As France and Germany reel at Islamist terrorist attacks on a daily or near-daily basis, George Friedman points out something that should have been obvious at this point:
The essential problem has been a persistent misunderstanding of radical Islamism. It is a movement, not an organization. Or to be more precise, radical Islamism is a strand of Islam. How large or small it is has become the subject of a fairly pointless debate. Its size is sufficient to send American forces halfway around the world and it is capable of carrying out attacks in Europe and the U.S. Whether it is a small strand or a giant strand doesn’t matter. What matters is that it cannot be suppressed, or at least has not yet been suppressed.
Here in the United States we’ve been fortunate that we haven’t experienced what the Germans and French are experiencing.
Can we expect that to continue? It may be that we can. Our oceans continue to protect us, the demographics of the U. S. Muslim population is different from that of, say, Germany, and we’ve been lucky. However, the fear that it will not continue is what motivates remarks like Donald Trump’s famous demand that we end Muslim immigration “until we know what’s going on”.
I think that goes a step too far but I do think that it would be prudent of us to limit immigration from the Middle East and North Africa to people who’ve been thoroughly vetted which would in turn imply that those immigrants would largely be limited to people who’ve been working with the U. S. military for years in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere and their families.
I do think that we should abandon our efforts at suppressing the movement. That will remain beyond our ability as long as we eschew the means that would be required to do it which would result in our killing tens or hundreds of millions of innocents.