The latest wave of violence that has spread through Paris and Raqqa is both new and terribly familiar. What is new is that ISIS has claimed responsibility, and not one of the many other Muslim groups with grievances against the West.
But there are also the frightening echoes of events past — the spreading rings of attacks and reprisals; and the fearful knowledge that this could be only the beginning.
So far, the series of bombing and shooting attacks that have left at least 127 French people, along with unknowable number of victims of French reprisal raids in Syria, is not on the scale of the events of 9/11 and Western attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. But what these attacks demonstrate is that a new generation of Muslims are ready to turn to suicidal violence.
France has every right to defend its citizens, and it should. But breaking these cycles of violence will require more than self-defense. It will require creating and recognizing an independent ISIS-controlled state alongside a France whose right to exist is fully acknowledged by all Muslim extremists. In the heat of the shootings, bombings, and air raids, it is not an argument that can be expected to find many supporters on either side.
The sight of young ISIS members who were small children during 9/11 and the wars it spawned attacking French people today with suicide vests should be sufficiently terrifying to both their intended victims and their own parents, as well as to Mr. Hollande and Mr. Baghdadi, to try to reach a peace agreement as soon as possible.
The cost of violence is known to both sides; so is the template for peace: There’s no shortage of road maps on how to do it. And after all this time, it should be clear that a peace agreement is the only chance the French and jihadis have to stop the cycles of shootings, suicide bombings, retaliatory air raids and fear.
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