Defeating Daesh Post Paris Attacks

Here we go again, and fall, and fail again.

Last Friday, organized fighters who march in the name of the prophet produced carnage at six sites in Paris.

This follows earlier attacks in Paris in January, Copenhagen later this year, then Sharm El Sheikh, Beirut, and now Paris again. If there are still people thinking we have to talk to those ‘warriors’ it would be sad. We – the Western societies thinking of themselves as liberal ones – have to act.

Three issues are particularly relevant:

One, we should not compromise on our liberal values and behavior. Whoever wants to come to our societies has to accept our general rules of living.

Two, we have to improve massively intelligence capabilities and external border controls in the EU.

Three, we have to organize a negotiation process including, for the time being, Russia, Iran and representatives of the Assad regime. This won’t be easy, nor nice, but we have to eradicate the Daesh threat with all available means.

Do our experts think that this is achievable now?

  1. Dmitri Mitin 1 week ago

    I do not believe that the first of the outlined objectives is particularly relevant. The main problem for Europe are not the people who want to come over, but the poorly assimilated populations that are already there. An expectation of loyalty to and compliance with the Western liberal values is a reasonable stance and a viable political slogan that, unfortunately, is untranslatable into specific, implementable policies. Abandoning the current dogma of multiculturalism would contradict the liberal inclinations of the European public and elites. Even if attempted, superficial measures for fostering common identity and allegiance are unlikely to prevent the alienation and radicalization of some members of the society. Expanded domestic and foreign intelligence, enhanced policing and aggressive undercover work are more promising as approaches for preventing future attacks and mitigating their impact. The Western states also need to figure out how to be more effective at disrupting the jihadist propaganda and recruitment efforts over the internet. Since increased internal security measures would also compromise some of the freedoms that we hold essential, I do not have confidence that the political will to sustain such efforts will last long.

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  2. Robert Legvold 1 week ago

    Eradicating the Daesh threat “with all available means” requires distinguishing between two basic challenges: eliminating Daesh’s territorial base is one, while eliminating entirely the Daesh threat is another. Yes, the Paris attacks may now have galvanized an international coalition capable of crushing—and one hopes, determined to do so—Daesh’s logistical and strategic positions and then expelling it from the territory that it controls. That is essentially a military undertaking. But defeating the larger, more amorphous political threat that will remain, including the terrorist attacks that it will be able to generate, is far more difficult. That will require an immense effort to strengthen and coordinate intelligence capabilities, mobilize civilian vigilance, refine “filters” preventing would-be terrorists from freely crossing borders, choking off financing for terrorist groups, developing technologies for detecting, foiling, and coping with the many different ways terrorist attacks can be done, all the while ensuring that the effort does not sacrifice the basic regime of civil liberty core to our societies, thus, conceding a perverse victory to the terrorists.

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  3. Dibyesh Anand 1 week ago

    While it is easy to frame the attacks in Paris as between “our liberal values” and “their religious fanaticism”, the reality of the war is one where it is the liberal Western states who invaded Iraq and intervened in Syria and destroyed/weakened the regime and allowed the ISIS to emerge and flourish. The framing of the crisis in values terms buys into the assumption that some lives are more mournable than others. It not only ignores the context and the complex realities, but it prevents us from a radical imagining of the world where we are responsible, responsive and humane and derive our security from shared understanding of each other as equal and not as superior to others. A truly liberal value is one that would open the borders, treat everyone as equal and not scapegoat minorities, refugees and migrants. Is Europe, with its own history of war making, violence and racism, willing to be truly liberal? The best way in which Europe can assert itself is to make itself more hospitable to refugees and thus prove to the world that ISIS’s efforts to portray the West as inhumane is incorrect. For the Syrian war, there is indeed no option but to engage with all actors including Iran and Russia and shift from a zero sum game in which the two sides are locked. But do the Western countries have the will to take on Saudi Arabia which shares the ideology, if not the politics, of ISIS? Do they have the will to recognise their own culpability in intervening in countries elsewhere? Surveillance and militarised borders are anti-thesis to liberal values and it would be ironical if in the name of protection of liberal values, Europe becomes more intolerant, militarised, prejudiced and violent.

