ISIS

The Will and the Way Problem With Defeating ISIS

Why boots-on-ground, Western or Muslim, are not a good strategy

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If saber rattling alone could defeat ISIS, then the current crop of GOP presidential contenders (minus Rand Paul) 

ISIS
Akula Lopotev via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

alone would be enough to do the job. But all this saber rattling can't hide the fact that their calls to put "boots on the ground" won't solve the ISIS problem. That strategy is not likely to endure much past the first videotaped beheading or burning of a captured American soldier, I note in my column at The Week.

But how about the 30-plus-nation military coalition of Muslim countries that Saudi Arabia announced with much fanfare last week? Can a Muslim fighting force defeat ISIS without ugly side effects? It could, if it could get past the irony that the country most responsible for creating the jihadi monster now wants to lead the fight against it.  But there are many other reasons as well to be skeptical that this force is much more than PR.

Go here to find out what they are. But here's the fundamental ISIS conundrum:

"The West — especially after Paris and San Bernardino — has the will, but has no way. The Middle East has the way, but not the will."

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  1. Still trying to understand why ANY of that is our problem.

    1. It *is* our problem in that the cultists in ISIS believe their god commands them to kill guys like you and me. If they ever get the means, they probably will act on it.

      It *isn’t* our problem in that left to their own devices they will likely (but not certainly) piss off their neighbors to the point where they will be all put to the sword or exposed in gibbets.

      There’s also a great dal of “fuck-all” ‘we’ can do about them; the U.S. has no real allies in the area, and frankly getting sucked into that stupid war is likely to make more enemies than it destroys. We the citizenry are even more helpless than our govt.

      1. I agree with all of this, but to put on my devils’ advocacy cap…

        Outside Iran and perhaps Turkey, the armies of majority-Muslim countries in the region are incredibly shitty; less useful for power projection than for basic military occupation-style duties — and even those are duties that the often fuck up. (Not too dissimilar from Latin America in that way, really.)

        To add fuel to the fire, Islamism is an ideology with a fairly sizeable minority throughout the Middle East, and which has a number of sympathizers throughout the general population. These are less common in the military ranks due to ideological purges by most of the states in the region, but there are plenty of paramilitaries which are frankly more effective in some ways as light brigades than the national armies of the regional powers.

        ISIS’ army is toilet paper compared to ours, granted. However, it has some advantages over the state-based armies in the region and has the advantage that the Sunni and Shia blocs are unlikely to team up to completely destroy ISIS. This will leave the war as one that is in large part being waged against the Syrian army and Kurdish paramilitaries — a fight ISIS could lose, but one that’s far more evenly matched than ISIS vs the Middle East.

        1. I’ll be happy to read about it, and if it ever gets close to threatening us, why, I’m sure the government will be more than happy to ‘go to war’.

      2. It *is* our problem in that the cultists in ISIS believe their god commands them to kill guys like you and me. If they ever get the means, they probably will act on it.

        But they have no significant “means.” Intentions are fine, but the key is capability. They don’t really have any significant capability.

    2. “Still trying to understand why ANY of that is our problem.”

      Given up on that; I’m trying to understand why anyone is CLAIMING it to be our problem.

      1. It’s perceived to be a path to power. There are a lot of ignorant people in this country. It’s easy to make people fear something they don’t understand. Scared people are more willing to give up their money and their liberty.

        1. Rank cynicism is certainly one of the contenders; a large part of the government couldn’t exist without it.

    3. Especially when it’s generating a steady stream of people that just want to come to the US for better lives.

      1. Especially when it’s generating a steady stream of people that just want to come to the US for better lives.

        Yeah, I’m thinking we might pick up some quality Europeans out of all this.

  2. “boots on the ground” … is not likely to endure much past the first videotaped beheading or burning of a captured American soldier

    Does “glowing sand” count as “ground”?

