War is a man-made institution, the worst thing we ever created. But there are times in which it’s either kill or be killed, so it becomes a necessity for survival.
It’s no surprise that, last week, when terrorists killed civilians in one of the most culturally enriched cities on earth, the world took notice. It highlights the fact that if the world doesn’t quash ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the attacks on Paris, they’ll spread their brand of terrorism across the globe.
To paraphrase the headline of a Paris newspaper, Le Monde, in 2001, we are all French now.
Of course, this latest horror story in the war against terrorism—deemed last week as “an attack on the civilized world” by President Barack Obama—isn’t of the magnitude wrought on Sept. 11, 2001, but it might just end up more significant.
Right now, the “civilized world” is outraged, as it was after the 9/11 attacks, but just as it did 14 years ago, outrage will give way to the reality that this is a new kind of war, not against nations and states but against twisted ideologies and deranged killers.
For the USA, this doesn’t stack up to the severity of 9/11, but it does hit too close to home for comfort. There’s a sense of foreboding in this latest attack, a feeling that we’ve just seen a new terror tactic, and that could happen in cities in the U.S., too.
We’ll probably relinquish more of our rights to privacy as a result, like we did after 9/11, so our covert forces can keep such terrorists at bay. And there will be a renewed national emphasis on our seemingly never-ending war against terrorism.
Maybe this time we’ll have learned from our previous mistakes.
Last time around, shortly after our declared war against the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks, we got sidetracked in Iraq, which we entered with a weak coalition of other nations based on false intelligence information. We overthrew a regime while the terrorists we initially went after holed up in Afghanistan and eventually morphed into new factions, with new strategies.
Now we have ISIS, in part because we lost our focus.
It took us a decade to finally catch up and kill our 21st century personification of evil itself, Osama bin Laden, but in the grand scheme of things what good did that do? Perhaps this time around we’ll understand better that striking down one terrorist leader does not destroy his followers. There are plenty of psychopaths to keep this war going for years to come.
This time around, I suspect the European Union will take the leadership in a new counterterrorism initiative, but I’m sure the U.S. will have a major hand in this renewed battle to contain and eliminate this threat against humanity.
Perhaps President Obama, in his last year in office, will remember the mistakes George W. Bush made as President. And maybe our next commander-in-chief will learn from the mistakes both Bush and Obama made. Maybe he or she will help keep the EU focused on the real enemy: those who seek to usurp, with unabashed violence, Western influences in the Middle East and beyond.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is in an election cycle was will choose the next President. That means the war on terrorism will be highly politicized. It’s the nature of the beast, I suppose, but it’s gotten particularly vicious since the attacks in 2001.
Back then, there was a brief time of solidarity before Bush was demonized by the left. That won’t be the case this time around. Republican president candidates are already blasting Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their actions and inactions in our ongoing wars; it’s a good way of gaining political capital in a crowded field of wannabes.
Fortunately, this time around it’s not American resolve that will make a difference. It’s international resolve that’s needed.
Let’s hope the world is up for the challenge.
Tom McDonald is founder of the New Mexico Community News Exchange and editor of the Roswell Daily Record. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.