The Fear of ISIS

I don’t understand how ISIS has instilled so much fear in so many people. ISIS is not a danger to us– at least, compared to anything from heart disease to climate change-induced hurricanes. Is there a word for recognizing a danger, but choosing not to dwell on it?

Even in the sphere of international relations (and outside of environmental governance), I think there are far more important things to be concerned about. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and its implications, for example.

The narrative around ISIS seems to have everyone believing that military action is imperative. I don’t know if there’s a “solution” to ISIS, but I think that military action against terrorist groups needs to be very carefully tempered with non-military relation-building.

Jeff Sachs wrote a recent op-ed on the use of military in the Middle East, titled “Let the Middle East Govern Itself”. The message is,

The US cannot stop the spiral of violence in the Middle East. The damage in Libya, Gaza, Syria, and Iraq demands that a political solution be found within the region, not imposed from the outside. The UN Security Council should provide an international framework in which the major powers pull back, lift crippling economic sanctions, and abide by political agreements reached by the region’s own governments and factions.

Military action has not worked in the past. Why do we turn to it when we have nothing to fear?

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