    1. That strategy is not likely to endure much past the first videotaped beheading or burning of a captured American soldier, I note in my column at The Week.

      “The West ? especially after Paris and San Bernardino ? has the will…”

      Um, which one is it?

      1. The West has the will to put boots on the ground. That will will vanish rapidly thereafter.

        1. I don’t buy it. Americans are a highly warlike people; we kept the Civil War going far beyond the point of reason and sacrificed millions in two European wars which impinged mostly our honor. If ISIS pissed us off enough, the only thing a beheaded American would do to our morale is get us pissed enough to take off the kid gloves.

          1. I’m not sure a generation of precious snowflakes has the stomach for total war, that hour has long past.

            1. Snowflakes don’t join the Army.

              1. Snowflakes scream about bombed hospitals, landmines, willy pete, cluster bombs, fuel/air ordinance, depleted uranium shells, etc… unfettered napalm would give them the vapors…

                1. And they don’t vote or donate large sums of money…

                  1. Says who?

                2. Mostly when it’s the GOP in the White House, though.

                  Which, as somebody pointed out, is a good reason to support Trump. If Trump becomes President, continuing Obama’s continued Bush policies will suddenly become a Bad Thing again. Hillary will double down on the worst of the Obama/Bush policies and these same ratfuckers will applaud.

            2. I have no doubt that our crybullies have plenty of fascist DNA that will enable them to justify the most horrifying atrocities, so long as they can fit it within their Narrative.

              1. Ahh.. but they’re very particular, and the devil’s in the details..

          2. I can’t see Obama (or any of the current generals) having the guts to pull a Colonel Moscard? telling his captured son to “commend his soul to god” when the rebels told him they were going to kill him if he didn’t surrender Alcazar.

          3. US military deaths in the two world wars were somewhat over 510,000 combined. Where are you getting millions from?

            1. Maybe he was included wounded?

            2. Included casualties inflicted on the enemy.

          4. We have nowhere near the will to smash our way through Syria and Iraq with mech infantry – civilian casualties be dammed, round up everyone in ISIS, and shoot them in front of mass graves. Not even close.

            Eventually there will be a nuclear terrorist attack, then we’ll vaporize a large swath of the Middle East.

            1. Either that, or welcome our new Islamist overlords.

              Depends on who’s in charge, I think.

            2. Eventually there will be a nuclear terrorist attack, then we’ll vaporize a large swath of the Middle East.

              There’s no way a US president would respond to a nuclear terrorist attack with nuclear retaliation. What would be the point? What would he target?

              1. Who would he target?

                The next election.

      2. after Paris and San Bernardino

        Which of these things is not like the other?

        1. “after” and “and” both start with “a” – so Imma go with Paris (a place in France, so I hear) and San Bernadino (a place in these here US of A, right?)

          1. Nothing gets past your narrowed gaze.

        2. OK, the Paris attacks were recognized by the US as a bona fide terrorist attack. Even though the SB attack was carried out by radicalized muslims, it’s not (officially recognized by the US) a terrorist attack because…something.

    2. Never mind that most of the people in the region are innocent? It’s hard to fit nuclear weapons into any execution of the NAP.

      1. It’s hard to fit nuclear weapons into any execution of the NAP.

        I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, under the framework of the NAP, terrorist attacks are generally self-contained events. The terrorists either die in the attack, or you engage in a manhunt (whether directly by the government’s own forces or indirectly by setting bounties and issuing letters of marque) and usually capture them shortly thereafter.

        But the problem with terrorism isn’t the death and destruction per se, it’s the effect of “terror” upon the targeted populace. The goal of the terrorists isn’t to kill so much as intimidate. By eschewing traditional arms and symmetric warfare, they are inherently seeking some objective other than (immediate) annihilation of their enemies. The long-term plan might be intimidate, subjugate, then annihilate, but regardless a dozen people can’t eliminate a million with one conventional bomb.

