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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Local experts weigh in on possible US responses to Paris attacks

The Islamic State’s announcement claiming responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris on Saturday provoked different opinions on how the U.S. and its allies should react.
The attacks, which occurred Friday, killed at least 129 people and injured over 300 others. The attacks prompted the French air force to carry out bombing missions on the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday and Monday.
Danny Davis, lecturer in the Bush School and director of the Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security program, said the Islamic State’s ability to coordinate six simultaneous attacks is significant, and the U.S. should take a leading role in the fight against them in Iraq and Syria.
“When the United States does not lead, you have chaos just like you have it in the Middle East right now,” Davis said. “Our failure to lead over the past few years is the reason ISIS is doing as well as they are and so on and so forth. We’ve got to step up.”
Jasen Castillo, associate professor in the Bush School who worked in the Department of Defense’s Policy Planning Office, said he isn’t opposed to allowing other countries, such as Russia and France, to spearhead the campaign against the Islamic State.
“I like the idea of other states stepping up,” Castillo said. “I’m all for coordinating and helping, but for the last 14 years we have expended a lot of military power, a lot of blood and treasure, and it hasn’t made things better. In some ways it has, but the things that have made it better don’t require a large military presence.”
Castillo said if the U.S. overreacts and uses overwhelming force, the collateral damage may feed into the radicals’ narrative of a brutal and repressive United States.
“The US should concentrate on police, intelligence, protecting our borders,” Castillo said. “This is largely an intelligence problem.”
Davis said along with military defeat, the Islamic State needs to be defeated ideologically.
“Their interpretation of the Quran… we’ve got to fight that, but the people that can fight that more so than you and I are these different governments — Saudi Arabia, Jordan — these countries where that’s the reigning religion, they’re the ones that’s got to step up,” Davis said.
Andrew Natsios, executive professor in the Bush School and the director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, said the attacks in Paris mark a shift in the Islamic State’s strategy from a focus on local affairs in Iraq and Syria to those foreign.
“They were not interested in Western Europe and the United States in terms of targets,” Natsios said. “Now what we’ve done is we’ve gone after them, I think for very good reason, but not adequately. We have not done what’s necessary to take them out, and so they are now coming after us.”
In terms of responding to the domestic risks that the Islamic State poses, Natsios said the FBI should focus on training local police departments on how to handle terrorist threats.
“Frankly the people we have to rely on for our protection are the local police departments, and many of them are not trained in how to combat terrorism — how to deal with a terrorist incident,” Natsios said. “So I think one thing that the FBI could be doing now is maybe preparing the police in each of the 50 states to handle incidents like this.”

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