AP Photo - Geert Vanden Wijngaert

AP Photo – Geert Vanden Wijngaert

When examining the success of the United States in its 240 years, the military and economic effects of massive expanses of ocean on either side of the continent it occupies cannot be overstated.

No other nation on Earth enjoys a natural defensive barrier on such a scale.

As a result, the United States and its neighbors to the north and south are the only nations of European lineage (the ‘Western’ nations) that have never suffered the costs of rebuilding following the devastation of war.

There is, however, great reason to fear that the natural defensive barriers created by the oceans to our east and west have become irrelevant. Our enemies no longer need a staging area in which to amass men and matériel. They need little more than the price of an airline ticket.

Tuesday’s terrorist bombings in Brussels, coming just four months after similar attacks in Paris, have made clear that there is currently no Western head of state who is prepared to deal effectively with the metastasis of Islamic terrorism – and none less so than the President of the United States.

Each successive outrage summons from the nominal leader of the free world another outpouring of meaningless drivel – a dingy river of platitudes about thoughts and prayers and standing united and remaining firm, and blah, blah, blah.

Said the president in the wake of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, “…we will be vigilant and we will be relentless.”

Following the attacks in Paris last November, the president said, “We’re going to do whatever it takes… to go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.”

Tuesday, following the attacks in Brussels, President Obama talked of standing in “solidarity” with the rest of the world against the “scourge of terrorism.”

But the lofty words are never backed by meaningful deeds. Not once since taking office – despite everything that’s happened – has the President of the United States ever uttered the words ‘Islamic terrorism.’ He simply refuses to call the problem by its name.

It is dangerously naive to think that the horrors experienced by France and Belgium in the past four months will remain confined to Europe. One must believe that it’s only a matter of time before theater-goers and sports fans and mall shoppers in America die at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

The oceans that have for nearly two and half centuries served as natural defensive barriers will be as nothing. The terror network ISIS has made clear that it can act at will. It will soon enough start acting here.

The rooting out and killing of Islamic terrorists at whatever cost – which is to say complete victory — is the only permanent solution.

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The last complete victory seen by the world came in World War II at a price so appalling that Americans have been unwilling to pursue complete victory in a war since.

The terrorists of ISIS, to our great peril, have no such qualms.

Thus defines the challenge that confronts the next president.