        Strictly speaking, you can’t match such attacks with superior force under the NAP. Your opponent has only bloodied your nose; you can’t cut off his leg. Suck it up, buttercup, and get on with your life. It’s not strict pacifism, but it’s pretty close practically speaking. And the important caveat is that you are very likely to get your nose bloodied over and over again. Your opponent may “see the light” and give up but it’s improbable for him to do so.

        1. So we come to a philosophical question, what is peace? Is peace a state of mind? If so, then the argument about the NAP is perfectly valid and you can enjoy your peace of mind, although you might be doing so six feet under.

          If we are to devise a practical definition of peace, though, then we have to account for all human action. It is not sufficient for you to be peaceful if your enemy is not. Practical peace exists when the only people who remain are those who want it. This is reality: the Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, Pax Americana, and all other peaces of note throughout history have been defined by military and political hegemony of a single power over others. And they were all achieved by bloodshed, without much regard to guilt or innocence beyond very broad strokes.

          Yet neither is truly tenable as both run contrary to human nature. Long-term adherence to the NAP would require near-universal stoicism and resiliency, heretofore unseen in any large population over a long timeframe, while long-term maintenance of hegemony is almost a contradiction in terms: the martial culture that builds hegemony vanishes under the peace it brings.

          However, the question of which path is more acceptable will ultimately be left not to morality or utility but to popularity.

      2. You have to collectivize to fit warfare (nuclear or otherwise) into the NAP. War always involves killing non-combatants, after all.

        The current laughable half-assed excuse for “kinetic military action” is pretty much what you get when you try to fight a war and comply with the NAP. IMO, its the worst of both worlds.

        1. The current laughable half-assed excuse for “kinetic military action” is pretty much what you get when you try to fight a war and comply with the NAP don’t want to look like bad in your social circles

          The President has never demonstrated any adherence to the NAP nor to any similar philosophical principles.

  3. Except in extremely rare circumstances, Protestants and Catholics have given up trying to violently convert the other to their Christian sect. Sunnis and Shi’te continue to kill each other over who is the legitimate successor to Mohammed who died many many centuries ago. What factors led Protestants and Catholics to give up the religious wars and could such factors be brought to play today to get Muslims to at least tolerate each other?

    1. What factors led Protestants and Catholics to give up the religious wars

      Exhaustion and this patriarchal thing called the Enlightenment.

      1. What factors led Protestants and Catholics to give up the religious wars and could such factors be brought to play today to get Muslims to at least tolerate each other?

        Killing each other by the boatload during the 30-Years’ War seemed to reduce their enthusiasm for it.

        Besides that, Christianity has always been a different beast than Islam. Eastern Orthodox and Catholic had a mostly bloodless split; generally the Nestorians and Copts were expelled and treated as somewhat heterodox Christians. In contrast, the Sunni-Shia split started bloody and has stayed that way. Safavid Persia and the Ottomans had a conflict with a death toll nearly on the level of the 30-Years’ War; didn’t quell the bloodlust and neither will another similar eruption of violence. Islam is simply more predisposed towards accepting the losses of violence and statecraft rather than surrendering those tools.

        1. Perhaps Islam has better proof of the Afterlife.

        2. Killing each other by the boatload during the 30-Years’ War seemed to reduce their enthusiasm for it.

          Generally speaking, the bloodshed in Europe between Protestants and Catholics was primarily (but not exclusively), a result of growing central state power being identified with a specific Christian interpretation. Thus, rejection of the authority of the church meant one was rejecting the power/authority of the monarch. And that, of course, was treason.

          This is what makes the insight of Roger Williams so brilliant: instead of increasing connections between church and state, we do away with them and so remove the political incentive to enforce orthodoxy.

          1. instead of increasing connections between church and state, we do away with them and so remove the political incentive to enforce orthodoxy.

            This is Ibrahim Al-Buleihi‘s argument

            I have no idea how he’s still alive.

