The perils of ISIS

August 9, 2014 • 2:47 pm

VICE News is a renegade news organization that has done some great documentaries (their pieces on North Korea were amazing, and scary as hell). They’re now running a five-part story on “The Islamic State”, formerly known as ISIS. Two parts are up, and they’re frightening, with on-the-spot reporting (I don’t know how they manage to get permission to film stuff like this).

The first part, called  “The Spread of the Caliphate,” has the notes below. I’ll put up the second part tomorrow. This is the world we’d live in if these extremists got their way. Do watch: it’s only nine minutes long.

The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced their intention to reestablish the caliphate and declared their leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.

Flush with cash and US weapons seized during recent advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.

. . . VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings. In part one, Dairieh heads to the frontline in Raqqa, where Islamic State fighters are laying siege to the Syrian Army’s division 17 base.

This is pure Islamic hegemony, and it’s not a reaction to Western “colonialism.” It’s the pure desire to establish an Sunni Islamic state under sharia law, and most of the people they’re killing are other Muslims. But all non-Sunnis are “apostates,” and are executed en masse.


h/t: Alberto

136 thoughts on “The perils of ISIS

  1. I’m waiting for the first talking-head comment that this has nothing to do with religion and that Islam is a religion of peace.

    Memo to the media and Obama: Is it ISIS or ISIL? Make up your minds.

    1. I get the impression that the group has just changed names, and so nobody is quite sure what to call them. I’m also not sure how cohesive the group actually is — whether or not they’re really unified, or just a like-minded mob.

      A global Sharia-based caliphate has been a wet dream of Islamic militants for forever, and even the most moderate of liberal Muslims mouth support for such in vague terms as an hypothetical ideal. Looks like ISIS or IS or ISIL or whatever they’re calling themselves today is using the arms we left behind in Iraq for the Iraqis for exactly that purpose. It’s probably a safe bet that many Iraqis ostensibly on our side to whom we had given the weapons had something like this in mind all along. I’m sure the Obama administration is shocked! shocked! I tell you at this state of affairs, but wasn’t it bloody obvious all along that this was how it was going to play out?

      Never have I been more disappointed nor frustrated with a politician than Obama. I voted for McKinney, but I had high hopes that Obama would walk the talk. Now, it turns out that he’s at least as bad as, if not worse than, Shrub himself. We got the Heritage Fund’s abomination of corporate welfare entrenching corrupt health insurance scam providers; Gitmo is still open for business; he’s murdered far more civilians with drone strikes than anybody else in history; he’s deported more children than ever before and jailed more for non-violent drug offenses than ever; we’ve been six months away from pulling out of Afghanistan for over a decade; and now he’s sending us back into the grinder in Iraq.

      Shit. At this point, I think I’d actually prefer Tricky Dick.


      1. What has this to do with Obama? I think Americans still has a bit of ego that they think they can control any region anywhere in the world, if they just put the right people in charge.

        1. What has this to do with Obama?

          You mean it was somebody else who ordered all those airstrikes these past couple days? Somebody else who ordered all those weapons that IS is using be left behind in the hands of the Iraqis? Somebody else using the same language to promise no more boots on the ground as has been used for over a decade to promise withdrawal from Afghanistan?


        2. Obama ordered the airstrikes but then how did that contribute to the ISIS problem? Weapons being left behind was out of control of Obama and US. And I don’t get the relevance of the last sentence either.

          1. The weapons were left for an army trained by the US and its allies. The Iraqis were supposed to pass some of them on to the Kurds (about $200 million worth), which would have been a game changer if it had happened.

            Meanwhile the Iraqi PM Al-Maliki replaced many of the competent, trained, officers with political appointees who had little or no military experience. This is why they ran from battle, enabling ISIL to seize what was left behind.

            The Iranians also persuaded Al-Maliki that a SOFA with the US wasn’t necessary as they could provide all the same support and they were Shi-ite into the bargain, which is why he refused to sign one.

            ISIL is the more accurate name, and the one they used themselves until they started calling themselves the Islamic Caliphate. It means Islamic State In the Levant.

            I don’t consider this one can be blamed on Obama, but if I was American I’d be a Democrat, so my pov may be biased.

            1. I don’t consider this one can be blamed on Obama, but if I was American I’d be a Democrat, so my pov may be biased.

              Obama was the one who left the weapons in the hands that gave them to the Caliphate at the earliest possible opportunity. And he did so against repeated cautioning that this was exactly what to expect.

              Maybe he didn’t light the fire, but he sure left an awful lot of gasoline cans and matches laying around in a neighborhood known for its pyromaniac tendencies.


              1. They weren’t given to the Caliphate, they were captured by the Caliphate, and as the Caliphate didn’t exist at the time, there were no warnings this would happen. There were multiple criticisms relating to the failure to sign a SOFA, but al-Maliki continually refused to sign one, and with the Iranians backing him up he wasn’t going to change his mind. Al-Maliki failed to ensure meaningful inclusion of Sunnis and Kurds in the government. He’s proven weak, paranoid, extremely sectarian and ineffective. This situation is far more on him than Obama imo.

              2. Sorry, but that doesn’t wash. The Iraqi army, ostensibly, had the Caliphate significantly out-numbered, out-gunned, and had just been trained by the American military. The Caliphate shouldn’t have been able to even faze the Iraqi army…yet the Iraqis threw down their weapons and joined the Caliphate en masse.

                For Obama not to be able to see that coming represents at best gross incompetence on the part of American military intelligence.


      1. Yes, here’s where it goes wrong:

        “what’s driving IS, or at least making its phenomenal success possible, is not pre-modern religious zeal so much as a pre-modern absence of state power”

        Absence of state power is probably what makes IS’s success possible, but religion is certainly what’s driving them.

        1. If we LISTEN to them, they ALL say they are doing it for Allah.

          Why can’t the Guardian LISTEN to Muslims? Are they racist?

          Interesting point: When groups like IS say they are going to do bad things, hippie-liberals don’t believe them. When they say that they will do good things, the same hippie-liberals trip over each other to give these murderers credit.

          When bad people say bad things, watch out. When bad people say good things, watch out!

          1. Way to generalize. This hippy liberal atheist humanist secularist whatever else absolutely believes them. And what could we possibly trip over ourselves to give them credit for? I think you stole some of my kool-aid.

    2. Just on the ISIS/ISIL question, it’s a matter of translation from the Arabic name of the group:
      The name in Arabic is “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Shaam”. Shaam is an Arabic term referring to the lands on the East Mediterranean shore (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel) – Greater Syria or the Levan). So in “ISIS” it’s Syria and in “ISIL” it’s Levant.
      Personally I think that since “Greater Syria” isn’t used in Western Languages in this sense anymore, “Levant” is a better translation, so it should be ISIL (but English isn’t my mother tongue, so you guys get to decide which translation makes more sense to you )

    1. Are you sure it isn’t something that your browser is not allowing, because I can see the full-screen button, both on Chrome and Firefox.

