PINEHURST — A retired three-star general railed against the Obama administration, political correctness, the media and rules of engagement during a speech Monday night at Sandhills Community College.
Thomas G. McInerney, who retired from the Air Force in 1994 as a lieutenant general, currently serves as a Fox News military analyst and was invited to speak by the Moore County Republican Party.
The general was originally slated to talk about how military downsizing may affect preparedness, but changed his topic to instead address current threats facing the nation.
McInerney presented views that he called "more harsh" than his Fox News commentary.
He particularly focused on events surrounding the attack on a U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.
"Unless we're harsh we're going to lose this nation," he said. "We're losing it fast."
McInerney said U.S. leaders failed to attack during the Benghazi attack. He said leaders were derelict of duty and have since covered up their actions.
Benghazi is bigger than Watergate, McInerney said, but the media is complacent in covering up the Benghazi attacks.
"I can tell you, even from Fox, the information isn't getting out here," he said. "Our nation has never seen such duplicity, such dereliction of duty, such lying ... and the media is covering it up."
McInerney said the U.S. response was one of several miscues by leaders that have contributed to growing threats.
McInerney said the economy, shrinking military and more than a decade's worth of U.S. policies in the Middle East have only increased the dangers facing the nation.
"These are very dangerous times for America," McInerney said. "We are leading from behind, and that's why these things are happening. You cannot lead from behind. Someone has to lead."
The biggest threat, McInerney said, is radical Islam, and the general said the onus for "cleaning house" has to be on the Muslim community.
McInerney said American leaders are afraid of offending Muslims, and said radicals have hidden behind their religion.
Earning applause from the audience, he compared Islam to Nazis, Fascism and Communism.
"Political correctness is killing us," he said. "It is a global war against radical Islam. Let's call it what it is ... Islam is not a religion of peace."
McInerney said his strong feelings have been developed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
During his 35 years in the military, the general said he thought the Middle East was too complicated to try to understand.
He later embraced the U.S. strategy of counterinsurgency, which involved winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian populace.
"I bought into it," he said. "It sounded good."
But McInerney said he no longer supports that strategy, and said the U.S., too, should move on.
McInerney said ISIS could be defeated quickly, thanks to the military's technological dominance.
He said it should only take 90 days to defeat the organization, but only if rules of engagement are relaxed.
"Let's just kill them," he said, again garnering applause. "I would wipe them out."
Threats of collateral damage should not deter forces, McInerney said. He said those near radical fighters were either hostages or complicit and added that not even religious buildings should be safe from attack.
"Hit the mosque, take them out," he said. "Until we get serious, we are being unfair to our troops and the American public."
McInerney said German cities were leveled during World War II and "there's no question in Germany's mind who won. That's been our problem (in the Middle East)."
McInerney said the U.S. should be targeting 200 locations a day in an air campaign. And he said U.S. officials should be leaning on other Middle East nations to provide ground forces.
"We do need boots on the ground, but not American boots," he said.
After the terrorist organization is defeated, McInerney said the U.S. should avoid any attempts at nation building.
"That's their problem," he said. "They're the ones that ought to be doing it."
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