            1. It’s interesting he would take his lead from Japan. The key thought of young reformers during the Meiji Restoration was that Japan could NOT become an advanced industrial power if it simply grafted western manufacturing onto the Japanese philosophical base. You had to change the base to enable society to advance.

              1. In that, I suspect that even Bakumatsu-era Japan was less behead-y than 2015 Saudi Arabia, I think that Al-Bulehi is making that argument through an oblique reference to Japan.

                1. Agree with your assessment on Japan. I just think it’s interesting that a handful of intellectuals get that economic, scientific, industrial progress flow from certain philosophical foundations (western liberal democracy is one but not the only one). And a key element of that is tolerance of diverse worldviews, not just out of some high-mindedness but because it opens the door to advances that may come not from the usual foundations.

                    1. Awesome. The look on the host’s face when he says “even your headband was made in Britain.”

            2. From his studies he has concluded that Western Civilization has several deep cultural principles that make it more dynamic, more open-minded and therefore able to develop faster, through empowering individuality and independent thinking.

              Yeah, normally the progs would rip someone apart for holding such views. Oh, you mean the Saudi government….

          2. True of almost all super-violent religious confrontations IMO.

            Unfortunate that Islam acquired massive political power so early. It disallows the ideology flexibility on non-statist interpretations ever achieving a mainstream position in the Islamic world, IMO.

        3. Reading the actual Bible also reduced their enthusiasm for killing each other for religious reason. Unfortunately, reading the Koran has the opposite effect.

          1. Not sure I totally agree with this. Reading the bible was what led many Christians to kill each other in the first place. As Tarran notes above, the Enlightenment led many Christians to reinterpret the bible. So, yes, the bible but, to a large extent, interpreting the bible post-Enlightenment.

            1. Reading the Bible started the Reformation and caused many wars. Once the Catholics started actually reading it too, the purely religious wars died down.

              1. Wars I would probably agree with you. But killing, not so much. John Calvin as well as the New England Puritans used the bible as justification for killing denominational rivals.

      2. I don’t think it helps that The Prophet himself warred his way to power either.

  4. Fareed Zakaria is a good piece on CNN explaining why BOOTs on the Ground, Being the Profiteer of other people’s misery with the war/oil machine, and just fucking with the A-Rabs is a REALLY BAD FUCKING IDEA!

    1. Who wrote that piece for him?

      1. I think he does his own thing. But, I’m sure he has a big staff.

        From what I got out of it, these Extreme Islamist view that the US/Israel/Russia where the 1st start fucking with these people all over the world (Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lybia, Chechnia, etc).

        That’s how they get Sympathy.

        Mohammad Atta was pissed that we killed his daughter in Iraq from the 1992 Gulf war….That led to the honors of the 9-11 attack.

          1. Fareed Zakaria is a dull and unimaginative serial plagiarist, bereft of credibility.. And, fucking with *anybody* is a REALLY BAD FUCKING IDEA!..

  5. From Rand’s lonely and ignored speechwriter:

    My fellow Americans. It is true that many, many bad men occupy a small part of useless dirt in the Middle East. They have committed atrocious acts against their own people as well as handful of Westerners that have crossed their paths. And yes, like-minded men and women have taken up residence in major cities in Europe and even here at home. But you must fully understand that these men cannot in any way overthrow the civil institutions that make up this great country.

    Yes, it is terrifying to watch bad men kill dozens, even hundreds, of innocent people here and abroad. But shitting your pants every time something bad happens is counterproductive. Demanding that the government burn the constitution and dismantle civil and criminal justice systems just to make you feel a bit more secure in your split-level ranch home makes you more dangerous to the freedom of the people of the United States than any collection of ragheads anywhere in the world.

    Grow up people.

    1. Yes, it is terrifying to watch bad men kill dozens, even hundreds, of innocent people here and abroad. But shitting your pants every time something bad happens is counterproductive.

