On Thursday, February 3, a US counterterrorism raid in northwestern Syria killed ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Al-Quraishi had led the group since the death of its founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in another US raid in 2019. I have to admit that I only found out about this today. Normally, I know what is happening in the world, but in this case, the killing makes so little difference that the story completely escaped me. Also, we have no idea who will follow him and what he might do, so I am not at all sure that eliminating al-Qurayshi at this point in time was wise.
In general, terror groups do not just pop up; behind every terrorist organization are powerful countries that use them for proxy wars. In the past, countries fought each other and killed tens of thousands of people. Economies were ruined and the devastation was disastrous. Today, countries use proxy paramilitary armies, which we call “terrorist organizations,” to fight for them.
On the one hand, it is better to fight proxy wars than to start an all-out war. On the other hand, we cannot consider terror a positive development. We should aspire to live without both.
In the past, it was hard to imagine a world without wars. But since the end of World War II, the western world has in fact been living without war on Western European or North American soil for nearly eighty years now. Likewise, while today it is very hard to imagine a world without terrorism, it is not impossible to achieve. Just as the West resolved never to fight again because it realized what war can do, the world will eventually come to a point where it resolves not to allow terrorism, and for the same reason that the West abolished war.
We will get there when all of humanity resolves to correct the heart of the evil in this world: human nature.
There are two ways we can get there: The first is that nature will force us to recognize each other, to take each other into consideration and eventually even develop concern for one another. The second way is to develop this sensitivity toward each other voluntarily. In either case, we will have to develop care and concern for one another.
Realistically, the road to this ideal state will probably consist of a mixture of the two possibilities. Nature will probably force us to approach each other a little, to become a little more considerate through natural blows or violence, and as we approach each other we will realize that this form of relationship is preferable to hatred and distrust.
Subsequently, we will fall back into our mean ways, and nature will again painfully remind us of our interdependence. Eventually, the pain will have etched itself deep enough into our collective memory that we will not return to violence and self-centered views.
We can also make the journey shorter and less painful by reminding each other before we suffer further blows from nature or from people, but that depends on our willingness to listen. The choice is ours. Human society will have a happy end, but the question is whether our way there will be happy or whether we will let suffering lead us to the happy end.