How should we deal with ISIS?

 

After getting in a few debates with some friends (and hearing I’d need to eventually write one), I decided to write a research paper about ISIS and how the US should deal with it.

 

At around 9:20pm on November 13th, Ahmad al-Mohammed attempted to pass through a security gate at a soccer game at the Stade de France with a suicide belt rigged with explosives. During a frisk, the belt was found and he quickly backed away from the guards, and detonated the explosives, killing himself and one bystander. The game continued as similar loud noises are common at these games when fans light firecrackers. Shortly after, two more explosions were heard, one from outside the stadium and another at a nearby McDonalds, both were suicide bombers who failed to kill anyone but themselves. Shortly after the initial explosion, French President François Hollande was escorted out of the stadium to safety. At around 9:25pm shots began firing on a street known as Rue Alibert. Between a bar and a restaurant, over 100 bullets were fired leaving fifteen dead and another fifteen critically injured. At 9:32pm there were more gunshots nearby in front of a cafe and a pizzeria resulting in five dead and eight severely wounded. Four minutes later, two men begin shooting at another bar then drive off, killing nineteen and critically injuring nine. Another four minutes pass and another suicide bomber kills himself and severely wounds a civilian. At 9:40pm, the deadliest of the attacks takes place at a concert hall where 1,500 people had gathered for a concert. Three gunmen jumped out of a black Volkswagen, ran into the theatre, and opened fire. Eighty-nine people were killed and 99 were critically wounded. Police intervention brought the killing to a stop when officers killed one of the shooters. Upon seeing this, the other two gunmen triggered explosive belts, killing themselves.

The events in Paris were the latest works of the now notorious Islamic State of Iran and Syria, better known as ISIS. Many people have been criticizing the way the United states has dealt with the middle east since we dropped into Iran in 2003. The US has had a long history of intervening when it shouldn’t have but the issue we currently face can be seen largely as a product of our own doing.

As humans we have the tendency to want everyone to be happy, which sometimes entails intervening at times of injustice. This is often the ethical thing to do, but it is not always the most stable decision. The unrest in Syria erupted out of an unarmed protest, as the movement grew larger and larger, law enforcement was facing a greater opposition and began firing on the crowd. This was the first of many shots to be fired in a war that is still ongoing. The US knew that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad possessed chemical weapons as well as delivery systems but up until about 2013, they had no way of knowing for sure. The first large scale attack happened on August second, UN investigators confirmed the civilian deaths of over 1,300 resulting from sarin, a neurotoxin 20 times more deadly in cyanide. The chemical attacks also marked a milestone in our involvement in the war. The US began ramping up efforts to stop Assad, but our choice not to put our own troops at the forefront of the opposition proved detrimental. Instead of sending soldiers into Syria, we chose to arm and train rebels. These rebels had defected from Assad’s army to join the fight against those responsible for the assault on the protestors. They became known as the Free Syrian Army. While fighting Assad with US support, some members of the FSA broke away to what became ISIS. The detachment of the US from the conflict ultimately led to us indirectly supplying them with weapons and vehicles. This was because the FSA was now fighting two wars, one against Assad’s forces, and the other against it’s own defectors. Whenever they would lose ground, they would lose weapons and equipment to IS. The United States involvement in Iraq had also enabled extremists to become more powerful. Once the government in Iraq fell apart, the US withdrew, leaving behind weapons and vehicles that were later taken up by anti-american forces. The withdrawal also sewed the seed for ISIS to gain strength in the turmoil surrounding the almost non-existent government leftover.  

Fast forward to present day. Thousands of lives taken, hundreds of bombings and other attacks, ISIS is now the greatest threat to our national security. Though France has now entered the conflict with minimal airstrikes, we are waging a war on these extremists using force. The attacks in France warranted retaliation, they absolutely did, but aircraft don’t hold ground. Boots do, and although military force is necessary for the US to fight, we need to outthink our enemies rather than out-gun them. If we kill off ISIS, another group will simply rise, one of which will be the youth that they are currently training. Not many people see the side of ISIS that is not portrayed on the evening news. They are an extremely well organized group, they make money off of oil (believed to be around one million dollars a day), they have a propaganda team equivalent to a mid-size media company in the US, and perhaps most threatening of all, they are raising children to follow in their footsteps. They are by no means a group of Kalashnikov-wielding nomads like mainstream media portrays them.

IS is working to eliminate what they call the grey area, the group between believers and non-believers. They want people to either join them or oppose them. If those in the grey area chose the latter, IS vows to eliminate them in order to defend the faith. They are accomplishing their goal of distinguishing between the two by committing acts of terror like those we saw in France.

IS is an idea. It cannot be bombed, it cannot be captured, it can only be overtaken. When people in the US become prejudice toward muslims, we are giving ISIS exactly what they want. They want us to discriminate against muslims, act out against them, and shame them into leaving our region. Why? Let’s pretend you are being bullied by the brown eyed at school for having blue eyes, so much so that you decide that you need a new group of friends. You go to the group of blue eyed kids on the other side of the playground. They tell you that they are going to start bullying the brown eyed kids that made fun of you. You are still very angry about what has been said to you by those kids so you decide to join the blue eyed and fight back. IS wants us to marginalize muslims so that they will defect to their side and oppose the United States. I have very rarely changed my opinion on things such as this but when I came to this realization, I began to understand that the only way to oppose the spreading of the idea is to accept those whom it is trying to reach.

Children as young as three are being taught the ideas of jihad. They are being told that, in order to succeed in life, they have to commit these acts because they are “cleansing the world” of non-believers. We need to find a way to instill hope in these children that they can be more than religious fighters, that they can have a successful, fulfilling life. The only method I see of reaching this youth is starting here in the US. We need to accept muslims and do away with prejudice, if we can show enough support of our muslim brothers and sisters, there will be no reason for them to show hatred and violence. Of course, there will always be the violent groups who simply oppose the American way. We need to show the muslim youth all over the world what they can make of themselves, when people see and hear success stories, they too believe that they can do great things. If they see the freedom of the modern world rather than the propaganda of ISIS, they will be far more inclined to oppose the violence.The next generation is who we have to target, not with missiles, but with knowledge.

 

Citations

  • Robinson, Joshua, and Inti Landauro. “Paris Attacks: Suicide Bomber Was Blocked From Entering Stade De France.” The Wallstreet Journal. 15 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.
  • “Paris Attacks: What Happened on the Night – BBC News.” BBC News. 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
  • “Paris Attacks: What Happened on the Night – BBC News.” BBC News. 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
  • “Truth in Media: Origin of ISIS.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

 

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