I can’t go on writing here without referring to what happened in Paris yesterday. At last count 129 are dead, killed by IS. Where does one start though?
This is a fact of our lives today. These attacks have become more regular and better organised. For every foiled attempt another occurs. Each time terror is spread, and a kind of shocked disbelief. Shocking as it remains, I don’t know that we can any longer claim to being surprised.
I think for a while we could pretend that it was an aberration that would soon enough be corrected. There was a belief, or perhaps it was no more than an optimistic hope, that the situation would clear itself up, that in the natural course of events the rise of IS, or Daesh, would be checked, and ultimately defeated. I think it’s clear that unless something is done these attacks will continue, and likely become more widespread and frequent.
What to do though? Pick up any newspaper or switch on the TV and you’ll get no end of opinions on that, many of them belligerent and aggressive. That’s predictable, and in the wash-up of a hundred odd innocent French people being gruesomely murdered, no surprise at all.
This is not Nazi Germany we’re dealing with here now. There must be a battlefield victory, but it has to be aligned with political, and perhaps even cultural/spiritual solutions. This is not just a regime, but a movement. As much as it is fanatical fighters on the field, it is an infection of the spirit. You can kill the host, but the infection will continue to spread.
Writing as a civilised ‘westerner’ – the avowed enemy of Daesh – it’s hard not to look upon the terrorist acts of Daesh as being modern day evil. We’re not made to view such ruthless atrocities as anything other than a corruption of the human spirit. How is it possible that a society of men could not just condone, but encourage with suicidal fervour the killing of innocent men, women, and children? To the western mind that is just about inconceivable.
That’s a large part of the reason it is done though. These are ruthless people. The lives of a few infidels are immaterial to them. Wipe them all out, for they are unbelievers. It’s is fanaticism taken to its ultimate degree. They think no more of killing us than we do swatting a fly.
Terrible as it is, the purpose of Daesh and its assassins is not to murder a hundred odd westerners when they can. The purpose is terror. It’s a message, this is what we will do without compunction. We fear nothing. We will send our suicide assassins again and again until we bring your weak western civilisation to your knees – for we are the true believers.
For them the means are irrelevant, except the means become the end – terror.
And reaction. They count on that. Killing a hundred odd westerners here and there is their way of taking on the beehive, knowing that the beehive will explode, knowing that in the chaos and disorder more will be said and done to make things worse. While the right wing pundits get up on their soapbox and prescribe aggression and bigotry Daesh sits back knowing its job is being done for it:
Terror in the hearts and minds of western society, tabloid bigotry, and more and more disaffected flocking to their cause as a result. While Daesh is an extremist religious position, the breeding ground for their converts is not religion, but culture. Us against them, west versus the rest, the haves, and have nots.
Sure, that’s simplistic, but when you are a dark muslim perhaps living in a western society and the newspapers start calling your religion and beliefs evil, when you are discriminated against daily by casual and organised bigotry, when you are not allowed into the land because you are not a white skinned westerner – then no wonder resentment breeds. And no wonder you look towards those who might defend you.
This is what we’ve done, and the fear is will continue to do. I think there is more political awareness of this now, but that doesn’t prevent the rabid and the tabloid (and ex-prime minster’s) trotting out their familiar hateful tropes.
What we need to remember is that Daesh is no more representative of Islam than the KKK is of Christianity (the analogy courtesy of a tweet yesterday).
I came across another tweet yesterday stating this was not just another terrorist attack, but the beginning of World War III. That was someone on the far right, but the fear is that if this not handled well then that is what it will become.
It’s about time, I think, that there is a concerted western policy to manage Syrian refugees, and defeat Daesh. Part of that now must be a battlefield solution, but it must be contained and coordinated. Too often the west has acted late, and when it has acted has acted taken the wrong strategy. We’ve been late to this party (personally I think the UN should have been on the ground when Syria imploded), but it’s not too late to get it right.
It needs a true coalition, which includes Muslim states. Compress and reduce Daesh on the ground, and strangle the message. That requires goodwill as much as it does ruthlessness. Our weakness are our values and our decency, so say Daesh, but they’re our strengths in this coming time.
We can win the battle, but lose the war. Have to be smart.