By George Friedman
June 15, 2016 In confronting terrorism, the U.S. needs to decide whether it is at war and who the enemy is.
The slaughter in Orlando, Florida on Sunday once again raises the question of what we should do about attacks like this. But before that, we must answer a more fundamental question: Was this a criminal act or an act of war? Answering that question is the key to determining the appropriate response.
If these are criminal acts, then the criminals must be punished for their actions. If these are acts of war, then the enemy forces must be found and destroyed, not based on what they might or might not have done, but in order to destroy the enemy before they can strike again.
Since 9/11, the United States government has failed to resolve this issue. Immediately after the attack, President George W. Bush committed to bringing those who planned the attack to justice, implying that this was a criminal act.
At the same time, he sent the U.S. military into Afghanistan to wage war on the Afghan government, its army and al-Qaida, which was operating under the government’s protection. That implied that this was war.