Today is not a day for partisan bickering, there comes a time when the childish games have to be put aside. There comes a time to decide and to act, this is one of those times.
Yesterday, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (or Levant if you like, but since they like that name I won't use it again), killed more than 160 people in Paris. It is their second attack in less than a year in that city. The Parisians wonder why? I must say I suspect why, but the larger question is what next?
The why I believe is this, the French have long embraced an openness, a liberty, which is at its core an anathema to the dictatorial ideals of any group seeking to re-establish a broad Islamic theocracy. In the ISIS held areas of Iraq and Syria, there is no freedom of speech, of the press, of nearly anything and certainly no freedom of religion as exists here and in France. Further, France is relatively open with it's borders and has allowed enormous immigration of refugees, from Algeria, from Syria (both former colonies) and from Iraq. France has the largest Muslim population in Europe as a percentage of their total, and while I don't blame Muslims, it seems clear that with the larger population came along (or grew up) a small population of sympathizers with the "plight" of Arabs subjected to Israel or western imperialism, or any other of 100 excuses for murder such zealots make to justify their horrors. Along with that population came as well, neighborhoods and families where such sympathizers can hide, protected by familial love, by neighborly concern for "the boy who has become a bit of a radical." That ability to hide has been key, whether in Paris or in New York City. It made travelling in Paris, living in Paris, hiding among those who dress similarly, like many of the same things, possible, and striking at the home of democracy, as the French feel they are, represented a great opportunity. For those who demean the French, remember they were our first ally, they supported our democracy, certainly in part for their own interests, but also because they believed in our cause. They have stood by our side in nearly every war in our history, and we by theirs. Britain may now be our closest ally, but for a long time, it was France and not the least reason because they embraced protecting the liberties of the people.
So, what now?
First, to the repulsive leadership of ISIS, you are fools. While your awful, puny little state did little to antagonize the rest of the world, the rest of the world was ambivalent to your existence. We understood you were the outgrowth of a power vacuum in Syria and Iraq and we expected that once that vacuum was gone, you would go with it because your brutish, anti-technology, anti-development ideals were nothing more than the criminal conduct of apostate young men seeking to rape, steal, and murder. There might have once been some semblance of Islam's love in your cause, but that ended the first day you killed an innocent, the first night you raped a young girl. You are damned, on Earth and in the afterlife.
For you see, second, the world is coming for you. You missed your guess when you thought you could freely butcher the French like you butchered the U.S. populace on 9/11. The French almost certainly will, and we should actively support, attack ISIS in Syria and Iraq. They need no permission from Syria, it lacks a government to control it's populace. Whatever permission it needs from Iraq should be easily offered. The French are coming for you, and we must go along. We must offer military and material support and we must keep at it until the Arab world is clear that the west does not consist of weak nations of fools, but of nations of laws who expect and demand lawful conduct by the citizens of ALL nations. If the Arab world feels offended by the conduct of Israel or the support of it, there ARE in fact legal remedies, and even if those fail, ugliness on one side NEVER justifies killing innocents, not OUR innocents, nor theirs. With that said, I am no supporter of building a nation in Syria or Iraq. The Sunni radicals who established ISIS must be shown that no such nation will ever be allowed, not one which behaves in that manner. They can chose their own government, they can have an internecine war with the Shia if they like, but they cannot try, by military force, to export their views or exact vengeance for perceived slights. If that is their goal, it is time to meet force with force. Beyond that, it's high time the leaders of Saudi Arabia were made to "toe the line" on ending support for ISIS. That is the cost the US must impose.
Inside France, and for that matter inside the US, it is time to start undermining the local sanctuaries which local neighborhoods may offer (unwittingly or god forbid wittingly). I suggest the French offer $25,000 or even $50,000 per head for ISIS sympathizers who can be convicted of criminal activity related to terrorism. I suggest we offer the same, though not obviously just for Islamic extremists, but all. I do NOT suggest suspending the rule of law, or protection under the law, that would be repeating the mistakes of Afghanistan and make us no better than those we are fighting, but clearly most Muslims in France (or the US) have no love or patience for this conduct, clearly some people who might have been willing to "turn a blind eye" may be also willing to no longer do so if the right incentive is out there. It's time to reduce their ability to hide for as David Patreaus noted, that is the key to ending any "insurgency."
So, in short, it is time for war.