Yesterday’s post (here) last phrase was: “Are we defenseless?”
My answer is no. But we have to consider a number of things before setting up a reaction and answer to a lot of questions that will concur to define what kind of answer we will give in the next days and in the years to come.
Now, please consider the image at the top of this post. As you may see, it shows the locations of the terrorist attacks in the years between 2000 and 2013, with a focus on the deadlier attacks (the biggest red dots) and the worst attacks of 2013. I think it’s appropriate to say that this is a global problem and that no place is really safe.
Nowadays everybody is thinking about Paris (me, too) but we have to remember what is the meaning of the words of the France president, Mr. Francois Hollande, when it comes about “an act of war” against France. France is part of the NATO alliance, so the citation of this part of the Washington treaty is appropriate:
NATO Treaty, Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Should France required to its allies to apply the treaty, then we will all be committed to enter in a war. But where? And against who?
ISIS (or IS, or ISIL, or Daesh) is the intended target, no doubts about it. But the concept of “where” we have to strike back is a bit more complicated. Consider this map:
This is the main area where ISIS forces may be found, a significant part of the Syrian territories plus a good chunk of Iraq. We know for sure that we cannot use only airstrikes against them, and we also know that local governments aren’t that happy about Western troops setting foot in their nations. Both of them are almost failed states and there a number of foreign influences already on the ground that add layers upon layers of problems if we really have to use our troops there.
There is more to consider. A few months ago a week of intense activity from the Jordan Air Force was enough to cancel 20% of the military capacity of ISIS in Syria. Kurds fighters, who are painfully inadequate in terms of weapons and supplies, has been able to tackle the ISIS offensive and to fight back with good results. A brigade-sized unit of Russian troops have been deployed between Tartus and Latakia (Syria) and has been able to clear a number of targets in a month or so (they attack both ISIS and Syrian rebels).
I have another question for you: what will be the outcome of the Paris attacks for ISIS?