Daesh wants a confrontation. It wants European and American troops in the middle east. It wants a full-blown conflagration, preferably something very big and very bloody, involving the worst of our weapons. It wants this because their primitive millenarianism demands a purging by fire, out of which a new ‘perfect’ Islamic world will emerge. All of the killing is a provocation towards that point, and we all would be wise not to do as they expect us to do: to increase the drone strikes, the bombing, the military involvement… it would all be a hideous mistake.
We can only fight Daesh by emphasising greater equality in our societies. To live up to the compassionate values that we supposedly prize so much. We need to make multicultural life a reality. We need to make people from every origin feel that they have a stake in the society they are jointly building, a common bond and a common future that is more than just better technology and bigger corporations. We need to end inequality, make fairness and equity a reality instead of something we just talk about, When our ideological position is strong, Daesh cannot win. It will have nothing to offer except death and fear. But currently the greatest problem we have is disaffection within our societies caused by the exploitation and crushing of the poor, and especially those who are ethnically different. They feel devalued, and have little identification with the cynicism of neo-liberal values. Their disaffection is the fuel that makes Daesh’s actions possible. Additionally, their hate of the terrible things that happen in the middle east (the fate of the Palestinians for instance) is part of the sense of despair that leads to home-grown terrorism.
Unless we do this, no matter how powerful our weaponry, we will always be the losers. Daesh will win because we are weak, not because it is strong