BY DIANE DIMOND
Let’s not kid ourselves. We are back in the business of war again.
Oh, the politicians can call it whatever they want — like a counter-terrorism campaign — but when U.S. fighter planes are dropping bombs on ISIS forces in both Iraq and Syria, we are at war.
When we send Navy vessels out to sea to facilitate the fight, we are at war.
When we are simultaneously attacking a secondary group of Muslim extremists calling themselves Khorasan, we are, in fact, engaging in a multi-level war.
Washington might cling to the belief that absent battalions of boots on the ground, it isn’t really a war. But the fact is we already have plenty of troops on ground in that region (left over from past conflicts) and what are called “advisors.”
Our elected officials might believe that if they don’t utter the word, then it really isn’t a war. Don’t buy it.
ISIS cowards and their sympathizers brazenly beheaded two innocent Americans, a Briton and a Frenchman — all on video. They taunt the free world from behind their headscarves and dare us to do something to stop them. Their bloody campaign across the Middle East has, so far, claimed the lives of countless thousands of people who refused to sign on to their Byzantine idea for a bloody Muslim Caliphate.
Because they have been astute enough to seize valuable property and assets as they go, ISIS has become, according to the New York Times, the wealthiest terrorist group in the world, having access now to hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some may view America as a diminished country, but we are still a superpower, the conscience of the world. We are morally right to engage this enemy in battle.
So, why can’t the United States Congress and the president step up and call it what it is? A justified war against a sworn enemy. THIS IS WAR.
I believe it’s because the American people will have to be told some unpleasant realities, and politicians will have to acknowledge — just weeks before the mid-term elections — that thoroughly defeating this evil will take many years and, undoubtedly, cost more American lives.
Our political leaders today are very adroit at dodging unpleasant messages. They’re also experienced at dodging their duty.
The U.S. Constitution lays out a format for Congress to make an official “Declaration of War” for times like this. Yet Congress hasn’t officially declared a war since right after the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Think of how many battles we’ve sent our young warriors out to fight since then.
The War Powers Act of 1973, passed after presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were seen as overstepping their authority by committing U.S. troops to Vietnam, mandates that Congress has to OK the use of U.S. troops if they are in a combat region for more than 60 days.
Yet we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for 13 years, and Congress never bothered to take an approval vote on continuing what became the longest undeclared war in American history. Easier to do nothing and tiptoe around reality than to stand up for a principle, right?
Our more than eight years of conflict in Iraq was also never officially labeled a war (declared ended in December 2011), yet here we are in the skies over that same country still attacking another group of religious extremists who want us dead.
No, our “leaders” will not call it what is it or explain what it all means. So, I will humbly say what they will not.
Get set, America. This could be an epic battle — one that lasts a decade or longer. Diplomacy or reasoning with this enemy will never work. The zealots we face care nothing about human life. They willingly blast themselves into oblivion believing heavenly rewards wait for them on the other side.
Before this fight is over, I predict there will have to be a lot more American boots on the ground in that region — and more U.S. forces in the sky and on the nearby water. Yes, we have allies who will help us in the battle, but make no mistake about it: The United States of America is the driving force now and in years ahead. And we aren’t in that region of the world to make nice-nice.
Forget looking to the politicians for answers. Ask any seasoned military person. They will tell you honestly. This is war.
Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email [email protected]