How to deal with ISIS“You Want Me to Be Afraid? Forget It!” was the cover line on German news magazine Der Spiegel’s November 19 issue on the Paris terror attacks. It featured a Facebook post by Antoine Leiris, who lost his wife Helene Muyal in the Bataclan theatre siege. “On Friday, you took an exceptional life - the love of my life, the mother of my son - but I will not give you my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If the God for which you blindly kill created us in his image, then every bullet in my wife’s body has also torn apart his heart. I will not give you the gift of hating you. You want me to be afraid, to look at my fellow citizens with skepticism. Forget it! In death, my wife will accompany me in this paradise of free souls, which you will never be able to enter.”
Leiris’ post impressed people around the world. Major media published what he posted on Facebook. Leiris was right. The Islamic State wants us to hate them so that they can find an excuse to carry out another heinous terror attack. They want the vicious cycle of hatred, terror and hatred. That’s why we need to respond calmly to terrorism. But that could also translate into inaction and a failure to bring to justice the ISIS terrorists who want to bring about an apocalypse and dominate the world. Idleness is a kind of self-consolation that does not contribute to terror prevention, much less annihilation of ISIS.
After 130 innocent lives were lost in multiple attacks in Paris, the United States, Russia and other major Western countries continue to bomb ISIS strongholds in Syria. Countries are also considering sending ground troops. However, the United States is reluctant. There is no guarantee of any substantial outcome from ground battles. Air strikes are also controversial for a range of reasons. Russia’s targets are not ISIS but rebels opposing Syrian president al-Assad. Turkey’s attacks are focused on Kurdish militants. A conflict of interests between Russia and Turkey over Syria is causing serious discord. French President Francois Hollande declared a war that France cannot fight alone. And he blows war trumpets every day.
Air strikes and ground forces will not guarantee the annihilation of ISIS. They are already training fighters in Africa. But the current situation is not completely favorable to ISIS. People with even the slightest knowledge of state administration are leaving Raqqa - which ISIS proclaimed as its capital - for Europe via Turkey due to utterly repressive politics. Even though ISIS must smuggle oil and gas to Turkey to fund its own military, it now lacks oil refining engineers. The “citizens” of the Islamic State remaining in Raqqa barely survive and are squeezed to pay taxes. Severe punishments based on Islamic law are suffocating.
ISIS are not people with logical thinking. The young nihilists who were tricked by sweet and romantic propaganda online to join ISIS feel sadistic pleasure and heroic satisfaction from massacring people in poorly guarded areas. Traditional nihilists, in an agony of their own suffering from minor mental conditions, could become suicidal for having no motivation and finding no value in life. But the young nihilists who joined ISIS think they have found the values they were looking for - which they could not find in their own nihilism - from killing people with guns and suicide bombs.
What are the solutions? President Park Geun-hye says education can help. But that is a solution that takes time. Economist Thomas Piketty argues that inequality of wealth is the cause, and the monopoly on wealth by the royals in oil producing countries is the problem. The kings of oil producing countries are materialistic snobs with little public awareness and live greedy and lavish lives, spending their oil riches in lavish excess.
So here are the realistic responses. The United States could embrace Syrian president al-Assad, a lesser evil than ISIS, for the time being. Turkey should stop smuggling in oil from ISIS to cut off their funding. Middle Eastern petroleum producers and OECD member countries, joined by global tycoons, should prepare a fund of $100 billion to provide vocational training and proper religious education for impoverished young people in the Middle East.
At the same time, Western countries must join forces to strike ISIS with real effect. Ground forces, including Kurdish troops, must go in. Strict sanctions should be applied to isolate ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The alliance of Ottoman Turkey and Persia, which was broken by a British intelligence officer later known as Lawrence of Arabia, who led the Bedouins, needs to be revived to keep the region “disciplined.” Without multi-dimensional, short, middle and long-term strategies, the violence of these inhumane terrorists can never be eradicated from the earth.
JoongAng Ilbo, Dec. 4, Page 35
The author is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY Kim Young-hee