The Atlantic’s Kathy Gilsinan published what the magazine calls an “A&Q,” a spinoff of the traditional Q&A. Rather than directly answering the posed questions, Saturday’s A&Q explored the complications and convolutions of a given subject matter.
Gilsinan’s A&Q focused on the complex topic of terrorism. Specifically, she wondered how the world should be responding to acts of terrorism and the individuals and groups that seek to initiate it.
Gilsinan began her article with some startling statistics. “March alone saw a string of major terrorist attacks around the world — including in Ivory Coast, Belgium, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey — that together killed more than 100 people,” she wrote. “The drumbeat of attacked seems horrifyingly constant, and underscores the fact that nearly 15 years since the United States launched its so-called global war on terror, victory is nowhere in sight.”
Victory (being the operative word) is a peculiar concept when considering the war on terror because it’s uncertain if there will ever really be a true winner. Not to sound pessimistic, but given the nature of terrorism itself, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint one singular target or enemy as the motives behind acts of terrorism. The locations of the terrorists themselves are becoming increasingly ambivalent. Assuming that all terrorists are carbon copies of one another only furthers the potential risk placed on the lives of innocent people.
Gilsinan cited a New America Foundation analysis that shows that “aspiring jihadist terrorists in the United States since 9/11 are, unlike the 2001 hijackers, almost never foreign invaders dispatched from overseas.”
This information discredits presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s rhetoric regarding his future policies in the fight against terrorism. Gilsinan wrote, “Proposals to restrict immigration as a solution to terrorism, for example, aren’t actually directed at where much of the threat comes from.” This antiquated way of thinking that all terrorists look, act and think the same way is a driving factor behind why some current anti-terrorism policies and theories aren’t working.
Another major topic that the A&Q touched upon is the Islamic State. Discussions of ISIS’ use of the Internet to recruit militants and spread its message has taken center stage within the political sphere, and Gilsinan made the claim that the group’s use of media is a key component that needs to be considered in the war on terror moving forward.
She noted, “electronic media, including social media, magnify and spread this effect, and ISIS has proven adept at using it, from distributing horrifying beheading videos to strategically claiming responsibility for attacks, such as the San Bernardino shooting, in which the attackers’ direct links to ISIS are unclear.”
While the A&Q offered no clear solution to the problem of terrorism, it did note that there are answers that may have not been considered yet. The ambivalence of the problem sparks both concern and the need for more conversation regarding the issue. While this feat is scary to consider, it also offers a challenge to our future politicians and world leaders as to how to most effectively restore the peace and justice that everyone around the globe undoubtedly deserves.