    2. That happens to me too. I don’t know why. I tried on Chrome & Safari. Maybe it’s a Mac thing, I dunno.

    3. Happens to me too with Chrome. I just click YouTube/fullscreen and wait 30 seconds for the commercial to end.

      1. I’m running the same but don’t see the full screen. I suspect it’s some weird plug-in thing that I’m too lazy to troubleshoot.

  2. I don’t know for sure, but the people in that crowd did not look enthusiastic. Like they were going along in order to protect their lives from the true nutters.

    1. Watching the second video is terrifying. I won’t link to it, since it’s going up tomorrow, but seeing young children calling for the death of infidels is chilling.

      1. It’s always been that way.
        Before Nixon went to China, the “Red Chinese Commies” were all marching and yelling “Death to America!”.
        Even the little children. I was really worried about this one billion mass of people who were ready to slaughter America.
        Then after Nixon, everything changed. America was (more or less) a friend.
        But I can’t help but worry there still may be a few “Manchurian Candidates” left. Just a few- maybe one in a thousand?
        Hmmm.. that calculates as one million.

  3. Another thing to keep in mind is that these events don’t exist in a vacuum. Numerous countries have citizens who have left to fight in Syria in Iraq, and have become further radicalized and trained in guerrilla warfare. If they don’t die in combat, they may well return to their home countries to carry out the jihad.

    Especially as ISIS becomes emboldened and continue to expand (assuming a more stringent, hopefully international response isn’t made), it’s only a matter of time before we see terrorist attacks spawning out of this mess.

  4. This is chilling – I mean that literally. I had goose bumps watching it & it really scares me.

  5. I remember well how Christopher Hitchens made his case for the Bush/Cheney invasion. Remember “regime change” He basically argued that religion and religious persecution in Iraq was the underlying force behind all the repression and violence. This was a threat to the civilized world. He also made the case that many Muslims were sincerely interested in establishing the caliphate and if given the means would surely attempt to do it. I was sympathetic to a degree. His prophecy seem to be effectively realized.
    However, he was even more upset by Sadam Hussein, who was a ruthless dictator, but at least nominally secular. Now, I’m thinking, as bad as Saddam was, perhaps he was at least a stabilizing force who controlled Islamic passions. Under Saddam, every so often heads would roll, but there was not likely to be a civil war.

    1. The States has the reverse Midas touch when it comes to the Middle East: everything we touch turns to shit. Saddam was originally our friend before he became the brutal dictator we had to take out — never mind that Iraq was the most secularized Arabic or Persian state, had the highest percentage of college-educated women, and so on. One nasty motherfucker, yes, no question — but much less nasty than our bosom buddies in Saudi Arabia.

      Same with Iran; look how the CIA fucked that one up with the Shah and all.

      And bin Laden got his start with help from the CIA to try to kick the Soviets out of Afghanistan.

      …did I mention? Afghanistan?

      The world would have been so much better had we never done a damn thing in that part of the country. Yes, it would still have been a bloody mess — but the mess is much bigger and bloodier thanks to what we’ve done. There are times when the least worst thing you can do is nothing, even if you feel an overwhelming urge to do something, anything. Sadly, we lack the courage to sit on our fat asses and just…do…nothing.


      1. Sure Ben. But its hard not to want to do something. When there is genocide, burning of books, execution of scholars, enforced FGM, indoctrination of the young to continue the insanity. How do you just sit on your hands and do nothing?

        1. How do you just sit on your hands and do nothing?

          The exact same way that a physician can first do no harm.

          It ain’t easy, but it’s not as bad as the alternatives.


              1. The problem as I see it is that if the US don’t do something, Russia and maybe China will. I believe this is a big motivating factor for the US. It’s about maintaining influence.

                This is why they’re moving into the Pacific and Africa too – China are starting to dominate there. And they’re doing more in South America because of Russia.

              2. So it’s better that we be the one to pour gas on the fire than somebody else?

                Unless, of course, this is, as it has been since the beginning, more about control of access to the oil fields than anything else. Why else are we using air strikes to protect a tiny band of Kurds in Iraq when we didn’t even lift a finger to protect millions in Rwanda?


              3. “The problem as I see it is that if the US don’t do something, Russia and maybe China will.”

                Then they can end up with the quagmires.

      2. I suppose if one day the Caliphate’s flag goes up in the White House, we’ll all be saying: if only we had not just sat on our fat asses and done something.

        On the other hand, if we do something and something like that never happens, then it wil never be attributed to what we did.

        You can never win in this situations.

        1. There are many more possibilities than the two you lay out. We could do something and the Caliphate could take over the White House anyway, or we could do nothing and the Caliphate never takes over the White House.

          Realistically, the Caliphate are never going to conquer the United States. Period, full stop, end of story. They lack even the theoretical ability to project force outside the Middle East. We, on the other hand, have a couple dozen submarines, any one of which could reduce the entire region to molten slag; about as many aircraft carriers, any one of which could wreak similar havoc; hundreds of land-based ICBMs; and a mobile ground army that, again, could act alone to destroy the region.

          The Caliphate could potentially manage isolated terrorist attacks against the States, but even another 9/11 every month would only put airline / terrorist casualties and property losses at the same level as we already experience in everyday vehicular travel — and it wouldn’t take very many such attacks before the US would be goaded into unleashing an holocaust of its own.

          So, no. There is no more need for the US to act in self-defense against the Caliphate than there is for an elephant to defend itself against a mouse.


  6. I watched both of these. Truly frightening. Vice news is doing some best on the ground reporting of any news organization. There are some older pieces from before Vice News started that are really good also but just as hard to watch. “Cannibal Warlords of Liberia” “Central African Republic” and one about Russian Pilots in Africa.

    The IS story is horrifying. I like how they let the people and sights speak for themselves without interjecting very much commentary. These people are dancing and celebrating with dead bodies lying in the street and peoples heads sticking on iron rods. They claim they are the best people in the world while the opposite is more true.

    I had never heard of the Yezidi Kurds before this week when I started to read reports of them being killed in the streets and besieged on the mountain outside of Sinjar. They are pretty interesting people.

    If people would just leave the Kurds alone they would never bother anyone. They are our (U.S.) best ally in the region IMO. I mean I have a long way to go in researching the history of the Kurds and their relationship with the U.S.. It is my understanding that unlike anyone else in the region they have never fired on U.S. forces and have always supported our interests. This makes sense cause everyone else in the area has tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. Especially over the last 200 years.

    Here is a video about the Yezidi if you want to know more about them as I did.

    1. I don’t doubt everything you say is true. But, I can’t help thinking, if they are founded on a religion, there is always the potential that they, in turn, when in the majority, would turn on others in the minority.

      1. I would never assert that everything that I say is true. I try to make it comport to reality as much as I am capable and correct errors when detected. I am just some uneducated shmoe who reads a lot. I mean I never went to college.

