Paris

By

Leonard Zwelling

         In an extremely thoughtful piece in the NY Times on Saturday, Frank Bruni advocates for allowing the dust
to settle and the blood in the streets of Paris to congeal before the United
States determines what an appropriate response to the carnage is to be:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/14/opinion/the-exploitation-of-paris.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

         This is very well considered.

         I do not have a response myself. Thoughtless violence in the
name of what, exactly, is something to which I never have a good answer. My gut
says fight. My brain says think. This is one of those times to go with our
brains, I believe. W went with his gut after 9/11 invading the unmanageable in
Afghanistan and the unthreatening in Iraq only to bring even more chaos to the
Middle East, additional depletion of American blood and treasure, and 14 years
of confused American foreign policy made even murkier by a President who
believes that Kumbaya is the national anthem when dealing with Islamic
terrorists and considers his greatest foreign policy achievement a police raid
in Pakistan that came 10 years too late.

         You get my drift.

         What happened Friday evening in Paris is a horror show of
unfathomable magnitude, but that does not mean the next step of the French or
their allies ought to be wholesale carpet bombing of everything ISIS currently
holds.

         But there are some logical things we can do now:

1. Anyone from the US or Europe using his or her passport
to go anywhere near ISIS’s “caliphate” should have that passport revoked so
they cannot return. If that means no Americans in Turkey, so be it.

2. Increase surveillance of people returning from the
Middle East (yes, that would have been me a few weeks ago) to be certain where
they have been and whether or not they pose a threat to Americans.

3. Drastically step up surveillance of known terrorist
candidates on both sides of the Atlantic.

4. Put together a bipartisan congressional committee to
report to the President in 30 days a sense of the Congress on military action
in the region.

5. Charge the State and Defense Departments and the Joint
Chiefs to do the same including the construction of plans for major combat.

6. Immediately convene a meeting of the Western powers (G20
meeting is coming up) to strategize a global response because what happened in
Paris may actually be the opening salvo in World War III.

7. Ditto at the UN Security Council getting input from
the major countries in the region including the Arabs and Iran.

At
some point early in the New Year, the leaders of the Western Alliance must
inform the world of the plan to deal with the ISIS threat and to explain the
rationale for the position. If they cannot get together and do that, then they
are no better than the US was in WWII responding to the threat posed by Hitler
and his buddies far too late. And if you think that ISIS is not the Nazis, you
are sorely mistaken.

That’s
my two cents—probably overvalued. What’s yours?

         Woody Allen is still right. With Nazis: “bricks
and baseball bats.” But it is incumbent on the Western leadership to apply the
“bricks and baseball bats” judiciously, effectively and with the smallest
chance of loss of innocent life while reserving the largest chance to get the
job done with the full consciousness that collateral damage is likely, but the
collateral damage is better for us if it occurs in the Middle East than in the Midwest.

Leonard Zwelling