In the wake of growing violent attacks worldwide by Islamic jihadists and increasing threats of more attacks in Western nations, President Obama, on February 18, addressed an international summit of 65 countries at the White House, Washington, D.C, on strategies for combating rising violent Islamic extremism. However, given the ideological, religious, cultural and military complexities posed by The Islamic State In Iraq & Syria (ISIS), a prudent strategy to “degrade,” subdue and “ultimately defeat” ISIS may not be governments going to war with ISIS. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting,” Chinese military general and philosopher, Sun Tzu said. Therefore, if ISIS is to be subdued and defeated, world leaders must realize that governments don’t need to fight another costly war because there are many potent and unexplored non-governmental and non military alternatives to defeat ISIS. Here are at least five reasons why governments must step aside and take on supportive roles while citizens originate strategies and lead the efforts against the growing jihadists’ violence.
First, limitation of government is seen in the venue and participants of the White House summit and all other government-led initiatives. I was not invited. If you are reading this article, you probably weren’t invited. Selection of the inaccessible confines of the White House, as a venue to seek the solution to a problem that governments have no experience solving limits access to the universe of talents, needed to brainstorm for such a solution. Deliberations about terror strategies are best conducted in the communities where the people live, work and play. By removing the barriers limiting citizens participation, the best creative citizens-led initiatives and proposals to tackle violent extremism can emerge in neighborhoods or citywide, statewide, regionally, nationally or internationally. How about an international contest of creative ideas to counter ISIS ideology? It’s cost effective and makes a lot of sense!
Second, governments need to step aside because they are ill prepared for the complexities of the ideological, religious, cultural arena where the ISIS crisis exists and thrives. Seeking to win over billions of Muslims worldwide, President Obama was quick to emphasize that the war on extremists is not a religious war. "We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with those who have perverted Islam," he said. Really? Well, after more than a decade of military engagements in the Islamic countries of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, costing thousands of American lives and trillions of taxpayers’ dollars, the region is still unstable and violent! Western governments have not invested a penny or dollar in citizens’ initiatives or ballot questions in post-conflict countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone or Sudan or in Islamic countries. Funding of ballot initiatives tied to the Universal Declarations of Human Rights is a great and cost effective strategy for peaceful co-existence.
Unilateral Western government actions independent of Western citizens’ input were woefully inadequate in bringing democracy, stability and peace to the regions dominated by Muslims. It’s time to try a different solution that aims to tackle the problem from its source and bring on board the best minds in our world.
The third reason why governments must step aside is found in the saying; “Two heads are better than one.” Clearly we have seen the disastrous results of the governments’ head. Now it makes sense to assess the unexplored anti-jihadists ideas and strategies from the heads of citizens. In ISIS, the world is facing a cowardly and weak foe, who claims to be killing for God but are not brave enough to unmask their identities. Hiding behind scrubs that veil their scary faces, ISIS puts out gruesome videos and invites folks to come and join a murderous campaign of beheadings, cruel amputations, horrific burning of human beings alive- all in the name of a God so weak he can’t fight for himself but relies on cowards to carry out his biddings. And yes, scores of Western citizens have left their wealthy countries to answer the barbaric call to become suicide bombers in hopes of being rewarded with a fleet of virgins in paradise. While such idiotic violence and the primitive worldview it aims to create has not been successfully defeated with Western military capabilities, elementary school students worldwide, if given the chance and incentives, are capable of coming up with more sophisticated strategies and ideas to degrade and defeat the ideas ISIS is promoting. It makes sense to unleash the full potentials of the human family in tackling the problem of terrorism that affect everyone.
Forth, unlike government actions which are always complicated by politics and sometimes lacking in logic, citizens-led solutions are far superior. For example, while ISIS has one year experience in beheadings, amputations and curtailing religious and personal freedoms, Western ally, Saudi Arabia can boast of decades of experience in the exact same deeds that ISIS is projecting worldwide. The Saudis are kings of public beheadings, curtailing religious freedoms, amputations, prohibition of female drivers and public floggings. Although the Saudis were majority of the culprits in the 9/11 bombing, illogical government retaliations targeted Iraq and Afghanistan while sparing Saudi Arabia because of politics. Unlike governments which are not seen as equal opportunity dispenser of justice worldwide, citizens can operate in a more logical and less political environment.
Fifth and finally, citizens must demand leadership in terror strategy because based on the record; citizen’s leadership trumps government actions. From the American revolution to the French revolution to independence movements across Africa and elsewhere, citizen’s leadership can be credited for change rather than government actions. Just as citizens of South Africa, Kenya, Tunisia and African Americans took matters into their own hands after the failure of governments worldwide to find a solution, now is the time to demand a change in leadership in dealing with the terror threats from ISIS. Governments must step aside and citizens must begin deliberations on strategy and implementation immediately. Let the best ideas lead in the battle of ideas that ISIS is waging.
Torli H. Krua, a native of the Republic of Liberia is a former refugee from Liberia and human rights activist based in Boston, MA, USA. Krua is founder of Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) and co-founder of YOUNG-Africa Inc (www.young-africa.org) (www.fightebola.us) and The Bush Chicken News (www.bushchicken.com). UHRI promotes immigrants rights in the USA and participatory democracy through ballot initiatives in Africa. Krua may be contacted at: [email protected] or 857-249-9983.