For the United States, Britain and France, the idea of a “just war” is not a strange concept.
That’s why the allies from the Second World War are more willing than Germany to take to up the fight against the terror group Islamic State (IS). This week, French President François Hollande characterized the oversized ambition of even forming a “global alliance,” knowing that it could never actually be forged. The phalanx of the unwilling stretches from Russia and China over Syria to Iran.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, meanwhile, is pushing hard for attacks in Iraq. He is under considerable public pressure after the most recent horrific video showed a British victim – but also because a Briton has been employed as a barbaric IS executioner in the desert.
This fight must be led by those Muslim countries wanting to be counted as part of the civilized world.
These horrible photos and videos of the dreadful acts challenge the entire civilized world to take action. They are the Islamic State’s declaration that it wants to force a break with this world. But the images also proclaim how this break should happen: through a war with the West, and above all the United States against what the terrorists consider Islam. Because we can surely assume that the bloodthirsty executioners are thinking strategically. They know, that the civilized world must be provoked by the proof of this horrendous inhumanity: forcibly, automatically and almost instinctively.
But this strategy must cause us to pause. Does the world really want to form a war alliance? Can we wage a war so impartially that it doesn’t cause outrage in the Muslim World? Would that be a just war?
The parties involved, including those who conferred in Paris on Monday, are facing a deep dilemma. They know that IS will prevail if the bloodthirsty images provoke a war between the West and the Muslim world, sparking religious and instinctive solidarity. And IS only loses if the alliance succeeds in getting “moderate” Muslim countries — such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq — to position themselves against it.
That will be difficult. But this fight must be led by those Muslim countries wanting to be counted as part of the civilized world. The West must support these nations, with military help when necessary.
The article was translated by Mary Beth Warner. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org