Harry C. Blaney III
Almost everyone seems to agree that the attacks in Paris are a global wake-up call. ISIS has tried to show that there is almost no limit to its power to do harm. But we need to understand, despite cries from different sides between do nothing to all out war, that other options are available and more realistic. Already, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have recently given more structure and an outline of a reinforced strategy to weaken and defeat ISIS. This was laid out with our allies in Vienna and Turkey as a strategy that prevailing, does not require large numbers of US fighting troops on the ground.
There seems at this moment a bit more unity by key countries to take on the challenge to degrade and defeat ISIS in their own territory after the Paris atrocities. France has already intensified its bombing campaign and Prime Minister David Cameron has signaled his desire to start a UK bombing campaign in Syria that earlier the House of Common rejected.
The most important development as noted was a full court press by Obama and Kerry to once again try to “herd cats” – namely Europe, Turkey, Egypt, the Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, and not least Russia, or at least to be together on the first page if not the entire book. The result was Turkey largely agreeing to close the gaps in its border with Syria, Russia to focus more, it seems, on bombing ISIS rather than its past attacks on moderate forces we have supported, who are against Assad. And now, greater Europe’s acceptance of responsibility for military action, and also humanitarian assistance and peacemaking efforts.
Russia has also acknowledged that its civilian plane over Egypt was destroyed by a terrorist bomb, and Putin has now vows he will destroy ISIS, who he said, was behind this act. But there is yet no consensus between the West and Putin on the ultimate fate of Assad, but for the moment, both sides see ISIS as the first priority.
Diplomacy is, without any doubt, the best tool we have, and as Obama and Kerry have said many times our most important means for defeating ISIS and indeed mitigating the conflicts in the Middle East. It’s work is in a most complex and difficult landscape. Yet is seems as if some progress is being made, despite republican carping, using both diplomacy as the key and a focused military element.
Further, in Europe there is ferocious debate between the forces on the far right, some of whom are urging a purely military solution, and on the left, some who want to do noting or very little at all, and those that do seek serious diplomatic efforts with a military component as needed. Many in the middle here see a reasoned two element approach of diplomacy and military action, especially an intensified bombing campaign after the Paris attacks.
The other key issues dividing citizens and parties in Europe, and are being used as partisan political subjects for narrow gain, namely immigration from conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa, is the treatment and acceptance of the Muslim population already settled in Europe, and those simply seeking to play upon fear to obtain power.
But there is also a more kinder and thoughtful set of forces from the Paris attacks — seen is also a a rare sense of unity with France and even in some sectors an acknowledgment that they would be stronger to withstand terrorism through cooperation and mutual help rather than the recent bouts of divisions and anti-EU sentiments and myopic prejudices directed at those from other European nations. There are even some who are pushing back against those showing hate for immigrants. Whether these “better angles of our spirit” will prevail is still uncertain, but they need as much support from within and outside to come to an end point of common respect with increased sense of commonality and shared goals and values.
More on these forces and events at work in Europe in future blog posts from London.
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