Orlando shooting reflects US shortcomings in antiterrorism

By Zhang Jingwei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 16, 2016
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Gun shootings aren't rare in the United States, but one with so many causalities has nonetheless sent fear across the country and shock across the world.

In the early morning of June 12, 50 people were killed and another 53 injured at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the deadliest public shooting in American history.

The person who committed the shooting was not mentioned in Obama's speech. Instead, he described it as "a brutal murder, the horrific massacre of dozens of innocent people" and "an act of terror and an act of hate."

But Reuters quoted the Islamic State news agency Amag as saying that an ISIS fighter was responsible for the incident. For this, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump stressed that the United States was under attack by an Islamic extremist. He demanded Obama's resignation and that Hillary Clinton quit the campaign for failing to link the Orlando shooting with Islamic extremism.

Out of prudence, it wasn't inappropriate for Obama to avoid mentioning "Islam extremism" before law enforcement agencies have further information. But for Trump, who champions anti-immigration and anti-Islamism, the attack undoubtedly served as a cruel yet effective political endorsement.

Although he managed to resume relations with Cuba and solve the Iran nuclear crisis, Obama retreated from America's traditional foreign strategy. He denounced George W. Bush's policies in the Middle East and withdrew some of the American presence from that region.

But in reality, the withdrawal of U.S. troops gave ISIS the opportunity to occupy major cities in the Middle East. The U.S.-led antiterrorism coalition failed to annihilate ISIS. The easing U.S.-Iran tensions then loosened U.S. bonds with its traditional allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

While ISIS is wreaking havoc in the Middle East and in France and Belgium in Europe, Americans were probably fantasizing that the United States would remain unaffected, since George W. Bush's antiterrorism network managed to protect Americans from terrorism for many years.

Despite the Republicans continuing criticizing Obama's ineffective antiterrorism efforts, the White House claims that their strategies have been absolutely correct because no bloodshed because of terrorism has been reported during Obama's administration.

In fact, since ISIS started to challenge the United States and call for global terrorist attacks, the U.S. should have been increasingly cautious. But the U.S.-led coalition still limits their actions to air raids instead of a full-on annihilation campaign. These undetermined actions not only failed to destroy ISIS, but also consolidated their confidence in its struggle with global antiterrorist operations.

It's worth mentioning that the Boston marathon bombing and several recent shooting incidents have all had the assailants with an Islamic background. Even though ISIS may not necessarily have sent its members to commit these attacks, its influence certainly has encouraged the attackers.

Whether or not the ISIS was behind the Orlando shooting will have a heavy impact on Obama's policies because of his inability to make the United States a safe haven from terrorism. This dark incident has not only cast a shadow over Americans' hearts but will also affect the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The author is a researcher at the Charhar Institute.

The article was translated by Chen Boyuan. Its original version was published in Chinese.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.

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