In order to comprehend the incomprehensible terror that left 129 dead and hundreds injured in Paris this weekend, one must step back and understand the tangled web of conflict in our increasingly connected world.
The root of these attacks is, of course, Syria, an Arab state bordered by Iraq to the east, Lebanon to the west, Jordan to the south and Turkey to the north. The president of Syria is Assad, a terrorist and thug. Assad is known to be as dangerous, if not worse than Hussein in Iraq through the 90s. Last year, Obama firmly stated that if Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, he would cross a “red line” and there would be serious consequences. Assad did just that, killing thousands of civilians, provoking the U.S. to respond. We did nothing, except increase drone strikes on Assad’s military facilities. Assad is also known to have captured, tortured and raped American citizens, in case you weren’t convinced.
Assad is not the only enemy in Syria. ISIL, or ISIS, is an extremist Islamic group attempting to overthrow Assad and claim statehood. They are lead by Baghdadi, who holds several degrees including an MA and PhD. He is an extremist who previously worked under Al-Qaeda.
In addition, several rebel insurgencies are on the rise, attempting to overthrow Assad while either fighting or steering clear of ISIL. Many U.S. presidential candidates seek to train and arm these insurgencies, however, it is absolutely unknown how these insurgencies would operate if they actually won.
The final 2 countries that must be considered are Russia and France. Russia is the only country in the world at full blown war with ISIL in Syria. This sounds good, except Putin supports Assad–an idea the U.S. condemns. To tie this into your daily life, consider why gasoline has been so gloriously cheap for the last year, is this an accident? No– Russia’s only exports are natural resources. Obama’s cabinet tightly regulates America’s vast supply of oil and natural gas in order to keep sustainable, non-volitile prices. When Russia pissed off Obama in Ukraine and Syria, Obama simply flooded the market with cheap American gas. Russia had no choice but to lower prices to compete and their economy magnificently collapsed.
To Europe–French president Hollande has been a primary supporter and cohort with the U.S. in the destruction of Assad’s regime, and recently ramped up his efforts to destroy ISIL in the region as well. The reason France is so invested in this conflict stems from the millions of people fleeing the Syrian chaos into France and the rest of the EU, draining economies and generally trashing the place. ISIL and Assad are both generally irate that a first world westernized democratic country is coming in and attempting to westernize an Arab state. With these terrible attacks, ISIL is attempting to swing the French and American public into saying “Syria is not worth it, we should stop trying to police the world.” With this, ISIL could achieve its primary goal–creating a true nation/state. So, although ISIL carried out the attacks this weekend, Hollande puts the blame on the unrest created by Assad.
Many people are saying the U.S. should commit troops to Syria, but hopefully TSR makes clear why that can’t happen. Who would we fight? Would we align ourselves with known criminals Putin and Assad to fight ISIL? Every bullet fired would be a win for a different kind of terrorist. Would we fight ISIL and Assad both at once? Obama knows if a single American soldier was killed by a Russian/Syrian force, we would have no choice but to go to war with Putin and his few allies. By keeping American pilots and soldiers safe and filling the sky with drones, Obama knows even if Russia shoots down a 5 million dollar American drone, we can avoid war and attempt to defeat Russia through alternative means.
On a final note, there has been an obnoxious outrage over why Facebook and other social media outlets have not offered the same support for other tragedies: why does the U.S. only care about Paris? There are really only 5 major cultures in the world: Arab/Islam, Western, Asian, South American and African. When ISIL attacked Paris, they attacked our friend, our oldest ally and, most importantly, our culture. When you heard about Paris, you must admit you felt a slight twinge of fear. This is because the attack was against YOU, and it was successful in fostering this fear across the West. By standing with France, you are standing up for yourself. What happened in Beirut was certainly sad and deserves respect and attention, but it was an attack on Arab culture– it does not fill you with fear nor does it intensely anger you like France should. It is not an accident that the concert hall in France featured an American band. ISIL is not stupid and ISIL is not random. They have defined an enemy that is not bound by borders and constitutions, their enemy is a culture. On September 11th, 2001, then French president Chirac stated “Today, we are all Americans.” This was not simple rhetoric or empathy at work; he believed then what we believe now, extremist Islamic terrorists are directly attacking our collective culture and we must respond in kind.