I want you to ask yourself a question: Why did IS carried out a terrorist attack in Paris? Did you say, “Because they hate our freedom”? Uhm, no. That is what the war hawks tell you to justify your anger. The terrorists actually believe they are freer than you. To some small extent they did it as vengeance against attacks on their “country”. An eye for an eye, a suicide attack in exchange for a missile attack. But that was a slim justification. Think of this: they know a terrorist attack will not make us pull back our attacks and will most likely increase them. They also know that these types of attacks alienate them from most Muslims who condemn such violence. It is a huge risk to carry out these attacks, so why do them at all?
One reason is that they want a backlash against Muslims in Western countries. They want us to marginalize Muslims, to attack them to say bad things about Muslims. Why? To win more people to their side.
Remember this, all of the people involved in the Paris attacks, both those who carried it out and those working in the background, were French or Belgium citizens. Yes, there was a fake Syrian passport found. A fake one. Why this passport? Because they want there to be a backlash against Syrian refugees. And there has been. They won that round.
Every time a US governor says they will not accept any refugees they are giving IS a huge victory.
Every time someone goes on a news channel and makes a blanket statement about Muslims, IS has a giant victory. Every time someone makes an anti-Muslim post on Facebook, there is another IS victory.
The people who carried out the attack felt marginalized. They felt rejected by their society. They grew to hate the people around them. They felt that there was no future. They felt hate towards them, and that hate was used to strengthen the bounds that lead them to radicalization. And they found the fraternity they missed through the radical organization.
We need to stop the hate from our side. We need to starve their hate by giving them none in return.
Another thing IS wants is for Western armies to invade Syria. As soon as that happens, they can claim there is another crusade against Muslims. A lot of people are already mad at us for what they see as atrocities. If we invade, the hundreds that volunteer every day will turn to thousands, perhaps tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands. Yes, we could have a swift victory over their conventional army, but the gorilla war will be unwinnable. Has a large power ever won against a gorilla war? We put ourselves in debt by over a trillions of dollars over the last unwinnable gorilla war. Around 4500 US troops lost their lives, well over 20,000 had some sort of visible injury and an estimate of nearly 100,000 has some type of concussive brain injury. And the death toll on the other side is estimated at around a half a million, most innocent civilians.
It is interesting to look at what “the other side” thinks about US tactics. Our military think a militant might be in a house. We send a drone to destroy the house. We kill 15 civilians, mostly woman and children. There were no militants in the house. The US shrugs it shoulders and says “collateral damage”. In Iraq and Afghanistan (and, by extension, Pakistan) the US has killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. From our side we say that the militants and terrorists have used these people as human shields, but from their side things like the Paris bombings are minor, a small loss of innocent life compared to what rains down on them every day.
I am not saying I agree with these people. Some of our methods are too harsh, which is why we are being very careful in Iraq and Syria, but the Taliban and other militants we target have killed far, far more innocent civilians than we have, and they did it on purpose while we did it by accident. What I am saying is we have to listen to the other voices and understand their viewpoint. Why do so many people hate us? Because they see our military as state sponsored terrorists that are out to kill innocent Muslims. And then the militant groups show clips from our news channels where people are condemning all Muslims, saying it is a religion of violence that needs to be eradicated, and these people think that’s what we really believe, that we want to practice global genocide on all one billion Muslims.
Sending troops into Syria will just prove their propaganda correct, or at least many people will see it that way.
I am not naïve. Something does need to be done to stop IS. I know there are people who will be violent no matter what. There are people who will find any excuse to kill. There are the power hungry and the habitual haters. There are the born violent, the psychopaths. I know that IS is killing and enslaving innocent people right now. They do need to be stopped.
What I am saying is American, or any Western, boots on the ground will not solve the issue but make it worse. They WANT us to get involved and have said it many times. They are trying to force us into war with them.
More than that, we need to be sure not to marginalize Muslims who live in the West. We need to make sure they work side by side with us. We need to end discrimination against them. In some ways the US is ahead of France. I think there are more opportunities for Muslims here than there. I think we marginalize them less here than there. But there is also a very, very large amount of hate against them. I see anti-Muslim posts on FB almost daily. I have turned on certain news channels and have seen rants against all Muslims.
We need to stop feeding IS. You do not stop a fire by throwing more fuel on it. We have stop adding fuel and drain their power. We have to stop playing into their hands. We need to stop doing what they want us to do. We cannot win the war against them if we fall into the war they want us to fight.
They need to be stopped, but we have to rewrite the script and do it in a way that takes away their most powerful weapon, propaganda.
As an epilogue, here are some random thoughts on stopping IS.
There does have to be greater military action. It needs to be a worldwide effort. This needs to go through the UN. Most of the ground troops should be from Muslim countries with support from the West. The West, and the US, can have a ground presence, but there has to be an even larger presence from others. Russia also needs to be involved.
The West needs to sit down with Russia and the other countries around Syria and work out a peace plan. There has to be something in place, some type of agreement. We can’t, and I stress, CAN’T, make the same mistake we made in Iraq and marginalize everyone who has anything to do with the current regime. If we do, it will set up the next round of violence. At the same time, we need to make sure the common people have a voice in a new government. In ways their lack of voice is what started all of this.
Muslims everywhere need to condemn the violence in a big, big way. In a very public way. Religious leaders need to preach that killing innocent people is evil, suicide bombing is not a way into heaven and random acts of violence are frowned on by God. They need to do this for two reasons. One, to prove all of the people in the West who shout that all Muslims are violent extremists wrong. It won’t force all of these people to change their minds, but perhaps many will no longer say as many inflammatory remarks. It will also help those in the Muslim community who are feeling marginalized and are the target of these terrorist organizations. These people need to understand that a radical view of their religion is wrong. They need to be stopped before they are recruited.
People in the West need to start holding out their hand in friendship more often. We need to welcome these people into our communities. We need to stop making laws that discriminate against Muslims. We need to accept them as they are, without fear. It is difficult, we are built to fear what is different, but we must do it.
The media needs to help, not hinder. There are far more Muslims crying out against the violence than those celebrating it. Why is that most westerners only see those celebrating it? When I said leaders of the Muslim communities need to raise their voices for peace, the media needs to make that front and center. Propaganda films posted on the Internet are a key recruitment tool for IS. Almost as important is the western media ration to events. I know it sells. There also seems to be a huge anti-Muslim agenda with few news channels. This needs.
For a long term solution, the very, very hardest thing we have to do is fix the problems in Israel and Palestine. How can we fix that mess? I am not smart enough to even come close to finding a solution. The IS problem is a million times easier. One problem is that few of us take the time to look at all sides of the issue. There are many details that are missed. When any world leader does try to look at all sides he or she is immediately condemned by everyone. To some this person is too biased against Israel, to others, too biased against Palestinians. Somehow everyone needs to look at this as a shared problem, not an “us versus them” problem. But as long as terrorists kill Israelis and as long as Palestinians feel hopeless about the future, the circle of violence will continue. As long as this conflict continues, there will be people who can recruit terrorists by just pointing their finger at the situation. We may end the present IS, but other extremes will be given fuel for their fire as long as the conflict continues.
It won’t be easy, but somehow we must do it in a way so as not to make the cycle continue. We need to end the hate. It won’t stop all violence or all terrorist attacks, but we have to do something. We must end the hate.