Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Let the Long War Become the Thirty Years War

As long as the jihadis wage war on civilization, somebody will fight back even if our governments try to "responsibly end" the fight.

The fight against ISIL is also raising the issue of Westerners going to fight ISIL:

As an estimated 2,000 expatriates from the United States and other Western nations join the Islamic State to fulfill a passion for conflict or jihad, a much smaller number of Westerners have signed up to fight against the militants. The latest: members of a biker gang from Holland.

The head of Never Surrender, Klaas Otto, told a Dutch radio station that three of its members went to Iraq to join Kurdish fighters battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. ...

The bikers join others outraged over the brutality displayed by Islamic State fighters, who have seized wide swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. A former U.S. soldier from Racine, Wis., joined Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq and was wounded in a mortar attack.

"I couldn't just sit and watch Christians being slaughtered anymore," Jordan Matson, 28, told USA TODAY last week from a hospital bed in Derike, Syria. "These people are fighting for their homes, for everything they have."

Our jihadi enemies recruit without regard to national boundaries. Why should those who resist the jihadis behave differently? Especially if Western governments are seen as being insufficiently aggressive in fighting the jihadis?

Vigilantes arise anywhere when the authorities fail to provide security or justice. If lawfare undermines our government's ability to defend our society from our enemies, private military groups will wage war on the jihadis--or even against Islam in general. ...

In many ways, our state-centric views hobble our efforts against non-state actors who may wield destructive power hitherto reserved to states. But our state-centric system is not all bad. If freebooters join our Long War, and the system of Westphalia is breaking down and private military entities return, we might want to remember the impact of religion and private military forces on Europe in another long war--the Thirty Years War.

If we worry that Islamist sympathizers from the West will return home from war radicalized enough to start a front in their home towns, what happens when anti-jihadis come home, too?

We may think we can responsibly end the war on terror by refusing to send our military to fight it.

But all we can really do by trying to avoid using our military is change the nature of that fight to emphasize private warfare as long as our enemies continue to wage jihad.