacre wrought by Islamists. We doubt very seriously if Trump will follow Obama’s lead should another attack occur during his tenure.

More importantly, there’s no reason Trump should wait for such an attack to remind the American people about the threat we’re facing. These terrorists have a tendency to disappear from our national consciousness not long after an attack. By giving a speech every now and then about the threat – and explaining to the American people the steps he’s taking to address it – he can keep the war fresh in our minds without a bloody reminder in the streets of our cities.