        I don’t think Kurds are founded on any particular religion. They are an ethnicity. Proto Aryan or something. There are Christian Kurds, Muslim Kurds, Yezidi Kurds and probably other persuasions as well. When left alone they have historically gotten along with each other.

        They have been a minority forever as far as I can tell. I wasn’t trying to suggest putting them in power of all Iraq though. Just helping them to keep their little area of scorching hot desert that they have lived in for thousands of years. I mean they should have a place at the table of Iraq government as should all factions Sunni, Shia and whoever else.

  7. I watched both of these. Truly frightening. Vice news is doing some best on the ground reporting of any news organization. There are some older pieces from before Vice News started that are really good also but just as hard to watch. “Cannibal Warlords of Liberia” “Central African Republic” and one about Russian Pilots in Africa.

    The IS story is horrifying. I like how they let the people and sights speak for themselves without interjecting very much commentary. These people are dancing and celebrating with dead bodies lying in the street and peoples heads sticking on iron rods. They claim they are the best people in the world while the opposite is more true.

    I had never heard of the Yezidi Kurds before this week when I started to read reports of them being killed in the streets and besieged on the mountain outside of Sinjar. They are pretty interesting people.

    If people would just leave the Kurds alone they would never bother anyone. They are our (U.S.) best ally in the region IMO. I mean I have a long way to go in researching the history of the Kurds and their relationship with the U.S.. It is my understanding that unlike anyone else in the region they have never fired on U.S. forces and have always supported our interests. This makes sense cause everyone else in the area has tried to wipe them off the face of the earth. Especially over the last 200 years.

    Here is a video about the Yezidi if you want to know more about them as I did.

  8. “This is pure Islamic hegemony, and it’s not a reaction to Western “colonialism.” It’s the pure desire to establish an Sunni Islamic state under sharia law, and most of the people they’re killing are other Muslims. But all non-Sunnis are “apostates,” and are executed en masse.””

    Be careful, Jerry. Your liberal friends in the academic world will swear it’s all the fault of Western colonialism. Kudos to you for pointing out the obvious.

    This is why the US has to care about what goes on “over there” and why it is in our interest to destroy ISIS. They, like Al Qaeda, are the enemy of civilization. Doesn’t matter how nice we are to them, doesn’t matter if we change our foreign policies. They will always want to destroy us. At least they make it clear – they are our mortal enemy. Fine, then let’s get on with eradicating them.

    1. Fine, then let’s get on with eradicating them.

      It is certainly within our technical capability to commit the sort of genocide you advocate. A single nuclear submarine could do the job in mere minutes. Or, an all-out merciless ground invasion.

      But there could not even theoretically be any moral or political or even military justification for such, because, despite the fact that

      They will always want to destroy us. At least they make it clear – they are our mortal enemy.

      they haven’t the slightest ability to do worse than make us stub our toes on them. We could sustain a 9/11-style attack every month and all it would do is bring air traffic death and property destruction rates up to vehicular death and destruction rates. Does your risk of getting in an accident on the freeway represent an existential threat deserving of military action? No? Then neither does the Caliphate.

      And, rest assured: if the Caliphate ever did manage to detonate a nuclear weapon near any Western metropolis, you’d get your wet dream of violent annihilation and every military installation of any size under the control of the Caliphate and its sympathizers would be pounded into dust, collateral damage be damned. And probably exclusively with conventional weapons, too. For all the hot air the kids in the Caliphate blast, anybody who’s in any position to follow through on the boasting is either going to realize the futility of such…or will bring about the destruction of all they think they’re building.


      1. Destroying ISIS is not genocide. Perhaps you would prefer we do nothing and allow the real genocide on that mountain in Iraq to occur. I speak of defeating ISIS and you escalate it it to genocide. What distortion. So sit back on your you know what as you prefer, until Islamic states proliferate in the Middle east and train terrorists to commit murder in your home town. And when they do, perhaps you will think of it of more than getting your toe stubbed.

        1. Destroying ISIS is not genocide.

          Sorry, but you couldn’t be more wrong, or more dangerously so.

          There are only two ways to destroy IS: with complete boots-on-the-ground conquest of both Iraq and Syria, ending with unconditional surrender, or nuclear annihilation of the entire region, probably the entire Islamic world and accompanied with a Stalin-style “purge” of all Muslims in Western countries. What, you think some sort of “surgical strike” against the leadership would somehow dispirit the rank-and-file and convince them to go back to their bombed-out villages? Kill every last member of IS, and all their surviving family members will take up arms in their place. Wouldn’t you do as much were the positions reversed?

          Why do you think the Taleban are still going strong in Afghanistan after not just our baker’s dozen years there, but the Soviet occupation before us?

          If you want to “destroy” them, you’re going to have to do it the same way we destroyed Hitler and the Axis, the same way that the Conquistadors destroyed the Aztecs, the same way Caesar destroyed the Gauls. And if you don’t think Hiroshima plus Nagasaki plus Dresden, or plague blankets, or good ol’ Roman slash-and-burn don’t fit the modern definition of, “genocide,” then you’ve fallen for American exceptionalist propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Each of those examples was every bit as bad as Rwanda’s Hutu v Tutsi horror.


          1. Destroying the axis was genocide, really? Then who are those people walking around claiming to be Japanese and German? In WWII some Germans were Nazis but not all. We killed the Nazis and occupied Germany. We did not go house to house killing every German because it was not necessary. Your suggestion that this would not work against Islam suggests that you believe that all Muslims are extremists at heart and we cannot separate Muslims from ISIS. If you are correct then wiping them all out may be necessary. If you are wrong then those who renounce violence can life peacefully. What exactly is wrong with that?
            I think people need to look back at what was actually required to win the last word war. It was ugly and brutal. A lot of innocent people died but the alternative was to submit to the barbaric rule of maniacs. Of course the Nazis weren’t beheading children in the street and putting their heads on spikes so you could argue that they weren’t quite as deranged as ISIS.

            1. Hiroshima. Nagasaki. Dresden. Why bother with messy door-to-door butchery when airstrikes are so much quicker and more effective?

              And “genocide” does not and never has referred to complete annihilation. Else who are all the Jews walking around today, many even in Germany?

              In Rwanda, half a million to a million people died. Bosnia didn’t even see 10,000 dead in the genocide. How is the almost a quarter million dead in Iraq not genocide? Is Iraq not the killing of a large group of people, including many, many civilians, of a particular ethnicity and / or nationality?

              …and, remind me: who invaded whom?


              1. While the fire bombings of Germany and Japan along with the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were truly horrible terrible things as were the indiscriminate fire bombings by Germany and Japan. I think these were war crimes not genocide. They were also war crimes that all sides committed.

                I think genocide especially what the U.N. would consider genocide is different. It is the desire by one group of people however that group is defined (ethnically, racially, nationally)to eliminate another group of people as entirely as it is within their power to do and of course taking actions to bring about those desires.

