The Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the organized acts of terror in France that occurred last Friday. NBC News has reported that at least 129 were killed and 352 were left injured. On Sunday, France retaliated by dropping more than 20 bombs in Raqqa, Syria. Raqqa is ISIS’s de facto capital of the caliphate. However, the question still remains on how, or when, the United States and other countries will respond to events that have transpired.
The general reaction, on social media, in general conversation and even among major news outlets, to no surprise, is to seek vengeance. It seems as if, almost unanimously, people have come to the consensus that the United States needs to continue, even more aggressively so, bombing regions of the Middle East with the intent to kill members of ISIS. While that idea in theory may make sense to most, it is far more important to consider the implications of carrying out such a task.
For decades now, we have seen incessant conflict in the most complicated sector of the world. It is time to collectively produce a geopolitical solution to global terrorism. Up until this point, every form of involvement in the Middle East has been an utter disaster.
BBC reports that the Iraq War cost the United States $3 trillion, killing nearly 5,000 American soldiers and taking over 500,000 total lives in a series of operations that have consistently failed, all of which are underlined with an ulterior motive to fill the pockets of those residing in Washington and those who run private corporations. Dick Cheney’s company Halliburton received $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the course of a decade, according to Reader Supported News. For what exactly? Crude oil? Unfathomable profit? Relentlessly and carelessly dropping bombs or continuing drone campaigns with little-to-no regard for civilian casualties does not assist in what should be our goal: to reduce the fundamentals of terrorism.
On Monday, Reuters stated that the United States sold Saudi Arabia $1.29 billion worth of “bombs and smart bombs.” They plan to use these weapons on repeated air strikes in Yemen, which, since March, have killed 2,577 civilians and displaced a total of 2.3 million people. These methods contribute to the never-ending cycle of violence and inadvertently ferment radicalism.
We must reform the United Nations and increase their involvement in foreign affairs, and we must vow to protect the innocent lives in countries that are stricken with poverty, homelessness and limited resources. We mustn’t do this alone, but it is more than our obligation – it is our American standard to pave the way.
We need to be concerned, empathetic and understanding with regard to the attacks last Friday in France. Unfortunately, most want to respond to these tragedies with aggression. Violence will always incite more violence. I get it: you’re angry, you’re scared, and rightfully so. But these emotions are what the terrorists are seeking to provoke. They want to instill fear and instability and continue the ongoing conflict with the West. What we need right now, more than ever, is unity, and not just within our country, but globally as well, which means that we have to step forward and welcome Syrian refugees who have been ousted from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The far-right rhetoric will tell you this is unsafe, but we have admitted tens of thousands of refugees into the country since 1980 and have yet to see a single one commit an act of terrorism. Small steps in the right direction will open our minds and will influence other nations to do the same: this is our moral obligation.
We also need to take proper and precise action in order to combat terrorism in a way that will break the cycle rather than prolong it. If you believe that the resolution to this problem solely consists of something as simple as killing ISIS, you are woefully mistaken and for a number of reasons. ISIS is an ideology; you cannot pump it full of lead and hope that it goes away. However, if you are of the impression that we should turn a blind eye, you are even more fallacious.
One thing we have learned time and time again, over the course of not just the history of our country, but the histories of others, is that acting by reacting can be a recipe for disaster. It is not about the hastiness of our response, but moreso about the exactitude of our response. We must ask other Arab nations to condemn the actions of ISIS and lean on our allies to help fight it together. Whether it is popular or not, it will require foot soldiers and the declaration of safe zones to keep civilians safe, but it should not just be our country.
If the U.S. leads the way for a geopolitical solution, I believe it will garner a much more positive response. But the response must be thought out and precise.
As the United States of America, we pride ourselves on the qualities of liberty, freedom and justice for all; let’s make sure we are both adhering to and enforcing those merits in foreign nations, for it is our decisions, or lack thereof, that will determine the course of history.