(Extensions of Remarks - March 27, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 53 (Monday, March 27, 2017)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E390-E391]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            THE MIDDLE EAST


                          HON. FRANCIS ROONEY

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                         Monday, March 27, 2017

  Mr. FRANCIS ROONEY of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share 
with my colleagues several articles that I have written over the years 
regarding the Middle East. As a Member of the Europe, Eurasia, and 
Emerging Threats Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, these pieces serve to 
outline and inform discussions that our Committee will cover in the 
115th Congress.

               ISIS, Islamic Extremism, and the Long War

       Regardless of various opinions about the United States' 
     military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, I 
     would argue that President Bush's words to a joint session of 
     Congress on 20 September of that year ring just as true and 
     valuable now: ``We are a country awakened to danger and 
     called to defend freedom'' against an onslaught by terrorists 
     practicing ``a fringe form of Islamic extremism''.
       Recent unconscionable acts of violence by Islamic 
     militants, including beheadings and burnings alive not heard 
     of for hundreds of years, demand broad and possibly unique 
     means of response and concerted action by the modem world. 
     Certainly the ``overseas contingency operation'' with which 
     the Obama Administration replaced the ``Global War on 
     Terror'' in May 2009 has failed to accomplish the task. Now 
     ISIS leaders openly threaten to ``conquer your Rome, break 
     your crosses and enslave your women.''
       Not since the Communist state of Stalin, or perhaps the 
     Third Reich, have we faced such a potential, or at least 
     self-proclaimed, existential threat to the modem world. It 
     required a half century of containment to mutate the former 
     and a brutal world war to eradicate the latter.
       The religious inspiration behind ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, 
     and affiliated groups add a different face to the movements 
     which call for responses broader than purely military 
     activity. Recalling President Truman's unsuccessful effort to 
     draw the world's religions into the fight against communism, 
     we need to draw religious leaders from all traditions--
     especially the vast majority of Muslims who do not align 
     themselves with the medieval barbarism of the terrorists--
     into open and concerted action in opposition to the threat 
     posed here.
       In the early 1950s, Truman found only one group, the 
     Catholic Church, willing to broadly and openly attack 
     communism. In 2006, it was Pope Benedict XVI who spoke out 
     more clearly and aggressively against the evil of using 
     religion to inspire hatred and violence--and of the 
     fundamental incompatibility of the Prophet's command to 
     ``spread the word by the sword'' with the way of life in the 
     modem 21st century. He urged the Islamic world to reconcile 
     the Koran with modernity, to bring reason to its 
     interpretations just as the Enlightenment did for theocratic 
     monarchies in the 18th century. He made it clear that 
     moderate Muslims must take responsibility for their own 
       And while there have been some encouraging comments, inter-
     religious dialogues, and op-eds to this effect, we are still 
     in the early stages of a protracted struggle for the minds of 
     heretofore not radicalized muslims. The ``soft power'' of 
     religious opinion makers is an important factor. In fact, 
     some have argued as Ambassador Charles Freeman (USFS, Ret.) 
     has that ``only a coalition with a strong Muslim identity can 
     hope to contain'' the terrorists. He argues that the 
     doctrines of ISIS cannot be successfully refuted by non-
     Muslims because the U.S. ``lacks the religious credentials to 
     refute'' Islamic terrorist groups as ``a moral perversion of 
       The lack of cultural integration in different nations' 
     societies also presents a major challenge. Whether it is 
     European ``multiculturalism,'' or an affirmative prejudice, 
     the lack of alignment of many Muslim groups with the national 
     identities and cultures of their countries has created a 
     breeding ground for radicalization. Here is where our unique 
     American ``exceptionalism'' can show the light. Our ``melting 
     pot'' tradition of assimilation of diverse peoples has 
     created--despite some bumps in the road--a uniquely broad and 
     culturally tolerant society. And the related concept of 
     citizenship based on residence and personal actions rather 
     than blood and lineage can serve as a powerful model.
       As the world gropes for solutions, it has become clear that 
     concerted action by the modem world, akin to the Allied 
     Powers' collaborative actions to confront the Axis, is 
     absolutely necessary. Spain and France recently passed bi-
     partisan laws granting expansive powers to the authorities to 
     monitor and interdict internet connectivity with radical 
     Islamic sites, to isolate and track down ``lone wolf'' 
     terrorists, and to restrict and contain travel to and from 
     places of known terrorist activities. Modifying the Schengen 
     visa program and putting in place tightened border security 
     are issues to consider as means of improving tracking of 
     known terrorist suspects.
       Lastly, we should consider a ``containment'' and isolation 
     program to ring fence the terrorist geographies, turn them 
     onto themselves and limit their capacity to export murder 
     beyond their borders. In so doing, perhaps we can help assure 
     that their neighbors who are our allies in all this 
     (especially Jordan) are reinforced and protected. Turkey has 
     a powerful role to play both because of their long land 
     border with Syria and Iraq, and due to the complexities 
     presented by the PKK in Turkey and the evolution of Kurdistan 
     and its Peshmerga, which are capable fighters and allies of 
     the West. Only a comprehensive strategy can turn the tide and 
     lead us to ultimate victory in the Long War.

