BLOG: The Endless Battle

KATIE PICKRELL

Last Friday, Nov. 13, Islamic State militants carried out attacks across Paris that left the entirety of humanity filled with anguish and horror.

Throughout the day on Nov. 17, threats of bombs and other violent acts have caused for flights to be redirected, suspects to be pinned down in suburbia and German stadiums to be evacuated. So, now, throughout the morning of Nov. 18, I am up trying to write a blog about the American political system with the constant interruption of thoughts of terrorism and death running rampid in my head as I wonder what can even plausibly be done.

“All of our choices our bad, and we made it that way” Salon’s website reads. “Inconvenient truth: There’s no simple military solution for beating ISIS,” CNN reports. The headlines continue, all jumbled with confusion and anger from some of the brightest minds of our nation.

129 individuals died in the attacks this past Friday that were carried in various locations across the city, predominantly in a concert at the Bataclan Theater where 89 innocent individuals lost their lives while hundreds of other were held captive for hours in a situation they believed would surely end in death.

All of those individuals would most likely have never imagined their deaths to be so abrupt and so brutal. ISIS hit the most vulnerable areas of typical human life– young adults, like my brothers or my sister-in-law or even myself, were shot dead at a concert. They walked in the doors ready for a fun night out and never got the opportunity to leave.

The horror that must have been encountered in the first shots, in the first dead bodies, in the first screams– it is all unimaginable. That is the epitome of terrorism: hitting innocent individuals at the time of least anticipation. At work, at a concert, at a sporting event– the list goes on and on. It’s impossible to feel safe in this world thanks to the most disgusting and evil portions of humanity.

Since the attacks, France has been put under a state of emergency for the first time since 2005. The Eiffel Tower closed for the first time in decades. Various countries including France and Belgium tightened border restrictions. 

So the question that rings in my mind and the minds of many others is simple but complex. Why is all of this happening? Who could possibly justify the systematic killing of everyone but themselves? What has caused this increase in terrorist warfare?

ISIS has no regard for human life. The group itself is filled with unknown aims– which is only one thing contributing to the confusing nature of the current conflict. But in terms of life or death, ISIS would literally choose death under any circumstance as it is the basis of its belief system. To them, the imminent end of the world is near, and ISIS militants and supporters plan to lead the upcoming Judgement Day.

Still, despite their lack of true aims, they have managed to organize themselves to the point where they can properly carry out attacks in European nations (and soon, possibly, the United States).

That being said, they possess the one thing we as the rest of the humane world do not: unity.

The United States, Jordan, France and other prominent nations facing a threat from ISIS have yet to get on board for much.

Last February when a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by ISIS militants, King Abdullah made harsh threats to ensure ISIS paid for its actions. The echo of those threats can now be heard in the French president François Hollande’s statements that France will release a relentless campaign against ISIS.

Jordan and France have both recently implemented more airstrikes, something ISIS is most likely used to by now. The actions, in other words, aren’t enough to strike fear into such a crass group of people.

If Jordan or France did choose to endanger soldier and civilian lives by trekking across into ISIS territory and using ground force, the reaction may be different– we may even have the heartless militants shaking in their boots.

This plan of action isn’t something that Jordan, France or quite frankly any other country has suggested to date, which leaves other nations (particularly the U.S.) to decide what the next plan of action is.

Our nation’s leader, Barack Obama, is currently traveling the path of airstrikes and support to local forces, as are many others.

In the past, the U.S. has attempted to arm and train moderate rebels in the region. To say that plan went south is a bit of an understatement. It’s also important to note that many weapons ISIS possesses may often be American weapons. It is estimated that 79 percent of weapons shipped to the Middle East come from the U.S.

But Obama does definitely have a point here: If this current plan is failing so terribly, what should we do?

To now send any troops into the region sounds like both a great and awful idea at the same time, and it’s hard (if not impossible) to tell which it is. An indefinite military occupation of yet another unstable area is not plausible. It hasn’t worked effectively in the past and will likely fail in the future.

If we did send troops to the region, it’s likely some of the most courageous American lives would be lost only to ensure the rule of a crooked dictator in Syria and the rise of yet another unstable government throughout Iraq. The current half-assed war on ISIS, many forget, is only one half of the war.

How long, exactly, would this war take? We entered Afghanistan and Iraq expecting quick solutions. Today, long past the withdrawal deadline, we’re feeling the direct impacts of those two wars. Imagine going to a third war with a psychopathic, murderous group of people.

Something needs to be done– yet nothing can be done. Whether this is appreciated or not, we are verging on a world war. It may not be like the wars of the early or mid twentieth century, but it is an ongoing conflict that has crept its way into every corner of the world– free or not.

The main difference between now and then is the enemy. We aren’t fighting nations, we aren’t even fighting people, we’re fighting instability and flawed ideology. It’s a battle that was born to be unending with no possible positive outcome.

My plan is admittedly nearly nonexistent and filled with massive gaps.

For starters, we need to learn from the past. Following this war, we can no longer bomb entire nations into ruins and leave them in broken pieces (despite the claim that at this rate it seems to be the only option). We can also no longer supply weapons to the regions we leave destabilized– that is not to say we shouldn’t provide aid, but rather it should come in the form of food, water, medicine or other necessary items.

Despite the seeming approach I may be taking towards keeping troops out of the area, it cannot be explicit that putting U.S. forces on the ground is out of the question. While referring to American soldiers as objects utilized only for warfare makes me sick, it is impossible to present unwavering commitment for a cause we are not willing to put our lives on the line for.

Also in terms of militant action, airstrikes most likely need to be increased. Coming from someone who continually rants and raves about the importance of international law, this is still massively important.

That being said, other nations need to become involved and back the effort of defeating ISIS. With the help of countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and others, ISIS (I believe) could be honestly cut back into yet again a small terrorist faction without any true capabilities. If countries that surround the murder-thirsty terrorist organization would directly fight back, odds are the reach of ISIS would be reduced.

Looking ahead, we can’t leave the already unstable region in such a destructive condition. Ahead of time, we (along with the help of the international community) must look into how to restabilize the area. Obviously, most plans made are bound to fail; but some plan will have a better success rate than no plan.

Most importantly we need to ensure we, with the strength and support of various nations, have one single enemy. This isn’t to say we begin supporting a dictator in Syria, but it is to say that we must assure we are fighting one battle at a time and make sure ISIS has no smaller supporters. Many Sunni tribes and communities currently back ISIS because they lack representation elsewhere. We must make it apparent that part of the take-down of ISIS is the implementation of a political system that works within the Middle East, not just a copycat of what has tended to work for our nation.

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