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What Is to Be Done About ISIS?

October 7, 2014
By

Bombing ISIS to Destroy It Is Like Drowning a Fire With Gasoline

If we want to do something about ISIS, then we need to ask ourselves what is causing ISIS in the first place? Otherwise we’re acting out of fear and ignorance; never a recipe for good results. If you attack a disease without knowing what’s causing it, then you could – and in this case will – accelerate rather than curb the disease. As virulent as ISIS is, it will grow under the US air strikes the way that a fire rises ever higher and hotter if you try to drown it by pouring gasoline on it.

As Haaretz reported on September 19, 2014:

The Islamic State jihadist organization has recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since America began targeting the group with air strikes last month, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIS and al-Qaeda are the bitter fruit of the US invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. They are US policies coming home to roost in spectacular fashion. What Obama is doing in ordering relentless airstrikes in Syria and Iraq is fueling ISIS, not damaging it.

The US government and its allies have been shocked at the stunning rapidity with which their imperialist policies of domination and repression have literally blown up in their faces. They thought like all bullies do that they could get what they want by violently suppressing anything that stood in their way and buying influence and corrupt officials. But what do you suppose would happen when you carry out indefinite and unjust detention, torture and extrajudicial murders, drone attacks with the primary victims innocent civilians and children, terrorize entire populations, including raining bombs upon large gatherings such as weddings and funerals, treating the locals with utter contempt – with dogs, children, women and men used for target practice – US soldiers literally pissing on the Quran and on dead “militant fighters,” opening fire from Apache Helicopters on journalists and others walking on the street, arrogant mercenaries opening fire on civilians on a whim and in drunken states of stupor, and so on.

All of this has produced deep hatred towards the US by the local populations of these countries that the US declares as in its “interests” to invade, kill at will, occupy, plunder and dominate, all while issuing scurrilously hypocritical homilies about freedom and democracy. H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds was a parable about imperialist domination, except that the alien invaders here come not from light years away but only thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

Why should we be surprised then that out of this should spring up even more virulent versions of al-Qaeda. ISIS, it should be remembered, is so radical in its policies that al-Qaeda disavowed them.

What does it say about the US’s policies that its originally most radical opponent among fundamentalists is now superseded by an even more radical version?

If you despise ISIS and al-Qaeda, blame Bush and Obama, blame the US government since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, because without their policies, ISIS and al-Qaeda would not exist. If you side with these same policies in the form of the aerial bombardment of Syria and Iraq, you are supporting the very thing you hate. And it will come to take revenge upon us as indiscriminately as the US has been treating the people of the Middle East in the form of blowback. That was what 9/11 was – blowback. The seeds of terrible terrorist incidents inflicted upon Americans and others are being sewn with every bomb dropped in the numerous sorties by US and other nations’ bombers.

The rise of first al-Qaeda and now ISIS are the direct outcome of US crimes against these countries and peoples and is an expectable reaction in a world in which the two most influential ideologies are, to put this colloquially, McDonald’s and Jihad. Both of these are dead-ends. Their presence and persistence are far and away the most dangerous factors in play in the world today.

The Bush Regime’s war policies and their continuation under Obama are immediately and directly responsible for the horrors of ISIS and al-Qaeda. ISIS and al-Qaeda in fact are, as horrible as they are, even less horrible than the US’s policies, past and present, of death and destruction.

A true liberating alternative to those opposite poles of the same vile reactionary immorality and vicious violence exists: treating the lives of all people of all nations as equally precious, rejecting “my nation first,” respecting all people’s rights to live, think, assemble, and speak freely, and embracing the planet as a sacred place to be protected rather than to be plundered.

It is a testament to the bankruptcy of those who now run the world that they relentlessly ridicule and suppress the values that must guide humanity and the planet. The planet is being systematically destroyed by capitalist values. The need is dire for brave individuals here and there, and small groups of people, to chart a radically different course and to win scores and eventually millions to their path. The planet‘s fate hangs in the balance.

What has Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, done? The man who rode into office on anti-Iraq war sentiment with his cred made by his speeches against the Iraq war, is now forced to act in the only way he and the Empire he presides over knows how to try to quell the rapid spread of that which the US intervention and war crimes created in the first place: through doing an even more intense version of the same: Killing and more killing. Lying and more lying, Destroying and more destroying. Fear mongering and more fear mongering.

