Please note: This article was inspired by the LinkedIn post by Peter Coffman, Student at Command and General Staff College
What happened in Paris, France last week was an act of war by Radical Islam against the West. A declaration made by ISIS on behalf of myriad well known terrorist groupings, their franchisees and all their adherents (a significant portion of whom live in the West).
This is not a well defined enemy denoted by geographic borders with a clear set of strategic targets to be overrun to ensure their defeat. The enemy and the objectives which motivate them are mind bending in their complexity and they are global, see a small subset below:
Abu Sayyaf, Philippines; Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Egypt; Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Al-Shabaab, Somalia; Al-Qaeda, Global; Ansar al-Islam, Iraq; Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Algeria; Boko Haram, Nigeria; Caucasus Emirate (IK), Russia; East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), China; Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egypt; Great Eastern Islamic Raiders’ Front (IBDA-C), Turkey; Hamas, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Harkat-ul-Mujahideen al-Alami, Pakistan; Hezbollah, Lebanon; Islamic Movement of Central Asia, Central Asia; Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan; Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Iraq and Syria; Jaish-e-Mohammed, Pakistan and Kashmir; Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna, Iraq; Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesia; Lashkar-e-Taiba, Pakistan and Kashmir; Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Pakistan; Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippines; Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Morocco and Europe; Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gaza Strip and West Bank; Tawhid and Jihad, Iraq.
And now, caught in a moment of outrage, the public demand action and ask “how has it come to this?”
People would do well to remember the following:
1. You think something should be done about ISIS. Its high time, right? So who is going to do it? You? Probably not. Less than 1% of America joined up to fight in the last 20 years. So remember what it means when you say “we” should go to war. You are sending others.
2. So they go … then two months later, you are into the latest that the Kardashian’s are doing. You lose interest. The West does not have the stomach to see it through and leaves early, or the public hamstring the military into unachievable political goals for the sake of appeasement (which never worked before) or (insert random thing here).
3. While the military are there, they will need things. Things like money and lots of it to bring the military to where it needs to be to wage effective war after a decade of cutbacks. Why? Because the politicians you voted for have stripped down the military and Army to balance the budget (instead of removing funds from more logical areas). The US military was supposed to be able to fight two wars in two places at once. Now they cannot.
4. To tackle the enemy within – Western governments will need greater central powers – mass surveillance, erosion of civil liberties, closure of borders, restrictions on free travel, checkpoints and so on. Powers that must be surrendered by the military and the state when the fight is over. Safeguarding the future of our open societies post conflict is as important as defeating the jihadists thugs.
5. While war is waged, people will die. You may become upset that civilians died, or soldiers, or cats and dogs, or (insert random thing here). Really? It is war. Have realistic expectations and understand that collateral damage is a fact of life during conflict.
6. Free speech for those ISIS apologists, recruiters, illegal immigrant facilitators, anti-war movements and so on must be suppressed during this time. You are either on our side or you are the enemy. These are the standards that have always applied when a nation is fighting for its survival. You cannot “half” wage war.
7. ISIS is one thing, but Russia, China and Iran have been emboldened by the disastrous foreign policy of the Obama administration. The West does not have enough manpower to tackle these adversaries and a global terrorist network – be careful what you mandate your elected representatives to do during this emotional time but most importantly accept that your direct participation may be required.
8. Pay attention and stay informed. You know more about your favourite football team or movie star than you do about how Radical Islam has been allowed to flourish on your doorstep and within your communities. If they succeed – football and the movies is not on the Radical Islamists Sharia playbook of acceptable pastimes for you.
9. The geopolitical imperatives surrounding the problems in Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya and the national security impact of the refugee crisis in Europe escape the vast majority of the public. Merkel, Pope Francis and other ultra liberals have compromised your safety and will continue to do so unless they are halted. Get educated on the issues and the real threat that Radical Islam poses to your way of life and allow yourself to make better decisions and comment intelligently without pandering to the most simplistic ultra-liberal lowest common denominator that has landed you in this mess in the first place.
10. And after all of that, if you decide to hobble the military politically and socially instead of concentrating on allowing them to train for and execute a war in a strategic manner, then when the next Paris occurs (and it will – soon and on an ongoing basis) then consider yourself as culpable in this as those crazed radical islamist jihadi gangs who slaughtered hundreds of innocents last week while they sat unarmed in the theatre, restaurant or bar.
Get some perspective.