Curing Evil Is Delicate Work

Can you cure evil by destroying it?  Assuming you can do so, you need to ask, “What then?”  Implementing any solution does not usually mean you have reached the end of the decision tree.

Every decision becomes the input for a new circumstance.

There is a good deal of talk around about destroying ISIS.  Essentially kill it while you can thinking.  I have as yet, heard nothing about “What then?”  I think that should be part of the discussion.

ISIS exists because conditions permit it to exist.  In destroying ISIS, are the nurturing conditions changed beneficially?  If not, what prevents a successor or successors?  Do we even know the underlying fundamentals?  Given that the Western way of thought may have no validity in the Middle East, can we know the underlying principles?

From my point of view, destroying ISIS looks like a good tactic, but only if people move toward resolving the underlying reasons for its existence.  That could reasonably begin by knowing which of them are actually ours to deal with.  More likely some arise from within the Muslim culture.  I doubt we have a hope of “fixing” those.  The Muslim people must address those and that may take decades.  Our best move is to support them but not require them to act.  Only they can see and act on these pieces.

There is no doubt in my mind that some of the conditions are already changing.

If the situation is handled poorly, one of the “what happens” could be the formation of many smaller ISIS-like units.  Harder to find and attack.  More aggressive maybe.

Recall the Microsoft anti-trust case.  Many thought that breaking it up would be a wise move.  Separate operating systems from applications.  Separate consumer products from infrastructure and business products.  The idea being that smaller and less inter-connected would automatically be weaker and therefore more competitive.

One competitor, a smart one, said, “I cannot help thinking that I might prefer to compete with a large and relatively clumsy Microsoft instead of four or five well financed and aggressive little ones.”

It could be the same with ISIS.  Be careful with first impressions being the right answer.


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Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact:  

2 Comments on “Curing Evil Is Delicate Work

  1. The military campaign needs to be followed by an ideologial campaign to replace the ISIS ideology of death and violence. The problem is that all the US and Canada have to offer right now are “non-ideologies.” The world needs more leadership than “anything but…”

    • Well said, Brian. You cannot replace something with nothing. Our historic ideologies of freedom, the rule of law, self-determination and free markets has been eroded to the point that few believe they even exist. We could start there.

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