Obama’s answer to global warming literally the day after the huge Climate March: Bomb ISIS. Bomb ISIS. Bomb ISIS. Bomb ISIS. And, lest we forget, at the same time he talked grandly about the need to be more ambitious about protecting the planet at the UN Climate Summit he nixed the idea of charging for the use of carbon. To be truthful the Nobel Prize Committee ought to offer an Enemy of the Planet Award and honor Obama for that. He should also get the Biggest Hypocrite Ever Award for his deceitful speeches.

Iraq was a secular state before the US invasion. Any Muslim fundamentalist caught in Iraq was to be shot, per orders of none other than Saddam Hussein.

Recall that Obama a year ago planned to drop bombs on Syria to try to bring down the Assad regime and backed off because of opposition within ruling class ranks that his plan for waging war on Assad might introduce too many wildly unpredictable results, due to resistance from other governments, and due to public protest. Some good anti-war folks celebrated this result a year ago as a victory for the anti-war movement but as I wrote at the time, the victory was not mainly due to public protest which to be honest, was only in the beginning stages of mobilization and insufficient by itself to produce the interruption of Obama’s plans.

A medical analogy to the US’s “war on terror” helps to illustrate the present and future dilemma that the US government faces in its violent campaign to pursue US “interests” in other sovereign nations’ affairs:

When a patient is given massive doses of antibiotics to fight off an infection, the antibiotics not only kill the bacteria they are aimed at, but also necessarily wipe out the friendly bacteria as well. The patient’s system becomes prey to the rapid spread of damaging yeast no longer held in check by the body’s friendly bacteria.

The US government’s campaign against ISIS is going to succeed as well as someone who has declared war on his own shadow.

At this point, the ranks of those opposed to this obscenity of a policy are small. Many citizens are being bamboozled by the US propaganda and by their own fears into thinking that the main danger is ISIS.

Looking like a group straight out of central casting, ISIS fighters pose for pictures. The news is filled with stories about the US and its partners going to war against ISIS. At this point, and for the public’s benefit, this war is exclusively from the air. But these airstrikes – that government spokespeople say could last for years – will not remain exclusively an air campaign. It’s an elementary fact that you cannot win wars from the air alone and boots on the ground are necessary. Because the US cannot and ultimately will not rely on various factions on the ground, it will be forced to commit ground troops. That, of course, will bring its own set of consequences. Even if that were not the case, however, and even if the US could prosecute a “degrade and destroy” air war alone, the airstrikes themselves will produce their counter-response in the form of increased recruitment to groups like ISIS and in the form of more terrorist incidents in the homelands of the US and its current allies. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand the dynamics of the situation that is exploding in the Middle East.

Add to ISIS the Khorasan Group, the Nusra Front, and the yet to be known and those yet to emerge splinter groups from mother al-Qaeda like Khorasan and Nusra, germinating from the enriched soil due to the US’s relentless efforts to “degrade and destroy” its rivals. What is being done in our name as Americans by the US government is a towering crime. The desperate measures being undertaken by Obama et al. are generating a deeply unstable, profoundly unjust, exceedingly dangerous, and capriciously unpredictable world. They are desperate because the crucial Middle Eastern region is threatening to get out of their imperialist control, something that the Empire cannot allow if it is to continue to be the Empire. The Bush Regime invaded in order that the US could dictate the terms and bar any rivals from emerging. It has not worked out according to their plans.

Nothing underscores the unfitness of this system of capitalist exploitation of people and the environment more than our rulers’ behavior towards this region in particular, towards the world as a whole, their contempt for justice and for the truth, for people’s and other species’ lives, and their bankrupt and toweringly criminal inability and unwillingness to safeguard the planet against sure climate disaster. They stand naked before the world for this, if you probe beneath the surface appearance of things to see the stark reality beneath.

 

About the author: Dennis Loo is Professor of Sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He is a Harvard honors graduate in Government and received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of “Globalization and the Demolition of Society” and Co-Editor/Author of “Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney.” Website: Dr. Dennis Loo
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One Response to What Is to Be Done About ISIS?

  1. globalcitizen on October 25, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Meddling in the Middle East affairs has been a disaster. Invading Iraq destabilized a delicate balance and simply generated more hatred of America and lots and lots of dead. Imagine if Carter and Reagan had allowed the Russians to deal with the jihadis instead of working to maximize Soviet dead by arming and aiding the jihadis (who became the Taliban). Everything we do just seems to make things worse in the long run and the loss of life is appalling. And Don Rumsfeld working to help Saddam do as much damage to Iran is an example of the amoral people who play this game.

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