What will countries do to stop the terrorists?

Andrew Bolt blogs:

Many of the gestures are well meaning. Grieving is necessary. Solidarity is important.

But can I respectfully point out the following:

Lighting up buildings in red, white and blue will not stop the terrorists.

Singing La Marseillaise will not stop the terrorists.

Tweeting #IStandWithParis will not stop the terrorists.

Tweeting the Eiffel Tower peace sign will not stop the terrorists.

Saying you condemn the killings will not stop the terrorists.

Showing you stand in solidarity with Paris will not stop the terrorists.

Saying you are ”shoulder to shoulder” with Paris will not stop the terrorists.

Saying we will not be cowed by terrorism will not stop the terrorists.

Saying the terrorism is an attack on all humanity will not stop the terrorists.

Tears, candles, hymns, vigils, prayers, speeches, condolence books, hashtags, poems, meetings – none of that will stop the terrorists.

A challenge to our leaders: tell us precisely what you plan to do that really will stop the terrorists.

Spare us tears and tributes. Spare us platitudes and sentiment.  Give us plans. Action.

Tell us about reforming Islam, controlling immigration, shutting down hate-preachers and destroying the and al Qaeda.

The rest is just flowers at a funeral. It will not stop the next one.

There is no simple answers of course, and as with any action, the unintended consequences can be significant.

But I’d start the ball rolling by saying it is time to recognise Assad as the lesser evil.

Stalin was an awful man who did much evil. But Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s was the larger threat, and it was the right decision to ally with Stalin to defeat Hitler – even if it partly resulted in decades of dictatorships for Eastern Europe.

It’s time to say Islamic State is a greater evil than any other we face today, and that the political will and resources are needed to commit to eliminating it.   You can’t defeat all Islamic terrorism – I imagine for decades to come, we will have terrorist attacks from various jihadist groups. But the Islamic State can be beaten in the sense that unlike other groups, it gains its status from holding actual territory and declaring it to be the Caliphate.

I draw people back to the globally acclaimed Atlantic article in March:

One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it.

They also warn:

And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have givenbaya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?

This is the problem. But I think the pendulum is tilting towards taking action. However to succeed, it has to be more than just some bombing flights. The same level of commitment and determination as the Allies had in WWII would be needed, and inevitably there would be a huge level of civilian casualties.  There could be no negotiated settlement, but like in WWII it would need to be unconditional surrender of all territory.  I imagine the death toll would be in the tens of thousands on the side of invading forces, and hundreds of thousands on the other side. So it may be that instead we’ll settle for one to two terrorist attacks a week instead.

My preference would be to not have Western troops directly fighting , as that allows them to frame it as a Crusade.  I think one needs to do a deal with Assad, and provide huge military resources to Muslim countries and leaders willing to fight Islamic State – Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and maybe even Iran. Yes there will be some nightmares to deal with after ISIL is defeated, but just as we worked with Stalin to defeat Hitler, I think we can’t be choosy about our allies in this battle.

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