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Violent responses to violence just make things worse

When I heard that the French government was bombing Raqqa, the Syrian capital of ISIS, to get back at the terrorist group for its attacks in Paris, I shook my head, thinking, “Yeah. Tough guys. More hate. More hurt.” Eight ISIS terrorists killed over 100 innocent people in Paris and wounded many more. How many innocent people in Raqqa have now been killed and wounded (ISIS holds hostages there)?

The leader of the Paris terrorists, still at large, is from Syria, where ISIS is based, but had lived in Belgium. Innocent Syrians in their thousands are fleeing Syrian government and ISIS violence, risking their lives in flimsy rubber boats and trudging past countless barriers to find safety in Europe and elsewhere. Will they now be confused with the terrorists?

Nicholas Hénin, a French journalist once held prisoner by ISIS, wrote an editorial in the Guardian yesterday describing his captors as ill-informed and thoroughly indoctrinated with ISIS propaganda. That propaganda, which envisions apocalyptic battles between ISIS good guys and evil Western “Crusaders” is the mirror image of the propaganda disseminated by anyone in the West who views the struggle the same way.

You don’t put out a fire with oil or more fire. You use water — something antithetical to fire. You don’t stop terrorism or any kind of violence or hate with more terrorism/violence/hate. That just makes things worse. And, as Hénin says, it’s just what ISIS wants, because it verifies their propaganda, helps them gather more recruits, and keeps the battle going.

Violent Western policies have helped create these terrorist groups in Afghanistan/Pakistan and the Middle East. And they just seem to get bigger and bigger (remember al Qaeda? Seems to have morphed).

I don’t claim to know what the answer is (I’d start by looking into 1. recent history, the chain of events, and 2. the psychology of the young recruits)…But more violence isn’t going to help — including violent responses by politically motivated macho Western governments that hurt more innocents and escalate the horror.