Paris terrorism: now what?

The biggest news item of the week was undoubtedly the Paris terrorism, and we need a clear strategy to deal with this sort of activity. The first step in forming a strategy is to clearly define where you are. We all know that ISIS developed as a consequence of inept US management of Iraq, following the Bush led invasion, but thinking about that is irrelevant. We are here, and we cannot alter the past. “Here” involves a large number of religious fanatics following some extreme form of Wahhabi doctrine and who have occupied significant territory in Iraq and Syria; some people, mainly Kurds and Shias, who are fighting back; a huge number of displaced persons fleeing from ISIS; some nations of the West who want to get rid of ISIS, and are prepared to bomb ISIS but will not commit ground troops; Assad, who has promoted a secular government in order to protect his Alawite (Shia) minority, and who sees his control of his country diminishing daily as a consequence of the Arab spring revolutions that were encouraged by the West; Saudi Arabia, which is funding so-called “moderate” opposition to Assad, but is to all intents and purposes funding Sunni extremists who wish to “put the Shias in their place”; Iran and Hezbollah, who will defend the Shias; some nations of the West that want to get rid of Assad and are funding and arming the “moderate opposition”; the “moderate opposition” who are effectively supporting ISIS; and finally the Russians who are prepared to bomb both ISIS and the so-called moderate opposition to Assad. As you can see, where we are is a turgid mess, and in reality it is a lot more complicated than that.

It is not made any easier when we try to define the forces. The West, mainly Europe, has offered sanctuary to a number of Muslim refugees, but many of the Muslims refuse to integrate and accept a secular society. Once there, they see being there as a right, but many of them refuse to accept the obligation of integrating into, or at least accepting, our society. They are welcome to add to our culture, but they have no right to impose theirs. Of course everyone should have freedom of religion, but unfortunately, anyone can declare themselves a Muslim cleric. The net effect of this has been a number of fanatics having an institutional infrastructure to spout hate, to alienate a number of younger Muslims, who have grown up with all the advantages of a Western education, and they have become radicalized. In short, the enemy is within. According to The Telegraph, about 750 young people have left Britain and gone to Syria to train, and many are returning. Once back, they are potential terrorists.

Once we know where we are, the next step is to clearly define your own objectives, and those of your opponent, and here we have a problem. ISIS apparently has no clearly defined goal other than to kill as many infidels as it can. It has the loose objective of wishing to impose its interpretation of Sharia law over the world, but I doubt it really sees this as practical. What about those opposing ISIS? To me, there are only two obvious strategies available: withdraw totally from the region, or wipe out ISIS, but everyone seems reluctant to do either. To be fair, neither has any guaranteed favourable outcome. A further option is to try to get a negotiated peace, and John Kerry has apparently proposed peace talks, but peace talks themselves get nowhere unless there are parties that are prepared to give a bit to gain a bit. When the only objectives of some are totally unacceptable to others, it cannot work. Worse, hidden in this proposal is the concept that there will be elections to get a government, democracy will take hold, and everyone will live happily ever after. This is a classic case of requiring the world to fit in with your wishes, and in general it will not. You cannot have a democracy unless the citizens accept it, and all this will do is get in a different form of tyrant. But it will give Western politicians the chance to say, “we tried, we did something, and it isn’t our fault it all turned to custard.” Unfortunately, it will be their fault, if they succeed in their “negotiated peace”, because while they will get their publicity for “trying”, someone else will pay for the consequences.

In my opinion, ISIS cannot win by force. The problem is, unless we are very careful, we can lose quite a bit. People have the right to go to a concert and not get blown to pieces, and they expect the security forces to stop that. The problem is, if you have hundreds, or even thousands, of citizens that have gone away to train as terrorists, it is rather hard to prevent such outrages. It becomes a lot easier if all peaceful Muslims are prepared to give all information on potential terrorism, but will they? It is also a lot easier if the security forces take on capabilities that we do not like. My guess is, someone like Heydrich would eventually stop the terrorism at home, but do you want to live in that world? It becomes somewhat sad if the right to stay alive means you lose rights to live.

7 thoughts on “Paris terrorism: now what?

  1. I disagree already with your first sentence. The war in Iraq is not the cause of the Islamic aggressiveness. It may be the trigger, that uncovered the ancient cultural aggressiveness, which temporarily was lidded by despotic regimes. Take for example the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood, that was suppressed and persecuted since Abdul Nasser’s times until the revolution. Why would all this leaders prosecute them? Because they understood what they wanted, an Whole World Islamic state, just like ISIS. And their ideology got overwhelming majority in the first and only free elections in Egypt. Don’t tell me you believe all this is the doing of Bush and the West.

    • My first sentence was “The biggest news item of the week was undoubtedly the Paris terrorism, and we need a clear strategy to deal with this sort of activity” and I stand behind it. I agree completely that the war in Iraq was not not the cause of Islamic aggressiveness, but I remain convinced that it was what generated ISIS. The fact remains that Saddam had kept al Qaeda out of Iraq, and a reasonable part of the ISIS force appears to have come from the Iraqi army. Had Saddam kept control of his army, that would not have happened. I am not saying Saddam was a saint; he was not, but he did control internal dissent. There are a number of other issues in the mid-east, of course. You mention the Muslim brotherhood. Yes, they got elected, but I doubt the voters understood what they stood for. And no, all our problems are not the doing of Bush and the West, but the Iraqi invasion most certainly did not help.

      • You are right, the Iraqi invasion was a disastrous tactical decision, yet on the long run the Arab spring and the following violent turmoil was inevitable, and predictable, as i have done in a small essay few month before it happened. I also predicted the emigration wave coming, viz:
        Europe enjoys a relatively calm political times, due to the corrupt Arab regimes, which has no legitimacy what so ever. Do you believe this situation is sustainable for ever? And remember, in these countries the population doubles every 20-30 years and the corrupt governments there give no chance to any natural economic, social and political development. So the question is not if but when it will all erupt, and when it will sweep Europe like a big hurricane, like it happened when the German tribes swept the Roman Empire………….

        And i did not write it then because i am some kind of prophet, but just out of very rational calculation, and understanding the most probable outcome.

    • Leaving aside the figures, yes, there are many additional supporters of ISIS. In addition to the usual suspects, there are those buying ISIS controlled oil, and also westerners purchasing pillaged ancient artefacts. The money supply is another problem that could really be addressed, but I have no doubt smuggling and western purchasers of rare items will persist. I think that if the money supply to ISIS was stopped, that would be a start in the battle against them.

  2. EugenR – Yes, Europe is calm, although whether that is due to the Arab regimes is more debatable. I personally think it was simply worn out as a consequence of Hitler and his horrors. However, that is beside the point. You are almost certainly correct that there are real problems for the mid-east with its population explosion and dreadful governance.

  3. Agreed with Eugen: young Frenchmen don’t go batty about Islam, killing all “idolaters” they see, all over Paris, because USA ineptness. They kill everybody because Islam has rendered them mad: read the Qur’an. Qur’an brings criminal insanity to those who know nothing else.

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