Thirty-four dead in Brussels and three hundred wounded. Simply a small number of victims in an ongoing campaign of terror around the world perpetrated by one of the most evil organizations in the modern day. ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has emerged to fill some of the power vacuum left in the Middle East since the disastrous US invasion in 2003.
How long this apocalyptic cult posing as a country can sustain itself is an open question, one which should worry long term military strategists and politicians for the foreseeable future. This is a tragic turn of events, but one which comes on the heels of poorly thought out goals set down over a decade ago.
With the power vacuum in Iraq created by the American invasion in 2003, the toppling of governments and the unrest of Arab Spring, and the rising xenophobia in Europe alongside the exodus from the war zones of the Middle East we see a vicious cycle of desperation emerging in the region. Thousands of desperate, angry young men are resorting to extremism to find purpose in their lives as they find their homes turned to rubble and few prospects in a new world that is hostile to them.
None of this could have been accurately predicted in the years leading up to these events. However, the short sighted actions of those who initiated the invasion will be judged historically, but the unpredictable dominoes cannot not be laid at their feet however, and we must remember actions will always have unintended consequences. What is frightening is how far these actions have led to the precise scenario that those who carried them out hoped to prevent. In a terrible irony the world is now threatened by a group more organized and farther reaching than those who carried out the 9/11 attacks. We can only hope that they can never repeat that level of destructiveness.
For now though, as the dominoes continue to fall, the world must sit back and hope that they can come up with a strategy for defeating both extremism abroad, and at home.
What worries me though, and ought to worry many others is what I found myself asking in the wake of the Belgium attacks. Is this the new normal? Are we one day going to get used to living in a global war zone between extremism and Western ideals? Will we be able to look at the list of deaths on the news and the new explosions in cities around the world and simply shrug on get on with our lives? We already can ignore the bombs going off throughout the Middle East and Africa, will we one day be immune to the bombs going off in Europe?
I would sincerely hope the answer is no, but we can only wait and see.