The Paris attacks changed my views on intervention and tackling terrorism. Here’s why it should change yours as well.
For the last 4 years of blogging, I have prided myself on being anti-war and anti-intervention. I believed that it would be foolish for us to become involved in internal conflict in Syria and Iraq. However the attacks on Paris challenged my views and forced me to reassess my position. Where I used to believe that conflicts could be resolved peacefully on their own, I now see the need for us to step in and crush our foe.
Now I’m not saying that I believe we should intervene in every conflict around the world; that would be ridiculous. I still think that the interventions in Iraq and Libya where a stupid waste of life and resources making the world a more dangerous place. But I do now understand why we went into Afghanistan in 2001 and why we must now go into Iraq and Syria now. We need to remove the totalitarian cancer that is Islamism.
Now before you jump on me and accuse me of being islamophobic I want to make a clear distinction between Islam and Islamism. Islam is a world religion based on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed that was founded in around 610 CE. The vast majority of Muslims in the world are peaceful and just want to get on with their lives, much in the same way that the vast majority of Buddhists, Christians or Jews do.
Islamism on the other hand is an ideology. It is a perversion of the teachings of the Qur’an for the sake of a totalitarian ideology. The leaders of the Islamic State are not religious heads, but rather they are ideological leaders no different to the Politburo of the Soviet Union or the Führer in Nazi Germany. It was this, not Islam, that we came face to face with on the streets of Paris. And in the same way we faced Fascism and Communism head on, we must face Islamism.
So what is it that we can actually do? Well for a start we need to intensify our strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, flatten their strongholds and salt the ground that they grew from. In order to this we are also going to have to face the reality that we need to work with Russia on this issue. They now know as well as we do that ISIS is a threat, especially given that 200 of their citizens were killed in cold blood on a passenger plane.
We also need to tackle this issue on the home front as well. We should be working harder to prevent young people from turning to this sort of extremism. We should be clamping down on hate preachers and radical clerics more than ever. And most importantly we must persuade our public that they do not need to be afraid. Events like this always lead to irrational backlashes against innocent people. The worst thing we could do right now is allow parties like the Front National in France to prosper on the misfortune of others.
Finally we need to accept the fact that peace isn’t the answer to the Islamic State. As humbling as it may feel to post on social media about the need for peace and love we must accept the harsh reality that the Islamic State does not understand the meaning of those two words. They only understand violence and fear. We have to face the fact that we have tried peace and it didn’t work, it’s time to start acting against ISIS in any way possible.
If we are to prevent another incident like the events of last night from happening again, we need to tackle extremism head on, wherever it rears its ugly head. There is no room for totalitarianism anywhere in the world, no matter what form it takes.