Vail Daily letter: Careful calculation, not force
Mr. Mazzuca (Valley Voices, Monday’s Vail Daily) correctly identifies Islamic terrorism as a threat. But he offers no coherent explanation of the extent of the threat or the proper response.
Calling the conflict a “war” adds little. It has no more meaning that the “war on drugs” or the “war on poverty” The label matters far less than action.
In reality, ISIS is contained in a part of the world far removed from the United States. Its members have the capability to inflict suffering worldwide, but that capability hardly compares to the threat posed by Soviet Union in the 1960s. What happened in Paris was horrendous and completely intolerable. But it hardly amounts to a war. A more accurate description is a sucker punch.
Yes, ISIS will likely throw more sucker punches. And we must be vigilant to prevent them. Our need for intelligence is great, but it must be weighed against potential infringements on civil liberties — a difficult balancing act. But ISIS hardly calls for the sort of response that Mr. Mazzuca seems to be suggesting: An invasion of northern Iraq and Syria by the United States and its allies.
If we learned anything from the Iraq fiasco it is that wars do not end with the initial defeat of the enemy (“mission accomplished”). Without a strategy to govern the conquered territory in a manner that promotes long-term peace and stability, invasion is not only foolish, it is counterproductive. No candidate, Republican or Democratic, has articulated any sort of post-invasion plan.
The United States should be leading the charge to de-escalate the conflict in Syria (through an alliance with Russia, if we can be sure that will de-escalate). We should also lead the humanitarian effort to assist the millions displaced by the conflict. Undoubtedly, these efforts will be risky. The alternative of throwing thousands of American soldiers into the Syrian cauldron and turning a blind eye to the massive suffering is neither safer nor moral.
We need a leader with a clear eye on our objectives and what is possible. Only one candidate has articulated a strategy that is even remotely feasible: Hillary Clinton. We cannot solve the problems of terrorism and the destruction of Syria with force and demagoguery. Careful calculation is required: A quality entirely lacking at this point in the Republican candidates for president.