Paris, the West, and a World at War with Humanity

On November 13th, the Western world was violently attacked. The eyes of humanity are on France and its people, with every condolence imaginable being sent their way. Not since the Algerian Independence War has there been a terrorist attack of this size on French soil. It’s both horrendous and deplorable. However, as the world focuses on Paris with unending sympathy, it seems to forget that this is the reality for the people of Syria on a daily basis.

People in the “developed” world don’t seem to want to talk about issues outside other “developed” countries. The day before the Paris attacks, over 40 people were murdered by suicide bombers in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon. It seems obvious that France will hit closer to home, especially considering MSU had eight students abroad in Paris at the time of the attacks, but it’s frustrating that there is little to no solidarity for the others suffering from the same violence around the world.

Americans act like the attack on Beirut doesn’t affect them, but it shows that the conflict is much more complex than just The West vs. The Middle East, and people are failing to realize the violence targeting the West also targets many facets of the Middle East as well. This problem has to be addressed as something beyond just a surface-level understanding of geopolitics, and it doesn’t help the conflict to look at it as a dichotomous “good vs. evil” argument. Yes, the things ISIS is doing are horrendous and even evil, but it’s important to understand how this came to be. After over a century of the Western world destabilizing the region for oil, some of the people there have grown so tired of Western interventionism that they are willing to plan and execute mass murders. They don’t hate the West because of freedom and pop music, they hate the West because it has continually screwed them over and the apologies they receive generally include civilian casualties. The ends will never justify the means if the means involve killing scores of innocents, and that goes for everyone, America and ISIS alike.

Right now the United States’ solution to getting rid of violence in the Middle East is through means of more violence, and if history can teach us absolutely anything, it’s that this reaction only perpetuates the cycle. The United States trained and armed the Taliban to repel the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. Practically the same thing was done for anti-Assad rebels in Syria, of which ISIS spawned. As easy as it is to say that taking up arms against them will solve the issue of terrorism, it should be clear at this point that dropping bombs instead of building schools makes people hate the West more. You can cut off the hydra’s head as many times as you like, but it’s only going to grow back and multiply.

Martin Luther King, Jr. did not end segregation by killing police — he did it by standing up to the oppressors and showing that he and his people were above the use of barbaric tactics to achieve their goals. Right now the American military is doing its best to create weapons that minimize civilian casualties, but the irony is that the best way to do it is to not manufacture weapons at all. Yes, the world is a violent place. But shouldn’t America, as the most powerful country on Earth, strive to stop violence and truly make this a better world for everyone to live in?  
Ultimately, whatever America does to respond to these attacks will determine how the Middle East perceives the US. If America, ISIS, or anyone around the world continue committing violent acts against each other, they can expect to perpetuate the cycle, instead of ending it.