      Unless the people here are killed by cops, in which case we are allowed to get agitated while still be considered adults.

      1. the people here are killed by cop

        That would be part of:

        burn the constitution and dismantle civil and criminal justice systems

      2. Yes, cover for the cops. Good job.

        1. I’m not covering for them, I just wonder why we don’t hold terrorists or whatever they’re called to the same standards as we hold cops as far as not unjustly killing people.

          I think we have fought wars within the limits of the Constitution.

          1. Because cops have both the power and the duty to stop bad actors within their ranks, while Muslims have neither when it comes to trrrrrsts.

          2. hold terrorists or whatever they’re called to the same standards as we hold cops

            The last thing we need is for ISIS to union-up. It’s bad enough the police are untouchable. Once the terrorists unionize, they’ll be able to behead anyone they want and then take a paid vacation.

          3. I’m pretty sure everyone is quite happy to hold terrorists to account for any act of violence they commit. No one is giving any terrorists immunity when they murder a bunch of people. Police, on the other hand, are allowed to kidnap, assault and murder people with impunity (I’m talking about the things they are legally allowed to do here, not about the ones who break the law and get away with it).

            And no one is calling for military attacks on communities where lots of police live because all of those people who are neighbors of police should have done something about it.

            Sorry, this new “how come we get to collectivize police” thing ain’t working.

          4. I’m not covering for them, I just wonder why we don’t hold terrorists or whatever they’re called to the same standards as we hold cops as far as not unjustly killing people.

            Cops get paid vacation and we say that’s not enough, terrorists get a bullet to the brain and you say that’s not enough?

      3. Yeah. Except for the little fact that our governments actually employ cops to abuse and brutalize people and violate their natural rights. It’s not a few bad cops and it’s not just the cops who break the law that are the problem. The whole legal system encourages and even requires violence against innocent people (who may or may not be violating certain laws).

        So, no, it’s not parallel at all. Yeah, people get the most worked up when police get away with murder or something like that. But the real, ongoing horror is the immunities they all get and the laws they are all expected to enforce.

        1. You expect them to both enforce and follow the law at the same time? Seriously? That’s harder than walking and chewing gum!

          1. Well, I go ever further than that. I also expect them to refuse to enforce immoral laws.

            1. Having a sense of morality is an automatic disqualification for being a cop.

      4. The phrase “shitting your pants” has lost all meaning at this point.

        However, what exactly is your point with this equivalency? Terrorists commit murder, so we say kill the terrorists. Cops commit murder, so we say give them something a little stronger than a paid vacation and a letter of reprimand.

        1. Dammit, that was poorly worded. The statement about “cops commit murder” is meant to refer to those cops who commit murder, and not to imply that all cops commit murder.

        2. However, what exactly is your point with this equivalency?

          It’s the result of dim people getting the false impression that they are being clever. The yokelshits seem determined to die on this silly argument.

          1. I don’t know if it’s where it started, but John brought it up the other day. I don’t know if he thought he was making a point, or just trolling. But a number of people seem to have jumped on that bandwagon, unable to see why collectivizing police, who choose the job knowing what it entails, and collectivizing all members of a religion, most of whom are born into it and have little choice in the matter.

            1. All John does at this point is trolling.

            2. The collectivization though is beside the point. The problem is that perpetrators of crimes are not being held accountable, the various and sundry reasons why may relate to their profession, but that is ultimately immaterial. No one (save a few disingenuous left-wing trolls) is saying terrorists shouldn’t get their comeuppance. And they almost always do get it; so what is there to complain about?

        3. In summary, I wonder why people who don’t want to be killed by terrorists (and who don’t want to disregard the Constitution in preventing it) are considered pants shitters by the outfit that gets rightly wound up by cops killing people.

          1. In summary, it’s still a stupid argument.

          2. Then why did you say this: “I just wonder why we don’t hold terrorists or whatever they’re called to the same standards as we hold cops as far as not unjustly killing people”?

