There should be only one question on the lips of French citizens today and that is: are we really going to allow Islamic terrorists to continue to kill us without hindrance?
If, as I suppose, the answer is ‘no’, then we should expect decisive action against ISIS by France and the other states which are similarly at threat. If nothing else is plain, it must surely be beyond doubt that passive defence, which depends on security measures and intelligence-gathering, is not working, and neither is the pin-prick aerial assault on the Islamic state, itself, by various NATO and other forces.
The enormous success of the Paris attack and the ineffectual responses of the various western states to earlier attacks have only served to strengthen ISIS and Islamic extremists generally. Before we have too many more incidents of this kind, we need to recognise that there is a real war going on. The Islamic State is carrying on the project, given by the Prophet, to bring the whole world to Islam. In this context, there is no compromise with infidels. They either convert or they die.
There is something else to be noted. Islamic fundamentalists do not accept the ‘Enlightenment’ notion that there is only one moral community and that is the whole of humanity. We are simply not part of their moral community and they recognise no principles of restraint as far as we are concerned. That much was amply demonstrated in Paris only yesterday.
What needs to be done then, is the immediate preparation of a joint-expeditionary force to destroy the ISIS proto-state. This will involve ground forces with air-support. These will be not simply special-forces but also armour and infantry units and their mission will be to take ISIS-held territory and capture, or kill, all activists. This should not be a difficult task. Kurdish forces, without much of the training, equipment and support that is available to the forces I am envisaging, have had considerable success.
Of course, there will be casualties. That is what happens to soldiers, when they set out to defend their fellow citizens. But there are things that can be done to minimise these consequences. The first is to make sure that operations are whole-hearted and committed to success (a characteristic missing from many recent deployments by the parties concerned). Secondly, the states concerned must not handicap their forces by the sorts of politically-correct rules of engagement that have characterised military operations by Western forces in recent times. It also needs to be recognised that there will be persons harmed who are not clearly combatants, however that term is defined. This is especially so since the adversary here understands that this is a vulnerability for western forces and their governments. They do not care if their own people are harmed and they may well contrive such ends for public relations purposes. Of course, there are very likely to be manifestly civilian casualties, arising from error, or ‘military necessity’. I mention the latter because it is the basis of a defence against a charge of war crimes.
In the present case, there is also the complication that Russia is now involved in the Syrian conflict and has regional and global foreign policy objectives that are in conflict with those of the western alliance that I am envisaging. In the aftermath of the ISIS destruction of the Russian airliner, it may be that they see sufficient common interest to cooperate with western forces. Otherwise the situation may need careful handling on both sides. Of course, such agreement might be helped by accepting a wider settlement that includes a place for President Assad. Given that western interests did very little to actually help the Syrian democratic opposition in the early stages of their struggle, this might not be too much of a sacrifice.
There remains the very considerable problem of what might be reasonably expected of those Muslims who do not support extremism. For them, there are hard choices. If the actions of the terrorists are not supported, they have an obligation to say so – ‘not in my name’ (as some have already been saying). Such Muslims living in western countries, also have an obligation to their fellow non-Muslim citizens to cooperate with the agencies of law and order to report such threats as they may become aware of. This may be difficult but unless such an obligation is accepted, it may be that they should seriously re-consider their continued presence in that society.
Of course, I am not suggesting in any of the forgoing that New Zealand forces should be sent to join the coalition, notwithstanding that we obviously have a profound security interest in the destruction of ISIS. The fact is that through many years of short-sighted parsimony by both major parties, we really have no significant defence capabilities to send, beyond a small cadre of special-forces. This is not a time for gestures. To a considerable degree, ‘gestures’ is what got us into this mess in the first place. Now is the time for something serious.
While it may seem a step too far, I suspect it is only a matter of time before a terror group such as ISIS gets hold of nuclear or biological weapons. We know that those willing to die for a quick trip to paradise would be only too happy to destroy millions of infidels with one weapon.
There is a war on...and has been for some considerable time with Islam.
Very well put Ron, Yes there must be a real response, for Islam does not recognise weakness, only strength.
