I support a war on IS. I don’t care whose boots are on the ground and whose bombs are falling on their head, I just want them defeated and destroyed, and all the territory they hold taken from them. I hate the Revolutionary Guards of the Islamic Republic, but I’m glad they’re fighting IS. I’m glad that Russians and the French and the US are bombarding them. When it comes to IS, with the obvious exception of Al-Qaeda and Taliban, everyone is my ally.
I’m not writing this to argue for why war against IS is necessary. I find myself unable to adequately reason for something I find so obvious – IS is capable of genocide, and it might be the single worst thing happened to humanity – yes, worse than Nazis – and its reign would be disastrous in humanitarian scale in unprecedented degrees. War is hell, undoubtedly. But we should always compare the cost of war to the cost of not going to war, and here the human cost of not going to war would be much higher – IS would have wiped out entire communities by now if it hadn’t been stopped by Kurdish pishmarga fighters and western bombs. Such a war would obviously have human cost – seven innocent people were killed in recent French attacks. But as I’ve said, the cost of war is justified when it would mean more people would be killed if no war is waged.
Instead, I’m writing this to argue against one annoying argument people keep bringing up, on both sides of the debate. “IS wants a war between the west and Islam, so we shouldn’t go to war, that’s precisely what IS wants!” or “If we surrender and not go to war with IS, they would conquer the Middle East, that’s what they want!” or “Don’t feel scared! That’s what IS wants!”
And I’m here, sitting at my desk, or lying on my bed, baffled, thinking “Who gives a single rotten fuck what IS wants? How is that relevant? Since when we decide our policy based on what a terrorist death-cult wants or does not want?”
If IS wants a war with all countries around the globe allied to destroy it, it doesn’t want something to its benefit. I’m no military expert, but I feel all superpowers around the world trying to actively destroy you is not a good position to be in, it could be detrimental to your health. Usually pissing all people of the earth off is not good either.
You might start to think that IS’s head is in too deep an ideological hole and their extremist thirst for martyrdom is too blinding for them to their real interests, so they might, by happenstance, actually want things that are not really good for them. I mean, IS recruits people who leave European countries with the best welfare systems of the world to go to the absolute shittiest place on the globe in order to be killed as lowly soldiers or to be the third wife of those lowly soldiers. Maybe, guys and gals, what those people want and what is in their best interest do not line up exactly. And when you try to deny giving IS what they want, you are more akin to a disappointed parent than some policy wonk.
A policy position should be accepted or rejected based on its own merits, and “This is precisely what IS wants” is fallacious reasoning, and irrelevant to the validity of a policy. There is no guarantee that IS wants things that are in its best interest. We should make our decisions based on reason, not the mentality of a terrorist theocratic cult.
Also, that would be precisely what IS wants.
Image credit: Wikipedia, in public domain in US