By Kristi Reed
According to Rep. Rob Woodall, the recent Congressional vote to support a military campaign against ISIS did virtually nothing to change American posture in that part of the Middle East. The vision presented by President Obama simply publicized existing policy.
"What he laid out is to do in public what we have been doing in private for over a year now," Woodall told members of the Rotary Club of South Gwinnett on Thursday.
The plan, Woodall explained, has been to arm and train people whose interests the United States believes best align with our own -- a plan he says is seriously flawed.
"I can't find anybody at the Pentagon who believes that plan is going to work," Woodall said. "What they believe is that it is the best of all the worse plans we have."
Two years ago, Woodall said, the U.S. might have been able to do some "good things" to handle the threat ISIS presents. A year ago, he added, the actions might have been "passable."
"They were once a small band of guys on the highway," he said. "We could have ended that with a cruise missile."
That, however, is no longer the case.
"Today there are absolutely no good options for dealing with ISIS," he said. "Absolutely none."
#The U.S., Woodall explained, has never faced a terrorist enemy as well-funded as ISIS. That funding, he added, amounts to $1 to 3 million per day.
"These folks have their own funding stream coming from the banks they robbed and now the oil they are selling," he said.
Woodall described the threat the 40,000-member terrorist organization presents to the United States as "frightening."
"I've never seen anything like it," he said.
Authorities have identified at least 200 American passport-holders or Visa Waiver Program participants who have trained with ISIS, Woodall said. At least 40 of them have entered the U.S., 15 have been captured.
"We have never experienced an enemy with this kind of funding and this kind of access," he said.
Woodall encouraged those in attendance at the Sept. 25 meeting at the Northwood Country Club in Lawrenceville to educate themselves about the situation and get involved in the foreign policy discussion.
"If you are not involved emotionally in the decisions that Washington makes, we're going to make the wrong ones," he said.
It is too easy, he added, to be detached from the reality of what U.S. actions overseas really mean.
"I know that it is too easy to spend other people's money and I know that it is too easy to spend the lives of other people's sons and daughters too -- and that's the one that really matters," he said.
In order for the U.S. mission against ISIS to succeed, Woodall believes citizens must "buy-in" to the program.
"You don't see many episodes of wild, wild success that weren't bought in to by the citizens," Woodall said. "You see a lot of episodes of failure and sporadic success and intermittent engagement."
And success, he added, is of the utmost importance.
"People are going to die and I would tell you that Americans are going to die as a result of this ISIS threat if we cannot contain it," he said. "It is their mission, it is their desire, it is their goal."
Woodall represents the 7th Congressional District which includes most of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.