BERLIN – The November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris – which struck at the heart of France and of Europe as a whole – have brought the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) to the forefront of the foreign-policy agenda. For me, the answer to such assaults cannot be to lock our doors and board up our windows. To surrender the way we live, to give up on our open societies, would be to play into the terrorists’ hands.
But our response needs to be, first and foremost, a political one: more vigilance at home and more intensive cooperation with our partners’ security authorities. We in the West must show resolve in battling the social exclusion that breeds alienation, which implies stepping up our efforts to integrate Muslim and other immigrants at all levels. At the same time, we must tackle the evil of ISIS in the places where it began: Iraq and Syria.
On the night of the Paris attacks, Germany promised France that we would stand at its side. We decided recently that our responsibility to keep this promise includes a military contribution to the fight against ISIS.
We all know, of course, that terrorism cannot be defeated by bombs alone. But we also know that the threat posed by ISIS will not be overcome without military means, and that, unless ISIS is countered militarily, after a year there may well be nothing left on which to build a political solution for either Syria or Iraq.