                In the cases of Japan and Germany those countries really did try to take over large swaths of properties which they didn’t control previously and so the people in those countries had a legitimate cause to fight and try to regain control of the land they had lost control of. If in that fighting rules of war were broken I don’t think that constitutes genocide and I think most people agree. Wrong yes. Genocide no. Genocide is often accompanied by terms like “solution”,”final solution” and “ethnic cleansing”.

                I do think you are a hundred percent right about one thing. We should be waging education all over the world and even here in the U.S.. The U.S. education system could be way better and it is being attacked by religious fundamentalists even here.

              2. Then all war is, by that definition, genocide. I cannot think of a war where the sides could not be identified as belonging to a particular nationality, ethnicity or religion. So be it.
                ISIS is intent on killing anyone who does not conform to their particular flavour of Islam. They do bother with messy door-to-door butchery to achieve their aims.
                Children are not “collateral damage” to them, they are specifically chosen victims. I understand that dead is dead but it takes a special sort of person to hold a child down and cut his head off and put it on a spike. It takes a special sort of person to take joy in it and to teach their own children that this is what they should aspire to doing to the infidels.
                ISIS is driven by and defined by religion. I’m interested to hear a plan that will stop these people without destroying a particular religious group.

      2. So going to war against an enemy is genocide now is it? Was WWII genocide? What an absolute load of PC nonsense. You have a group committing atrocities in plain view of the world. They celebrate their inhumanity and you try to slander an effort to stop them as genocide. Perhaps we should just leave them alone and let them go about their business. Peace in our time and all that eh?

        1. Once again — and, likely, the last time from me on this thread — wanting to do something doesn’t mean you can actually do anything that’ll help. Every single fucking time we’ve fucked around in the Middle East for the past half century, we’ve fucked things up and made it worse. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Beirut, Kurdistan, Libya, Pakistan — even our support of the Saudis, who are an incredibly repressive dictatorial hereditary Islamic regime and a powerful destabilizing influence in the region. How the hell can you be so eager to make it even more worse yet again?


          1. I agree with your view. But I ask you, if the only thing we can do is nothing anywhere, anytime, doesn’t that make us guilty of evading responsibility? Rwanda is a prime example. Nothing was done by the U.S. or the west and it did not go at all well. Could it have gone any worse if we had made an effort there? I think it might have made a significant difference. Unfortunately, we will never know for sure.

            1. It is not the case that the only thing we can do is nothing anywhere anytime.

              It is unlikely our military can ever be effective, save perhaps in helping to repel an invasion when asked to do so by those being invaded — but even that is unlikely.

              But the United States is more than just the last remaining military superpower, as ineffective as our military may be at anything other than destruction. We can do much to foster trade and diplomacy and raise standards of living and education well before tensions reach the boiling point.

              But, just as you can’t dodge a bullet once the trigger has already been pulled, there’s damned little we can do to help the Kurds save airdrop them food and water and medical supplies. The best thing we could have done to help the Kurds would have been to work to Westernize Iraq even with Hussein still in power, and to have done so with the carrot of McDonald’s and Wal*Mart and Starbuck’s and, once they were addicted, the threat of sanctions and withdrawal if they started to get unruly. And even that’s not certain — see Russia, for example.

              But bombs upon bombs upon bombs? How is that supposed to help anything?


              1. So, as an alternative to last minute military intervention you suggest early intervention by Walmart and Starbucks. Infuse the nations with Sears and J. C Pennies. Strip malls in the deserts of the Middle East finally brings peace between tribal factions. Sounds reasonable to me. At least the “early” part.

          2. Ben, Ibn Wariq once said that to control Islam you have to treat it like a disobedient dog. You have continually beat it across the muzzle with a newspaper until it realises that the pain will not stop until it does behave itself.

            IMHO your parallel between what happened in WW2 is slightly skewed. Remember that the Japanese declared war (officially) on the US some hours after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, they also believed that the Geneva Convention was for wimps. The dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan certainly opened a can of worms but how many US servicemen’s lives were saved because of it? Or would you rather have been counting the graves of those who would have died had an invasion of the Japanese mainland been required?

            As far as Dresden was concerned please keep it in context. The Nazis proved their humanity time after time: 6 million Jews died in the Camps, untold millions slaughtered in the Russian campaign, not counting those who died across Europe trying to bring that madman’s dream of a 1000 year Reich into being. The UK was almost starved into submission and had it not been for Roosevelt breaking the US’s own laws it probably would have been so; so please keep the context. And had Britain capitulated after Dunkirk then like it or not the US would probably now be a German province. (There were enough Americans, principally businessmen, who saw the option for trade deals with the Fuhrer, even JFK’s father who was the US Ambassador to the GB wanted an exclusive deal to distribute Whisky across the US as a bribe to supporting out request for assistance, and even recommended to POTUS not to side with us!).

            IS is a bad neighbour and sees only it’s own agenda, although I agree that successive US Governments have screwed up in their dealing with the ME trying to impose its own version of reality the destruction of IS is in my book the lesser of two evils.

            1. The justifications you offer for the razing of German and Japanese cities are no more valid than the justifications ever used to excuse any other similar horror — including the ones perpetrated by the Nazis themselves. As far as they were concerned, they were protecting themselves from an existential menace that could only be stopped by continually beating the disobedient Jewish dogs across the muzzle until they realized the pain wouldn’t stop until they behaved themselves — and, besides, like any cur, after a couple whacks with the paper, the only kind thing to do is to put the poor thing out of its misery.

              Imagine, rather than using thousands upon thousands of bombs dropped from planes to create the firestorm in Dresden to burn it and all its inhabitants to the ground, Nazi foot soldiers had used flamethrowers to burn every last square inch of Boston to the ground, all living things included. If the one is an unimaginable and inexcusable horror, so is the other — and so would be the sort of “final solution” of complete destruction many here are proposing to deal with IS.

              Civilized people do not do unto others before others can do unto them. Only monsters, the worst possible monsters, perpetrate such horrors.


              1. Ben, this is about context so I have to disagree. It is a simple matter with several decades of hindsight to fall back and criticise the actions taken by others in times of war, especially when you find those actions personally indefensible. However, I would defend those actions simply because it was war. And to be honest the argument that both were both as bad as each other, therefore they are both equal in culpability I can’t accept.

                If you were fighting for your survival and that if your loved ones what would you have done? How far would you go to preserve your life?

                The Nazis had over 4000 camps ‘for various projects’. 6 million Jews were exterminated, not to mention Slavs or any other ethnic minority who got in their way. How many millions of Russians died is unknown. After the assassination of Heydrich they razed Lidice to the ground along with its inhabitants and this pattern of reprisal was repeated as nauseam across Europe. Fortunately they came second in the race to develop the atomic bomb, and the V3, a rocket that could have crossed the Atlantic; do you think that for one moment they would have held back?

                How many POWs died of malnutrition and disease etc. at the hands of the Japanese.

                It is very easy to seize the moral high-ground and say that any ‘collateral damage’ is unacceptable.

