Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

If U.S. doesn't defeat terrorism, no one else will

About that “peace dividend.”

The escalating Islamic State’s threat to U.S. citizens and American interests here and abroad may deplete any anticipated dividend before it can go into the nation’s piggy bank.

Some of the billions expected to be saved over the next decade from military budget cuts, downsizing forces and getting off a permanent war footing could evaporate as the U.S. ramps up efforts to “degrade and destroy” the rogue militants in Iraq and Syria.

Last week, Congress approved President Obama’s plan for the U.S. military to train and equip Syrian rebels to fight Islamic State militants. The measure passed in a rare bipartisan effort, however, some liberal Democrats — and two possible GOP presidential candidates — opposed the plan because of fears the U.S. may become entangled in another protracted war.

Many Americans are wary of that happening, but the brutality of the well-equipped militants and their threats to take their terrorist agenda to U.S. shores are to some degree swaying those feelings.

According to a recent Albuquerque Journal Poll, New Mexico voters are split — 42 percent on both sides — about using ground troops there.

The U.S. has launched airstrikes against the terrorists, although Obama has ruled out putting U.S. military boots on the ground in Iraq. However, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week told the House Armed Services Committee that deploying ground troops in Iraq may become necessary.

Last week in southern New Mexico, Leon Panetta, Obama’s former defense secretary and CIA chief, warned that the nation faces “a long generational war against terrorism.” Panetta said he trusted Dempsey’s judgment to inform the president if the situation warranted considering ground troops.

He emphasized that terrorism must be defeated and if the U.S. doesn’t do it, no one else will. “The most important thing is we’ve got to win that war.”

While no reasonable person should want a ground war, Dempsey’s candor is refreshing and realistic. Obama intentions are preferable, but when it comes to warfare, the limits are hard to predict.

— Albuquerque Journal