A crisis of civilization

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A crisis of civilization

Another terrorist act has hit France again. The new type of terrorist attacks against a crowd on the beach of Nice killed over 80 people and injured more than 100 Thursday night. A large truck plowed at full speed through a crowd, who gathered there to celebrate the anniversary of the French Revolution. The attack took place in France only eight months after the militant Islamic State killed over 130 innocent citizens in Paris in November. The whole world is shocked and horrified by the alarming spate of terrorist acts.

Despite the U.S-led war on terror since the September 11, 2001 terror in New York, terrorist attacks are still in full swing. They occur more often than before and find no boundaries, as vividly seen in the horrendous terrorist attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey; Brussels, Belgium; Orlando, the United States; Dacca in Bangladesh; and Baghdad, Iraq. Hundreds of people lost their lives due to unexpected terrorist attacks against the “soft targets.” We can hardly find a safe haven from the threat.

French President Francois Hollande extended the country’s state of emergency for another three months. The French government will further tighten identity checks on foreigners who enter and exit the nation along with a tightened monitoring of activities of terrorist suspects. Other nations will most likely follow in France’s steps. Donald Trump, the presumed Republican Party presidential candidate in the November election, already made commitments to limit Muslims’ entry into America.

If such a counterterrorism movement gains momentum to the extent of building walls one after another against the abominable terrorist threats to protect their own citizens’ lives, the globalized 21st century civilization based on free trade and movement cannot avoid a serious setback. We can hardly rule out the possibility of such isolationism escalating to armed clashes among nations, race and religions. The terrorist attack in Nice — which exploited the gifts of civilization as a tool for terrorism — serves as a symbol of our civilizational crisis.

Global anti-terrorist campaigns through international cooperation are urgently demanded. The United States, China, Russia and the European Union must join hands in ending the unfettered terrorist attacks. To root out the despicable terrorist acts by IS, they must put an end to the ongoing civil war in Syria, ground zero of the terrorism. The territorial disputes over the South China Sea and Ukraine as well as the controversies over Brexit and the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in South Korea are small matters compared to the terrorist attacks shaking the very foundations of our civilization.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 16, Page 26
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