                As far as ISIS or IS (Islamic State) as they now call themselves is concerned they we excluded too violent and bloodthirsty even for al-Queada. Their agenda is either my way or death. They declared total war on everyone using the weapons provided by the US and abandoned by the Iraqi military – I won’t call them soldiers (7000 v 350000), so yes. They have declared their Holy war let them reap what they have sown.

              2. It is reasonable to have sympathy for those in the past faced with impossible situations. But how are we to avoid repeating their mistakes unless we analyze what they did and acknowledge those mistakes?

                Total war cannot be justified, no matter how evil your opponents, no matter how eager they are to wage total war themselves. That was the great lesson of the great wars of the past century — yet it seems that very lesson has gone perfectly unlearned by so many here.

                What’s most distressing is that total war is being argued for against a foe that you yourself describe as inconsequential. Would you suggest that the proper response to a schoolyard fight instigated by a notorious bully would be to send in the SWAT team with guns blazing? Whatever happened to a sense of proportionality?


              3. “Total war cannot be justified…”

                I don’t know how any war can be justified, as it’s all about might, not right.

            2. Ben, we will still be having this discussion in another seventy years, and still be no nearer the answer – if there is one.

              But you didn’t answer my question – What would you do? (not would have done to prevent the current circumstances from arising)

              We can analyse all we want but it will not stop those filled with religious fervour. Hamas may have had some support from Israel but the fact remains that Hamas exists to wipe Israel from the face of the earth, to kill every Jew. They are implacable.

              The foot soldiers of ISIS or IS, whatever they want to be known as are also implacable, you cannot reason with them because Allah is on their side. Rubbish I know but it is their agenda. All Muslims under one banner, and all Muslims will be Sunni after all it is plain for all to see that the Shia are heretics, and heretics must die.

              There isn’t a week goes by without some young Sunni Muslim(s) leaving the UK for Syria, or where ever Jihad is being waged. They are actively seeking martyrdom. Sad but true and sooner or later there is a high level of certainty that some of these ‘fighters’ will return to the UK with all that may imply.

              If you think that proportionality has a bearing on the discussion, how would you convince IS that there response of slaughtering everyone with whom they disagree with?

          3. we’ve fucked things up and made it worse.

            So, you’re part of the problem because you’re part of the group that thinks that “We” are part of the problem.

            The entire region is stuck in the Dark Ages with nothing else to thank except for Islam.

            If there were no Jews and no USA where do you suppose they would be today? Leaders of the free world?

            I think not.

            It’s quite racist of you to declare that these people are incapable of civilising themselves because of external meddling.

      3. I won’t lie. I never supported the war in Iraq. I never thought that they represented an imminent threat. However since we did go to war and so many people died I am thinking I was wrong to want to wash our hands of the place. Nouri al-Maliki has divided his nation by removing the American trained Sunni leadership from the military. These are the same people who we gave at least $250,000,000 in cash and untold weapons to. Now they are using those resources to kill ethnic minorities mostly Kurds.

        I became interested in this story when I read a Vox article about the Yezidi besieged on the mountain. I then read all the articles linked to in that article. Then I watched a Yezidi woman’s tearful plea to her government to help her people who were dying on the mountain and be slaughtered in the streets. Then I watched the Vice News IS exposé.

        Genocide has always been deeply troubling to me. Part of it is that it requires the participation and complicity of so many people. There must be darkness lurking in all of us for it to happen so many times in so many places by so many different cultures of people. It is scary and discomforting for me to think that given the right circumstances and inputs nearly any group of people can do it or have it done to them.

        I have watched genocide unfold many times in my lifetime. I will never forget a news report I watched from Rwanda that showed bodies going over a waterfall. A almost never ending stream of bodies ten to twenty a minute. This was said to continue for days and days. The Bosnian War and ethnic cleansing. The Sudanese crisis also bravely covered by Vice.

        I don’t know what could have been done in these past conflicts that could have helped. It seems to me that in this particular case the U.S. is in a unique position to help avert this humanitarian crisis. It is the right thing to do to help these people get across the border as safely as possible. Also to help the Kurds in any way we can. Guns, money, military surveillance. The IS is the enemy of humanity and they shouldn’t be allowed if at all possible to go into cities and kill all non Sunni Muslim peoples or take women to rape and enslave.

        This is my feeling given what I know at this time.

    2. But that’s also a false dicotomy. If some imperial power smashes a state or ruins a pre-state society, is it not so surprising that the most nasty ruthless bastards step into the power vaccuum and take over? (Unless the smash is total, like in North America, for the most part.) Cf. the economic meltdown in Russia c. 1998 or so and what happened after, if you want a non-Islamic example.

  9. VICE did a very good program a few years ago on drugs and guns in northern Mexico. Lots of information on Romney’s family as well.

  10. This is horrifying stuff.

    And actually, while I realize this has a lot of basis in religion, I’m still one of those who sees this at least as much of a product of US & UK foreign policy as it is of Islam.

    Given evidence to the contrary I’m willing to change my mind, but still:

    Afganistan and Iran (Iraq to a lesser extent) had democratically elected governments before US & UK messed things up to protect their economic interests. It’s not long ago when they laid the groundwork for Khomeini’s ascend to power, supported Saddam and portrayed Taliban as the heroic freedom fighters, is that forgotten now?

    Invade a country of uneducated peasants, and you’ll end up creating a bitter, fanatical enemy willing to be united against you under the closest ideal available.

    Still, it’s hard to condemn the US air strikes on ISIS. All there seems to be left is to weep for our children.

    1. Religion is a kind of matrix or substrate and colonialism and economic self interest is like a blender used to establish closer contact between the volatile components of the explosion. It would be great to redo history, in hindsight.

    2. I am amazed that the west has such magical powers to force people to turn on each other and kill each other in the name of religion. How do they do it?

      It seems they’ve managed to create religious strife, racial oppression where none would have been there otherwise.

      Certainly the US (as well as ALL the major powers) have exhibited plenty of bad judgement.

      But it’s the culture, the religious and political mindset that is playing out here.

      1. And therefore the US, Britain and other powers are magically absolved of any responsibility – is that what you are saying? Do you really want to say it?

        1. “And therefore the US, Britain and other powers are magically absolved of any responsibility – is that what you are saying? Do you really want to say it?”

          No. They (as well as ALL the major powers) have messed things up quite a bit.

          But the tirade is the same, every time there’s another explosion, by knee jerk reaction US or ‘the West’ is the cause of it because you can point, in hindsight, looking far enouth, to some poor judgement on the part of the West.

          This is my point: Religion and local culture screw people up. The US does not have the power, even if it wanted to, to make people do these atrocities. You have a culture filled with bloodthirsy tribalism, what the US, or Israel, or Russia did would not change it much.

          1. It is certainly true that IS is busy fulfilling their wet dream of imposing Islam on the world through the sword, to establish the Caliphate that holds a similar position in Islam as Armageddon does in Christianity..

            It’s also true that, for as long as there have been empires, empires have tried to use their armies to civilize the barbarians in the hinterlands. And it is equally true that such efforts inevitably lead not to civilization but to chaos.

