I stayed awake past 2 a.m. local time to hear President Obama's third address straight from the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. The topic was terror, ISIS - or ISIL as he calls it, the occasion the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, CA., which, interestingly, he linked to the murder of military personnel in Chattanooga and the Boston Marathon bombing.
The American President called those three incidents terrorist attacks, but he failed to call them islamist terrorist attacks.
He sounded exceptionally forceful, at last, enumerating a number of steps taken during the past seven years to combat terrorism, and additional ones that are being taken right now.
I'm not sure whether he said "ISIL will be destroyed" or "We will destroy ISIL", but in any case, the statement was unambiguous. American values shouldn't be lost in this fight, no new generation of Americans needs to occupy a foreign land in order to succeed in this endeavour, Americans shouldn't be divided and the Muslim community shouldn't be discriminated against…
A new sound was the idea that the deadly cult, the hateful violence emanating from ISlam is an acute problem, urgently to be addressed by Muslim leaders, both in the US and in "Muslim countries". Mr Obama mentioned Paris and the European allies: France, Germany and the UK, cooperating with the US in the battle against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. He mentioned cooperation with the Turks, who would belatedly be asked to close their border with Syria.
He didn't mention some kind of technical agreement with Russia, which is also fighting the ISlamic Caliphate. Mr Obama didn't mention widespread terrorism in Kenia, in Nigeria and in many other African countries. Boko Haram probably makes as many,
if not more victims than ISIS. In Somalia there's a similar militia called Al Shabab. And let's not forget all of NATO's power hasn't wiped out the Taleban in Afghanistan. Mr Obama mentioned Al Quaida and nine eleven, but didn't refer to treating Al Nosra, a subsidiary of Al Quaida, as "moderate islamists" useful to topple yet another Arab leader, namely President Assad.
This was by far the most forceful speech I heard by Mr Obama since he became President of the United States. So far so good. Constant vigilance and a lot of efforts are required in the US as well as in Europe to counter the terrorist threat posed by a growing number of young Muslims of various backgrounds. President Obama talks of a war, as President Hollande did before.
Battleships, planes, bombs… are in place and en route. If the world was preparing for a third world war, it wouldn't look very different, with a provocative shooting down of a Russian plane by a member of NATO, Mr Erdogan's islamist Turkey, supposedly because of an incursion in their airspace. For how many seconds, if at all? Yes, this smells like war, but there's something else. Nazi Germany was overcome by planes dropping tons of bombs, and horrific bombs ended the reign of the Japanese Empire.
But let's not forget two things. It took the sacrifice of millions of young men, Russian, British, American… to crush those totalitarian regimes. And secondly, it takes better ideas to replace a corrupt ideology. This is what Israeli writer Amos Oz recently declared: ISIS is an idea. It's a deadly ideology, jihad, centuries old but with the help of modern means of communication, modern weapons, vehicles… to implement medieval salafist whahabism, only nuances away from Saudi customs.
Communism wasn't defeated worldwide by wars alone and by an Arms Race, but also by a powerful counter narrative. Who'll be most resilient and most determined: fanatics loving death and wanting to harm and destroy at the cost of their own lives, or decent, civilized and peace-loving countries and peoples?
Which ideas will prove to be the strongest in the end? The war against Nazi Germany was also won by forbidding Mein Kampf. Some books are so full of poison and hatred that they'd better be wiped out. But that's a dangerous idea too, isn't it. For who's to decide which books are dangerous to whom? Zealots are always busy silencing bloggers in Saudi Arabia and Bangla Desh, they never cease to be offended, acting like "the religious police".
A woman falsely accused of burning a copy of the qur'an is beaten to death in Afghanistan, and Christians in Pakistan also frequently face such accusations, with terrible consequences. Others kill and maim because cartoons are more important than human life.
Let's hope and pray for our children that the world will finally stand up to the ugly jihadist ideology, the way Sikhs did in India. Unlike Buddhists wiped out by ISlam in Afghanistan, unlike Zoroastrians wiped out by Muslims in Iran, unlike Jews and Christians all but wiped out in North-Africa, Sikhs withstood the atrocities perpetrated against them, and they survived and thrive today.
They resisted the jihadist (muslim) onslaught better then the Hindu majority in India. Couldn't the world learn from history by thinking out of the box and transcending ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism and Americana?