I wasn’t going to write about this.
When I heard about the attacks in Paris, I was horrified. Then social media told me about the bombings in Beirut and Baghdad and Kenya after the wave of Western guilt and misplaced indignation, I didn’t know what to think. I figured I’d just go on with my planned posts, business as usual, nothing controversial or hard to talk about here.
Then I heard about France’s airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. And the reactions from people (mostly Republican politicians) calling for more airstrikes, more boots on the ground, to crush ISIS and all its fighters into submission.
And what happens after that?
We defeated the Taliban. They’ve come back.
We crippled al-Qaeda. They’re still a threat.
Did ISIS not grow in strength, influence, and size at least partly as a direct result of the actions we’ve taken in that regions, against Muslims?
People are calling for all Western borders to be closed to the thousands of innocent refugees in what would probably be a futile attempt to keep out the handful who might be dangerous.
And in doing so, how many more of those refugees, desperate and angry and scared, turn to ISIS or another one of its off-shoots?
We have some believing every Muslim, every person with dark skin, is a terrorist or a potential terrorist, and wants to treat them as such.
And then we wonder how on earth young people in the U.S. or London could possibly allow themselves to be recruited.
If we manage to drive ISIS out of Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, if we manage to kill every fighter, if we take their leaders as prisoner, then what? What will the next group be called? Where will they come from? How quickly will they establish themselves as a threat and what will their targets and tactics be?
I have no answers here. I just know that all the airstrikes, drones, and boots on the ground cannot defeat an ideology.
photo from inside the Notre Dame in Paris