Written by Editor Kalahan Deng
A recent report by the US government indicated that the ISIS terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq are not weaker than a year ago despite constant bombing by the coalition forces. This latest report reminded me of what the British Forces Chief Sir David Richards said in November 2010, “The Western countries can only contain, not defeat, militant groups.” General Sir David Richards was a former NATO commander in Afghanistan who gathered intelligence about the terrorist groups and how their long term activities will not banish quickly as many anticipated. He also pointed out that Islamist militancy would pose a threat to British for at least 30 years.
The former army General predicted what other military analysts, security experts and political leaders failed to realize. Mr. Richards knew that there is no clear cut victory over militants that is achievable in a short term. The BBC’s Frank Gardner said the comments truly reflect a “new realism” in Britain and the US counter-terrorism circles. In fact, when the former general uttered this statement, many security experts and political leaders treated his remarks as an outrageous and defeatist. Here we are 5 years later; the US reported that ISIS terrorist groups are not weaker than a year ago despite relentless, heavy bombardments in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan are not slowing down or quitting the fight as the general said.
For that cause, I believe the British general should be treated as a truth teller and respected on his fore knowledge about the current war against radical Islamists. There is also similarity with what our Lord Jesus said in the Gospel of John in which he said, “Say the truth and the truth will set you free.” The general also made it clear that extremist Islamists could not be eradicated as an idea. Many of us could agree with him, having said that; it is impossible for any country no matter how powerful it is to defeat an ideology such as religious terrorism. It is something we all need to battle back against as necessary for our survival and the next generations to come.
Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy told the BBC that, General Richards was “right” because there was no purely military solution and said there would be “no white flags surrender at the moment.” This is a complicated issue. It will be for the long haul (drag). It’s got to do with history. Secretary Murphy continued to say that, “But I think he is right for General Richards to talk about the different ways that this has got to be taken on. Military yes, but diplomatically and in a peaceful sense of nation building in Afghanistan and elsewhere is also important.” He said.
It is also encouraging news to see that a lot of American politicians, security experts and army generals have no second thought with what the former British Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, and agreed warfare had entered a new era and needed the support of development programmes. He said, “In conventional wars, you talk about winning and losing.” This statement reminds us of the past wars which the US got involved in and eventually failed to achieve its objectives in Vietnam’s war. ISIS terrorist groups are like a time bomb and should be treated with cautiousness at the sometime putting emphasis on winning the local populations who are able to mobilize themselves against these radical who find pleasure in enslaving young girls, beheading men, and impose their own rules which contradict Qura-an teachings.
To conclude, General Richards’ statement should not be considered as outrageous & defeatist but as a matter of fact. Because the recent report from the US indicated that the ISIS groups is not weaker despite the bombings. As General Richards stated that, “There are no purely militant solutions and no white flags surrender at the moment.” And it would be impossible to eradicate the extremist ideology. The best way is to accept the fact rather than uttering outrageous feelings and frustrations that lead political leaders to repeat the same and unproductive mistakes.