            What’s perhaps most striking is how, seemingly inevitably, Afghanistan is where empires go to die.


      2. Yes, these are volatile regions. But while the violent sparks remain, such regions have been developing in most parts of the world. It takes extra fuel to turn the remaining smolder into a new bonfire.

        The actions of the USA after the WW2 are far beyond “bad judgement”. It would be a mindless understatement to say this about seven decades of overthrowing democratically elected leaders, stimulating local insurgency, promoting radical theocracy over leftist secularism and backing up dollar-friendly dictators.

        One theory is that it’s just the American polical naiveté. But I doubt a nation of NASA, Harvard and 350 Nobel prize winners can be run by so utterly blind idiots.

        I’m inclined to think it is all very intentional. The constant state of war serves the American interests, as the arms industry runs their economy. As long as the plutocratic elite can make money with huge profit margins, there will be wars. The US will provide it. Wars are market fairs for them. Without the global market for military equipment the US economy would collapse overnight like a house of cards.

        And no, I’m not absolving any other major powers either. None of them have any scruples. But it’s only the USA who claims to be the good guy. Pretty much like the Catholic church, by the way.

        1. I’m not sure where you get your info from but the arms industry doesn’t exactly run the economy of the US. It’s a much larger component of the Russian economy, and I think only amounts to about $6 billion a year in exports for the US – US exports being $2.3 trillion in 2013. The US is indeed a plutocratic and corporatist nation, but that relies more on maintaining the free flow of money and goods via a global economy than arming the world. Not sure where you’re facts come from – but I sense some preconceived notions coloring your thinking.

          1. My info comes vaguely from some articles I’ve read and more specifically, an American documentary I saw some time ago, about the US military-industrial complex. This was its main message.

            But your point is taken, I thank you for correcting me and will check my sources more carefully. Still, I’m taking part in a human discussion, not a trial jury.

            The gist of my argument, however, is that the wars are premeditated business and intentionally promoted. Out of my respect to a great nation of intellectual achievements, I can’t believe the US foreign policy can be so blind as not to foresee repercussions obvious to a European teenager.

            Upholding plutocratically beneficial situations like a constant state of war and an ignorant electorate does not require a conspiratorial master plan, just some long-term clever political pressure towards that direction. The people of middle eastern origins I know seem to consider this connection of war, profits, ignorance and hostility toward education quite self-evident.

            And of course my notions are preconceived. We don’t have enough current information about ISIS yet.

            As for the “iron boot” analogy, it comes from a personal project involving interviews of several Scandinavian UN peacekeeper soldiers, as they seemed to abhor the ways the American soldiers create trouble everywhere they go by their brutality, arrogance and lack of any cultural respect.

    3. I don’t remember democracy ever existing in Afghanistan or Iraq. The present situation is the closest to democracy the government-controlled regions of those countries have ever had.

      1. Exactly so. The previous administration and perhaps all recent governments in the U.S. have claimed that Democracy, ever since Theodore’s big stick, is part of human nature and so, if we encourage it anywhere in the world regardless of its history it will take hold and everyone will live “happily ever after”.

      2. Iran, where the spread of the new political islamism was initiated, had a democratically elected government — until the UK and US decided to overthrow it and install a cruel puppet dictator to serve their greed. Without this criminal coup Khomeini would have lived his remaining years in a Parisian suburb. Without the US-UK-involvement, Iran would today be politically quite like Turkey. A bit heated, but democratic.

        Afganistan wasn’t exactly democratic, but at least it was secular. But as the Americans prefer a violent theocracy to anything leftist, the US and Saudis decided to back the Taliban and turn a fringe movement into a radical islamist revolution.

        Arguably, even Iraq had it much better before the US got involved and started backing up Saddam. The police state developed because of the war with Iran, which again was caused by the earlier overthrow of local democracy by the US and UK.

        I’m surprised the US has never invaded Norway, despite the oil and socialism.

        1. I really like the criticisms of left wingers like ColdThinker of the Shah. The Shah was not a nice man by any stretch of the imagination but, according to Kaveh Mousavi who blogs over at FTB and has the misfortune to actually live in Iran, the Ayatollahs are worse.

          1. The Shah sucked enough that the Ayatollahs were able to make their execrable alternative attractive enough to build a base for overthrowing him. The point is that British-American meddling in overthrowing Mosaddegh (who was democratically elected) in 1953 is when Iran began its descent into the current theocracy it has today.

          2. Of course the Ayatollahs are worse! You miss my point completely!

            Great that you read blogs, so do I. I also have Iranian friends, who have chosen to live elsewhere just because of horror of the Ayatollahs (being too young to have suffered under the Shah).

            This is my point: The Ayatollahs came to power because the US and UK refused to accept the results of a democratic election, overthrew that secular government and installed a ruthless dictator hated by everyone except perhaps some marginal elite.

            Of course, some kind revolution will take place eventually. And revolutions are seldom peaceful and democratic, hardly ever even a step to a better direction. In this case it was radical, islamic and very theocratic, as should have been foreseen by checking up page one of the local history.

            1. Well, here’s another slant on the removal of Mosaddeq in 1954 which claims that the contributions of the US and Great Britain have been exaggerated to say the least. It should be noted that the article appeared in a reputable publication, unlike many of the articles lambasting the CIA and MI6. In fact, it has been my information for a long time that Kermit Roosevelt, who liked to take credit for the regime change in Iran in 1954, exaggerated his contribution for his own self-aggrandizement.


      3. Democracy cannot thrive in a vacuum. Democracy cannot function amongst pre-enlightenment values. If the local culture is still stuck in tribalism, democracy will fail miserably.

        It consistently failed in the Middle East, and in many parts of Africa, but has take well in India, Japan, Korea and some other parts of Asia. It’s NOT a racial thing but it is a cultural thing.

  11. Things are certainly more complicated than, on the on hand, everything being the responsibilty of pure Islamic hegemonists and on the other everything being the responsibility of Western hegemonists. Surely, we should try not to reduce the debate to this sort of simplicity. What purpose does doing so serve? What does it help?

      1. Yes, there were theocracies in the Middle East. Ancient theocracies.

        But all those previous theocracies were well on their paths to become secular and democratic. If the USA (and to a lesser extent UK) had had the decency to stay inside their own borders, these countries would have accomplished this during the past half century.

        After the WW2, the US declared it’s God-given right to overthrow any leftist goverment they don’t like. This iron boots politics has caused and fueled global problems, which would not exist without it. Khomeini, Saddam, Taliban, Pol Pot, Pinochet, the contras…

        Again, it’s not simple any more. I can’t condemn the air attacks on ISIS.

        1. Oh I agree western involvement has pretty much turned everything in the Middle East to shit. If we’re taking out radical militants by bombing ISIS, I won’t say that this action should be condemned in and of itself. But, like when Bush dragged us into Iraq over 10 years ago, i don’t see any credible evidence that we know what the end game is.