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  4. Alexei Voskressenski 1 week ago

    I should repeat: we all must put aside our Lilliputian divergences and ensure a more decisive engagement to stop terrorism and other dangerous developments. A consensus is needed for a more decisive international intervention based on joint efforts, while all other divergences may be resolved later. I believe this is achievable now.

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  5. Sergei Medvedev 1 week ago

    Of the proposed three elements, I would specifically stress the first one, safeguarding the liberal values as the civilizational core of the West. At this point, it is quite easy to fall into the trap of the Schmittean Ausnahmezustand, creating a state of emergency and special powers for the executive and the police, curtailing civil liberties, stigmatizing ethnic minorities and putting up barriers for refugees.

    The biggest mistake would be starting a ground operation in Syria, repeating the errors of the US in Afghanistan and Iraq, getting bogged down in the guerilla warfare which would ultimately play into the hands of the Daesh, fulfilling their messianic scripts.

    The West should continue precision airstrikes, while reinforcing the borders of the conflict zone (e.g. the Turkey-Syria border) and stopping the illegal oil trade in the region, allowing the Daesh to decompose or implode under continuous external pressure. A tactical alliance with Russia and Iran is possible, but only for the military and intelligence cooperation. Sanctions on Russia should continue until the full territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored.

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  6. Jochen Wermuth 1 week ago

    I share the opinion of the German Government that this problem cannot be solved by military action alone. The solution will have to be bring now affordable solar power – costing as little as 4 Euro cent/ kWh now – en masse to Northern Africa and the Middle East, to give young people there something to cherish, to hold on to, to worry about. We cannot shut the borders and ultimately shoot down all those wanting to climb the fence.

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  7. Justas Paleckis 1 week ago

    The 3 point plan proposed by Prof. Klaus Segbers is a good one. To implement the 2nd point will be most easy – there is no doubt that this will be done shortly. It is trickier with the two others.
    We will have to make a choice. Either the all-embracing coalition of common sense which has a chance to defeat Daesh. Or a significantly narrower and weaker one which would follow liberal values. I am very afraid that even some of the new EU countries would be not inclined to support the latter. There may be a strong wave of nationalism, racism, religious fanaticism after the tragedy in Paris. And to hold this wave will be as much difficult as it will be difficult to eradicate Daesh.

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  8. Panayotis Tsakonas 4 days ago

    I fully agree that there is no room for negotiation and/or rational talk with the ISIS/Daesh “warriors”. All major powers involved in the Syrian crisis, including the Western liberal democracies and certainly Russia, should for the immediate future put aside their national agendas and priorities with regard to the Assad fate and form a Grand Alliance against Barbarism. Apparently, representatives of the Assad regime, Saudi Arabia and Iran should have a place and a role in this common front against Daesh.
    With “boots on the ground” not to be considered as an option, the short-term goals of this Grand Alliance should regard the improvement of its intelligence capabilities, a targeted military power projection (through precise bombing of Daesh oil trafficking and training camps) as well Daesh economic strangulation.
    The latter is an important task presupposing the organization of a negotiation process among the US, EU and most importantly certain Arab states, especially those which keep funding Daesh.
    Turkey has a pivotal role to play with regard to the external border control. Yet the Paris attacks had reinforced the nationalization of most of EU members foreign policies and had seriously undermined the EU’s “compulsory solidarity” put forward by the Commission proposal for the reallocation of 160.000 refugees among EU members.
    Unfortunately, the reluctance of the EU members to share the burden mostly paid by EU frontline states, (i.e. Italy and mainly Greece) is now coupled with Turkey’s reluctance to become the central part of an “extra-territorial asylum processing” mechanism. It looks like the “perfect storm” is now ahead of us.

