The mass-killings and beheadings by ISIL and like organizations are having the effect in the Arab world of showing people that they have to make a choice. They may prefer to shield themselves from the excesses of the West. They may wish fervently to barricade their sons and daughters from pornography and low morals. They may be horrified at the thought of wives with the power to take their sons or to divorce them. They cannot accept the thought of Jews being in control of the place from which they think Mohammed went to heaven, Jerusalem. But the other choice inevitably becomes one of a return to the year 700, and treating people who have different beliefs as lesser humans to be disposed of with disdain, all of which is justified as promoting Islam.
The power of the radicals lies in their ruthlessness but this is also their undoing. Arab society isn’t as single-minded as the radicals think their co-religionists should be. Radicals are trying to force a stark choice that Arab society has been avoiding for years. East or West. Radicals meanwhile see their society being slowly corroded by the West. They call it “Jewitization.” They need to force this choice now, they think, before their sons’ minds are ruined. We can’t stop the likes of ISIL by killing some of their leaders even though it is well deserved.
We will “win” when moderates are seen as the path forward because radicals are revealed to be animals. If we restrain ourselves, if we do about what we are now doing, in time truth will cause ISIL to lose their base of support. What we need is that thing the West has the least of, patience. We also need faith in the ultimate light of truth.
In practical terms, we need to allow the Kurds their independence, no matter what the Turks think, so that they can defend themselves properly. We also have to accept that Sunni won’t die to save Shi’ite and vice versa. As in Palestine, the cure may be to let them all try to run a country. That usually cures them of a lot.