By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator


SEPT. 12, 2014 -- When you go to war, first you have to study the enemy.

ISIS, like Heinz tomato ketchup, is of fifty seven varieties but three stand out. First, the Musharraf religious crowd from Saudi Arabia that want an Islamic State and believe that Jews and Christians are infidels and ought to be killed (Frontline 11/9/2001).

Next are Muslims and Emirs that have been financing ISIS and are intolerant of Muslim countries in the Mid-East that go along with the U.S. support of Israel. They see that the Jews have a State in Israel and the Muslims ought to have an Islamic State.

Third, citizens from the U.S. and Europe that are not Muslims or terrorists, but are inspired by the bravery of the Gazans, who would rather die than continue their plight. Religion is stronger than military or democracy and this tells you that you may degrade ISIS but not destroy it. The best you can do is to work on our friend Israel to really go for a two state solution, to stop the settlements and to give Gazans a chance to live. Put Israel on notice that if the question of statehood for the Palestinians comes up again in the United Nations, we are not going to veto it. In short, recoup some credibility for the United States.

Next, we must look at the lay of the land where the war is to be fought: Iraq, where the Iraqi Army has yet to meet expectations, and Syria which is hostile. This tells you that forming a coalition and training troops to fight won't do it. ISIS is growing and moving too fast. Our trouble is that the U.S. Congress is disorganized on ISIS and the President has the Secretary of State running all over the Mid-East, seeking volunteers to go to war. We made the mess in the Mideast and have a duty to clean it up.

The President's policy is in violation of the Powell Rule: "When you go to war, go all out. Don't piece meal. Don't tippy toe. Don't dilly." Obama has dilly'd long enough. The President says he has authority for sixty days under the War Power Resolution so he can surprise all of us. Quietly put Assad on notice that we're coming in and that if his anti-aircraft batteries fire on any of our planes, Assad is gone. Then, land Special Forces at the two headquarters of ISIS in Syria, backing them up with sufficient ground troops to clean up ISIS in Syria in sixty or ninety days. Then give the Congress the option to stop the war as we clean up ISIS in Iraq.

President Barack Obama has learned a bad lesson: that drone killing rids the world of terrorists. Drone killing always has collateral damage and many times creates more terrorists. His airstrikes alone won't work in Syria. We have the troops and this is no time to start a three year war. The United States will always be in strong support of Israel but Israel has to maintain our credibility for strong support. The President may degrade ISIS but he'll never destroy it. This religious fervor has lasted for thousands of years and will last for another thousand years.

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2014, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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