Randy Forbes: A different world

randy forbesIt struck the heart of Christians in Lahore, Pakistan and reverberated across the world into the hearts of their fellow man.

We were reminded, yet again, that the pain of the world seems rawer every day. Just a few weeks ago, ISIS affiliated jihadists targeted Christians with deadly bombings during an Easter celebration. Blasts went off near a play area for children at a Pakistani park, killing children and separating families. This was just the latest attack in the Islamic State’s intentional targeting and genocide of Christians and other religious minorities. Homes are being raided. People are being executed in horrific ways. Thousands of Christians and other people of faith  have been and continue to be tortured by ISIS and other terrorist organizations across the Middle East. For many of us, those images flashing across our T.V. screens — the snaking line of innocent victims, kneeling before their black-clothed captors — are forever seared into our minds.

Almost every week, it seems we hear more news about an enemy that simply has no shame. Every tragedy feels a little bit closer, propelling itself into our homes and our minds.

Many Americans tell me that they feel this Administration has remained far too silent in the face of the Islamic State’s genocide of Christians and other religious minorities. They also tell me they’re concerned about the security of our country and the safety of their families. They look into the eyes of their children and are worried about what kind of world they will grow up in. What will that world look like? Will they live in fear? Will they enjoy the same freedom we do today?

And at the center of it all, Americans are asking a pointed, urgent question: what do we do? How do we keep our nation safe?

On that question, the Administration has not provided the American people with many answers. So far, it seems as if the Commander-in-Chief’s response has been more a sample of what not to do than a strategy for defeating the threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

While testifying in a House Armed Services Committee hearing, the nation’s highest ranking military officer, General Joseph Dunford, admitted to me that ISIS has not been contained and that a counter-strategy has not been fully resourced, despite the President’s claims otherwise. When I pressed General Dunford on this topic at another recent hearing, he admitted that the Administration’s top defense strategy documents do not even account for the rise of ISIS or the continuous presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This level of denial is almost incomprehensible.

I voted to require the Administration to submit a written strategy for – not just containing – but  defeating ISIS. This month, nearly four weeks after the report was due, the Administration finally sent that report to the House Armed Services Committee. The mere seven-page report is more of the same, containing virtually no new information on how the U.S. plans to counter the growing threat of jihadist terrorism. As a Member of Congress serving on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, I have received classified briefings that have warned of the growing threat posed by the Islamic State. Every life lost serves as a call to action. Every horrific act of terror serves as a searing reminder that evil exists in this world and that radical Islamic terrorism is not a distant danger. The Islamic State is a savage organization. With every attack, ISIS sends a clear message: they will not stop until we stop them. It’s not enough to contain. We must destroy ISIS – both militarily and economically.

This is not a time for uncertain policies. It’s not a time for mere seven-page strategies with more of the same. We cannot expect to defeat and destroy an enemy without a plan in place to win. A strong strategy must include stopping the Syrian refugee program; standing up against the Islamic State’s genocide of Christians; cutting off the sources of ISIS’ funding so we cripple them both economically and militarily, stopping efforts to transfer terrorist detainees from GITMO to American soil, and rebuilding the military that this Administration has been systematically dismantling. My highest priority is fulfilling Congress’ constitutional duty to provide the common defense, strengthening our national security, and protecting America. That’s why I will continue to fight against any actions that put politics above national security, and personal priorities above the interests and safety of American citizens.

Randy Forbes represents the Fourth District of Virginia in Congress.



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