Before I dive into the subject of this essay I must make two observations and a confession. First, when it comes to political foreign policy I am certainly operating outside of my wheelhouse (not that I even have a wheelhouse of any kind). Other than being a casual observer all of my life, I have no special training or intense education that in any way qualifies me as a knowledgeable expert in this field. However, I have never let ignorance of a subject keep me from commenting, so I will press on.
A second, and equally important observation, is that I do not have an answer to the problem I am about to pose. You would think it is a good idea to have at least a few good suggestions before writing about a serious issue, but I confess, I don’t have anything that I would consider as being a helpful approach.
Finally, my confession: my first reaction when I heard the news over the weekend about the terrorist attacks in Paris was that we need to gather up all our military might and go exterminate them. There is no reason that powerful western countries should have to tolerate an occasional senseless massacre at the hands of a small group of extremists. It is time to put a stop to this nonsense.
This might be the most popular opinion, but as I paused and gave more reflection on my Christian beliefs, I was convicted that this is not the attitude of a follower of Jesus. How can a follower of the man who said, “love your enemies,” and “turn the other check,” and countless other similar notions, be so quick to throw all that aside? Remember, these words were spoken by Jesus, the man who had his cousin and good friend John beheaded by Roman occupiers. The same Jesus who lived in an environment where the Romans frequently lined the roads with crosses filled with decaying corpses. The same Jesus who knew that his closest followers would soon be tormented and killed because of their commitment to Him.
Having said all of that, I have one point to make about the latest terrorist attacks, and not just in Paris, but in many other places around the world. The one and only thing I know for sure is that spending trillions of dollars, and killing tens of thousands of people, and destroying the government of another nation, will not solve the problem. We have done that before and yet the terrorists’ attacks continue.
What is that old saying; insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Before we sound the alarm and send our soldiers out to do it once again, we might be better served to look at some more creative and hopefully more successful responses. Like I said earlier, I don’t know what they are, but I do know that the one many people are suggesting has already proven not to work.
Sure, we could destroy Syria within a few months, and we would certainly have the help of many other nations. We could return to Iraq and get back to the work we couldn’t finish in 14 years. We can create better drones and more powerful bombs, but in the end, how does that solve the problem of folks hating us and our lifestyle?
During the American Revolution, one of the reasons we were successful against the British is because we changed the rules of war. Rather than marching in precise order across the battlefields, American patriots hid behind trees, fired their rifles from behind the cover of rocks and buildings, and other unconventional warfare methods. The methods of war change often and today’s terrorists have changed it once again. Our conventional methods, no matter how powerful they might be, have already proven to be ineffective. It is probably time to change our methods as well.
I vote for stopping the insanity. Let’s try something different. It might take a couple of tries to find something effective, but almost anything would be better than continuing to do something that we know doesn’t work.