There Are Crises and Then There Are Crises

There Are Crises and Then There Are Crises

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The just concluded international conference on climate change demonstrated that when the nations of the world–including all the major industrialized nations—come together for a common purpose much can be accomplished for the betterment of humanity.  The agreement to lower planet-warming gas emissions would reduce much of the dangerous effects of climate change. It represents a major accomplishment for the future of the entire world.

The willingness of the world to agree to cut global greenhouse emissions by half would insure that atmospheric temperatures increase by less than 2 degrees C. This commitment represents an effort to clean up the environment and make the world a physically healthier place.  Admittedly much still needs to be done and the agreement still require ratification, the actions taken in Paris constitute a genuine critical first step on the road to reverse climate warming.  

While these steps are very positive and exciting they involve functional, non-military, or security issues.  International collaboration of 195 nations on any international security matter is an entirely different matter. With the Syrian civil war now in its fifth year one has witnessed the growing threat posed to innocent civilians throughout the Middle East by radical Islamic groups and internecine fighting among Muslim groups none of which appear able to control the growing hostility. The war has left hundreds of thousands killed and wounded as well as millions of innocent civilian refugee throughout the region; and the world as well. Much of this is a function of the development during the past two years of a new radical organization seeking to create or restore an Islamic caliphate, first in the region and then in the world; ISIS, or ISIL, or Daesh or the Islamic State.

While the international community has begun to develop a strategy to destroy ISIS at its source, many observers raise the true concern that the religious theology and political ideology cannot be  broken by physical destruction of its current locus of power. The international uproar and outcry created most recently by the attacks in Paris, Beirut, over the Sinai Desert, and San Bernardino clearly suggest that there is much more work still to be done to combat the growing scourge of radical Islamic terrorism–ISIS brand—as it begins to infiltrate the entire world.

The struggle to combat climate change may well have met its mark. The world may well have finally concluded that it needs to address the threat to the environment. It will take far greater persuasion and international commitment to truly eradicate the threat posed by radical Islam. That initiative must be enjoined wholeheartedly and unequivocally by the political and religious leaders in the Muslim world. If they do not do so, this battle could destroy the contemporary civilization much sooner than would climate change. 

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