Let’s Not Get It Wrong This Time

Within hours of the terrorist attacks in Paris, politicians and presidential candidates in America and abroad have stated their desire to ramp-up military “involvement” in the Middle East. Given the horrors we witnessed, it’s certainly understandable on a certain level. But before jumping on the “tough on terrorism” bandwagon, we should reflect on the lessons learned in the 14 years since the 9/11 terror attacks and consider what actually works to counter this global problem and what doesn’t.

We can’t kill our way to victory:

There is a role for the U.S. military in responding to terrorism, however counterterrorism policy that relies too heavily on warfare and not enough on addressing the causes of terrorism is doomed to fail. As President Obama said in July:

Countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision.

While I am generally very critical of the president’s policies in this area, he is exactly right in this statement. There are no easy solutions, but helping countries address the causes of terrorism; including human rights abuses by governments and the rise of extremism, is critical to making everyone safer. Simply killing more suspects and unintended civilians doesn’t do the job but it does fuel terrorist recruitment.

Suppressing human rights creates more terrorists:

In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States, a panicked U.S. government rounded up thousands of suspects, both at home and abroad, and denied them basic due process rights. Those at home were detained based on minor visa violations as “persons of interest” to authorities.

Overseas, suspects were abused during interrogations, sent to CIA “black sites” where they were tortured, and eventually sent to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in an attempt to circumvent the requirements of U.S. law. That backfired: not only did the Supreme Court eventually step in, but to this day, al Qaeda and ISIS invoke Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and US torture of Muslims in their recruitment propoganda.

That network of global recruitment is what makes terrorists so difficult to defeat. We should not be adding fuel to their fire and we should likewise make every effort to encourage our allies to treat suspects humanely.

We lose critical counterterrorism cooperation from our allies when we don’t respect human rights and the rule of law:

Our allies have refused to share intelligence with us out of concern about the United States’ drone program, and refuse to turn over terror suspects out of concern that they’ll be sent to Guantanamo Bay. The United States should instead be the model of lawful behavior and remind our allies that valuable U.S. cooperation depends on their adherence to the rule of law as well.

Refugees are fleeing the same terrorism we’re fighting, so it’s in our interest to help them and not demonize them:

In the wake of the Paris attacks, we’ve already seen politicians in the U.S. and abroad suggest this is cause for denying admission to Syrian refugees. The opposite is true: Refugees to the U.S. are more carefully vetted than any other immigrant population, and offering them assistance and asylum not only helps desperate people in need, but supports the stability of our allies in the region as well as our own standing in the Middle East which has greatly eroded since 9/11.

The US can’t afford to alienate Muslims:

The post-9/11 mistakes and abuses understandably led many Muslims to mistrust U.S. authorities. We can’t afford for that to continue. If law enforcement and the military want an effective policy to counter ISIS and al Qaeda, it will need to work with and support Muslim communities, both at home and abroad.

Muslims suffer from Islamic terrorism more than any other religious or ethnic group, particularly in the Middle East. As they craft their counterterrorism policies, politicians and presidential candidates need to keep in mind that, aside from the actual terrorists, we’re all on the same side and we will be most effective if we fight terrorism together.

Muslims Condemn Paris Violence While Ted Cruz Calls for Tolerance…of Killing Civilians

One CIA estimate puts ISIS’ total manpower at 31,500, about one-third the capacity of Rose Bowl stadium, or roughly, 0.0019% of the world’s total Muslim population when you round down to 1.6 billion. The idea that the remaining 1,599,965,000 Muslims ought to immediately jump on Twitter and condemn ISIS isn’t just silly, it’s the definition of prejudice. But here we are. Another attack, another round of people calling on moderate Muslims to condemn something they had nothing to do with. Or as Mohamed Ghilan tweeted last year:

Asking me to condemn the obviously condemnable presumes my basic moral code is in question. I refuse to take part in this,

Nevertheless, Muslims from around the world are making it clear ISIS does not represent their values. Iran’s Supreme Leader Hassan Rouhani denounced the attacks, postponing his trip to Europe to renew peace talks on the Syrian conflict. Iran and Iran-backed Hezbollah fight ISIS and other extremists in Syria (as well as non-Salafists). The day before the Paris attacks, militants claiming allegiance to ISIS bombed a civilian area of Beirut in an effort to undermine Hezbollah’s support there.

Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on earth, roundly condemned the attacks, telling reporters, “Indonesia condemns the violence that took place in Paris.” In a now-viral video on YouTube, a Moroccan man expressed his condolences to the victims, saying, “These so-called jihadists only represent themselves.”

The governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt have all condemned the attacks, though it should be noted, the unelected rulers who run the Saudi Kingdom and Qatar have themselves routinely funded and armed jihadists in Syria and elsewhere.

The largest Muslim group in the United States, CAIR, quickly condemned the attacks, insisting,

These savage and despicable attacks on civilians, whether they occur in Paris, Beirut or any other city, are outrageous and without justification.

The US Council of Muslim Organizations released a statement also condemning the attack.

Thousands more Muslims took to Twitter to express sorrow, solidarity and solace. A good breakdown can be seen here and here.

Meanwhile, human-shaped pile of shit Ted Cruz wasted no time after the attacks in Paris to issue a bellicose statement insisting President Obama is a little too concerned with civilian casualties in Syria.

It will not be appeased by outreach or declarations of tolerance. It will not be deterred by targeted airstrikes with zero tolerance for civilian casualties, when the terrorists have such utter disregard for innocent life. We must make it crystal clear that affiliation with ISIS and related terrorist groups brings with it the undying enmity of America—that it is, in effect, signing your own death warrant.

Cruz also took time to go on Fox News last night to demagogue against Syrian refugees seeking asylum. He also pushed for an Expatriate Act that automatically strips any American of citizenship if they are accused of joining ISIS or other extremist groups. The idea of “returning foreign fighters” committing acts of terrorism in the United States remains entirely hypothetical since it has never happened or even been attempted.

So there you have it, Muslims around the world nearly universally condemning an act of terrible violence while right-wingers in America call for more violence with even less regard for civilian deaths, which is the exact over-reaction the terrorists wanted incidentally.