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Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel: Fight Islamists aggressively

The West is facing off against terrorists, but we aren’t fighting to win.
Today: World War III

CAL:The terrorist attacks in Paris are part of an ongoing plot by Islamic fanatics to destroy Western culture and occupy Western nations. It's past time we stop the hand-wringing and self delusion about a "peaceful" religion and start fighting this war as if it were World War III.

BOB:There is no doubt that terrorists acting under the banner of Islam have declared war on us. Paris is the latest in a string of terrorist attacks dating back decades, which provide all the evidence Western nations should accept for the reality of this war. I am not prepared to indict all Muslims, however, for the actions of a small, but growing, faction.

CAL:Of course most Muslims aren't terrorists, but we have to stop denying the obvious. These killers say they murder in the name of Islam. Western leaders should take them at their word. "Reaching out" isn't working. It's time to be more aggressive.

BOB:I agree. These are Islamic terrorists, period. The first step in uniting the West against these murderers is to stop calling people "Islamophobes" when they state the obvious and quote what too many Muslims say in their sermons and media.

CAL:Organizations and "charities" with ties to terrorism should be outlawed, their offices closed and assets seized. The United Arab Emirates recently named 83 terrorist groups. Two openly have offices in the United States. They are the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society. Both groups have strongly denied any terrorist links, but I think we should start with them.

BOB:There are such organizations, I agree, but we have to be careful about accusing groups with "ties to terrorism" of being terrorist. A relative of a member of a Muslim charity may be a terrorist, but that doesn't mean the group is a terrorist front. We need solid evidence to prove any organization or individual is a terrorist. We made that mistake in World War II by interning Japanese Americans.

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CAL:Some of the Paris terrorists reportedly received training in Yeme n. President Obama should attack those training camps with whatever weaponry is necessary to destroy them and kill their leaders.

BOB:You're right. Anyone who trains terrorists is as guilty of terrorism as the killers themselves. If we have intelligence on the location of terrorist training centers, it is insane not to act.

CAL:Anyone proven to have traveled to countries to make contact with terrorists should have his passport revoked and be arrested and interrogated when he tries to return to the U.S.

BOB:I agree.

CAL:We need stepped-up surveillance of mosques and Islamic schools in the U.S. Those found to be encouraging sedition and anti-Semitism should be closed. To quote from the Old Testament, "You must purge the evil from among you." Ebola is being fought with disinfectant. We must disinfect Europe and America, or this virus of fanaticism will become incurable.

BOB:I don't have a problem with stepped-up surveillance as long as we follow the rule of law. That would include getting permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We need to gather intelligence, but we need to do so legally.

CAL:During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the detention of Japanese Americans. In retrospect, some of these were an overreaction to the threats faced by the country. But the point is these two presidents — one a Republican, the other a Democrat — forcefully acted to win those wars. I fear recent presidents of both parties are so afraid of going too far that they won't do what must be done to defeat the Islamists and protect the nation.

BOB:Surely you're not suggesting that we detain all Muslims who are citizens, or in this country legally? There is no evidence that putting Japanese Americans in detention centers during World War II contributed in any way towards winning the war. In Lincoln's case, the situation was much more complex. Washington, D.C., was riddled with Confederate spies who, by not being detained without habeas corpus, could have turned the tide of the Civil War to the Confederates.

CAL:Of course I'm not calling for interning Muslims. I'm simply noting those two presidents put the nation on a war footing and fought those wars to win them. I don't sense the same urgency among our leaders today. That can only encourage our enemies.

BOB:If anything good has come out of the Paris murders, they have united people across different political and even religious divides. Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein wrote a column for Variety in which he compared the murderers to the Nazis. He said we are engaged in a battle between good and evil.

CAL:I completely agree with this longtime Demo crat and Obama supporter. Weinstein sees the problem more clearly than some of our political leaders.

BOB:Now there's a great example of common ground.

Cal Thomas is a conservative columnist. Bob Beckel is a liberal Democratic strategist. But as longtime friends, they can often find common ground on issues that lawmakers in Washington cannot.

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Posted: January 13, 2015 Tuesday 05:49 PM