The terror attacks in Paris are a stab to our collective heart. The choice of the location for the terror attacks aims at the three core values of Western civilization: liberté, egalité, fraternity.
Since Sunday night, France's President Hollande has used the word "war" to describe the relationship between his country and the terrorists of the Islamic State (IS) or ISIS and has intensified military strikes in Syria. Although the wisdom of that decision and that word can be questioned, there is definitely a warlike situation in Paris now. But what kind of war is it--between whom and what?
We know that framing this as a religious conflict against (radical) Islam would not only be wrong (consider that in Iraq alone more than 10,000 people -- many of them Muslim -- are killed through mostly IS led acts of terror per year), it would also serve as the perfect recruitment tool for the IS worldwide.
But how much better (and accurate) is it to frame it as a war against the Islamic State? Attempting to destroy ISIS by bombing them in retaliation is both militarily challenging and politically foolhardy because, again, doing so would attract a never-ending stream of ISIS volunteers from the West.
Confronting the Root Cause
Instead of fueling the vicious cycle of violence, why not try to confront the root cause of the conflict? That root cause is not only the catastrophic conditions that the people of Syria and Iraq are suffering, and the personal frustrations and grievances of young Muslims around the world who, like the Paris attackers, are volunteering for ISIS in ever-higher numbers; but also the quality of thought, the mindset, that is being used to address these problems from all sides.