Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury has released a tightly reasoned essay on the necessity of a thoughtful and coordinated response to the threat posed by ISIS and the extremist so-called “jihadists” around the world.
The essay very carefully refuses to find a reductionist explanation, a simple way to understand what is, at its heart, a multi-faceted response to a number of local issues. The Archbishop writes in particular:
“Every conflict is individual, and a global narrative by itself does not address the particularity of each region or country. However, the reality of jihadist terror, and the related elements common to conflicts, have become more global since the second invasion of Iraq in 2003. Strategy must be holistic. This conflict embraces a whole range of complex causes, demonstrated in the huge number of Muslim deaths, often forgotten in the west. Nor is it restricted to the Middle East. The Central African Republic has descended into utter barbarism, with a religious edge, seen by many Muslims as religious cleansing of their followers. Somalia is chaos, Libya is in meltdown.
This struggle is not simply a religious conflict, but a terrible mix of ethnicity, economics, social unrest, injustice between rich and poor, limited access to resources, historic hatreds, post-colonial conflict and more. It is impossible to simplify accurately. We cannot tolerate the complexities and so we seek to hang the whole confusion on the hook of religious conflict. And because even to do that on a global scale is complicated, we focus on one area, at present Iraq and Syria, while others—Sudan, Nigeria and most recently Israel and Gaza—are forgotten. Or, equally dangerously, we deny it is religious, in the illusion that religion makes it unfixable.”
I can not stress how important I believe the addition of this voice, and what he says, is to the debate about a Western response to ISIS. Please, if you are a person of faith, take a moment to read the whole essay.