Those who argue that governments should respond to conflict with military force have, at first glance, their strongest case with regard to the group calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. However, if we look at the root causes of fundamentalist extremism, it becomes clear that a nonviolent response to groups like ISIS offers a much greater likelihood of lasting success, in addition to being more acceptable morally.

While people around the world have been horrified by the beheadings and similar acts of wanton violence perpetrated by ISIS, most seem mystified by the origins of the anger that can lead to such atrocities. Even more confounding is ISIS’s allure for young men in the industrialized West, particularly Europe: over the years we have been told that ethnic and religious violence can be cured by so-called “development,” education, and the opportunities...

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