Get a coalition together and fight so-called Islamic State – conduct airstrikes against terror – since the attacks in Paris France has intensified its bombing raids against so-called Islamic State. Aux armes citoyens! La Grande Nation is at war, at war against terror – no ‘cheese-eating surrender monkeys’ any longer as at the time of President George Bush! Hardly any sentence can be ushered by President Hollande these days without the word war in it. But wait a minute: Is history repeating itself here?
What was it that then US President George Bush said after 11 September 2001: ‘The only way to defend terrorism as a threat to our way of life is to stop it, eliminate it, and destroy it where it grows’. Fourteen years later French President Hollande in similar fashion states the ‘we’ will fight terrorism wherever it raises its head, and France will lead the way in the war against jihadist terrorism that threatens the whole word. Similar to George Bush at the time when he said ‘what is at stake is not just America’s freedom, this is the world’s fight’. The result thus far: not least the creation of so-called Islamic State.
Let’s recall what was then: There were the attacks of 11 September 2001 that eventually led to the war against the Iraq of Saddam Hussein. One official justification then was that the Iraqi dictator produced biological and chemical weapons and was allied with Al-Qaida – or that is what George Bush proclaimed: Iraq was an ally of terrorists. Now we know this was a lie, in fact in Iraq at the time not only did these ‘weapons of mass destruction’ not exist, but equally no relevant Islamist terror organisation could be found – when war is declared, truth is the first casualty!
Ultimately, the Iraq war was built on lies and deception – and that they voted for it to this day rightly haunts some UK politicians. But the fall of Saddam Hussein not only overthrew a dictatorship, it also meant the (religious) group formerly in power, Sunni Arabs, now became totally excluded and ostracized. They suddenly found themselves at the wrong end of history. In stepped American Governor of Iraq Paul Bremer who with the stroke of a pen dissolved the Sunni-dominated Iraqi army and proclaimed a professional ban for Sunni soldiers and officer from the new army. Instead of reconciliation – confrontation.
Many former generals and soldiers alike thus found themselves without rank, dignity and an income – and without protection against the sectarian post-Saddam policies of a government made up predominately of Shia-Arabs. As ‘losers’ they were put into the garbage-collection of history. In the American detention centre camp Bucca many Sunni ex-army personnel met Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in 2004, and here his radical ideology that was transported into the workings of so-called Islamic State met with a qualified fighting force that had nothing to lose – for whom this presented the perfect opportunity for revenge. So-called Islamic State is not predominately an organisation of fanatic Islamists, it is the perfect orchestration of on imaged Islam that has enough fighters to spread real angst. A key element in this orchestration is a decisive battle at the end of ‘good’ against ‘evil’ on its territory. So-called Islamic State thus cannot wait for ‘us’ to send our armies to fight it, it relishes the contest – and the Western World is keen to oblige, stepping into the trap.
Not least France but also in all likelihood most other Western allies reacted or will react exactly in the way so-called Islamic State hoped for: bombing raids on Raqqa, its assumed ‘capital’. While it is hard to get verifiable information, reliable sources suggest that so-called Islamic State was well prepared for intensified bombing. The ‘terrorist camps’ that were bombed were in fact largely empty, and the result of bombing raids were dead civilians, and the spread of terror, anxiety and anger locally – ensuring ever higher numbers of new recruits to so-called Islamic State. As long as affect dictates what we do, so-called Islamic State is staging the show – war on terror, here we come.
It will not make our cities safer and there is a real danger that for a long while to come it will drown out those voices that advocate for a political solution.