By Mark Kobzik

The United States has long been an occupier of foreign lands. Since the post-World War II-era, we have become entangled in the far reaches of the past colonial worlds. From Vietnam to Nicaragua to present day Iraq. This controversial imperialism has embroiled us in many engagements that were not only bad ideas, but immoral. The Vietnam War may have been sold to our population as a democratic mission as well as a war on the “immoral” communism, but truly, as always, it had to do with big money interests. The Pentagon Papers revealed this in the 1970s. So to say we haven’t learned much from our past is an understatement. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars show that when we invade without thinking of long-term outcomes, we lose sight of what is important.

The attacks in Paris were a horrific tragedy, but we must understand why these events take place. It is not a political spectacle like so many politicians turn it into. Instead, it is a confluence of several different outcomes after years of engagement in the Middle East. Since 9/11, the United States, and the rest of the west, has given into the notion that endless wars will somehow bring peace to the region. Or that toppling dictators will purge out all problems. This is simply a short-sighted view and a common one after such a brutal attack. We must keep perspective here and not make the same mistakes as the Bush administration and launch a full out war.

Marco Rubio recently remarked that the Islamic State carries out these attacks because they hate our democracy and freedom. This assertion has been made plenty of times by politicians and pundits, but it is not the case. Sure, these Islamic extremists despise Western ideology, but that is not the reason they attacked Paris.

France has recently stepped up its involvement in the war against the Islamic State, that’s one of the reasons ISIS chose France. If the Islamic State only attacked the West to fulfill some type of war on liberal democracy, then why did they shoot down a Russian plane or fight the Assad regime in Syria? I know Rubio is just trying to score political points with Americans who want to see this through the clash of civilizations scope, but that is simply giving ISIS power. The more we strengthen the divide between Islam and the West, the more powerful ISIS becomes. Above all, ISIS is waging a war against the Islamic world. As a result, Muslims take most of the brutality. 

When the United States invaded Iraq and then Afghanistan, we made serious mistakes with horrific and unforeseen outcomes. Now that we have the ability to learn from past decisions, I hope that this country can take reasonable steps to eliminate ISIS the right way. I fear that if an attack happens on our soil, there will be dark days ahead for Muslims in this country and around the globe. The mob mentality that can grip even the most level headed among us must not take root. In a recent Public Policy Polling poll, 40 percent of Republican voters in North Carolina and Iowa said that they think Islam should be illegal. This type of thinking is not productive.

The constitution can protect us, but I wouldn’t be too surprised that if another attack occurs our government starts to round up “potential terrorists,” in accordance with NDAA Section 1021 and 1022. 

That section affirms the administration’s right to detain any “person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces, including U.S. citizens.”

These are citizens. What does substantial mean exactly? And since the wars never end, the U.S. military could keep that citizen detained for life.

That’s why, as a nation, we must not give in to the urge to give away our basic liberties for momentary security. The founding fathers, who so many of our presidential candidates like to quote, would be wary of any legislation that gave the government powers to target U.S. citizens, especially the Muslim community, which has gone through enough turmoil.

I understand that terrorists do want to attack this country, but we have a democracy only if we wish to keep it. The last remnants of this democracy must not disappear. I encourage our leaders to let in the 10,000 refugees, it is our duty as a nation. We must not give in to fear, or we have already lost.

Mark Kobzik is a junior majoring in English/Journalism.