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  1. Diane Vasilj 1 week ago

    It is necessary to start translating our Western liberal values into a concrete foreign policy with regard to terrorism. To date, justifications for military involvement based on security and humanitarian reasons appear to be used on an adhoc basis. Clearer benchmarks need to be established in order to provide a united front from the inception of a terror threat and to mitigate opportunities for political leadership to usurp authority. The type of delayed decision-making or indecisiveness (real or perceived) that we have witnessed helps little in the time of crisis.

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  2. AW 1 week ago

    I think that the contribution of Mr. Anand nicely represents the leftist double-standards. It is en vogue to criticize the West for intervening Afghanistan and Iraq (Mr. Anand elegantly forgets, that the West did not intervene in Syria for last 4 years, for which it is also criticised), but then again, no leftists expects the “poor colonized countries” to sort their problems out themselves.
    As for the “marginilizing minorities” debate. One of the terrorists of Paris has prevoiously been holding a bar in Belgium, which was closed by the authorities, because a massive drugs trade has been detected there. Is this what you call marginilizing minorities? I’d rather say, it is enforcing law, which is common for everybody.

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  3. NZ 1 week ago

    ‘One, we should not compromise on our liberal values and behavior. Whoever wants to come to our societies has to accept our general rules of living.’

    – this notion, in my understanding, can be interpreted as an oxymoron. I believe this is the case where some can and will interpret the ‘liberal values’ in a way that they can backfire. To what extend can we ‘force’ the ‘here-comers’ to accept our way of living while we ourselves still remaining Liberal (=respecting and accepting certain freedoms of others who are genuinely different?)

    The second notion too: ‘we have to improve massively intelligence capabilities’ will gravely contradict to our ‘liberal’ values and stir unnecessary (mostly populistic) discussions in the society.

    Bottom line here is that we shall re-define and re-prioritize the Freedom vs Security concepts and even ‘compromise’ some values for sake of Security.

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  4. Benjamin Zaiser 1 week ago

    “The framing of the crisis in values terms buys into the assumption that some lives are more mournable than others.”

    This is the lesson I am taking from this discussion. Dibyesh’s contribution is at the heart of what I am most afraid to see happen again: a new wave of resentment facilitating not only an ironic boost of invasive and repressive security measures but, much more importantly, also the alienation and de-familiarization of the minorities living together with us (to whatever degree they may be integrated or assimilated). And this is exactly what I have learned fuels “home grown terrorism”. Just recently, we pointed our fingers with great resentment at measures that now seem already socially acceptable again (cp. Snowden revelations). In addition, how are improved external border controls supposed to prevent attacks, let alone solve the conflict?

    A cultural change of perspective that considers “Orient and Occident” not in value terms has not yet happened. The political (not the academic) discussion is far from having moved to the socio-cultural dimension, the root of the problem.

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  5. Sirous Amerian 1 week ago

    an interesting trend in all talks related to ISIS is that everyone seem to leave out Saudi Arabia, probably the biggest supporter of terrorism worldwide, but Iran is always on the table, whilst institutes supported by Iran e.g. Hezbollah have never done such devious acts in the middle of Europe or any where else, but compare that with Saudi Supported groups like Taliban, ISIS, Pakistans ISI and so forth and you would find the clue on how to eradicate worldwide terrorism, i think it is time that Europeans and American think about who they have chosen as their strategic ally, rethink this issue, forget about the money KSA spends on Weaponry every year to cheer up its US friends, and once in for ever move to pressure the Saudis to stop spending their money on aggressive sunni-salafi groups.

