Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump reacted to the Orlando shooting with evidence that they can agree on at least one thing: bombing people. Both candidates called for an escalation of the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
“We have generals that feel we can win this thing so fast and so strong, but we have to be furious for a short period of time, and we’re not doing it!” Trump complained on Fox & Friends Monday morning.
“Are you saying hit Raqqa right now?” asked host Brian Kilmeade. “We’re going to have to start thinking about something,” Trump replied.
Along the same lines, Clinton suggested during her post-Orlando speech Monday afternoon that “We should keep the pressure on ramping up the air campaign.”
Both candidates neglected to consider that no operational links between ISIS and the alleged Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, have been discovered. While Mateen pledged allegiance to ISIS shortly before the attacks, he had reportedly previously claimed connections to two groups that oppose ISIS: the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah and al Qaeda.
And neither explained how escalating bombardments in Iraq and Syria would do anything to stop self-radicalized and/or unhinged attackers in the United States.
If ISIS is not doing anything to help coordinate or assist these sorts of mass killings, then destroying it — even if that were possible — wouldn’t make any difference.
And even if you blame ISIS for “inspiring” such attacks, the fact remains that there are any number of extremist ideologies that a deranged would-be killer could derive inspiration from — and you cannot bomb them all.
Clinton’s and Trump’s gusto about doubling down on what the United States is already doing — the U.S.-led coalition has conducted over 12,000 airstrikes against ISIS and other militant groups in Iraq and Syria — was echoed by sitting lawmakers.
“We’ve got to be willing to take the battle to ISIS. Right now, they’re taking the battle to us, and yesterday it was in Orlando,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, reviving the Bush-era slogan: “Fight them there, so we don’t have to fight them here.”
“The reality is, what we need to do is we need to take the fight to the terrorists on their doorstep. Whether it’s ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, we need to be there,” Rep. Bill Hurd, R-Texas, told CNBC on Monday morning.
But the record shows that, if anything, U.S. military engagements in the Middle East drive recruits to extremist organizations, rather than away. Even Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon worried about that.