Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris, ISIL and such

I haven't really made time to post on here about Paris, mostly because my blog is a backwater that only about five people look at on a regular basis, anyhow, and they're all people I'm in constant touch with anyhow. So who cares?

But for those who do read this stuff, who expect me to weigh in, here's the thing. I am willing to believe, as the anti-war movement would have it, that the strategy of ISIL - like the strategy of Al Qaeda in 9/11 - is to ENCOURAGE overreaction on the part of the countries they attack. It's "the war of the flea," the guiding principle of guerrilla tactics: you provoke your enemy into excessive violence and thereby win popular support for your cause, uniting the people around you against the common foe. By that logic, bin Laden WANTED the US to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, what-have-you, with 9/11; the Bush regime played exactly into their hands, and drove up membership in Al Qaeda, drove up anti-Americanism, proved to Muslims everywhere in the Middle East that indeed America IS the enemy. That argument DOES tend to come from the anti-war camp, the people who will rationalize a non-violent approach to anything, mind you, so I'm not entirely trusting of it, but it fits a general qui bono logic; I mean, what else COULD Al Qaeda have hoped to achieve with 9/11, besides having America bomb the shit out of the Middle East? If that wasn't what they wanted, they chose the WRONG strategy. And by that logic, what else could ISIL have achieved by the outrage in Paris than making Muslims worldwide a target all over again?

So if that's true - and if the way to defeat terrorism is to stop doing what the terrorists WANT you to do - then it's also true that bombing Syria, say, hoping to destroy ISIL, is a bad idea. (This is what France is doing right now, of course; reports of collateral damage will doubtlessly be downplayed, but each non-radical killed will lend fuel to the radicals fire).

Of course, if bombing the shit out of ISIL targets in Syria IS a bad idea, as it seems, it raises the question of what counts as a good idea, and here's the problem: I'm not sure what that is. "Diplomacy" would seem to be folly, because all indications are that there's no compromising with ISIL, no way of reconciling liberal values with theirs. I suppose I must do what I did after 9/11, and start some reading, to try to figure out exactly what they DO hope to achieve, but in the meantime, I am prepared to take it as a given, that it is nothing that can be made peace with, by anyone who values a liberal democracy.

So what to do?  Whatever it is, it seems very, very important to remain true to the values of liberal democracy in the face of such attacks. The route taken by the Bush regime after 9/11 - Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, what-have-you - was the WRONG one; it made things much, much worse. It's what created ISIL in the first place, it seems. We need to be a lot smarter than that. It's not that I have any problem with the idea of bombing the people who were responsible for the Paris attacks into dust, it's just that I'm pretty sure attempts to do that will make them bigger, stronger, and more popular. That it will help them to prove to the people they hope to recruit that they're right about the west.

I would rather that not happen.

There, I've weighed in. Best I've got, sorry. Now I'm going to go back to bitching about edgewarps, posting about movies I want to see, and letting y'all know what bands I'm excited about (Yob's Clearing a Path to Ascend is really, really magnificent, if you haven't heard it).


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