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November 19, 2015

ISIL and the Great War

Patricia A. Kelly

What a tragedy, Paris under attack. More innocent people killed, and a clear display of the reach of ISIL.


In response, we’ve heard platitudes from all over, including the U.S., expressing grief, and assertions of solidarity with France. The president, who had spoken earlier that day about successes in containing ISIL, called it an attack on all humanity, a rare expression of truth for him. Secretary of State John Kerry stated agreement with the president that a diplomatic solution to the Syrian war is the answer. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to current events as a struggle.


It’s not a struggle. It’s a war. Of all the comments, only Governor Jeb Bush, Pope Francis, and French President François Hollande, got it right.


This attack was not a terrorist attack, and neither were all those which preceded it. This, as President Hollande stated, was an act of war. Jeb Bush, the only presidential candidate on either side to do so, declared correctly that this is “the war of our time.” Pope Francis, also correctly, called it World War III.


ISIL knows this is a war. ISIL is fighting it. We in the U.S., or at least our current leaders, don’t want to admit it, because, if they did, they would have to give up their disastrous foreign policy daydreams of disengagement and diplomacy. ISIL is not into diplomacy.


ISIL is fighting what, on one level, is a virtual war, although it now has a home state, a caliphate recently established in Iraq.


This war follows a consistent pattern of social media recruitment, apparent random attacks, terror, displays of horrifying brutality, and undercutting of civil society. Our high tech era changes the form of battle from Hitler’s driving of tanks across borders, to intermittent worldwide strikes, but the end goal is the same, taking over the world and turning it into a state of ISIL’s creation.


Our president’s racism has definitely contributed to current unrest in our country, but is it a coincidence that, at about the time our “war on police” began, ISIL was calling for exactly that? If ISIL is not directly involved, as I believe they are, in our current “political correctness, give me free stuff, allow my rights to supersede those of others, undercut the police, and, not least, get rid of guns among the populace” movement, they are certainly laughing at the increasing chaos in our society.


Are the ends of ISIL met by our failure to control our borders? Are their needs met when hundreds of thousands of undocumentable refugee immigrants are overwhelming countries throughout the world?


These occurrences are likely part of their war, in a time when social media is stronger than a canon.


Just as the American Revolution succeeded, in part, by developing a new style of fighting against the British, ISIL can win this war by fighting us in their new way.


Counterterrorism efforts are misleading and ineffective, if they are not seen as one piece of a worldwide war effort.


We are at war. This war involves battles such as the attack on Paris, and on the World Trade Center, along with the creation of unrest throughout the civilized world. This war involves propaganda, recruitment of fighters using social media, demonstrations of power and resolve through torture and murder, and incitement of unrest among nations.


One of the last things we need to do is to have a meeting seeking a negotiated solution to the war in Syria. Instead, we should join forces with our allies and create new ones, to mount an effective campaign against ISIL and its ilk. Jordan, Egypt, Israel, France, most European countries, and a number of Middle Eastern nations would join this fight. We can win it together, if we have the courage to face what it is.


This is a 21st Century war. It’s not necessary to invade a country and destroy its’ infrastructure to win. Donald Trump’s idea, denounced effectively by Lyndsay Graham, that we should destroy the captured oil producing capacity of some Middle Eastern nations, is ridiculous, and would only end by crippling these countries in their attempts to rebuild after this war ends. Along with physical battle, propaganda, messaging on social media, and demonstrations of our own strength and resolve, not to mention of our civility and our freedoms, must play a part.


Thanks, Jeb Bush. You might not be much of a debater, but you definitely got this one right.


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