It surprises me that even to this day, when there are terrorist attacks on the US or Europe, people still wonder why. “Why do they hate us?!” they ask. They often come up with self-pleasing answers: “They hate us because we’re free.” “They’re attacking our way of life.” “They have the wrong religion.”
No. ISIS attacks “us” because we attack them. Sure, we may be on the right side of the law, but at least we should acknowledge our part in this two-way cycle of violence.
Time and again, terrorist attackers make their motives clear. When Jihadi John beheaded US hostages, he specifically said that it was a punishment for US airstrikes. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, did not choose Paris at random. The French military had personally targeted and tried to kill him the month before. Why did ISIS take down a plane full of Russian passengers? It’s not a coincidence that Russia had just begun a series of airstrikes against Syria.
And if ISIS wants to retaliate, what else can it do? Our military is invincible and invisible. ISIS cannot strike down drones. We have no soldiers to shoot. Its only option is to strike at “us”, the people, in hopes that we will cave in and implore our governments to leave ISIS alone. Welcome to 3rd-millennium warfare.
Islamists’ war was not about us until we intervened. Jihad is fundamentally about Asian / African governance. ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Hamas, and Hezbollah are primarily interested in toppling secular dictators, changing borders, and establishing a caliphate. Some of them have serious problems with Israel. Beyond that, they don’t really care about the outside world. In fact, ISIS is the only one particularly active outside its territory. They only attack outsiders to keep us out of their turf, especially in retaliation for intervention.
Our news cycles are dominated by terrorist attacks. Somehow, we don’t seem to be as aware of our side of this fight. ISIS is being pummeled on a daily basis, reports Chris Jennewein of the Times of San Diego. Some airstrikes are more justified than others. Last month in Iraq, coalition bombers killed 300 ISIS militants, one of the most successful air attacks to date. But last week, an errant US airstrike killed maybe 100 innocent civilians in Syria. One way or the other, these attacks are sure to breed counterattacks. The cycle never ends!
The website AirWars is a very interesting journalism project keeping track of coalition attacks. You can find breakdowns by coalition country or by year, and even daily news. I think it is important to stay apprised of our own activity.
Right or wrong, this is the cause of terror attacks against North America and Europe. It’s not just random cultural hatred or religious insanity. It’s a cycle of violence. At the very least, we should understand the reason for these retaliations. Only then can we decide what to do about them.