Stopping Terror At The Source

terrorism12115On this past Tuesday the Los Angeles Times published a letter by Pres. Obama on countering terror recruitment here in the U. S. and around the world. He stated we cannot defeat terrorists with military actions alone, but we have to go after their cadre of recruiters who draw them in so effectively and other measures. The President also stated that,

More broadly, groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to offer today’s youth something better.

Governments that deny human rights play into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the democratic process and express themselves through strong civil societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of dignity.

The following day Pres. Obama held a press conference on the same subject I read about in the NYT also. The article stated that,

Mr. Obama said undercutting the Sunni militant group’s message and blunting its dark appeal was a “generational challenge” that would require cooperation from mainstream Muslims as well as governments, communities, religious leaders and educators.

So here we finally have a leader who understands that it is impossible to kill-off every terrorist and terrorist-sympathizer around the globe. And what you have to do is to take the wind out of their sails, if I can put it so lightly. We have to affect the reasons why people become terrorists.

With that stated I can already hear grumbling from those in the back thinking, “He’s gonna blame America, isn’t he?” No, I’m not going to blame the U.S. on the West at all. How can anyone be to “blame” for such brutality? These are atavistic medieval fighters awaiting the apocalypse who do the most heinous things to try and recruit more zealots to join a malformed ideology I can hardly even believe exists. And no one is to blame other than the terrorists themselves.

But we can take some of the wind out of their sails with a few things we should do,

1) Reduce our political/military footprint in Palestine. Nothing does more to recruit terrorists than America’s perceived indifference to what Israel does to the Palestinians. We support them both politically and materially with great amounts of military aid and do nothing about how it is used. The “50-day” war over the summer has to be one of the biggest recruiting tools in Mid-East terror history for ISIS.

2) We must all work together to affect real social change in the region. I was watching “The Five” on FOX News yesterday and they were arguing that poverty and oppression had nothing to do with terrorist recruitment. They stated that bin-Laden came from a royal family and that Zawahiri was an eye-doctor. But they are not the rank and file! The rank and file live in poor social conditions with oppressive governments and no jobs to keep them economically stable and occupied. They even run to terror for a good salary. We all know how ISIS is building an economy within itself by illegally exporting oil to Turkey. This is an essential point.

3) Disavowal the recruiters. At the Pres. Obama’s press conference he stated that, “We need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion, and we especially need to do it online.” And White House official Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, stated to the NYT correspondent, “You could hypothetically eliminate the entire ISIL safe haven, but still face a threat from the kind of propaganda they disseminate over social media….It’s an undervalued part of how you prevent terror attacks in the United States.”

This phenomenon is a serious, serious concern for anyone who desires both freedom and safety alike. I do not support in any form or fashion censorship or online monitoring, but we need to get more active as a people to counter these recruiters.

4) Stop thinking they hate us for our freedom. I used to read Osama bin-Laden’s statements before he was killed and he refuted this misnomer directly in one of them. He stated that al-Qaeda disagrees with us but does not care about our society as long as sharia law is followed in the Arab world. He even went as far as stating that if he hated our freedom, why not attack some nation such as Sweden? If politicians and laymen keep espousing this fallacy it keeps our eyes blinded from the real reasons they hate us.

5) Read this cover article in The Atalantic entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.” It is the first truly analytical report on the nature of ISIS. Essential read.

Have to Admit, Sometimes Russia is Painfully Correct

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, had some comments for the United States government regarding Syria and the Islamic State that deserve acknowledgement.  While the future of this situation can be debated, the past cannot.  And the truth sometimes hurts.
“I think Western politicians are already realising the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism,” Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.
“And they will soon have to choose what is more important, a [Syrian] regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat.”

Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov
In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the US had made the same mistake with Islamic State as it had with al-Qaeda, which emerged in the 1980s when US-backed Islamist insurgents were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. (Emphasis added)
“At the start the Americans and some Europeans rather welcomed [Islamic State] on the basis it was fighting against Bashar al-Assad. They welcomed it as they welcomed the mujahideen who later created al-Qaeda, and then al-Qaeda struck like a boomerang on September 11, 2001,” Lavrov said.
“The same thing is happening now.”
We have to accept, for the moment, there is no perfect solution from the U.S. government’s perspective where both the Syrian regime and the Islamic State can be ousted from the situation immediately.  At this point, the best case scenario is to only have to deal with one or the other while trying to push for the quelling of one.
And the lesser of two evils is without a doubt the Assad regime in Syria.  This, of course, means working as a partner with Russia in order to exert as much pressure as possible on Assad to hope for eventual regime change while making sure the Syrian government is stabilized enough to fight the Islamic State.
In fact, hindsight being 20/20, one has to wonder if working with Russia from the beginning on Syria would have been the better solution for the Syrian people.  While living under Assad has certainly been no picnic, it’s very likely the casualties from the fighting, now closing in on 200,000, would have been significantly less had a heavy UN peacekeeping presence been placed in the country when the violence broke out.  And in order to have done this, the U.S. would have had to accept not initially ousting Assad, with the hope change could have come later and more peacefully.
We’ll never know whether that solution would have turned out better.  One thing, however, is clear: not choosing that path has been an absolute disaster.