                            IS THIS WAR YET?

       Contrary to the constrained and parsed language that the 
     Obama administration uses to describe the terror radiating 
     from the Middle East, we are at war. The terror attacks in 
     France only underscore this reality. This is a struggle for 
     the values and freedoms the Western world holds dear. The 
     modern secular state where all religious faiths are 
     respected, and the rights of all men and women are to be 
     protected, is under siege. These attacks are neither sporadic 
     ``episodes,'' nor are they merely criminal. We confront a 
     locally and regionally organized movement with a unifying 
     ideology and global ambitions.
       While the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and their ilk are in some 
     ways more complicated than traditional nation states, the 
     underlying ideology has echoes of mid-20th Century fascism. 
     There is tyranny in the beating heart of both movements.
       Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton correctly noted 
     that the enemy are ``jihadists,'' but shied away from 
     conceding that it is unmistakably and by its own description 
     Islamic. You can argue whether the wave of terror that began 
     with the Iranian Revolution and reached new heights with the 
     Islamic State attacks on France is truly inspired by a 
     perverted interpretation of Islam, or rather the cynical and 
     calculated manipulation of religion for the purpose of 
     hegemonic conquest. Either way, the result is largely the 
     same. The Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the constellation of 
     Islamic extremist groups that orbit around them have spread 
     fear across the world. They have imposed a significant 
     ``security tax'' on free societies. And they have seized 
     significant territory across North Africa and the Middle 
       The question confronting all free societies targeted by 
     these extremists is whether to declare war against those who 
     are waging war against us. If so, what is the best means to 
     mount the kind of wartime response traditionally associated 
     with nation state conflicts?
       One possible measure would be an embargo that cuts off 
     extremist held territory in Iraq and Syria from the rest of 
     the world: No cross border movement, no flights in and out, 
     no connection with the global commons. This would essentially 
     treat extremist held territory as a belligerent nation, and 
     it might well entail recognizing the already de facto 
     partition of Iraq and Syria into their Shiite, Sunni and 
     Kurdish regions. Islamic State leaders believe they occupy a 
     Caliphate, so why should they avoid measures that 
     traditionally constrain aggressor nations?
       More punishing measures could also target any governments 
     or non-governmental organizations that nurture or support the 
     terrorists, including the governments of many of our Sunni 
     allies in the Middle East. Even indirect or private support 
     for a radical movement that has declared war on the civilized 
     world should carry a heavy cost, one that creates an 
     incentive for these nations to become part of the solution to 
     a problem that

[[Page E391]]

     is in many respects of their own making. In short, cut off 
     the money, dry up support, and starve the extremist movement.
       The plight of innocent people in areas occupied or 
     contested by these extremists is a humanitarian tragedy on an 
     almost incomprehensible scale. While all innocent people 
     driven from their homes or persecuted by these extremists 
     deserve our help and support, the plight of Christians in 
     this regard is unconscionable. The world needs to help all of 
     the displaced persons created from this conflict, but the 
     ultimate answer to their suffering is to stop the wanton 
     violence and destruction so that they can return home.
       A good place to start is the ``No Fly Zone'' and safe 
     corridor in Syria which Governor Jeb Bush and others have 
     endorsed. Such a safe haven could offer a means to bring 
     humanitarian aid to the displaced, stem the current refugee 
     tide, and serve as a base of operations for more moderate 
     forces opposed to the extremists.
       This sad chapter in human affairs will pass, but decisions 
     and actions are urgently needed to hasten the day when the 
     Islamic State and its fellow travelers take their rightful 
     place on the ash heap of history, alongside other extremist 
     movements like fascism, imperialism, and communism. As in 
     past wars, free peoples will ultimately prevail so long as 
     free nations stand united against tyranny, recognizing it 
     under whatever black flag it travels. Appeasement and parsed 
     language, such as we have repeatedly seen from the Obama 
     administration, will not deter hardened jihadists.