Ten things we can do to stop ISIS in Europe
(without engaging in a ground invasion)
There are no quick fixes, no easy answers, when trying to deal with international terrorism and ISIS. A sustained and committed campaign at different levels is required so as to address not just the symptoms, but also the root causes of extremism and terrorism. Here are 10 actions — some more straightforward than others — that if taken simultaneously as part of a strategically coherent project for the elimination of extremism could potentially make a huge difference, save thousands of lives at home and abroad, and stop Europe’s decline towards strife and intolerance.
1) Diplomacy: work with the international community (including Russia and Iran) towards a mutually acceptable roadmap for governance in Syria (ideally some form of loose coalition bringing together government and opposition) and in Iraq (ideally a loose federation), including everyone apart from ISIS and their supporters; put pressure on countries that are obstructing progress in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia
2) Military: Intensify the pressure against ISIS in Syria and Iraq
3) Policy/Politics: Convene an urgent EU summit, leading to the launch of a transnational project on countering homegrown terrorism and extremism. Converging and directing all the resources at local, national and EU level (raising taxes, if necessary) so as to support:
4) (a) intelligence services, internal and external; including boosting intelligence gathering within urban ghettos and hubs of extremism
5) (b) civil protection, police and security services across Europe, so that they become visible, coordinate and communicate better, train themselves, the public and the media on how to deal with these threats
6) (c) community cohesion and tackling marginalisation of minorities and first- and second-generation immigrants: training, employability and internship schemes; engagement and community outreach; language and citizenship education; community service schemes; addressing breakdown of law, order and governance, anti-social behaviour and systemic exclusion
7) (d) countering extremism online and offline, by adopting a zero tolerance approach towards hate preachers and hubs of hatred, tackling online extremism and abuse
8) (e) making cross-cultural contact a central feature of 21st century daily life; supporting art, culture, research and intervention projects that explore and facilitate urban coexistence and tolerance and that educate ‘home’ citizens about the realities facing incoming refugees and marginalised minorities
9) (f) adopting a cross-national vision and agenda of tolerance, respect and adherence to core values and principles of citizenship; bringing civic responsibilities, along with rights, to the fore across the curriculum in primary/secondary education as well as in citizen interactions with the state at local/national level; emphasizing the importance of social structures, norms, rules and institutions for the survival of the community
10) (g) framing this as a sustained, systematic, organised and coherent project that can and will lead to the elimination or marginalisation of extremism and terrorism in Europe; a project which engaging with is not voluntary or optional but a mandatory responsibility of every EU citizen and resident.
Dr Roman Gerodimos is Principal Lecturer in Global Current Affairs at Bournemouth University in the UK, a faculty member at the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change and the founder/convenor of the Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG). Roman is the winner of the Arthur McDougall prize for his research on online youth civic engagement. He is the co-editor of The Media, Political Participation and Empowerment (Routledge) and The Politics of Extreme Austerity: Greece in the Eurozone Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan).