I am fan of of Rob Burgess of Business Spectator. I particularly liked what he had to say about the IS beheading and our reaction to it.
Burgess starts by reminding us how we reacted to 9/11:
Whichever account of Bush’s actions one accepts, history now tells us that the US response to the Al Qaeda threat was exactly what terrorists would want.
Anyone old enough to remember the shock of those attacks will understand why the US was driven to define Al Qaeda as tantamount to a rogue state that could be tackled by a conventional war.
Not lunatics. Not criminals. But warriors who wanted a war … and the West was damned if it wasn’t going to oblige.
It was the wrong choice. We were damned because we did oblige, and the power vacuum in Iraq, and the massing of extremist forces in Syria, are some of the ghastly results.
In our ignorance, Australia also fell into the mistake of demonising Islam as a whole instead of the Islamic extremists who were behind 9/11. In Australia 9/11 was used as an excuse by some to burn at least one mosque, throw stones at least one busload of students going to an Islamic school and rant and rave about hijabs. Then there were the comments from some radio jocks as well as some of our politicians.
There are two dangers here. The first is that we will be so busy trying to avoid “the mistakes of Afghanistan and Iraq” that we will fail to see the differences between what is happening now and what happened then. (For example IS seems to be the foreign invaders this time around while the Kurds are the natives.)
The second is that we will simply mindlessly repeat the mistakes. In Australia Abbott is already rabbiting on about how this (beheading) could happen in Australia despite al the anti terrorist laws we have in Australia. His comments about “team Australia” aren’t really helping unite Australia and its communities.
Burgess had this to say:
We now seem to be again on the brink of allowing a force of between 10,000 and 17,000 extremists to define a conflict – with themselves as glorious warriors, rather than lunatics and criminals.
The brutal video of the beheading of James Foley is a symbolic missile fired into the heart of the liberal democracies that the IS fanatics so despise.
Their greatest joy is watching the missile explode and rip holes in our democratic political culture, when we could so easily choose to defuse its destructive force.
Civilised, democratic debate is the precious core of our society — and that makes it a target for the symbolic missiles sent by groups such as the Islamic State.
To the extent they rouse us to anger, and provoke ill-considered responses, as happened with 9/11, the missile can be said to have ‘exploded’. Let’s not let that happen again.
So what should we do this time round?