The 13th of November 2015 saw a brutal series of terrorist attacks hit Paris. Daesh (ISIS) soon claimed responsibility for these attacks in the wake of global confusion, grief and anger. In light of the group’s usual activities, the violence perpetrated on the people of the French capital is not unexpected, but that does not reduce the trauma it has inflicted on the citizens of Europe and America, the latter of whom are almost certainly likening the attack to 9/11.
Similarities to 9/11 may actually be more than just symbolic as French President Hollande calls the attack an ‘act of war’. Military reprisals have already begun, and if Europe backs France (as it is likely to do), we may see one of the first instances in which Europe has unilaterally fought a common foe. This is not lost on Daesh, as they liken their conflict with Europe to the Crusades. Still being upset about a conflict that happened almost a 1000 years ago is something to be expected from an emotional and ignorant terror group. It is typical to nit-pick history for one’s own ends, and Daesh is a major perpetrator of this.
It is no longer a question of whether we should do something. Constantly blaming the West for creating/inciting/arming Daesh accomplishes nothing and doesn’t change the fact that something has to be done. Unfortunately, the French reaction is not wholly appropriate.
Hollande has announced a myriad of plans to increase security, including extending the state of emergency by 3 months (long past the typical limit), amending the constitution, stripping citizenship and a multitude of other law changes that will allow for easy investigation by the police at the expense of civil liberty.
Many have come out in agreement with the changes, particularly the plan to increase security and military spending (the latter probably in anticipation of war). While it is highly doubtful that France will commit to a total war, it is accurate to say that France is making it its top priority to keep its citizens safe. But will these changes accomplish that?
They won’t. Post-9/11 saw huge security and surveillance spending and growth in the US, which has effectively accomplished nothing other than to make life more inconvenient for the American people. Civil liberties such as the right to privacy have been set aside, symbolic in the intrusiveness of the NSA, yet global terrorism is still at large (in fact at its largest) and domestic terrorism and violence have not faltered in the slightest.
While it may seem logical to give the police the ability to eliminate rights on a whim in order to prevent terrorism, this strategy poses two problems. Firstly, heavy-handed security measures seldom work. The reason that warrants for arrest and search are so important is that it suggests an adequate amount of effort and thought have gone into the investigation. This time of preparation means fewer false arrests, fewer dogs being shot and less waste of police resources.
Secondly, this case poses a moral problem: not only the obvious problem that rights are important to our society, but the fact that it is often the goal of these terror groups to remove these very rights. We regard Daesh as evil, not by virtue of them being located far away from us; we regard them as evil as they violate the rights of others and threaten to violate ours. Daesh wants to undo European and Western progress and not in the way the typical Afrocentrist suggests.
Daesh sees Western regard for freedom, rights and even equality as sacrilege and it is their aim to destroy what it is to be the free West. If the objective of Daesh was merely to acquire territory in their immediate area, then they are doing themselves a disservice by further angering foreign military powers. Terrorism does not help imperialists. It is aimed at destabilising power, not creating it.
In this sense, power is the virtue of Europe and the secular world. Terrorism is aimed at creating fear so that Europe abandons its ideals. Total annihilation is not the goal, as Daesh would then be aiming to secretly stockpile the forever illusive ‘weapons of mass destruction’. Daesh aims at creating a risk for the people of the world in practicing freedom. They know they can’t kill everyone so, instead, they want to make the world think they can.
Thus, they threaten anyone with freedom. If a society so much as tolerates positive ideals, then it is a target for Daesh and the citizens of that society must be shown this. Therefore, Daesh attacks the bastions of what it deems to be blasphemous. In this regard, it is winning.
France is tearing apart its civil liberties in an effort to curb terrorism but, in actual fact, they are winning Daesh’s war for them. Terrorists want to destabilise and destroy society. Practically spitting on the constitution and essential rights of a populace is tantamount to the destruction of a society. What makes matters worse is that this does nothing to prevent attacks. Daesh does not want minor capitulation; it wants complete subjugation to a vile and repulsive ideology. It wants France to become a slave state, with no spirit or consideration for the good of freedom.
It is unseemly for the enemy of oppression to become oppressive, yet it seems this is the only response that the governments of the USA and France know.