The reaction to terrorist attacks by most people in the Western world has been to say, “we will not change; we will continue to live just as we have been living.” To do otherwise is viewed as “letting the terrorists win.” That’s deeply mistaken.
President Hollande’s knee-jerk reiteration of war, and France’s futile bombing of Raqqa are reactions. So are calls in the United States for a NATO invasion of Syria (which would also mean a re-invasion of Iraq) to reclaim ISIS territory and deny the jihadists bases in those two countries.
Military reactions without political vision and strategy will only spread the cancer, like cutting open the body when an entire region has become infected. President Obama is correct in his non-reaction, though he lacks the passion of an adequate response.
Obama was weak with regard to the growing crisis in Syria, but not in the way the right wing and left wing warmongers maintain. He was weak in not risking his leadership and the American military to protect the Syrian people through sanctuaries, safe zones and no-fly zones. That would have defended the “universal human values” he now so tepidly espouses.
The pathetic UN Security Council vote, “signaling a rare diplomatic convergence,” does not mark the beginning of the end of the terrorist scourge, but a new phase of the borderless war within and between nations. Millions of refugees have become pawns of nation-state and inter-national ineptitude, as have decent citizens everywhere.
The killers cannot make us hostages of our own democracies. Only the people and governments in the so-called democracies can do that.
There is no such thing anymore as ‘national security.’ It was a useful fiction in the past, but it has become a dangerous lie for us all in the present.
Twenty-five years ago in Mexico, the sight of military-clad police or soldiers with machine guns standing on corners and even on the beaches was disquieting and disturbing. Thank God we don’t have that kind of society and government, Americans would think.
But now we have, and police or soldiers (you often can’t tell the difference anymore) with machine guns are highly visible in our major cities. The militarization of police is welcomed by most of the citizenry, giving them the same illusion of security that they were designed to give to the tourists in Mexico.
Terrorism depends not just on mass fear, but requires the imagination of millions of individuals seeing themselves blown up or riddled with bullets. Every victim is just like us—a father, wife, son or daughter. Jihadist terrorism and cable news thus feed off each other to promote fear and mass reaction.
If the victims of terrorism are just like us however, then we can, with just a little more disturbance and difficulty, respond to terrorism without fear and personal identification.
Instead of the collective reactive shout, “we will not change our lives, we will not change ourselves,” the positive message to be learned from this escalating climate of global terrorism is the same message nature is trying to send us with climate change: We can and must change, before it is too late.
So-called progressive thought leaders have become indistinguishable from their right wing counterparts in the media and politics. Tortured commentators in America say that we have lost our capacity for rage.
To relate the fight against terrorism to rise of Nazism, and see it as another “generational struggle for unity and freedom against totalitarian violence” is more than stupid. It is moronic to place the fight against terrorism in the same context as the fight against fascist Germany during World War II, and then condemn the West for having lost its spine, “a spine called America.”
The jihadists don’t have billion-dollar bombers, and the latest high-tech gear outfitted to the best-trained Special Forces in history. Having elevated them to nation-state status after 9.11, they use terror in our ‘asymmetrical’ power equation. To say, “ISIS in Syria and Iraq is the core of the terrorist threat to Europe and America today, so destroy it,” is not just simplistic, it too is evil.
Politicians and media mouthpieces offer nothing but more of the same, more war and more terror. They are doing the terrorist’s, and darkness’s bidding.
The Afghan and Iraqi wars were of a piece, and did not make the world safer, but turned the world into a Petri dish for terrorism. Evil is not a physical, external thing that can be destroyed by bombs and bullets. Doubling down on violence ostensibly to eliminate evil has more than quadrupled its extent.
That isn’t to say we, and the disconnected governments in supposed democracies should be passive, but that an entirely different approach has to be taken.
Terrorism is first a threat from the inside, not the outside. Not just outside or inside countries (nation-states having been subsumed by the reality of a global society).
Terrorism is first and last a psychological tactic and spiritual battering. It is inside, not outside human consciousness. As such it has to first be confronted there, by every serious person on the planet.