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‘The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend’: How Isil Is Uniting The World Against Terrorism

The Paris shootings were ghastly. But so are all acts of terrorism. 9/11. 7/7. Mumbai. Charlie Hebdo. The downing of the Russian A321 airliner in which 224 people died. And now, what in the media has simply come to be called the “Paris Attacks” in which 130 are confirmed dead and 400 others are wounded, some critically. All of these attacks have the following two things in common: callousness and cowardliness. What the attacks do not contain, however, is indiscrimination. The enemy of Isil — the so-called “Islamic State” — is very much, as President Obama says, “humanity.”

“Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim… ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

And so, the enemy of Isil is humanity, and that is what is uniting Russia, Iran, the U.S., and France, which have positioned themselves in favor of humanity. However, not everyone is optimistic.

And so, humanity is at stake. And this means the existential barriers to peace between civilized nations are dissolving as it becomes a concern of humanity to fight a force that would destroy the ruins of Palmyra while spraying the capital of France, Paris, with bullets. All that the West treasures — history and culture — are the targets of an organization that, after all, was purportedly supported by the West against the dictators Saddam Hussein (Iraq), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya), and Bashar al-Assad (Syria). Rather than represent a healthy democracy, the right wing of Islam has adopted the tradition of caliphate. A caliphate is a diaspora of not only people, but the hardened imposition of an ideology brought in with the people who expand into, both politically and militarily, dominate apostate areas. Rather than proselytize peacefully, one must convert to Islam or face death. It is a peaceful process, so long as no one questions the authority of the new order.

The reality is hard for the West to accept. Terrorism has resulted in taking the fight to the streets of the major cities around the globe. London, Paris, New York… is Rome next? The fight has been taken to the West, just as Al Qaeda so dastardly demonstrated in the 9/11 bombings.

However, the transnational nature of terrorism means that a new era is upon us in which no one is safe and attacks from anywhere in the world can be initiated via Twitter messages. In this regard, Belgium is on its highest alert its third day running in fear of an imminent Paris-style attack in Brussels.

Still, one is overall at a low-risk of being killed by a terrorist act. Hence, “terrorism,” which is not dependent upon the actual material threat, but rather the perceived threat, of the outside. It is a public relations war, and the Paris attacks have given Isil the visibility it wanted. Given the sophisticated coordination of these attacks, it is credible that an extra-state organization planned the attacks, just as François Hollande has suggested in the first press interview after the Paris attacks.

And yet, it seems the rational voice of civilization is striking back. The world is uniting behind Paris, France. Liberté, égalité, fraternité — these disparate voices from the French Revolution haunt us today as the values of the West are challenged by an ideology, i.e. Wahhabism, a form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia developed only in the 18th century, that requires modesty of women and devotion of men in highly-structured roles with pre-determined power relationships.

The result is a society that values the word of men more than women, that punishes the rape of a woman with a stoning of the victim and the prevention of women from pursuing an education, as played out in the case of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate who was shot in Pakistan by militants for attending school.

And so, terrorism defeats itself as it eliminates the secular state, which allowed them to have their voice heard in the first place. A world of terrorist states would be like a world of North Koreas, ever paranoid, launching pre-emptive strikes resulting in mass casualties but little else. Terrorism seems to be impossible to kill, but it can never ultimately win due to the failings of all extremist ideologies: “live by the sword, die by the sword.”

France and the world are increasing air strikes of Isil targets and increased pressure and popular opinion to wipe out Isil completely will result in a severe crippling of the organization at best, and a complete destruction at worst, as elements flee to more moderate groups or are killed in air strikes and ground operations. It is a clash of ideologies that is bringing all civilizations together in their fight for peace and stability.

In sum, Russia threw down the gauntlet in Syria. The U.S. followed up with propaganda against Putin and Assad, the U.S. then carried out its own targeted drone strikes. Other countries, such as France, conducted joint operations against Isil. With the downing of the Russian A321 airliner, in which 224 people died, Americans are now considering joint operations with Russia as the enemy (Isil) of America’s enemy, Russia, is a for more menacing threat. Iran should not be discounted, as the country opposes Isil. In short, the transnational threat of Isil to down airplanes and shoot up cities in any country has led to countries which would have otherwise not cooperated to cooperate and share the common interest of humanity.

If it is humanity that is bringing the fight against Isil to a head, then there is optimism to be had, but if there are more successful attacks by Isil in the coming weeks or months, then doing nothing will increasingly be seen as inadequate in fighting against this most abhorrent terrorist group.

[Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Stringer/Getty Images]