It’s impossible not to be moved and outraged at the events in Paris Friday night.
Such acts are incomprehensible to those us who have grown up and lived away from such a world. We are abhorred by it.
The sense of outrage is palpable. While we grieve over what happened in Paris, we should also remember that Beirut was also hit with a terrorist attack last week, which didn’t quite get the worldwide attention as Paris.
The first gut reaction of man to the Paris attack, including myself, is to mass a huge army, go in and wipe ISIS off the map. I would endorse that if I believed it would actually do any good. I’m not so sure it would. Large military interventions haven’t worked all that well in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, most Middle East experts believe that the United States’ toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was the catalyst that created ISIS.
Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, who has a Ph.D in military and Middle Eastern history, delivered a lecture at Simon Fraser University in March where he opined that actions, such as the bombing runs now underway in northern Syria and Iraq actually help ISIS because it fosters the ISIS propaganda the West is attacking Islam. The result is ISIS gets more recruits. For example: You might not support ISIS, but when your town gets bombed, you’re more willing to pick up the fight.
In addition, we’ve been bombing northern Iraq and Syria for some time now and yet ISIS apparently managed to get a bomb on a Russian plane flying out of Egypt and slaughter more than 100 people in Paris.
What we’re doing now doesn’t seem to be working so a change is definitely needed. So should we (the West) send a million soldiers into the area? It might stop the carnage on our streets, but will that be replaced by years of endless ramp ceremonies? We’ve been down that road already.
Do we ignore ISIS? Certainly not.
But the world shouldn’t be held hostage by what amounts to a very few people. To put things in perspective, the ISIS controlled area in northern Syria and Iraq is home to about five million people, not many more than the province of British Columbia. As Dyer pointed out in his lecture, it has very little in the way of resources. It’s a desert. And yet it is succeeding in terrorizing the world.
While we shake our heads and wonder why, we don’t seem to wondering how. How can a few people with so few resources do so much? How do they manage to always have arms? Maybe we should look at choking off that supply first.
I certainly don’t profess to having any answers, but I do know we need to take a difference approach.
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached