ISIS Attacks Paris: How to respond?
How should we respond to the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere?First it's important to understand what extremist groups like ISIS who initiate such attacks want to accomplish by them.ISIS publicly calls for separating the world into two camps: the world of Islam, headed by the Caliphate, and the western world--the "Crusaders". In order to create this they work for the elimination of what they call the "greyzone" (we're not going to link to their magazine, but here's a screenshot) which is basically that part of the world which is not divided into an us vs them, black and white area. Once the "greyzone" is gone then they see the war between Islam and the west as one purely fought on the basis of violence.What ISIS calls the "greyzone" could also be called a world where people can appreciate and tolerate those who are different than they are. It's a world of coexistence-- and it's ISIS's stated goal to destroy it. The "greyzone" is not really a zone: it's just reality. ISIS sees it as a threat to its existence and world view; it can't understand it, and it wants it gone.In the wake of such terrorist attacks there can be a temptation to call for military retribution, to put up walls both physical (see Hungary's anti-refugee walls) and mental-- to separate "us" and "them" even more, and to vilify Muslims and Arabs. But this tactic plays directly into ISIS' goals of creating that divided, us vs them world.Military and government experts alike have emphatically stated there is no "military solution" to ISIS. Joshua Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies at Oklahoma University recently told us: “The only way to defeat ISIS is to provide good governance. We can bomb the heck out of these people and destroy the oil and refineries, but they don’t have any choices because they’re facing a very brutal political structure. The only way [ISIS] will stop is by having a better system of government that actually represents the people.”And yet we too often resort first to a military solution. Euphrates' CEO often likens the common approach to fighting terrorism to catching drops of water from a leaky faucet. We expend our personnel, resources, and energy on catching bad guys, not on fixing the leaky faucet—i.e., fixing the problems that create terrorism and insurgencies to begin with.So, then how do we respond to terrorism? Many experts say investing in education restricts the pool available for would be terrorist recruits. Extremist groups feed off hopeless youth with no real future. Education gives people hope and a future. That's why organizations like the Malala Fund are so important and deserve our support. Imagine if governments invested in education in the way the Malala Fund is. That would be striking at the roots of terrorism rather than just trimming the vine when it overflows into western countries.As a response to the Paris attacks, I wonder what would be the result if France invested more heavily in education for minorities and in the Middle East. It would do more damage to the "us vs them" worldview of ISIS than a war could. And, as individuals, what if we responded the same way by investing in education or other bridge-building efforts. But even if you don't have anything to give, take the time to consider where you may be falling into the us vs them mentality--whether it's racism, Islamophobia, partisan bickering, or just differing opinions. Refuse to accept a world of us vs them. Celebrate a world where multiple opinions, faiths, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, political views, and ideas can coexist. Where we are not harming one another, but making each other stronger and rising together as one humanity strengthened, rather than weakened, by its incredible variety.