Attacks on France Mean the West
Must Target ISIS in Raqqa
By Moshe Arens
July 18, 2016
Have you ever thought of a car as
a weapon? Sitting behind the wheel you have the ability to kill − not by
accident, but deliberately. It has already been done by radical Islamist
terrorists on numerous occasions this past year, but never on the scale of the
rampage along two kilometers of Nice's Promenade des Anglais on July 14,
Bastille Day, by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
In France they’re still puzzling
about the motive behind this murderous act. “Is he a secret sympathizer of
jihad, or someone who decided to commit suicide posing as a martyr?” asks the
French newspaper Le Monde. To Manuel Valls, the French premier, the answer is
clear. “He is, without doubt, related to radical Islamism, in one way or
another,” Valls has declared on French television. Unlike U.S. President
Barack Obama, he has no compunction about calling a spade a spade – it’s
radical Islamic terrorism.
It was premeditated murder. On
July 11, three days earlier, Lahouaiej Bouhlel rented a 19-ton refrigerated
truck. “I am delivering ice cream,” he told the checkpoint guard who let him
pass through. The date, Bastille Day, wasn’t picked at random. Is there any
doubt that this was another crime committed by Islamic terrorists? That the
inspiration for it, as for so many other acts of terrorism, emanated from Raqqa,
the headquarters of the Islamic State?
It’s true that it’s difficult
to forestall “lone wolf” attacks − certainly far more difficult than
when the attack has been planned and organized by a group, part of a network
that can be tracked by experienced and efficient security services. But even so,
at a mass event such as the Bastille Day celebrations, one would expect the
police to be on high alert.
It was the third major terrorist
attack in France over the past 19 months. After the attack on the offices of
Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, French President Francois Hollande declared that
it was “an act of war” by the Islamic State. But the questions arise: What
has France done these past 19 months to win this war, or even to defend itself?
And what can France do?
Despite the problems he faces by
intermittent acts of terror causing massive loss of life, Hollande has found the
time to assemble a meeting of foreign ministers in Paris. This meeting was meant
to support his initiative, to be presented at the United Nations, to compel
Israel to accept his version of a “two-state solution.” Maybe he really
believes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who in his recent appearance at
the European Parliament stated that once the Palestinian problem had been solved
terrorism would disappear.
So pursuing his Palestinian
initiative may be his answer to the Islamic State’s attacks on France. But the
notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all the Middle
East's problems, a notion that at least for a while was shared by Obama, is
completely divorced from Middle East reality. The Islamic State’s worldwide
offensive against Western civilization, as well as against all Muslims who are
not of the group’s persuasion, provides almost daily proof of this.
Defending France, and for that
matter the Western world, requires going after the Islamic State on its home
ground, in Raqqa, Syria. It is from there that operational instructions are
issued and “lone wolves” draw their inspiration.
Of course, Hollande would prefer
to let the Kurds and Iranian militias do the job, while providing occasional air
support. And he is, no doubt, encouraged by their recent limited successes. A
remote-control war is preferable to the real thing. But wars are won on the
ground. And this one will be won only with boots on the ground in Raqqa.