For many in the West, the struggle against Islamic State (IS) has reached a turning point. Now that IS's once-vague threats against coalition countries have manifested into a shocking reality, voices are rising in support of fighting the organization with an iron fist. But what would be the most effective strategy?
The Jerusalem Post spoke with two experts on the subject, each with a very different approach to the question.
Tommy Steiner, a senior researcher at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the IDC in Herzliya, emphasized that fighting Islamic State will require a boots-on-the-ground approach, no matter what. He said air strikes have been ineffective, and that a more comprehensive plan is needed to effectively contain IS.
"There's no way out of it. One can delay the decision more, but if troops are not committed immediately, nothing will immediately happen."
He also noted that any strategy for fighting terror must finally deal with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad as well.
On the other side of the coin, Dr. Amichai Magen, a senior lecturer at the IDC's Lauder School of Government and Diplomacy warned against "overreacting" to terrorism, and fighting it with a heavy hand.
"Here, I'm afraid, the French leadership has already committed a few errors," Magen said of French President Francoise Hollande's talk of campaigns to fight Islamic State. He said such rhetoric only serves to scare the public and embolden attackers, because they can see that the French leadership is afraid, and views IS as an "equal adversary."
In his opinion, Europe is going to need a a three-pronged approach to fight terror on its own soil, which would require reducing the motivation for attacks (by exercising offensive restraint), identifying and narrowing down the people most likely to carry out an attack, and strengthening social, cultural and financial institutions. With the latter, Magen gave the example of creating a more flexible job market so that young Muslim men will have gainful means of employment which would take the lure away from the financial stipends provided by radical Islamist groups.
Magen claimed that places such as Israel, the United States and Australia are examples where immigrants have been successfully integrated into a "stakeholder society."
Magen and Steiner's sentiments converge on the fact that fighting radicalism will take a long-term commitment, no matter what.
"Europe is only now beginning to awaken from a long slumber of 70 years of believing that [it] doesn't face fundamental security problems," Magen said. "This will be a painful awakening for many European societies. That is why you see high levels of reluctance and denial of what is happening, because the pain of realizing that the European champion dream is no more. They don't necessarily want to confront it."