This week’s terrorist attack in Brussels is the third major incident to impact on the presidential campaign trail since Paris and San Bernardino. And in a surprising twist the Republican candidates have been at the forefront of calls for a responsive coalition, diplomatic talks, refugee intakes and global disarmament. Just kidding – they want to bomb the hell out of the Middle East, torture all terrorists, ban Muslims from entering the country and put the ones already here under neighborhood watch. If the next President is a Republican don’t be surprised when, in addition to building a big, beautiful wall surrounding America, they cut off those unwanted neighborhoods entirely by lowering a giant glass dome over them, just to be on the safe side. But in a country where 30% of Republicans want to pre-emptively bomb Aladdin’s city of Agrabah, just how safe would America be under these types of aggressively protectionist policies?
The answer is obviously “not very”. Alienating an entire people for the sake of a radical few endangers lives by pushing them to the edges of society and reinforcing the messages of hate that ISIS is trying to promote. The dilemma facing politicians is that American citizens expect to be kept safe from terrorism but completely eradicating it, like crime, is unrealistic – and so are the Republican candidates’ politically incorrect responses. No one is in any doubt that ISIS and similar radical elements are violent and should be stopped, but there is no quick fix to terrorism and “bomb them all” is not a convincing policy.
Terrorists’ activities are not just designed to kill people, they are designed to create panic, disrupt populations, draw attention and affect policy. Taking in this week’s sensationalist news bulletins, ramped up security measures and politicians’ warlike statements it would seem that the terrorists are succeeding in their mission. Subsequent protectionist policies, violent reprisals and religious discrimination will not only prove ineffective, it could lead to a massive recruiting drive for ISIS, indirectly strengthening the West’s arch nemesis. Comprehensive and enduring plans that are enacted and enforced by multiple countries which address both the spread and the underlying causes of terrorism will make a lasting difference to the safety of Americans; carpet bombing Durkadurkastan won’t help anyone, no matter how safe Republicans make it sound.
Think one person can’t make a difference in the face of terrorism? Movie for your mood: White House Down.