The deplorable events which took place last night need no restatement. They were repugnant and any kind of point these terrorists wished to project was automatically discredited by the sheer massacre they inflicted on over a hundred innocent civilians.
But upon further inspection there was no statement worth hearing from these people. After all, this is the terrorist group which throws gay men off buildings and then stones them. This is the group which sends some children off as suicide bombers and uses others as sex slaves. This is the group that endeavours to kill all of the ‘non-believers’. The perpetrators of these attacks were certainly not martyrs as they might want you to believe. They were terrorists, plain and simple.
When I think of one country which typifies the world’s struggle with terrorism today I think of Iraq. The thinking, and ultimately the decision to invade in 2003 must and will continue to be questioned. After all, much of the western intervention that took place has left the Middle East in this state. However, what now is unquestionable is whether we have a duty to do something about the situation in ISIS-held areas. The answer to that is a resolute yes. However, there are lessons which should be learnt from the past. The belief that the world (and the west) will become any safer if we continue on this course is continually being proven wrong. The Iraqi army which is a shadow of its former self only retains a presence thanks to support to the West and so I would personally arm and work with the Kurds to a point, who have consistently proven their staunch opposition to ISIS with a victory over them in Kobani this year. There are quite rightly some fears that one day it might be the Kurds whom we fight (American-provided arms always seem to end up in the wrong hands) but as it stands they appear to our most reliable and effective partner in securing peace in Iraq and Syria. I doubt that they would help beyond the traditionally defined boundaries of Kurdistan, but they are the best bet we have right now.
We have accountability for much of the unrest in these countries and so we must do all we can to rectify that. However, it would insane to do the same thing twice and expect different results. Because of this we must also consider other options in the near future.
While emotions run high, we must also be tempered in our judgments. Suggestions of deporting all Muslims or bombing the Middle East are not only ridiculous, sinister and counter-productive but unfeasible too. ISIS wants to drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims and it is imperative that we do not play into their hands and let this happen. However, reasoned criticism of religion and its role in these attacks must be taken seriously and shouldn’t be dismissed. I think that many of the attitudes in the Middle East are not compatible with those of the West and as long as this remains the case these attacks will continue.
Let us also remind ourselves of the other enduring victims of this ongoing tragedy, namely the 8 million people that continue to remain under the control of ISIS. More than anything, we must do our best relieve these people of these despots. The events of Paris were definitely tragic, but it is one among the many atrocities committed many times over in Syria and Iraq. In this respect, Paris is a symptom of the wider problem of terrorism across the globe. This a moment for us to realise that there are millions of people live every day in fear of an attack, a bombing, a burning. Right now we must stop as a nation and re-evaluate what we’ve done. We must consider what we’ve that has exacerbated the situation, and what more we can do to help.
Praying for Paris is simply not enough. We must continue to condemn ISIS and support measures taken to diminish and ultimately end their presence.