Aux Armes, Citoyens

WARNING! This is not going to be a popular post!

After Friday night’s horrific attacks in Paris, President Hollande of France proclaimed “Maintenant, c’est la guerre” – or “Now, it’s war”. And he is correct, just a wee bit late. This war has been going on, without declarations or resolutions of parliaments, for a number of years. The problem is, that unlike in December 1941, or Serbia 1914, there is no single act or date that can be claimed to be ‘the start of the war’ against Da’esh (or ISIS or whatever you want to call this virus). It is a shame that it takes an act of unspeakable terror, and hundreds of dead and wounded totally innocent civilians, to bring M. Hollande round to the realization that this IS a war.

Some countries, such as the United States, have realized this, but partisan politics (and politics in general) have kept them from taking the needed action. Others, like Putin’s Russia, see this as an opportunity to advance their own agendas and do not realize that the chickens will eventually come home to roost.

There are historical parallels that can be used to support various aspects of the situation – Pearl Harbor, the Ribbentrop-Molotov non-aggression pact, the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand in Sarajevo – but the difference, so far, is the lack of decisive action on the part of the countries that are under attack.

My closest friends will need to forgive me for what I am about to say, since they will probably think I have lost my marbles. But let it not be said that I did not speak up for fear of what others will think of me.

This war cannot be won from Capitol Hill, or the halls of Westminster; speeches from Berlin, platitudes from the Elysee and posturing from the Kremlin will not bring an end to this truly viral attack on western civilization. It is time for some serious changes in how this war is run, and what is needed to do so.

With sorrow and pain, the world needs to realize that it will only be won by actual soldiers doing actual fighting. The phrase that Republican politicians hate and Democratic politicians fear most – “Boots on the Ground” – is the only way. Neither 50 instructors nor 500 advisors will do the job. What is needed here is a massive effort on the part of a New Alliance – made up by large quantities of forces from all countries that fear for their future existence as free, democratic societies.

Bring back the draft! Conscription is probably the only way to assemble the numbers of fighting men that will be needed. Too long have the citizens of the west placed their trust and security in small, highly professional armies. This will not be a Special Forces operation where 50 or 100 professionals can overturn a banana republic. Hundreds of thousands of troops will be needed – in the same way that D-Day 1944 required them. And it will not take a week or a month. It will need to be done thoroughly and expertly, and in a manner that avoids, wherever and whenever possible, all the many mistakes made by previous involvements in the region.

People will perforce be faced with the horrific consequences of such actions. There will be many bereaved families and the public will cry “Oh no, why? This is wrong, our sons and brothers are dying; you must stop this.” There is a price for preserving a free society and the price is high. But the alternative is unthinkable and unimaginable. The citizens of the free world must once again assume their historical role, the one that they have played before in order to preserve their society. Would you have preferred that the Westminster Parliament hold its sessions in German? Or that the Congress in Washington debate in Japanese?

The French, as always, say it better. La Marseillaise – the French National Anthem – may be the best and most appropriate song for this war: “Aux Armes, Citoyens” – “Take up arms, citizens”.


About the Author
Richard Steinitz is the published author of two novels - Murder Over the Border, and Kaplan's Quest, as well as a free-lance provider of of ​English language ​services: ​​Hebrew-to-English translation, ​proofreading, copy-editing, content-writing, basic graphics and image manipulation, ​and more. He worked for an international educational publisher for almost 20 years as their local representative, until his retirement at the end of 2015. Born in New York City, Richard came to Israel on a visit in July 1967, and returned a year later to see what life here is like. He's still here. Richard is married to Naomi, father of Yael and Oren, and grandfather of two.
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