Time is running out; the jihadists are on the verge of getting access to chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. Even if we destroy ISIS in the Middle East, the danger will not disappear.
It does not take too many dedicated fanatics to create total havoc and mass killings. Less than a couple of dozen implemented the 9/11 atrocity, and about the same number committed horrific acts in close succession, in France, the United States, Mali, Lebanon, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and other places. Imagine what can happen when lots more terrorists go into action. Their numbers increase daily and substantially, including home-grown radicals plus infiltrators into refugee hordes, plus the rise of sympathizers and followers around the world with highly motivated and well educated jihadists in their ranks.
Presently, it seems that the US can neither offer a solution at home nor provide the kind of world leadership it claims to deliver.
I’m not sure who said this first, but it is definitely to the point: "A good leader inspires confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people’s confidence in themselves.” Can we say honestly that this is the case with today’s America?
Where is NATO in the Middle East to fight ISIS, Al-Qaeda and affiliates? It keeps expanding and demanding more money, but it seems that instead of fighting terrorists they are busy beefing up their forces in Eastern Europe against imaginary Russian aggression. One can call Putin any names, but he is not insane. The obvious explanation for NATO’s behavior is that it is far more comfortable to take up quarters in Riga, Tallinn or Warsaw, than to fight ISIS in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
At the same time, NATO member Turkey continues to defy Washington and Brussels, not only by openly helping the jihadists but by attacking the Kurds who are among the few groups prepared to fight on our side. A Turkish force has even invaded Iraq, which is supposed to be our ally.
And when Vice President Biden during his Harvard address found the courage to blame Turkey for helping terrorists he was forced to apologize to Turkish President Erdogan.
The existential question is always "What can be done?”
I’d leave the domestic answer to the NSA, FBI, Department of Home Security and other agencies whose job is to protect us from terror.
As for the international effort at this point, the best choice is to form a real and not a fake anti-terrorist coalition led by the US, the EU, Russia and possibly China, with their respective allies ready to tackle the problem and not just wait for others to do the job for them.
As British MP and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who has a good chance of becoming the next Prime Minister, has recently said, "This is the time to set aside our Cold War mindset. It is just not true that whatever is good for Putin must automatically be bad for the West. We both have a clear and concrete objective – to remove the threat from ISIS. Everything else is secondary."
Similar statements have been made by the French and Italian leaders, the German foreign minister and even some prominent Americans across the spectrum, like former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders and, if I understand his words correctly, the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.
There were even some encouraging words pronounced by John Kerry during his December 15 meeting with Putin in Moscow when he said that "The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria. We see Syria fundamentally very similarly and want the same outcomes; we see the same dangers, we understand the same challenges.”
It remains to be seen if this is indeed a real change in Washington’s thinking or just due to Kerry’s exhaustion, since judging from Obama’s statements he is still in a state of denial regarding the disappearance of a unipolar world ruled by Washington.
There are some who think it’s too late and the train for our civilization as we know it is hurtling downhill to the abyss, but we must prove that this is not the case.
However, the main question remains: where is the new American leader who can inspire the country and the world to save this civilization?
Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow, Professor of Moscow Sate and National Research Nuclear Universities.