Fighting ISIS: Why bombs aren’t the answer

Comment: Written by Orla Knox-Macaulay.

It seems as if the world is split when discussing how to deal with the very real threat of ISIS. However, following the UK parliament’s decision in December 2015, to begin air strikes in Syria, we have seen nothing but a heightened terror threat in Europe – proving bombs aren’t the way forward. 

Bombs, or violence, should not be the answer. If history has taught us anything, it is this. Yes, violence has been used effectively in the past, but significantly, it has only provided a short term solution to problems such as terrorism.

If bombing, or the threat of it, was the answer then the aerial bomb dropped in 1911 during the Italo-Turkish War would have stopped all conflict. Violence only gives a little bit of time; we must use another alternative: diplomacy.

Retaliating against terrorists will only make things worse, and this was proven by the aftermath of the bombs on Syria, as terrorist attacks in the western world, predominately France and Belgium, are slowly becoming commonplace.

This is not to say that those attacks were not planned before the bombing, however our violent retaliation just added fuel to the fire. It was Mahatma Gandhi who once said that “an eye for and eye will only make the world blind.” Gandhi meant that by reacting in the ways we have, social discourse and collapse will occur, and on some level it may have already materialised.

The word retaliation is key, because that’s what using bombs means. Using bombs does not wipe out an ideology, only people. On the other hand, diplomacy can change peoples’ perspectives; being diplomatic, one can use reason to stamp out injustice. There is no way that bombs can or will ever do this.

Approaching terrorism diplomatically is beneficial due to its very fundamentals. Diplomacy is logical and rational, while terrorism is illogical and irrational. Both are fuelled by completely opposing views, and therefore they counteract each other. Diplomacy does not compromise our values and morals like bombing does.

We do not kill “collateral damage” as the reality is that by bombing areas we think are inhabited by ISIS, we will kill innocent people. We have, and will kill mothers and fathers, grandparents and children. Their blood is on our hands because of this retaliation.

However, this is not to say that diplomacy is full proof. At the very core, trying to defeat ISIS or any terrorist group is paradoxical. For diplomacy to be completely effective, terrorists should be able to muster up some logic, but as terrorism is irrational and fuelled by ideology, this is basically impossible.

This is why people turn to violence and, now, bombs. Historically, in same cases, violence has solved problems and has served as a deterrent. These two together should, theoretically, be a good combination to fight the war on terror.

However, this is not the case for ISIS. We have moved into an age where people can find out and know anything. ISIS have used figures like Jihadi John to make statements to the west, so by the use of bombs, ISIS have and will use this as another reason to hate the western world. They present us as a sickness that needs to be stopped.

But should people really implicate their morals for a few small victories? George Orwell wrote about the Spanish civil war that “people sleep peacefully in their beds because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf”. This statement could not be more true in relation to the situation with ISIS. We say it’s okay because we are too disassociated with the realities of war that bombing villages because necessary. Using bombs then deepens the chasm between our wrongdoings and the death of innocent people. We become completely desensitised to it, and so do those “rough men”.

Therefore, the alternative of putting down our bombs and approaching this diplomatically is really the only way to stamp out ISIS for good. We want a long term solution, and as discussed, bombs do not provide this.

It is a long road to embark on but one in the long run will save thousands of lives. Yes, lives may be lost along the way, but nowhere near as many if we pursue this policy of vengeance.

Bombing is not the way forward, it never has been. Surely if we keep on killing, we will give ISIS the justification they need to convert more people; we are handing the ammunition to kill our nation.








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