We have the power within us to end this perpetual war on terrorism. It is time to reject the notion that the clash of different cultures and religions makes our current struggles a war without end.
What Osama bin Laden and other radicals have offered their part of the world needs to be rejected. We, as Americans, might wish to blame ourselves when we should place the blame where it belongs. America did not cause the poverty and desperation in the region. America did not set the current borders after World War I. The victors after World War I did a lot to set the current situation in motion.
What radical fundamentalist seek is not only a rejection of globalization that is slowly changing the Middle East, but they seek a return to an idealized past that represents what they claim is a better way of life. They have created a fantasy world which never have existed. The radicals vision if it would become a reality would separate their part of the world from globalization and western society.
The world they seek is best described by a quote from Marc Sageman: “The global Salafi jihad is a worldwide religious revivalist movement with the goal of reestablishing past Muslim glory in a great Islamist state stretching from Morocco to the Philippines, eliminating present national boundaries. It preaches salafiyyah, (from salaf, the Arabic word for “ancient one,” referring to the Prophet Mohammed), the restoration of authentic Islam, and advocates a strategy of violent jihad, resulting in an explosion of terror to wipe out what it regards as local political heresy. The global version of this movement advocates the defeat of the western powers that prevent the establishment of a true Islamist state. Al-Qaeda is the vanguard of this movement, which includes many other terrorist groups that collaborate in these operations and share a large support base.”
ISIL is nothing more than a current manifestation of this radical view. They would like there to be a religious war. We must work to unite the moderates from that part of the world and give them a reason for hope that there can be life devoid of such religious tyranny. It is more about a rejection of modernity than it is about the United States.
This is the 21st Century. With the end of the Cold War and the rise of the European Union, war as we had known for centuries has come to an end.
The conflicts that have arisen since the collapse of the Soviet Union have come from the regions of the world that used to be part of many empires. They have no tradition of self-governing. They also lack the cohesiveness necessary for stability, as the former victors of World War I created states out of former empires that were guaranteed to be failed states. In the early 1920’s, the new countries were burdened with tribal and religious differences, common bonds were lacking that help countries be successful.
As we move forward into the 21st Century we must reject the barbarism and religious intolerance that we see today. Countries are starting to wake up to the reality of what ISIS represents. Beheadings, crucifixion and stoning have no place in a civilized society nor in our present day world. We are part world with laws and rule sets. We are part of a global economy, but the countries in the Middle East and the states that used to be part of the Soviet Union are not. They are part of the world that is in the gap. They are neither developing economies or developed economies.
If we are to avoid perpetual war with the countries of the gap we must deal with them. Some people in the United States would prefer to just let them be, to let them alone to kill each other. This is not an acceptable alternative. It is not a realistic choice to accept the radical Islamic view that we leave that part of the world to their own devices. You might think we can put our heads in the sand and this nonsense will go away but it won’t. The radicals will not let us alone.
It is not unrealistic nor an overly idealistic view that we are at the moment, when airstrikes are occurring in Syria and Iraq, closer to ending war as we know it. What we need is a plan of action when the military has finished with ISIS. We have the power to make it happen.
The world community must develop a plan whereby future ISILS are less likely. A plan needs to be in place where the region can be developed economically. A lot will need to be done to rebuild Syria and Iraq from the devastating effects of war. A plan similar to the Marshall Plan can help prevent future wars. It is cheaper in the long run to win the peace by ensuring a better future with the real possibility of economic prosperity. Inaction guarantees that there will be more al Qaeda’s and extremism. All human beings share in the hope for a better future for their families and loved ones. The Arab spring promised a better future for those who live in that part of the world. Let us be part of an effort to provide security and prosperity in a part of the world that seems to only promise death and destruction.