The War on Terror Isn’t Over

Terror finally struck Denmark this weekend. Three people were killed, including the perpetrator himself, and several policemen were injured. Huge credit goes to the Danish police force – it could have been much worse. I was not near any of the ‘action’, but did notice a larger police presence than usual driving through Copenhagen on Saturday evening.

Across the board, politicians and commentators are condemning the attack, and urging everyone to stand together, not be terrorized, let life go on, and not condemn others for the actions of an individual. So far so good.

But the problem is that this is not an isolated case. The incident has shocked the nation, of course, but should hardly come unexpected, after the string of events in Ottawa, Sydney, and most recently Paris. Attacking a free speech event carries a clear link to the Charlie Hebdo attack last month. And while the Copenhagen attacker most likely did act in isolation, he did so inspired by an ideology that also fuels the rise of ISIS with all their horrors.

Of course moderate Muslims should not be judged for the acts of radicals. But on the other hand that shouldn’t close our eyes to the reality of that radicalism.

We didn’t like his style, but George W. Bush did get at least one thing right: This is a “War on Terror”, and it’s not easily won.

Al Qaeda was routed by removing their safe haven in Afghanistan, and eventually killing Osama Bin Laden seemed like a victory. The problem is that dismantling Al Qaeda has not been sufficient, as is evident by the subsequent uprising of sectarian violence in Iraq, and more recently of ISIS.

Why do they hate us? I don’t believe that depicting Mohammad in a cartoon is anything more than an excuse. Sure, it may be relevant to look at how well Muslims have integrated into European societies. But the main problem is what goes on in the hotbeds of the Middle East, not the ghettos of Paris or Copenhagen.

We should not look to ourselves for explaining their hatred. They fight, not because of anything we have done to offend them, but because we are not them. We had not done anything to offend Hitler. He just felt like conquering the world and killing the Jews. The same goes for ISIS – their ideology is one of hatred and conquest, and it should be fought.

Only full-scale war was enough to convince the world of the horrors of National Socialism. Similarly, it took nearly half a century and millions of lives for (nearly) everyone to denounce Communism as an ideology. As for Radical Islam, how long will it take? How many more lives must be spent? That is the question.


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

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