          My feeling is that until the region establishes peace and secularism on its own accord in a way similar to the west during the Enlightenment, this will continue. If it’s not al Qaida, it’s ISIS. If it’s not ISIS, it’s likely to be another group. The 2003 invasion should demonstrate that we cannot go in and establish democracy from the outside. It is true there was much violence in the west to establish democracy, but it started from within, not without.

    1. Of course it has something to do with religion, and nobody with any sense in their heads denies it, but there are other important factors in human life besides religion as, I should have thought, a modicum of knowledge of even very recent history would show. What has given ISIS its chance is the collapse of the Iraqi atate and the turmoil in Syria. It is easy and satisfying to take the course of declaring all Arabs or all Muslims incorrigible, and taking no account of other factors, but it is surely not responsible. I might add that I used to hear, not so long ago, the same sort of sentiments about Irish people, whether Catholic or Protestant, expressed by fine, upstanding English people who were of course almost wholly ignorant of Irish history and had never bothered to think about the nature of political order, the reasons why it might break down, and what might ensue in the event that it did break down. It was much easier to blame the results on the supposed nature of the Irish, or, let us say (to take an example from slightly less recent history), the Germans. I shall doubtless now be told, ‘Ah, but Muslims really are incorrigible.’ One hears complaints from some New Atheists about the disciplne of history. I wish they would read some.

        1. And I might add, since certain people are so anxious to misunderstand things, that I find Islam a dreadful religion.

      1. What has given ISIS its chance is different from what is motivating it.

        And I don’t appreciate your self-styled superiority here, dissing other readers for not being as well-read as you are. Really?

        1. I am sorry to disagree with you, but I am not claiming any superiority based on my reading. Just as you yourself rightly think that people should make the effort to understand the theory of evolution so I think that people should have some understanding of history and the nature of political order. The collapse of a political order may not only be due to religious (and other) extremism but may foster such extremism. Motivations for extremism, whether religious or otherwise, often die down when there is some sort of poltical stability. The fact is that the actions of the USA and its allies have very much helped to create this present mess, and I do not think that this fact should be ignored out of an interest, on the part of at least some of the commenters, in having a go at ideological foes who assert that everything is the fault of the West and suppose that non-Western peoples are somehow not agents in their own right. The situation is a difficult and complex one and I think that needs to be recognised.

          1. “ust as you yourself rightly think that people should make the effort to understand the theory of evolution so I think that people should have some understanding of history and the nature of political order.”

            One can have a authoritative understanding of history, even have lived in the middle east for several years, yet still disagree with your interpretation of it. It’s unfortunate you couldn’t have made your point free of a bit of imperiousness which, to be fair, you may not even realize is there.

            1. Well, I am sorry if sound imperious, but perhaps you or that hypothetical somebody could explain why you or they disagree? Do you really suppose that the actions of the US and its allies have nothing to do with this mess?

      2. ‘Ah, but Muslims really are incorrigible.’

        There are 4 things that ALL Muslims are indoctrinated with:

        1) Islam is the One True Religion™
        2) The Caliphate will be restored
        3) Islam will take over the world
        4) Infidels™ will be converted or killed

        Just like Cliven Bundy will live and die an incorrigible racist, billions of Muslims have lived and died (and billions more will too) with this insanity.

        This is their apocalypse. And if they want it so badly then I say let them have it.

        Islam will not go away peacefully. The greatest atrocities are still to be committed.

        The fact that they are incorrigible is not up for debate. The nonsense that their incorrigibility is a symptom of Western interference isn’t either.

        It’s more of an insult (to them) to say that they are so feeble minded that light-skinned infidels are more of an influence than their religion is.

        1. …and so you would kill them all. Give them the apocalypse they clamor for.

          This makes you civilized…how, exactly? Could you really live with yourself by doing to the Muslims what Hitler tried to do to the Jews? Could any justification — even “they begged for it” — possibly be sufficient for such horror?

          If somebody got belligerent with you and insisted that he wouldn’t leave you alone until you chopped off his hand, would you really do it?


          1. I said, “let them have it.” If this is what they so desire then who am I do deny it to them?

            I do not wish it upon them. I will not bring it to them. I will not rejoice at the loss of life.

            But if the constant indoctrination and overdeveloped bloodlust means that suffering on an immense scale is the best way to drag their sorry asses into civilisation then it’s clear that more suffering now will lead to less suffering in toto.

            But that’s a nice little web of crazy you managed to spin with my words. What I find interesting is that you would not hesitate to call me uncivilised because of things you thought I said yet you are probably not so quick to call Muslims uncivilised with their constant calls for global genocide.

            See what I did there?

            1. I said, “let them have it.” If this is what they so desire then who am I do deny it to them?

              Then you are every bit as barbaric as they. And there is another very apt comparison to be made here that would invoke Godwin’s law….

              What I find interesting is that you would not hesitate to call me uncivilised because of things you thought I said yet you are probably not so quick to call Muslims uncivilised with their constant calls for global genocide.

              On the contrary. I have repeatedly and consistently condemned the barbarism of Islam and those who submit to it. And, I have repeatedly and consistently condemned the barbarism of Christianity, with the caveat that the Enlightenment largely de-fanged Christianity and those who follow it are much less rabid and influential than they have been historically — though, to be sure, its influence is still most dangerous.

              What I have not done, and what I will not do, yet what you repeatedly have done and continue to do, is call for mass indiscriminate murder of Biblical proportions in response to childish taunting, even when the bullies follow through with their threats with all they’re good for.


              1. If the fate of Islam lies in a bloodbath yet unseen on this planet wouldn’t you also say, “sooner rather than later”?

                It would be inhumane to say otherwise. To say that more people should suffer until Islam civilises itself. To say more people should die in the ultimate slaughter. That would be inhumane.

                Bring it on. Let Islam come to its bloody conclusion sooner rather than later.

              2. What is this, a Neo-Nazi convention descending upon WEIT? I can’t believe what I’m reading — these vehement calls from multiple accounts calling for a final solution to annihilate all Muslims for their own good…it’s truly sickening.

                Have you no shame? Are you not human?


              3. Not sure at all when I called for a “final solution” and that’s probably because I didn’t.

                That’s the second time you’ve tried to put words into my mouth in this thread.

                Is your position so untenable that you need to create a strawman to “defeat”?

              4. Well said, Ben. I’m afaid I’m not going to bother with Manzibe’s contemptible nonsense, though I will say that, contrary to you, Ben, I feel that quite definitely assistance should be given to the Kurds and others so that ISIS can be stopped.

              5. I appreciate the urge to help the underdogs fighting for their very lives…but, empirically, it just isn’t a very wise move. That’s how al Qaeda was created: we armed Afghanis resisting the Soviets. Saddam Hussein started his career as the darling of the US. We armed the Contras. Time after time after time we’ve played arms dealer to the oppressed…and time after time after time it’s turned out for the worse in the end.

                I don’t want the Kurds to be massacred by the Caliphate. I want the Caliphate to stop its roadside executions. I want to see peace throughout the land — I want the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates to once again be the cradle of civilization.

