EDITORIAL: Special leadership needed to cope with global terrorism

Among the mourning and confusion, following the tragic terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris last Friday, there is a good dose of fear regarding the possibility of similar attacks in the United States.

Paris is just part of a string of recent global attacks, from the bombing of a Russian airline over Egypt, to the suicide bombing of a Beirut shopping district just last Thursday. This is a pivotal reason why the U.S. needs strong, experienced leadership. When President Obama took office in 2008, his major challenged focused on a failing U.S. economy. Now, in his last year of office, national security and foreign affairs have become paramount.

It’s an unfortunate irony that the day before terrorists attacked Paris, President Obama, in a TV interview, said the spread of terrorism emanating from Iraq and Syria was “contained.” Now following last weekend’s events, the pressure is on for Obama to either send more military forces to Syria, or join a global force in combating terrorists in the Middle East. However, whatever Obama decides, his actions will not eliminate the complex international networks that is ISIS. This is a legacy his successor will adopt starting day one in office.

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The currently political climate however, may not recognize the pressing nature of this issue. Several political polls show many Americans supporting candidates with little or no experience with national security or foreign affairs issues. But the threats of terrorists attacks on U.S. soil makes it imperative that voters focus on candidates who present sensible platforms on these two important areas.

America’s next leader must first cope with the growth of radical terrorism, not only in Syria and Iraq, but the resurgence of cells in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya, and the atrocities carried out by terrorists in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. They must also take the lead in finding new intelligence strategies to monitor the activities of global and domestic terrorists. America’s intelligence agencies are being frustrated by terrorists’ use of untraceable communication tools, often over the illicit “Dark Web” online network.

Our next president must also lead the call in nullifying the attraction of some American youth to join overseas terrorist groups. Apparently persuaded by the radical messages these groups convey, young men and women too frequently attempt to join these groups.

Becoming president also comes with the fateful decision on whether to yield to international pressure to join a global war on terrorists – a conflict Pope Francis referred to as a potential “piecemeal World War III” in his comments after the Paris attacks. The new president must be able to fully understand where and how this war is fought. Will thousands of U.S. troops be deployed around the globe? Moreover, he or she will have to find effective fighting strategies against a global, complex combatant, not tied to one nation or nationality. In all, the next American president must be the candidate who has the competence, experience and pragmatic plans to protect America and Americans.

American cities, counties, and states, including Florida, should also focus on strong, competent leadership to protect their citizens. But this kind of leadership isn’t needed only in America. Every country, including Caribbean nations, now needs leaders capable of protecting their citizens from terrorism. The Caribbean too has suffered from its ISIS connections, with roughly 100 fighters from the region leaving to join the terrorist group in Syria.

The attacks in Paris on Friday are grim reminders that terrorists can strike anywhere, at any time. Every country must now be vigilant and proactive rather than reactive to this threat.

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