After the events in Paris, Matt Gillow argues that what we need is a war.
On Saturday night, French President François Hollande declared the attacks on Paris, carried out by so-called Islamic State, killing at least 129 civilians, “an act of war.” In doing so, he raised the question of activating Nato Article 5 – which essentially states that an attack against one of the 29 Nato member states “shall be considered an attack against them all.” For France to go to war with IS, further than the retaliatory bombing of IS stronghold Raqqa, would be François Hollande calling Nato to “such action as (the member state) sees fit” against the extremist group.
He would be right to do so.
In the same vein as the 9/11 attacks (which also invoked article 5,) IS have not only killed and maimed hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, but effectively sparked an epidemic of fear throughout Europe and America. Fear-mongers are discussing which major city will be hit next and all other current political issues have been put on the back-burner. Poland reacted by threatening to close its borders to refugees. British intelligence is on high alert. Europe is already showing signs of readiness to take drastic measures.
The sad fact is that IS is not a group with whom we can negotiate. Jeremy Corbyn’s ridiculous notion that we can reach “a political agreement” with IS is naïve. There is no treaty that can be reached that will satiate their appetite for the total eradication of Western culture. To attempt diplomacy and call for peace will only show the extremist group that the West can be defeated. IS is not a primary school bully – by ignoring them, or not “rising to the bait,” they will not get bored, but smile at a battle well won. I see no solution other than combining the might of Nato to crush a regime which beats and rapes women, condemns free speech, and brutally murders innocent civilians.
To follow the route of Poland, to act like nothing is happening and close our borders to refugees – particularly in the current crisis – would be foolish. One of the key lessons in the wake of the Paris attacks has been that IS is in no way representative of the majority of Muslims, in the same way that the Ku Klux Klan in no way speak for white Christians. To close our borders to innocent Muslims would not stop terrorists entering Europe, but simply send terrified families back into the hands of the brutal extremist group and in doing so strengthen their regime.
Indeed, when Angela Merkel announced that refugees were welcome in Germany, IS released a dozen videos in panic, as a plea for Muslims to return home. By showing compassion to those who need our help, we not only rescue innocent people from IS, but weaken their very core. We can still have a liberal west at war with the terror regime – we can be humane and allow the millions of peaceful Muslim refugees into Europe, protecting them from the group. We can campaign against the intrusive Snoopers’ Charter, which does the bare minimum to fight terrorism and simply threatens our human rights. We do not need to drastically alter our progressive societies and way of life – this would be akin to admitting defeat – but we can still go to war.
For the French to invoke Article 5 would not only create an irrepressible force against terror, but would be a show of solidarity throughout Europe and the West which would surely speak volumes. To combine the military strength of 29 of the most influential countries in the world is surely the only real, long-term solution. The notion that we should preach peace in this instance, and attempt to break the vicious cycle that has been created, is absurd.
For the moment, Europe and the West stand “in solidarity with France.” Twitter hashtags and impassioned Facebook messages are lovely ideas, but essentially, they do absolutely nothing. IS aren’t going to log onto Facebook and think “Oh bloody hell, Wayne Harris from Derby has changed his profile picture to the French flag! Shut down the whole operation, boys.”
I’m not calling out for the murder of innocent civilians in revenge for the Paris attacks. But when my family, and the families of all of us are threatened; when our individual liberties and freedom of speech are threatened; when the enemy have no qualms with stopping our lives – then I would gladly send Nato to war myself if it meant an end to them.