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The Paris Attacks Demand Both a Bold, But More Importantly, an Empathetic Response

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/11/2015 Sam Corey
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ISIS claimed responsibility for the Paris Attacks that claimed the lives of over 153 people, and this absolutely necessitates a policy shift that includes strategic military action, diplomacy and collaboration.
This requires a collective effort between the U.S., Europe, Russia and key players in the Middle East to fight ISIS. Security and economic stability need to be restored in Syria, Iraq and surrounding regions.
Americans need to have serious talks with Saudi Arabia, and Russians with Iran. Together, we assemble a collective security agreement to stabilize Yemen and Oman with Arab military involvement.
To do that, a Saudi/Iranian peace deal needs to happen - which is feasible if the right pressure is applied, from the U.S., to the House of Saud and the Kremlin, to the Usuli Twelver Shī'ah.
Syria requires immediate attention - 10 million people displaced, over 200,000 dead - Libya needs attention and the African Union needs a cash injection to go neutralize Boko Haram fleeing into Cameroon. Serious military engagement could be an unfortunate reality, strategic bombing hasn't worked, as evidenced by the horrific Paris killings and the previous destruction occurring in the Middle East.
If key global leaders are serious about addressing this issue, Obama, Hollande, Merkel, Cameron, Turnbull, Key, Xi, Jinping, Modi, Trudeau and Putin need to develop a backbone at the G20, and collectively put pressure on the Salman of Saudi Arabia to put forward more progressive domestic policy, Netanyahu to tone down his rhetoric and cut the war mongering, Khamenei to initiate talks with the Salman and Rouhani to allow the Quds Force to join all the other specials in a combined action plan.
Westerners need to step up and be leaders. However, we can not let fear and broad generalizations of Middle Easterners dictate our foreign policy.
This is the consequence of a power vacuum left in the region after the last time we occupied the Middle East, dismantled their governments, left a poorly trained army to replace our presence and drastically mismanaged the region in the ensuing years.
Invading Afghanistan was an appropriate response to 9/11, but the erroneous decision to move to Iraq and oust Saddam Hussein was misguided and made based on irrational fear and misinformation.
The explosive vests used in Paris are an extremely alarming development in tactics, which only reinforces that we CAN NOT UNDERESTIMATE the power of ISIS. Having a knee-jerk reaction is not the correct solution; this demands strategic, robust, and collective action.
Zionists do not speak for all Jews. The 969 Movement does not speak for all Buddhists. The Vishva Hindu Pariṣa does not speak for all Hindus. The Westboro Baptist Church does not speak for all Christians. ISIS does not speak for all Muslims.Unfortunately, FOX News and some GOP candidates are taking advantage of a fragile psyche fresh from the wounds of massive bloodshed in Paris.
Marco Rubio, in a campaign video response, decided to evoke racial tension by stating, "This is a clash of civilizations. And either they win, or we win. They literally want to overthrow our society and replace it with their radical, Sunni Islamic view of the future."
"They hate us because of our values ... because young girls here go to school ... because women drive ... because we have freedom of speech, because we have diversity in our religious beliefs ... because we're a tolerant society."
Ted Cruz also chimed in, "We need a commander-in-chief willing to utter the words 'radical Islamic terrorism' because it is the Islamists who embrace this extreme political and theological philosophy that ... will murder or try to forcibly convert anyone that doesn't share their extreme view of Islam."
This Islamophobic paranoia is the last thing America needs right now. Sensible, pragmatic, levelheaded leadership needs to emerge to the forefront.
Dylann Roof is a repugnant human being who killed nine African-Americans in a Charleston church in an effort to "start a race war." We refused to label his actions as "terrorist" because he was a white Christian, despite his desire to start social strife and panic.
The Ku Klux Klan remains the largest terrorist group in the world, and has killed more innocent people than any other terrorist organization. They are Christian. The Crusades were a religiously-influenced conflict. The Nazis were Christian. To say Islam is the only violent religion is just simply ignorant.
When violent Christians kill in the name of God, how would they feel if their religion was associated with a small group of bloodthirsty extremists?
Of course, the people who lost their lives in Paris yesterday and those affected by this tragedy deserve our deepest condolences, but what about the people who live in constant violence in the Middle East? The day before the Paris attacks, two ISIS suicide bombers claimed the lives of 43 in a predominantly Shia neighborhood in Beirut. Meanwhile, ISIL was behind a suicide bombing that targeted a funeral held for a Shia fighter killed in battle against ISIL in Baghdad. These received considerably less coverage in the U.S.
Why don't we feel the same empathy for the death, fear and terror for the innocent people in these regions who witness their loved ones die on a daily basis? These people live each day uncertain of when a terrorist group will gun down or bomb their communities. We should really critically examine how this attitude affects our foreign policy and worldview.
Tens of thousands of annual civilian deaths have surmounted since the onset of the Iraq War, essentially totaling a Paris Attack close to a daily basis.
Would we have started that war if it meant a Paris Attack in a western city every day for a decade? Does it matter that Muslims are losing their lives every day rather than white people?
Undoubtedly, ISIS is a horrific group and is a threat to Western democracy. They must be defeated, as their gruesome actions are unjustifiable.
However, we must remember that ISIS DOES NOT REPRESENT 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe.
Demonizing a segment of the global society who must deal with violence like this on a daily basis is not a way to prevent radicalization. We occupied the Middle East for 14 years and failed in eliminating radical terror groups.
If we think that simply escalating more war, occupation and bombings is an overarching panacea to a region that has endured colonialism, religious extremism, a clash between Pan-Arabism and Pan-Islamism, and destabilizing foreign occupation, then we, as a society, are seriously misinformed.
This situation will likely necessitate military action from numerous countries, but it needs to be a part of a much larger solution.
It's times like these we can learn a lesson in compassion from To Kill a Mockingbird, when Atticus Finch states, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
We will hear calls to terminate our efforts to accept Syrian refugees from our more cynical politicians and peers, but this could hurt the situation more than remedy it.
The Middle East needs stability and prosperity; military intervention is only PART of the solution.
A Muslim with the promise of prosperity and a life of self-fulfillment will far less likely to become a suicide assailant than one guided by the promise of virgins in the afterlife as a better position than the current despotic circumstance they toil in.
Will military action be necessary? Perhaps... unfortunately. Is this a complex situation? Absolutely.
Our revered President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
The road to bringing peace to the Middle East is a long and complicated one. A combination of strategic military action, diplomacy, coalitions and security treaties will help in reducing and containing terrorism in this region, not fear and racism.

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