In the wake of Paris attacks, we’ve been repeatedly told that ISIS is losing ground and that all we have to do is be patient until they topple under their own weight. But this is dead wrong. The ongoing conflict won’t be resolved by taking back land from ISIS or subduing them militarily. It’s a war of ideology, and we’re currently losing.
In his remarks at the U.S. embassy in Paris Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that embassy workers and their families should “hang in there” because we’ve made “progress.” He stated that over the past couple of months, ISIS lost about 22 percent of the geographic region it had previously controlled. To the Obama administration, that’s evidence our current strategy of containment is working.
Over the past few days, President Obama has repeatedly affirmed that deploying troops and declaring war against ISIS is unnecessary. Despite the terrorist attacks that took the lives of 129 people on Friday, Obama said we’ve been successful at beating ISIS back with drone strikes. Unfortunately, his assessment of the ongoing conflict misses the point entirely.
Beliefs Without Borders
Regaining territory from ISIS doesn’t really mean anything, as its goals are much bigger than gaining parcels of land. It aims to conquer the entire world. Mind you, its understanding of this isn’t restricted to the political sense; ISIS actually wants to annihilate everyone who doesn’t ascribe to its radicalized interpretation of the Quran.
The beliefs fueling Islamic militants aren’t contained by borders. If anything, we’ve seen enough examples of Americans becoming radicalized via the Internet and joining their cause. The fight isn’t over land; it’s over the hearts and minds of people, not bound by lines on a map.
Indeed, no one is talking about the ground that we’ve won back from ISIS, yet everyone is talking about the horror that resulted in 129 casualties last week. Pretending that this is a war like other wars and using indicators of victory like death tolls and geographic advances is inaccurate, to say the least. The Paris attacks have made it painfully clear that this is a war of ideology, not geography.
ISIS Is Gaining Traction Within a Vacuum of Values
For years, our society has devalued the tenets of Western civilization and minimized our Christian heritage as much as possible. The only socially acceptable “values” that remain are tolerance and political correctness. Indeed, the irony of the Paris attacks occurring while American students protest on campuses across the country shouldn’t go unexamined. Students at Mizzou lost it at the sight of a poop swastika and called for the head of their university president after determining he was a threat to their stunted understanding of social justice.
Why were their actions so dogmatic? Why were they so willing to surrender portions of their freedom in the name of safety from dangerous ideas and mean words? Because, sadly, political correctness is the only value college students have in common. They’re willing to defend it vehemently because it’s the only thing they have left to fight for. And it is fragile. An offensive Halloween costume or a poop swastika is all that it takes to pose a serious threat to the values that American college students hold today.
We’ve chipped away at our foundational beliefs to the extent that very little remains at the root of our social and political thought. In our increasingly fragmented society, we’re losing a common system of values, and all that’s left are political correctness and an appreciation of selective tolerance.
The College Campus Is Now Ground Zero
Last week, professor Melissa Click threatened a student with mob violence because she felt that the freedoms afforded to him by the First Amendment infringed upon other students’ cries for the university to police student interactions — all in the name of political correctness.
Earlier this month, an undercover video showed a student activist telling university administrators and college professors that the Constitution was “triggering.” By and large, the responses were either to shred the document or agree that it is indeed oppressive and offensive.
The fact that these professors found her complaint believable — that a document which guarantees and protects individual freedom could “trigger” someone — is telling. To them, it’s reasonable to resent the ideological tradition of the Constitution because natural law, Christianity, and the Enlightenment are awful.
How We Will Win
Indeed, ISIS’ allure to westerners has emerged during a crisis about our own beliefs. We’re embarrassed by our position of influence, history, and even our culture. Who would want to be a part of a group of self-conscious namby-pambies when you could join a group that unabashedly proclaims what it believes and inflicts terror to prove it?
Countless westerners, even Americans, have fled our lukewarm, noncommittal, environment to one that upholds firm and clear-cut beliefs. We are becoming a bunch of spineless morons clinging to a dwindling pool of agreed-upon values while ISIS remains a set of rough and tough bad guys willing to blow themselves up for a larger cause.
Again, this conflict isn’t about geography, it’s about ideology, and that is why we won’t win by containing ISIS with air strikes and drone attacks. We will win by pushing back against radicalized Islamic beliefs with firm beliefs of our own. We must embrace and revitalize our history and the legacy of our Founding Fathers and push back with thousands of years of Western thought and tradition that have coalesced into our political system and culture.
We can defeat ISIS. After all, they’re fighting to kill everyone who doesn’t agree with them in order to usher in the apocalypse. In our fight against them — for freedom and peace — we can certainly make our Christian heritage and values more appealing than radical Islam. And we will win by doing just that.