                But, as viscerally satisfying as it might be to give arms to the rebels…I just can’t see any intellectual nor moral justification for doing so.

                Once more, with feeling: first, do no harm!


    1. Something tells me the IDF and Mossad won’t let it come to that but learning Arabic would still be cool.

  12. In my politically orthogonal view, Vice News is an upbeat rightwing propaganda tool with an onboard Rupert Murdoch influence, and should be consumed with salt (see I saw a VICE reporter recently defend a swastika clad national-guardsman on the false grounds that swastikas are traditional Ukrainian good-luck symbols!
    Be that as it may, even VN would find it hard to exaggerate the horror of ISIS, although it fails to mention that cluelessness bordering on complicity by Neocon elements in the Obama government are largely responsible for things getting so out of hand. The rise of ISIS is the upshot of US efforts to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria. MSM (i.e., corporation controlled news) has masked the anti-Assad adventure in pious rhetoric, biased reporting, and factoids behind which militant capitalism and extreme Israeli nationalism (a sensitive point in this living room, and said without intent to offend) could exploit Syria’s misfortune. ISIS has occupied the vacuum left by destabilization. However, the mischief-makers know, whatever the price, the US taxpayer will bail them out. Mark Twain said it all: America has “the best government that money can buy.”

    1. I, too, was wondering about the reliability of VICE News. On the one hand, these are videos; on the other hand, I know the Palestinians were able to arrange for the media to produce videos which distorted the situation.

      I finally realized there’s no way I can know the real truth, so quit worrying about it.

    2. The rise of ISIS is the upshot of US efforts to destabilize the Assad regime in Syria.

      So I don’t get ideologues.

      That Murdoch’s family is on the Vice News board is a fact. Nice observation.

      Then jumping to conspiracy theories about IS rise to power makes the rest seem absurd. IS grew under the Syrian Civil War.

      The Syrian Civil War process was Assad’s regime destabilizing itself, based on a legacy of military rule extending it to armed crackdowns including civilians, torture and use of chemical weapons.

      That the world hasn’t moved much on something that is tantamount to genocide (“overtly sectarian in nature”) is bad. (We did get rid of the chemical weapons, but that was quite another global interest in play. :-/)

    3. Mr. Benson is apparently a student of the Glenn Greenwald school of conspiracy theories. The notion that the US and Israel fomented the revolution against Assad is poppycock. Quite the contrary, the US and Israel have tacitly supported the Assad regime for 40 years because the Assads, pere and fils, kept things quiet on the Golan Highths front during that time. Despite entreaties from the Free Syrian Army, the folks who started the revolt, the Government of Israel has declined to support them and the US has followed suit. As the revolt progressed, any inclination of the two governments to support the rebels went South as the entrance of the precursors to the ISIL into the fight made it impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

      1. And, of course, we should not believe a word that these Peace Loving Brown People™ say because Murdoch et al must have paid them to say it.

        Because nobody in the entire middle east really wants a Caliphate and is willing to spill blood to get it.

        This is all just one big conspiracy to make Muslims look bad sell more newspapers.


  13. Here’s Jon Freedland in the Guardian denying that this has anything to do with religion:

    According to [Iraq scholar] Toby Dodge… what’s driving IS, or at least making its phenomenal success possible, is not pre-modern religious zeal so much as a pre-modern absence of state power.

    The point about the breakdown of the structures of state is of course valid — that also was an essential ingredient in the rise of Nazism. But why the specific denial of the role of fanatical Islam? IS doesn’t look badly organized and unstructured to me! And its religious ideology ripe for fascism didn’t spring up fully formed over night. (al-Baghdadi claims direct descent from the Prophet after all.)

    Then Freedland quotes Dodge saying this gem:

    “It’s Darwinian,” he adds, describing IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his inner circle as those strong enough to have survived the US hammering of al-Qaida in Iraq between 2007 and 2009.

    So Jihad against apostates and infidels is not a religious phenomenon, but is instead due to godless Darwinian evolution with the US acting as natural selection.

    1. It explains a lot about the Guardian that he is the chief editor of their Comment is Free section.

      (… Free from criticism of Islam, a cynic could say)

    2. Immediately before Dodge’s ‘gem’ is this: ‘He (Dodge)notes its combination of fierce religious ideology, financial acumen and tactical nous.’ Neither Freedland nor Dodge assert, as you allege, that the mess has nothing to do with religion.

      1. The headline, stating the argument that it’s “not a holy war” is, I think, an accurate reflection of the contents of the article, and of the parts I quoted.

        How about this: “combination of fierce religious ideology, aka Jihad, aka holy war”? That would be perfectly accurate, and would equally suggest that the IS is indeed waging a “pre-modern form of religious zeal”, contrary to the claims of the article.

        I posted the link because it seemed to be making an absurd and needless distinction. I don’t doubt that the chaos caused by the US’s catastrophic action in Iraq has in large part formed the seed bed for all this, but I see no reason to obscure the fact that Islam is a powerful and well constructed springboard for exactly this kind of Islamo-fascism.

        (Of course, I don’t see it as an inevitable consequence of Islam, and don’t ascribe such characteristics to Muslims en masse.)

        The reference to Darwin also makes me suspect that this is an example of religious apologetics obscuring accurate analysis.

        1. That was also my reaction to the mention of Darwin. Basically, take any opportunity to subliminally link bad stuff to atheism. It’s a bit pathetic of him really.

        2. The loose analogy with what is said to be ‘Darwininan’ is Tony Date’s, not Freedland’s, and is no more than a loose analogy. I honestly feel it’s being rather paranoiac to see in it an attack on atheism.

  14. It’s too bad that building military dictatorships from the ground up is still viable. The theocratic basis helps sway supporters to not think too much on what they are doing, of course.

  15. One way would be to educate people. But how with school prayer and smaller budgets?

    And again, how can this help? I live in France and every year there are more bearded fellows roaming the streets with no goal and veiled women. Being stupid and barely speaking the language isn’t going to bring Heaven on Earth for them. It’s kill to give a purpose to a life that has no purpose.

  16. By all accounts, IS has executed over 50,000 non-combatants in the past 2 months. There will be hundreds of thousands of refugees. Maybe millions.

    If Muslims behave so badly to their own “brothers and sisters” and offer local non-Mulsims the choice of conversion or death or the life of a subjugate, we know EXACTLY what the Palestinians would do if they could breach the borders of Israel en masse.

    Here is a link to a video of IS going about it’s daily business. A worse fate awaits the Jews.

    This link contains images of executions.

  17. Let’s face it, any group that can make both Saddam Hussain and Bashar Assad look moderate has to be pretty fucking bad!

  18. This has all the hallmarks of a religious war, albeit with political and socioeconomic overtones. It took the Christians over 100 years to get over theirs during the Reformation.

    Joe Biden was right. Iraq should have been divided into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish sovereign states. That’s what’s happening de facto now, through force of arms and genocide.

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