“The operative word is not “Islamic” but “state” – they are butcher-entrepreneurs who claim they are engaged in the creation of a state.
The overbaked religiosity of their justification should be treated not with fear, but with contempt.”
“No religion is responsible for terrorism.
People are responsible for violence and terrorism.
Terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology. “
As a quick follow-up to my past post on the France terrorist action I felt compelled to make some additional thoughts. Specifically following up on today another radical group, not representative of the greater whole of the Muslim world is trying to use fear to infringe upon our unalienable right to freedom, equality & fraternity.
We should be angry.
But anger comes with some responsibility.
A responsibility on how we use, and focus, our anger.
And as we embrace our anger it may be important to remember to direct our anger against a very specific group of people … and not a larger idea … like religion.
Many people argue our anger is rooted in simplicity … “it was done by Muslims therefore Islam is who I should be angry with.”
Anger thrives on simplicity <in a complex world>. Yet, unfortunately, in a world seeking simplicity sometimes the nuance matters.
Especially in this case.
So I will share some simplicity:
– 200,000 ISIS members
<according to Kurd security this includes support personnel (ansar), police-style security forces (hisba), local militias, border guards, paramilitary personnel associated with the group’s various security bodies (mukhabarat, assas, amniyat, and amn al-khas), and conscripts and trainees. The actual number of ISIL front-line and garrison fighters is much lower>
– 1.6 billion Muslims in the world
– That is .000125% <pardon my math because I am sure I got some zeroes wrong>
Let us be angry.
But we are not at war with Islam. We are at war <albeit I even hesitate to say ‘war’ because it has such a broad distinction> with a small group of people. Let’s call them jihadists, who have a perverted view of a larger religion.
I know I wrote this back in February 2013:
Religion per se is not the issue. Extremism is the issue.
We should not confuse the issue.
Suffice it to say … we certainly are not at war with all Muslims.
And I agree it is not particularly helpful or enlightened or even constructive to encourage anti Islam phobia by suggesting Islam is the enemy.
In fact …I believe it could be harmful.
It sounds much like a holy war. And, frankly, it is actually other Muslims who are fighting these jihadists … not non-Muslims <for the most part>. Therefore <in that convoluted rationale> we would be fighting against both sides … the jihadists and the Muslims fighting against the jihadists.
And, frankly, there are Muslims in our own military <so we fight them too?> and there are Muslims in our community <we fight them also?>.
If you were seeking simplicity this is as simple as I can state how creating a narrative that suggests we are against Islam <radical or not> seems counterproductive … albeit it could help sate our anger in some way.
Let me be clear,
You cannot go to war on a religion.
Which leads me to war … or conducting war.
So let’s say America, or any country outside of the Middle East, decides on some on the ground military action. In a world seeking simplicity Americans, in particular, focus on a relatively absurd simplicity of ‘win with no casualties.’
No civilian casualties and no American soldier casualties.
On this there is no nuance.
On this there is no way to win.
If I were a military commander I would suggest to my leadership this is a mission I cannot complete … nor will I accept the mission. And I say that knowing the military is at the pinnacle of accepting impossible missions and completing the impossible.
I believe it was a retired US general who wrote this:
In Iraq and Syria today, the US operates under a zero civilian casualty standard that far exceed the standards of international law.
That policy is backfiring — it is extending the time to secure military objectives; allows more time for the Islamic State to commit atrocities; more radical Islamists to emerge out of Syria; and it yields the Islamic State the equivalent of an air defense capability they do not have to pay for, equip, or man to employ.
We can and must minimize unintended casualties. Nobody wants to kill civilians — except for the Islamic State.
That brings into question the morality of a policy that restricts the use of airpower to avoid the possibility of collateral damage while allowing the certainty of the Islamic State’s crimes against humanity.
While unintended casualties of war must be avoided to the extent possible, those associated with airstrikes pale in comparison to the savage acts of the Islamic State.
War is not about “equality;” it’s about inflicting damage on your enemy without suffering damage yourself.
War is about creating asymmetries. In any military engagement, there is inherent risk, and loss of life inevitable occurs. The best way to mitigate unintentional civilian casualties — or in the case of the Islamic State (IS), intentional civilian casualties — is to render the enemy ineffective as promptly as possible.
Americans are angry … but not angry enough to accept coffins with young American lives being unloaded.
So, here is the question, do we want to win <or just fight>?
Are we ready for the costs, financial, human & moral, of winning this fight .. or .. are we ready for the costs, financial, human & moral, of simply fighting this fight …. or are we ready for the costs, financial, human & moral of simply sitting back and letting what may happen … just happen?
Terrorist activity makes us angry … and increases desire to act, to do something, but will we want to win or compromise?
This is not simple. And it never was.
As a French leader said yesterday … “as a nation we take risks, we expose ourselves and we face these risks and what they mean at home.”
We have fear. We have anger. Both are emotions that can drive normally rational people to think, and do, irrational things.
The fear is well founded, upon this simple, tragic asymmetry: the person who destroys life will always have power over the people who cherished it.
A person who is prepared to kill in the service of an idea can unleash unimaginable pain; there is no protection against it, unless it is to not care about anything – or more pertinently, anyone – in the first place.
Do I deny terrorism is a threat?
And I do not believe I am writing as a call for political correctness nor rampant fear. I believe I am writing because people are, rightfully so, angry. And anger can often be misguided.
Everyone wants it to be so simple, as if there is only one way to explain what is wrong, but it is not.
We are not in a war of religions.
We are not at war with Islam.
We need to crush the idea <first & foremost>.
And crush the few people who cannot admit it is not a meaningful idea.
At the same time.
We need to elevate the idea of Islam that most Muslims embrace.
And elevate the people who admit all religions, when embraced properly, have a role in a prosperous morally stable society.
I would like to point out that more Americans are killed by their own household items every year than terrorists.