By Ed Royce

In The Orange County Register:


Right now, Americans are facing growing dangers at home and abroad because Islamist extremists have been given the space to plan, inspire and carry out terror attacks.

Deaths are mounting. Many of us are still struggling with pain and shock from the December terror rampage in San Bernardino that killed 14 – including a mother of six and a father of three.

Recent attacks in Belgium, Pakistan and Ivory Coast have further demonstrated the reach – and sheer brutality – of these terrorists. Innocent men, women and children have been murdered at airports, subway stations and public beaches. Christians were targeted on Easter Sunday in a neighborhood park in Lahore, Pakistan, specifically because of their faith. The depravity of ISIS and other terror groups knows no limits.

And the sad truth is that the U.S. still isn’t doing enough about it. While President Obama now says defeating ISIS is his top priority – two years after dismissing it as “the JV team” – the White House’s policies remain weak and ineffectual.

Take Iraq and Syria, for example. For years, the administration refused calls to use air power to take out ISIS convoys when they were moving across the open desert. Today, ISIS is embedded, and the U.S. is carrying out an average of just 23 airstrikes per day – a fraction of what a serious air campaign looks like.

Thousands of local Kurdish, Sunni and Yazidi forces are still fighting ISIS with antiquated weapons. These forces, many of which include women, have been driven from their homes and are highly motivated to take the fight to ISIS. Yet they do not have the support nor the tools they need. All the while, Obama administration efforts to combat ISIS recruitment and communications on the Internet remain disjointed, at best.

If we’re going to truly defeat and destroy ISIS, we need a comprehensive plan to combat these terrorists. Unfortunately, the president’s strategy – which he finally put forward after months of delay – offers nothing new. It’s seven pages of the same old policies that aren’t working.

As chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I’m committed to working with members of both parties to outline real alternatives to keep America safe. And in many cases, we’ve been able to reach bipartisan consensus.

In December, we passed legislation – which is now law – to help strengthen our Visa Waiver program and ensure that foreign fighters who’ve traveled to Syria and Iraq do not have easy access to the U.S. And recently, I successfully pressed the administration to apply extra scrutiny to individuals traveling to and from Libya. This is especially critical given that an estimated 5,000 Europeans have traveled to fight on the front lines with ISIS in recent years.

We’ve also passed legislation to require the administration to step up efforts to combat ISIS’ use of social media, declare ISIS atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities genocide, and – just last week – we passed common-sense legislation to help improve border security by establishing minimum standards for foreign countries at airports and other points of entry.

Of course, we still have much more work to do. Especially as we are facing an enemy that is technologically sophisticated and always evolving. So I’m advocating for strong policies that give our pilots and special forces already on the ground the flexibility they need to ensure terrorists have no sanctuary. I’m also continuing to press the administration to get desperately needed weapons in the hands of the forces in Iraq and Syria – including the Kurds and Sunni tribes – that have been most effective in fighting ISIS, and step up training of African forces.

Ultimately, however, it is the president who must lead the fight to defeat and destroy ISIS. President Obama is the commander in chief. Instead of offering up tired half-measures, he ought to be working with Congress on a new approach.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


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