The Ripon Forum

Volume 50, No. 1

February 2016

The Challenge of Our Time

By on February 15, 2016


KinzingerAt a time of such great peril, our national security interests throughout the world have never been in a more vulnerable state than they are today.  Just look around the world and you will see so many hotspots emanating threats from state actors like Iran, Russia, and North Korea.  There is no more volatile region right now than the Middle East with the ongoing crisis in Syria and the cancer of ISIS sweeping the region.  As a combat veteran of our nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I take very seriously the importance of protecting our country from the threat of Islamic jihadist terrorists. In 2016 and beyond, we need to stay on the offensive and bring the full might of American power and ingenuity to destroy this threat.

Since ISIS emerged on the scene more than two years ago, its numbers have increased exponentially, along with the threat and challenge it poses.  Since that time, the President has failed to outline a viable strategy to defeat ISIS or reassure Americans of their security. Make no mistake: ISIS has declared war on Western Civilization.  In the wake of the Paris attacks, the downing of a Russian passenger jet, and the mass-shooting in San Bernardino, the world can no longer deny the very real global reach of ISIS and the imminent danger it poses to us all if it is not destroyed.

The threat from Islamic jihadist terrorism from groups like ISIS continues to be a challenge for our time.

In the last seven years, there has been a decline of American leadership around the globe. There is a perception that America is on the retreat from the rest of the world. This can be seen in our feckless response to the ISIS threat.  Sitting on the sidelines, hoping they’ll go away hasn’t worked. More importantly, we cannot continue to accept that ISIS is equivalent to a “JV team” or that it has been “contained.”  Every day that has gone by without a sufficient American response has led to ISIS reaching its tentacles further into the Western world.  Kidnappings, beheadings, public executions, and mass shootings are all proof of the ISIS threat to those who embrace freedom and a decent society.

The threat from Islamic jihadist terrorism and groups like ISIS continues to be a challenge for our time.  Rather than developing non-strategies that do not defeat ISIS, we need leadership that acknowledges America’s indispensable role in leading this fight and protecting our national security.  Congress continues to work at the heart of this problem by passing legislation that will put additional security precautions in place that prevent ISIS and other terrorists from exploiting our goodwill.  However, we also need a military component to defeat the ISIS cancer before it metastasizes any further.

We continue to support our allies in the region like Jordan, the Syrian Opposition, and the Kurdish Peshmerga as they stare down the enemy.  But more needs to be done in terms of our role.  That is why I have been calling for Congress to debate and pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for the President that allows him to utilize all our military tools to defeat ISIS without limiting his current authority as Commander in Chief.

In this fight, ISIS must know our President has the power and capability to unleash the full force of the U.S. military to do what it does best: destroy our enemies and protect our families from these barbarians.  A new AUMF, which I introduced in February, will give the President, and his successor, the power, flexibility, and resources necessary to exercise the role of Commander-in-Chief in the most effective manner possible.

Without considerable intervention, ISIS will continue to take advantage of struggling nations in the Middle East and North Africa, to use propaganda to radicalize and recruit new soldiers, and to intensify the violence and chaos that has already overtaken the region.  We need a Commander-in-Chief that understands this threat and will put forward the most effective strategy to defeat it.

Now more than ever, the United States needs to step up as a leader and defeat these threats to our national security and to civility around the world.

Now more than ever, the United States needs to step up as a leader and defeat these threats to our national security and to civility around the world. This narrative has been a critical part of our history for decades.  From the Greatest Generation in WWII to my generation, who I served with in the war on terror, we have all witnessed the power of America’s leadership in shaping international order and global security.

We are at a critical point in our nation’s history. It is our calling to defeat Islamic jihadist terrorism and to stand up against this evil force that threatens our way of life.  The decisions we make will be forever remembered by future generations, and it is our responsibility to rise to the occasion.

America is a great country – no, America is the greatest country!  As a nation, we have faced many tough challenges, but we’ve always prevailed.  I have no doubt that we can do so again and I believe wholeheartedly we will continue to defend and protect the values and diplomatic principles upon which we were founded.

Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th District of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives. He  served in the Air Force in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and continues to serve America as a pilot in the Air National Guard.

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