            Unless you mean to say that terrorists should get paid vacation and a sternly worded letter instead of a vigorous prosecution followed by a conviction and/or a bullet to the brain, I don’t see what your point is.

            I already said that “pants shitting” (and variant grammatical forms) is meaningless at this point.

            1. Because I worded it badly at first and ought to have thought more before hitting “submit”.

  6. I have less of an issue with using Isis as target practice than I do the gaurenteed-to-fail nation building afterwards that expects the new boss to be any better than the old boss.

    1. Al Queda. OK, that’s pretty much gone, now we want to eliminate ISIS. Can we have a pool for the name of the next piss-ant Middle Eastern group we have to use as an excuse to wipe the president’s ass with the constitution? CRISPR? LSMFT? SWAK?

    2. But what’s the point of using ISIS for target practice if you can’t actually eliminate the conditions that let ISIS thrive. It’s like scrubbing away the mold every few weeks without actually fixing the water leak that is causing it. It’s not our house. Why are we doing the cleaning?

      1. “But what’s the point of using ISIS for target practice”

        Because everyone insist on “doing something” and this is the least objectionable “something” to me.

  7. When are we going to realize that there is no way we will ever win with our recent policies of waging a limited war? If we want to win, we need to tell the people that we are going back to the old style WWII total war. We will carpet bomb Damascus and instead of apologizing if a hospital gets hit, we will be outraged that we missed something and send in another air strike to rectify the problem.

    Explain to the people that if they really want to do something they better be prepared for a lot of pictures of dead women and kids. A LOT. If they aren’t cool with this, then we should just stay out of the whole god damned thing.

    Personally I’m for doing nothing. But if we are going to send our military there, let slip the dogs of war.

    1. Yup. Either fight a war like you mean it, or stay home.

      It astonishes me that WWII lasted only 5 years and change, and we are still diddle-fucking around with these primitives.

    2. The notion that we will solve terrorism by indiscriminately bombing the Middle East is, quite frankly, dumb hypermacho masturbatory fantasy. It’s nice to think “If dey just took teh gloves off our boyz we’d win this like we beat the nazis and the japs!” but reality is a bit more complex than that.

      1. Well, indiscriminately bombing the Middle East would mostly just result in uninhabited desert being bombed.

        But snark aside, in some very brutal sense, bombing population centers and holy places would one way or another bring this to an end. Yes, it’s fantasy in the sense that it’s not going to happen, but to say that it couldn’t “work” for certain definitions of “working” is also not correct.

    1. Thanks for sharing that.

      Mental illness is a helluva drug.

  8. Too bad no founding father gave a speech about avoiding foreign entanglements.

    1. Who listens to some old dead white guys? I have it on good authority that some of them had slaves…

      1. Plus everything they wrote is like a hundred years old man.

    2. In warning against “Entanglements”, Washington was not advising a policy of ‘non-involvement’ or isolationism re: the outside world.

      His specific admonition was that relationships with foreign governments should never be too overly positive or negative in bearing, lest they draw the country into (like England and France) centuries of endless bickering and conflict, or cause other nations to resent favorable treatment of another.

      ” The nation which indulges toward another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest… Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. …a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification…..”

      Insisting on a policy of “we support whatever Israel does” is an example of the sort of thing he’d oppose. Similarly, he’d probably recommend against “Axis of Evil”-type rhetoric.

      1. There is also an interpretation that Washington was primarily warning against the Jeffersonian desire to ally the US with France.

        1. Yes. In a letter to the British (foreign minister? can’t remember).. Washington was talking about US policy vis a vis France and England, and it revealed a highly sensitive and cunning diplomatic mind. Far more ‘realpolitik’ than ideologically-driven pure-neutrality.

