I totally understand the rage sweeping through Jordan and the rest of the civilized world in response to the latest ISIS atrocity. And despite my distaste for war, I would cheer a massive assault on ISIS held territories, like the “Shock and Awe” air assault that left Baghdad in ruins. There is no possibility of compromise with the psychopaths in ISIS. Extermination is the only effective way of dealing with such vermin.
But a nagging voice whispers in the far regions of my brain, “And then?”
Bombs and missiles will not put an end to the threat of ISIS – or any similar plague. These terrorist organizations exist in the mind and soul as well as in the body. The warped ideas that fuel their existence will be alive long after the terrorists that embrace them are dead.
To combat terrorism, the soil in which terror breeds must be treated. As long as there are disenfranchised people in this world, mired in despair and deprived of hope, there will be fury. And that fury will manifest itself in organizations like ISIS – beyond decency, beyond compassion, beyond reason. The kind of fury that drives human beings to burn another human being alive and film his death throes to show the world.
ISIS has taken root among the hordes of unemployed youths not only in the Arab world but also in Europe. I know, you will remind me that recruits are also flocking to ISIS from the United States and Canada, but I suspect these looneys are romantics looking for a cause, good or bad, to fulfill their dreams of grandeur.
The real cancer feeds on the despotism, injustice and inequality that plagues the Arab world, and increasingly infects European countries that pursue misguided “austerity” programs. It is a cancer that threatens not just the civilized world but civilization itself.
To win the War on Terror, civilized nations must address the defects in their own social and economic systems and encourage the rest of the world to do the same. For this conflict is a war of ideas not just tanks and planes.
But, first things first. It’s time for Shock and Awe.