Extreme religious fundamentalism is a byproduct of our postmodern time, specifically a byproduct of globalism and secular materialism. It can be argued that extreme religious fundamentalism is simply the reductionist materialism of the right. It is the obsession and fixation on the physical, on the literal, despite its claim to the transcendent, and in this particular situation a rabid reaction to secularism while ironically sharing the physicalist aspect. As secularism, hedonism, and consumerism spread in the 20th century, so did the reactionist ideologies (Wahhabism and so forth) which declared war on it.
As Western nations meddled in Middle-Eastern and Islamic affairs, as Middle-Eastern nations attempted to adopt or import secularist Western values, bastardized byproducts was formed from this intersection of fundamentalist reactionism and Western interventionism. For over a decade the world has dealt with Islamic terrorist factions, as one loses influence, another rises. Currently ISIS is the terrorist faction to be dealt with, and the US has failed miserably at addressing this toxic waste byproduct.
A terrorist faction, such as ISIS, must be approached as one approaches a fire. It must be deprived of oxygen and smothered. While the heart of the matter, the extreme reactionism, is an ideology which may never die, its most recent physical manifestation can be slowly suffocated and contained. One must address each possible ventilation, and seal them accordingly.
So far the US has refused to work with Assad. I will not attempt to paint Assad as any saint or heroic figure. What I will state is this; a stable state led by a strong leader which can be negotiated with, even if an undesirable leader, is far better than a vacuum which gives full reign to a chaotic evil that cannot be negotiated with.
The US has failed to eliminate ISIS, to ensure stability in the region, and has refused to allow or assist Assad to ensure that stability. The blind self-righteousness of American foreign policy which insists that ‘all roads lead to Denmark’, in short that only a democratic state is acceptable, is an unrealistic and naive approach. The US has only insisted upon this, or insisted upon erecting a puppet state exhibiting supposed ‘democratic values’, for the sole sake of granting the US full influence in that region. Know this: there are only interests, no moral crusades or humanitarian causes. It has even be rumored that the US has supported supposed ‘rebels’ and even ISIS against Assad, specifically for the purpose of keeping Assad out of power and allowing the US the time to seize an opportunity to instill something that will serve solely US interests, or that perpetual chaos is preferable to Assad. Time and time again we have seen this ‘nation-building’ approach to be an abject failure. Syria, if the time and money were invested in achieve this, would have been no different. The US must abandon these nation-building approaches and adopt a far more realistic perception. The US must adopt this meddling foreign policy that prefers a puppet state that caters solely to US interest rather than realistically work with the powers already in place. This is a time when self-serving hubris is overreaching and has caused far more damage than benefit.
Ugly realities call for ugly truths. A place such as Syria calls for a leader such as Assad to mercilessly police the region and eliminate terrorist activity which is a threat to the state, and gone unchecked, becomes a threat to the first world. The same could be said of Saddam Hussein, another example where an ugly reality called for an ugly truth, and an ugly reality which called for an ugly leader. The realist detail is something the US cannot seem to accept, or has a difficult time accepting. The realist approach is a detail that Russia, or Putin specifically, fully comprehends. The approach has given him the advantage in Syria, by working with Assad to secure the region, and ‘showing up’ the US by doing so. Russia is also actively working with Turkey in shared interest to suffocate the ISIS threat. Unfortunately the US may have missed its opportunity to display superiority on the Syrian matter, particularly Aleppo, due to both inaction and lack of realism. Assad will continue to gain ground, with the aid of Russia, and keep the heat heavy and suffocating on ISIS presence.
With a stable state in the region, sealing the vacuum, mercilessly policing terrorist members…the second ventilation to seal is mass immigration. Western nations must enact ironclad immigration policy, extreme vetting, for any incoming and outgoing traffic for particular regions. While this may not immediately call for the banning of Muslims entering the nation, that option must never be removed from the table. Much like a person filters their water, or locks their front door, or sterilizes cooking utensils, so too must incoming immigration be vetting with a fine tooth comb. Also those here illegally must be addressed and these policies enforced vigilantly. This is not a matter of xenophobia, it is a matter of self-interest and self-preservation. One would not drink unfiltered or untreated water, then why would one be so loose in what is allowed into their nation? This is even more of vital importance to smaller European nations such as Germany which has felt the toxicity of unchecked mass immigration possibly more than any other. Germany is indeed the ‘canary in the coal mine’ to Europe as well as the US. This stream must not go unchecked. The fire in Syria itself must be kept in Syria, and any possible paths home must be secured. This is a second source of oxygen sealed.
Third and certainly not least, the continuing precision bombing of exact ISIS key resource locations. This must not cease. A problem that has occurred is the intermingling of ISIS targets and civilian, this has unfortunately led to tragic casualties of war. Nonetheless the bombing of key locations must continue. Again it is a matter of suffocation. With a stable state presiding over the region, policing without mercy, as well as bombing larger more obvious targets. Both the US and Russia have called in strikes. Calling for a no fly zone would be causing unnecessary conflict with both Russia and Assad, rather than multilaterally cooperating to plug this vacuum. Relentless policing is key to securing the region and suffocating the fire. The US has failed regarding Aleppo, is currently being outdone by Russia on the matter, but it can still yet secure its own incoming immigration as well as continue air strikes. This is a third ventilation sealed.
It may not be too late to cooperate with Russia, Assad, or Turkey on the matter. It may not be too late to save face and go in an entirely opposition direction than either failed approaches of Obama or Clinton. What can be said confidently is that the US is declining in international influence due to its poor handling of ISIS and Syria. What can also be said is an arrogant attempt to overthrow regimes and implant pseudo-states for the sake of serving American interest is a foreign policy that should be scraped. Perhaps this is the new direction taking place, a realistic direction.