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COLUMN: Standing with Belgium

March 28, 2016
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Last Tuesday, the world was again horrified by coordinated terrorist attacks at the airport and subway in Brussels, Belgium. Dozens of people lost their lives, and many more were injured. Even before they took official responsibility, there was little doubt that the perpetrators would turn out to be ISIS affiliates, whose attacks in Paris last November took the lives of 130 people. At the time of this writing, four Americans have been confirmed to have lost their lives in the Belgium attacks. These horrific acts against innocent civilians are cowardly, and we must stand with our allies in Europe and across the world to defend democracy and defeat ISIS. Americans stand in solidarity with victims of terrorism, but confronting the common threats we face will take, not just a commitment, but an effective strategy to win the fight.

Last week, I voted with the House to condemn ISIS’ attacks in the strongest terms. The bipartisan resolution expressed the American people’s solidarity with Belgium and Americans’ determination to defeat ISIS and its terrorist affiliates. The attacks in Brussels were shocking, but authorities there were aware of warnings and expected an ISIS strike. Brussels is also the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and these attacks underscore the need to cooperate with our European allies. The fact is, we know that the enemy continues to plan attacks. According to reports, ISIS has trained at least 400 fighters to attack targets in Europe. Our military is the most capable in the world. What is needed is a detailed plan to defeat the enemies of free people.

Unfortunately, at this time, this Administration has yet to release a detailed plan to defeat ISIS as required by the defense law passed by Congress that the President signed. The deadline for that plan came and went on February 15. The President’s own muted response to the attacks first in Paris and now Brussels, where he addressed the attacks for less than one minute of remarks before a speech, followed by attending a baseball game in Havana, Cuba, sends the message that he still thinks of ISIS as the “JV team.” While the President pledged to "do whatever is necessary" to help Belgian authorities bring those responsible to justice, the American people and our allies want to know that the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy has assessed the real threat of terrorism and is willing to do everything it takes to face that threat.

Terrorism remains a global problem. We cannot ignore the threat posed to America and our allies. There is more we must be doing to protect our citizens and our homeland. For the President to go on as if nothing happened sends the wrong message.