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Responding to recent acts of terrorism: is violence the answer?

Society is becoming increasingly marginalised on a global scale. Acts of terrorism combined with extremist far-right response movements are ostracizing people’s way of living. The airstrikes currently being carried out in Syria are something that epitomises this. Though perhaps an initially understandable reaction, it would appear that World Leaders are acting on principles of fear and revenge, rather than producing a long-term strategy, which war is not.  
Days after the atrocities in Paris, Francois Hollande, Prime Minister of France, stated: “France is at war.” 

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, is in agreement with Hollande, and is setting out Syrian strategies to MPs. George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is indicating that the UK could be joining the Syria airstrikes within weeks.

Leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, took an alternative view, stating: “Conflict in Syria and consequences of the Iraq war have created conditions for the IS to thrive.” The idea of retaliating with brutality is something with which he is in disagreement, suggesting political stability of Syria to be the right response.

In all of this, it is important not to forget that the Western World is largely culpable for the provocation of war and unjustified attacks on the innocent, notably the ‘War on Terror’. For many, this feels all too familiar, and it would appear that World Leaders are unable, or worse yet, refusing to learn from the mistakes of the past.

When US President George W. Bush first used the term ‘War on Terror’ ten days after the 9/11 attacks, it would be the infamous beginning of a long, tiring and tragic fight. In retrospect, the public, and indeed many government officials, have expressed their regret at the events that followed, suggesting that those responsible were too rash in their actions, and should be answerable to war crimes.

It is therefore arguable that history alone has taught us that violence is not the answer. The amount of criticism in reaction to the ‘War on Terror’ surrounding its morality, efficiency and economics was monumental.

Though the response to an incredibly inhuman act of terrorism has been one of shared mourning and a front of solitude, many are divided on the opinion of how to react. It is human to want those responsible to be brought to justice, but does this mean that the airstrikes being currently carried out in Syria are right? It is impossible to guarantee that innocent civilians and peaceful organisations will not become casualties of the retaliation of violence. The risk is too great. In fact, it has been recently reported that the humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres has had one of its hospitals in Syria hit by airstrikes. This is merely days into what could become a cyclical turn of events.

Simply put, violence in response to violence is a dangerous approach. It seems that these strategies exist to put fearful minds at rest, but, in the process, put lives of the innocent at risk and provokes reason for larger and more brutal terrorist attacks.

About Zoe Osman


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