Although I have reservations at the type of response the West will make. If this is limited in any way, in other words, a war subject to humanitarian provisions, i.e. limited attacks on civilian areas due to concerns for any casualties, or that such a conflict might endanger political ends. Then this type of war will eventually fail, not only that, but it will increase significantly the danger to our Western forces involved.
The present system of dealing with ISIS or indeed any other Muslim or terrorist attack seems to be a case of steering between “Scylla & Charybis”. Although perhaps dealing with the six headed monster Scylla by cutting off a head or two in the vain hope that this will deal with the terrorist situation!
Judging by the recent speech by President Obama a total US military involvement is highly unlikely, and as we have seen over the past few decades Europe prefers to fight from the sidelines. In fact I was impressed with President Obama’s bold comments, which on the surface, seemed to imply a case for a type of war against Islam. But here again he is in the last days of his Presidential term, and no doubt wishes to be remembered and acknowledged “Nobel Wise” as a champion for Peace.
If the West fails to deal as Ron states with Islamic Terrorism, then we are left with a one viable alternative and that is to stop the flow of money for weapons and support from both Saudi Arabia and Iran.
How? By using the threat of the ultimate weapon on both these two countries, to conform to the “Enlightenment moral community of Nations” or take the consequences!
A start here in New Zealand (we always like to be a first) by demanding that the Holy Koran be amended to remove those passages that call and demand duty upon the “Faithful” to destroy the Infidels. Our Parliament should only accept Muslim Members that openly reject the principals of the extermination of non-Muslims.
Although whether the West has the stomach for such action is still a moot point; the “Peace at any Price Brigades” still dominates our media and thinking. They should realise that this present situation closely resembles a 1938 Munich, and any failure to act decisively only ends in defeat..
The root cause of the present issues are to be found within Islam and unless and until they are resolved there can be no lasting solution. Firstly, the Koran explicitly instructs Muslims to global expansionism and to 'strike the heads' from those who don't convert. Thus the Jihadists can legitimately claim that peaceful and tolerant Muslims are not being faithful to the teachings of the Prophet. Islam has never managed to even internally marry its violent and peaceful sides and its unlikely it ever will or can. What hope for external peace and tolerance.
A second issue is the tradition, especially in the Middle East of men taking multiple wives. Inevitably the wealthier vacuum up the available women, leaving a pool of (usually poor) males with no prospect of a mate and children, excess testosterone and few outlets for their frustration beyond responding to the instructions found in their religion to wage war in the expectation of finding their bliss waiting for them on the other side.
USA foreign policy is driven by a political elite who act behind the scenes and dictate policy to both sides of the house. Some of these elite are known as Neocons who along with others often have vested interests in the energy and/or industrial-military complex.
Their aim in the Middle East is to disrupt and diminish the influence of Iran and the other Shia dominated countries that form the so called Shia crescent that stretches from Iran thru Iraq across to Lebanon. The Shia minority in Syria under Assad are also friendly to this alliance of countries and therefore complete the crescent. Remove Assad and you remove a vital part of the alliance of Shia Muslim states.
Consequently the USA will not be part of any Western military coalition that does not commit itself to the removal of Assad. They have no interest in bringing the civil war to a swift conclusion if Assad remains in power and by inference no interest in stopping the violence and misery inflicted on the Syrian populace.
We should note that the US has also been largely unresponsive to the refuge problem this has caused and Congress has recently tried to back off from taking the pathetically low quota that they had committed to earlier.
The US allies in the region are Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Sunni/Wahhabi controlled states who have been funneling money and arms to the terrorist groups including ISIL that they perceive will help bring down the minority Shia government of Syria.
The USA lead coalition's bombing campaign that is supposed to be dealing with ISIL is also largely a farce in that the US has struck Syrian infrastructure including power stations that the Syrian people depend on for basic necessities whilst up until very recently ignoring the huge trucking convoys that transport illegal oil exports from ISIS controlled territory to Turkey whilst the Turkish air force drops up to 80% of it's bomb loads on the Kurds who are effective on the ground against ISIL.
With every State that is involved in this conflict pursuing their own self interest it is unlikely that an effective coalition that is capable of defeating ISIL will be formed in the near future and that the suffering being inflicted on the Syrian people is likely to continue.
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