- - Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are having the wrong debate.

They have gotten mired down in a debate about whether or not we were safe from 2001-2008.

Jeb Bush is legitimately defending his brother, President George W Bush.

Donald Trump is raising painful questions that should have been more thoroughly explored by the 9/11 Commission and that raise even more issues about the Clinton administration than the Bush administration.

We don’t need a debate about history, however (although as a historian I always enjoy discussing history).

We need a debate about the present and the future.

We are not safe now. And with every week of President Obama’s weak leadership in national security, we are becoming less safe.

My new novel, “Duplicity,” captures the extraordinary range and complexity of the dangers we face — from terror and violence in Africa to radicalization in our own cities to a corrupt political class that undermines our national security, sometimes willfully. The arc of threats is staggering.

From Pakistan to Afghanistan to Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and parts of West Africa, the enemies of civilization are carving a zone of violence, destruction and tyranny.

They are beheading people, especially Christians. They are teaching hatred. They are recruiting killers and suicide bombers (and now suicide knife wielders).

There is a grave danger that the wave of several million Syrian refugees will include hundreds, and possibly thousands, of terrorists.

The Internet is carrying religiously inspired hatred across the planet. In Europe, Canada and here in America young people are being recruited to hate and to kill.

The current period of danger and defeat has come despite an enormous American effort to stop and reverse the aggression of our enemies.

Millions of Americans in intelligence, the military, law enforcement, the Border Patrol, the TSA and elsewhere work every day to keep us safe.

We lost 2,977 Americans on 9/11.

Since then we have lost 4,493 Americans in Iraq and 2,372 Americans in Afghanistan. More than 50,000 have been wounded. More than 138,000 have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

And still we find ourselves in danger after the United States has spent 14 years at war at a direct cost of more than $1.7 trillion.

After this enormous effort, we are losing.

The enemy is growing stronger, bolder and more numerous.

What we need to hear from Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and all of the candidates is what they would do to win the worldwide war with Islamic supremacists. How would they change American strategies after 14 years?

We are not safe. We need a president who will keep us safe. The question is: What will they do? That is the debate we must have.

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