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  6. Fadi AL Twal 6 days ago

    Well , the three solutions is not an easy thing, but what the governments should think about is how to get rid of ISIS , first thing then think for a plan for the future, because it doesn’t make any sense that strong countries could not defeat ISIS till now , the EU should focus on the money, from where they are getting the money ? who is funding them, if the theory of ISIS selling oil to Turkey, then Turkey should face some problems with EU since turkey is interested in becoming one of EU countries .
    from the other hand who ever thinks that Putin is striking ISIS is miss guided, ISIS never had conflict with the regime of Syria , ISIS is fighting the Kurdish since Asaad gave them the land that contains the oil in order not to open another front, so the solution for him was is to strike them not directly through ISIS .
    what I suggest For EU , is not to take refugees, and If they are willing to take, I hope they will be not democratic with such people, because democracy is something that they don’t understand, I’m christian Arabic citizen from Jordan, also I have been living my whole life among these Mentalities, our Royal Family tried as much as possible to implement democracy among our societies but they have always miss used it .
    I suggest to give lectures for the refugees that are already in EU try to brain wash them , second try take no more refugees and if any of them happens to be extremist send him back to Syria, Third limit their freedom or otherwise you will face problems over and over again.

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  7. Wisam Salih 5 days ago

    What an important discussion! In defeating Daesh, I think it’s very important to make the distinction between strategic and tactical policy options. In terms of immediate and tactical options: enhanced information and intelligence sharing (we have failed to note that France is not a member of the Five Eyes). This needs to change immediately. Increased tactical airstrikes are also a good idea. The need to enhance the capability of local military and security institutions will be both tactical and strategic, which includes Syria and Iraq. Finally, we’re seeing some progress against Daesh in Western and Northern Iraq. The same progress can be made in Syria as well, but with political developments too. As Klaus mentioned, the need to bring STATE actors to the negotiation table is very clear. This must include Iran and Russia, without a doubt. It seems that this has already happened though. In terms of strategic policy options, we must look at the root causes of radicalization. I’m not sure that governments understand it completely. This is very important because a military and tactical victory against Daesh in Iraq and Syria does not mean that the borders of Western countries will be safe. Since its inception, the United States and coalition partners have spent billions, if not trillions of dollars and lost thousands of lives fighting al Qaeda. Have they been destroyed and eliminated? Not completely! This stresses my earlier point that the answer must include tactical and strategic policy options.

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  8. Begoña Parajón Robles 4 days ago

    First of all, they are terrorists (they are not “organized fighters who march in the name of the prophet” and they are not “warriors”). Secondly, as civilized humanity we have to talk to each other. Violence is not the solution. If a dialog is not possible at this moment, we need to find other ways to stop the violence everywhere, either in Europe, in the MENA region or in Africa.
    We, we all, not only the Western countries, not only France, Spain, USA, etc., we all, all the countries together including all Arab countries, we all need urgently to learn from our failures and we need to do it better. The use of violence to stop DAESH is not the solution, we all know it, we all should have learned this lesson by now. Instead of reacting with violence, we should react with serenity, peace, promoting our values of freedom, respect for each other and investing human resources and money to help ourselves so that never again a human being becomes a terrorist. We need to enhance the role and the function of the UN, we need to awaken its role as the bodyguard of humankind. We need to stop losing our time with power struggles, ie. between Russia, China and USA, and gather all together again, uniting forces to stop terrorism in an organized and global way.
    Regarding the three issues stated in the article, I am afraid I don’t agree with them. First of all, we need to respect each other. (Who says that people that come to our societies, don’t accept our rules?). Second, the best defense would be to solve the problem in its root and not just to try to stop the unstoppable, we should know by now that even if we develop all our intelligence systems and enhance our border controls, even then, terrorists attacks are possible. This is one of the lessons that we should have learned by now. Third, “by all means possible”, we have to respect our values as human beings, we have to enhance all the diplomatic channels, we have to gather together and join forces to defeat DAESH in the most peaceful way possible, so that no human being comes to the idea to join this terrorist group.
    @To all: use always the word “Daesh” to refer to the terrorists, do not legitimize then by calling this terrorist group a “state”.

    I am shocked to read that some people here think that there is no room for dialog, that the only mean to defeat this terrorist group is by using the force. We should all by now know that the use of force is not a solution.

    Everyday, Daesh is killing innocent people. But know, because it is happening in our home, we care about it and we react with more violence (meaning, we are killing also innocent people).

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