With Friday’s raid on a Malian hotel, which left almost 30 people dead, islamists have killed the citizens of all five permanent UN Security Council members (US, UK, Russia, China & France) – managing to unite the most powerful nations in the world against them. This is perhaps the only feat that can be said to be impressive of ISIL, although it leaves their strategic capabilities with much to be desired.
And on Friday the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning ISIL’s actions and laying the fundamental groundwork for a UN-sanctioned war against them.
The resolution called ISIL “a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security” and called on all member states to “take all necessary measures” to eradicate them. This could be the legal green light that the likes of David Cameron, Barack Obama and perhaps even Angela Merkel will use to co-ordinate an appropriate military response to a threat that has built up over years and finally warranted the attention of the mighty militaries of the global elite.
We are now very much in the planning stages of a major international conflict once again.
The caution in taking military action against ISIL has been warranted. For the third time in just over two decades, Western armed forces may be on the ground in Iraq fighting. Again this is a war that is tough to win, fighting ideologies with guns and missiles isn’t as effective as you might think, and with their guerrilla tactics it’s tough to determine exactly how a force will be able to completely defeat ISIL in the way that is seen necessary.
By fighting ISIL we are essentially giving in to a self-fulfilling prophecy that they are brainwashing people with: that the West is interfering in the Islamic world. Of course, the vast, vast majority of Muslims utterly condemn the barbaric acts of ISIL, but it’s the radicalised few that they are targeting, and it’s the most vulnerable in these societies that will be swayed by them into joining the fight. ISIL naïvely think that by inciting conflict that their message will grow stronger.
So if we are to attack ISIL, and we are, we need to go into it with a plan more coherent and more structured than ever seen before by Western military intervention. The first Gulf War was a masterpiece of international co-operation, action and success – and if we can learn the lessons of this war, a slow build up over months before a quick and decisive attack, then our war with ISIL can be just as emphatically won.
What’s different this time though is the level of emotional, and perhaps ultimately strategic, cohesion between those fighting ISIL. When David Cameron called this a “generational challenge”, it wasn’t hyperbole. The fight against Islamic terrorists has been our conflict for well over a decade now since the horrific events of 9/11. That was the Pearl Harbour of this conflict, and now might well be the final push to the heartland that wipes out this evil cause for good.
And what we’ve seen in the wake of the awful events of Paris is the same style of emotional reaction across the West that we expect from a war. The outpourings of grief; the acts of solidarity; the messages of support for an ally. The venom and hatred that these people profess for secular/Western society is being channelled and directed back at them – but we’re doing it with more class, more humility and ultimately, more humanity than they ever could.
Two fantastic videos that some this up perfectly are John Oliver’s fantastic piece on his show and Andrew Neil’s opening to This Week were he launches a scathing attack on the “Islamist Scumbags”.
These are the tip of the iceberg and will be dime a dozen if we truly get involved in a conflict against the evil of ISIL.
We’re on a war footing in almost every sense, and all that’s left to do is put the boots on the ground that are needed to eliminate the fighters of ISIL. We might be war weary, and we might be worried about the risks of another Middle East misadventure, but as much trepidation as we have about it – ISIL have made us the enemy, and by defeating them we do our part for humanity and can end the generational struggle against Islamic terrorism.