Standing with our French Allies
by Senator Mike Rounds
South Dakotans – and all Americans – stand united with France after last week’s terror attacks in Paris. With 129 murdered and more than 350 wounded, they were the deadliest terror attacks in Europe in more than a decade. We continue to pray for those we lost and stand united with our friends in France as they recover from this terrible tragedy.
The attacks in Paris are a sobering reminder that we are at war with radical jihadists who seek to harm Americans and invoke terror throughout the world. These extremists, who propagate brutal violence and reject peace, must be destroyed. This starts with a coherent plan to completely defeat ISIS, the vicious terrorist group behind the November 13 Paris attacks.
The administration has been lackluster in its response to ISIS, with the President and Secretary of State downplaying its growing influence in the Middle East and our need to fully counter them, placing tight constraints on our military’s campaign against them. Meanwhile, ISIS has spread from Iraq and Syria to Northern Africa and Afghanistan and now to the restaurants and concert halls of Paris. It is clear that ISIS is not “contained,” as President Obama claimed just hours before the Paris attacks, nor is it merely a regional threat in the Middle East. We must act now to defeat them or risk a Paris-like attack on U.S. soil in the near future. I believe the best way to achieve this is to direct our military, the Department of Homeland Security and our nation’s intelligence leaders to put forth a clear and coherent plan to completely obliterate ISIS.
Because of ongoing war in Syria, as well as ISIS’s continued terror in the region, millions of Syrians are fleeing their homeland seeking refuge elsewhere in the world. While most are being relocated in Europe, many South Dakotans, including myself, are concerned about the prospect of a terrorist slipping into the United States, taking advantage of the refugee program. Refugees have been coming to America for generations seeking safety from war-torn regions of the world. I support efforts to help others seek shelter from persecution. However, we must not do so at the expense of our own national security.
I have joined a growing number of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – calling for the administration to put a pause on those coming to the U.S. from Syria until we are able to take a second look at the security of our current vetting processes. We need to remember that it only took 8 people to commit the carnage in Paris. While we continue to press the administration for answers as to our ability to protect Americans from these threats, we must not accelerate the Syrian refugee program as the President has requested.
As we continue to seek answers regarding last week’s horrific attacks in Paris, we must remember that we are at war with Islamic jihadists. Clearly defining a plan to defeat ISIS and keep Americans safe must be our primary goal. We have the best armed forces and intelligence agencies in the world. With resolve and determination, we can and will defeat ISIS and Islamic extremists, but this still requires leadership and a plan.