We can win the War on Terror but, quite honestly, I don’t think we have the stomach for it yet. Remember, we live in a society were mere discussion can send us scurrying for our “safe space.” A society that issues warnings on innocuous television programs and needs trigger words to alert us to the possibility of distasteful conversation. We live in a society where the most heinous crime of all is offending someone. Personally, I think we’re quite content to battle evil with flowers and teddy bears and candlelight vigils in some sort of sad celebration of a moral victory. It’s ’cause we believe moral victories are the bestest ones and that the institutions which guarantee us the leisure to celebrate them (or whatever) are unassailable. These are adolescent assumptions and they’re wrong. So until we grow up and deal with terrorism like adults, the body counts are going to mount. But what the hell — maybe somebody’s listening.
First of all, this is the 21st century. The military tactics of the 20th century don’t work anymore and there is no longer any gallantry, glory or noblesse oblige in war. It’s only nasty, brutal and mean. Know this. If you want the moral high ground, don’t fight in the first place.
Secondly, the Enlightenment is a European concept. Like it or don’t, over 80% of the world has no cultural memory of it. We believe that the rule of law, personal liberty, tolerance and representative democracy are universal truths. They’re not. They’re the luxuries of a successful society. Strive as we might for these ideals, the real truth is the majority of the people on this planet don’t give a rat’s ass for them — if they understand them in the first place. Thinking that jihadists and their buddies are one ballot box away from playing nice is naive stupidity.
So — What is to be done?
We have to bring all of our military, economic, technological, creative and industrial power to bear on this, people! We need to put the jihadists in our crosshairs and take the fight to them and their friends.
One — Eldridge Cleaver said “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.” We need to remember this — always — and make certain the rest of the world understands it.
Two — Cut off the cash. Terrorism is an expensive proposition, and the last time I looked, ISIS wasn’t holding any bake sales to finance it. Their money is coming from somewhere — idiot donors, misguided do-gooders, Iranian Ayatollahs, out-and-out petro-corruption? Who cares? We need to bankrupt the donors, whoever they are. We need to make supporting jihad a luxury nobody can afford.
Three — Disrupt their communication. Anonymous’ declaration of war against ISIS is a good start, but we need to shut everything down. We have an abundance of basement-dwelling hackers in the West who would be more than happy to create chaos across the ISIS Internet. Turn them loose! They’ll probably do it for free — and sit back and watch Paris Hilton’s Sex Tape popping up on laptops and Smart phones all over the Middle East.
Four — Destroy their recruitment. We need to make fun of these people. We need to mock them without mercy. We need SNL skits, YouTube videos, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Ricky Gervais and a lot of other standup comics. We need to have our creative people change the romantic guerilla fighter image (a la Che Guevara) into something that looks and acts like Norville “Shaggy” Rogers from Scooby-doo. Terrorism is a young person’s game, and the one thing young people hate above all else is looking ridiculous. Trust me! If we make the jihadists look like a bunch of bumbling clowns, it will literally destroy their recruitment.
Five — Get serious. No more hand wringing and navel gazing. We need to bring the fight to the jihadists — today. The French are doing it! Advocating violence against any group, including Christians, crusaders, Jews, secularists and infidels is a hate crime. Anybody promoting jihad should be arrested immediately. We have enough complicated laws (and shyster lawyers) to keep the ones who survive tangled up behind bars for years — we should do it. And BTW, if they resist, martyrdom is the coward’s way out — accommodate them.
Six — Don’t get impatient. That means no boots on the ground. Unless we’re willing to occupy vast sections of the Middle East for a couple of hundred years while we build the institutions, the education and the attitudes of a liberal democracy — no boots on the ground. Arm and train anyone who opposes these murderers, but no boots on the ground. Bomb anything bigger than a shopping cart any place jihadists claim as home turf, but no boots on the ground.
Living well is the best revenge. We need to enjoy life. We need to drink and eat and dance and sing and kiss and laugh and do all the things our privileged society allows us to do. We’re not hiding in a hole in the middle of the desert; they are.