Leading political figures in the US responded in a variety of ways to the ISIS-sponsored bombings in Brussels on March 22. The responses ranged from demands for heightened scrutiny of American neighborhoods predominantly populated by practicing Muslims to calls for improved international cooperation in the effort to combat ISIS and other terrorist groups.
President Barack Obama, on a diplomatic trip to Cuba, said the following during a speech about relations between Cuba and the U.S. hours after the attacks: “We’ll do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally Belgium to bring justice to those responsible. We must unite and be together regardless of nationality, race or faith in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can and we have defeated those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.”
Earlier that day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wrote in a Facebook post that “radical Islam is at war with us. For over seven years we have had a president who refuses to acknowledge this reality. And the truth is, we can never hope to defeat this evil so long as we refuse to even name it. That ends on January 20, 2017, when I am sworn in as president. We will name our enemy—radical Islamic terrorism. And we will defeat it.”
Later, Cruz argued in a statement that “we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”
Frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination Donald Trump shared his sentiments, saying, “We have no idea what’s happening. Our government has absolutely no idea what’s happening, but they’re coming into our country.”
The next day, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton criticized the responses of Sen. Cruz and Mr. Trump to the events in Brussels, saying that Cruz’s proposal would be akin to “treating American Muslims like criminals.”
In a lengthy speech delivered at Stanford University, the Democratic presidential candidate Clinton detailed a series of proposals and ideas that, as president, she would implement in the fight against ISIS. After highlighting the gestures of support by many European countries towards the United States in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Clinton stated, “Now it is our turn to stand with Europe. We cherish the same values and face the same adversaries, so we must share the same determination.”