Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2105--ISIS in Paris

I may have a different perspective after I, perhaps, cool down.

God knows there have been much worse cases of barbarism, evil during my lifetime. Even quite recently. By the numbers, ISIS's blowing the Russian plane out of the sky over the Sinai killed more innocent people than the seven or eight coordinated attacks in Paris.

Numerically, the terrorist bombings in Mumbai, Spain, Beirut, and of course on 9/11 killed and maimed more people, but there is something different about ISIS than al Qaeda. Something different for me about Paris than even New York.

That tells you how in a rage I am about what happened Friday night.

OK, I used the e-word. Evil.

All of these terrorist atrocities, including the pubic beheadings, are more than "cowardly acts." If there is such a thing as evil, this is it. Have there been worse examples? Of course. Including in France.

The French, among other "civilized" people, during the Second World War rounded up and shipped many thousands of their Jews to certain death in Nazi Germany.

A special definition of evil is necessary to categorize the various holocausts of the 20th century.

But what was perpetrated Friday still qualifies as dastardly. Unspeakable. All too human in its inhumanness.

Words fail.

French president Hollande says this was an act of "war." The Pope said we are in "World War III." Both may be right.

If we are, what then does that mean?

France is a linchpin of the NATO alliance. NATO's charter in effect says that "an attack on one is an attack on all." That includes us. The United States.

That charter was written well before al Qaeda and ISIS existed. It was for a time when there were credible threats of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. What does it mean now when the definition of war had shifted? Does it mean that the U.S. is also at war? That because France was "attacked," that it experienced more than an evil act of terrorism, we too have been attacked and thus are obligated to act accordingly? To join them in waging war?

I do not know how to think about this. What I do know is that this has struck me deeply. I have even been gathering information about going to France, Paris, this week. As an act of solidarity and defiance.

Rona thinks I'm crazy. She's right. I am.

Minimally I am trying to think about what France should do, more appropriately, as an American citizen what we should do because I do think we are at war.

Yes, I know how we got there. Not solely as the result of President Obama's weak leadership--though he has been weak and that hasn't helped, feeling that the "Arab Spring" would help bring about versions of democracy to the region. This just as naive in its own way as George W. Bush's delusion that toppling Saddam Hussein would do that for Iraq and surrounding dictatorships.

What matters now is what to do going forward.

Drone-guided bombings will not get the job done. Depending on lightly-armed Kurd forces on the ground will not defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Russia's involvement, even if it shifts to confront ISIS rather than Syrian rebels, will not get the job done.

Nothing this simple, this limited will work.

I can hardly believe I am thinking this, but only a massive, boots-on-the-ground force of American troops has any chance of succeeding. Perhaps 100,000 are required. Maybe more.

This would mean many casualties, even the beheading of captured U.S. soldiers. But does anyone have a better, more realistic idea?

I hate this. Hate all of it. But I am feeling radicalized.

ISIS has to be shown to be a failure in order to stem the flow of young lunatics to its "cause." Disaffiliated youth from the Islamic world as well as from Europe and the United States are partly drawn to ISIS because it is perceived to be winning. This encourages those with distorted minds to believe that the apocalypse they seek is near at hand. Defeat ISIS, devastate it, and that belief system will crumble.

I am sorry. I wish I could believe in the effectiveness of diplomacy and financial warfare, including bombing the oil fields and petroleum distribution system in ISIS-controlled territory.

I don't.

As long as they feel they are winning, ISIS fighters can live on fumes. They are that motivated and tenacious.

So they have to be killed. All of them would be ideal. As many as possible is imperative.

Again, I can't believe these worlds are coming from me. I have up to now considered myself to be moderate, essentially pacifistic. Not any more.

Paris on Friday changed that.

When will we too again feel the pain and fear?

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