If you are calling the Paris attacks “drone strikes with a face,” or
You are talking about other terrorist attacks in Lebanon or Kenya or Iraq, or
You are arguing over whether the Republicans or the Democrats are more to blame for creating this terrorism threat, or
You want to argue about Edward Snowden, or
You are investing your moral firepower to have a meta-conversation about the nature of Islam, or
You think you’ve come up with a plan for killing just the right faction of radicals to stop or deter these kinds of attacks, or
You suggest for a moment that the West doesn’t have the moral legitimacy to defend itself or in any way is getting a measure of justice…
…you need to Shut the Fuck Up, now.
It’s too late to avoid this problem, so the blame game is a diversion of energy. There are lessons to be learned from the past, and they will be learned better by people who aren’t distracted with idiotic efforts to blame them for the decisions of terrorists who shoot up restaurants and concert venues.
This is the result of a civil, sectarian war in the Arab world that cannot be resolved by taking the Sunnis’ side against Assad or taking Assad’s side against the Sunnis. We do not and should not have a preference between Sunnis and Shiites, and we cannot allow our alliances with Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt to lead us into taking a side against the Shiites.
Neither can we just continue to keep this conflict at arm’s length and hope that it can be contained. There is a refugee crisis roiling Europe now, and it just became the mother of all political headaches for European politicians. We can perhaps live with continued bloodshed and chaos in Syria and Iraq (if for no better reason than we have no obvious way of stopping it) but we cannot risk a return to fascism in Europe. If the flood of refugees does not stop, that is exactly what will happen.
If you have no idea what to do, you are not alone. If you’re joining the camp that has no idea what to do but is demanding that something be done, you’re not helping.
If we’re going to solve this, or at least manage it, we’re going to need a coalition of nations committed to resolving the Sunni/Shi’a war, and that’s not the same thing as killing the Sunni fighters in Syria and Iraq. It’s not going to be resolved by toppling Assad or isolating Iran and punishing Russia. This is much more complicated than that.
This is not about drones or imperialism, nor is it about Islam as a religion. Islam isn’t going anywhere, nor is it going to experience some Enlightenment or Reformation next week that will stop the fighting or the flood of refugees. The roughly one billion Muslims who aren’t currently engaged in killing us or each other are part of the solution, not the problem.
What you can do to help is to talk less and listen more. Recognize that our politicians have to take steps to protect the public and to convince the public that these steps are being taken. Recognize that we face a threat not just of terrorism but also of a really right-wing reactionary backlash that could sweep away not just left-wing governments but recognizably conservative ones, too, leaving us with hateful, nationalistic, xenophobic governments both here and in Europe.
Now is not the time to be squabbling over stale political arguments that don’t mean shit in the bigger picture.