Hearts and minds
The following is an excerpt from an editorial in the Guardian of London: Violent jihad predates 9/11 and it will outlast Islamic State, as ISIS now dwarfs Al Qaeda. Even if inflicting military defeat on such a shifting target can be done, it would not end violent extremism. As the pool of potential jihadis, newly trained in techniques of terror in the training camps of the self-declared caliphate, grows more numerous, the question of how to shrink its operating space becomes increasingly important. This is not a question of drones and bombs, but of hearts and minds.
Like all jihadi terror movements, ISIS seeks to foment division, to sort the world into supporters and the rest. This is a violent campaign of disruption intended to destroy multiculturalism wherever it exists. With fear and terror ISIS intends to sow mistrust between communities.
The terrorists themselves are often welleducated and from relatively well-to-do backgrounds, but their message can be especially appealing to those who feel alienated and disadvantaged. It is not the heart of the matter, but thwarting this attempt to stoke a war of civilizations would do well to address that sense of unfairness.
That means tackling the Muslim experience, common across Europe, of economic exclusion. Too often to be a Muslim means underachievement at school, a struggle for promotion, a lack of successful role models. From a sense of shared injustice, a shared identity can develop.
Inclusion means reaching out to every community. But it also means recognizing Muslim communities are both the poorest and the least participant in public life.
Western governments have a difficult task, seeking to reassure the majority populations without alienating or patronizing another audience just as vital. Most problematic is the need to recognize that some foreign policy decisions shape Muslim opinion. That does not necessarily mean making different decisions, but it does mean greater awareness.
It means recognizing that the best weapon against the jihadis, the one they fear the most, is solidarity.