          He basically said, “as a nation currently without a Navy, its in our interests to stay the fuck out of your way, and also not get too cozy with France (despite some desires to do so in different corners of the country). As it stands, you might be harassing us and our French trade… and we aint going to say boo about it… but keep in mind, one day we WILL have a Navy and you may not want to be pissing us off endlessly…”

          It was the latter point i found most surprising coming from the “no foreign entanglements” guy = he basically said, “Military hegemony dictates policy”. We were neutral, in his view, *because we had to be*. But he specifically said, “We certainly won’t have to be *forever*… so maybe we should play nice, because who knows when you might want an English-speaking ally”

    3. Except they soon found themselves fighting radical Islam…

      “From a March 28, 1786, letter written by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were American diplomats at the time, to U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay reporting on their conversation in London with the ambassador from Tripoli regarding piracy by the Barbary States:

      We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.

      The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise. (Wall Street Journal)”

  9. But how about the 30-plus-nation military coalition of Muslim countries that Saudi Arabia announced with much fanfare last week?

    I take it that Shikha hasn’t heard of the Sunni/Shia schism. Not all muslim countries are equal. You have muslims fighting apostate (anyone who isn’t a muslim), and muslims fighting each other. Incredibly, with all this infighting, this fucked up religion continue to export its shitty third world people and religion.

    1. Just wait until a desperate and isolated Saudi Arabia shops Paki-Mart?, for some close out model and new- old stock nuclear warheads..

    2. A big coalition of incompetent militaries run by countries who hate each other’s guts isn’t exactly a recipe for success.

    3. Apostate doesn’t mean non-muslim, it means someone who has left the religion (and isn’t a strictly Islamic term).

      1. The distinction between apostasy, blasphemy, and just not being a fanatic tends to get real blurry when guns and bombs are involved.

        1. Heresy, dammit, not blasphemy.

  10. Beware of anybody that claims to have a quick solution to the culmination of cultural and social changes in the Muslim world that were decades in the making.

    The Muslim world is going through a process like the West did in the Thirty Years War–wrestling with questions about the appropriate relationship between religion and the state. The Peace of Westphalia and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were the result of decades of that religious strife, much of it as bad or worse than what we’ve seen happen around ISIS, Assad, the Libyan Civil War, and in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian army.

    How ever silly the politicians of the day must have sounded if and when they talked about their decisive plan to end the carnage of the religious wars that accompanied the Reformation–that’s how stupid our politicians sound talking about what they’re going to do about ISIS. The social and cultural convulsions the Muslim world is going through are just too big and complicated for any U.S. President to address. We should just concentrate on ourselves and our own interests. The biggest mistakes we’ve made (Iraq War, ObamaCare, the drug war, etc.) are mistakes we make when we’re trying to do things on behalf of other people.

    1. I don’t know about any quick solutions, but John has a Final solution in mind.

      1. He’s going to order pizza?

    2. The Muslim world is going through a process like the West did in the Thirty Years War–wrestling with questions about the appropriate relationship between religion and the state.

      They are? Could you link us to a prominent movement in the Muslim world to get rid of sharia and enact some sort of separation of church and state?

      I haven’t run across anything like that, but there’s a lot I don’t know. I had the impression they were mostly fighting about the usual stuff – who gets to loot and rape, who gets to live in the Presidential Palace, which sect will be given to fire and sword, etc.

      1. Nasserism? Just because it didn’t work, and it tainted the secularism with its failure, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen…

      2. Could you link us to a prominent movement in the Muslim world to get rid of sharia and enact some sort of separation of church and state?

        Separation of church and state was the Peace of Westphalia. Even if it sprang from Luther’s two kingdom’s doctrine, separation of church and state was the ultimate solution to the fighting–not necessarily the cause everyone was fighting for. If we can’t get rid of each other, then here’s how we can live together: . . .

        Was Calvinist Geneva about the separation of church and state?

        Was Henry VIII?

        Meanwhile, yes, there are secularists in the Muslim world. The Egyptian army stepping in, with popular support, to depose the Muslim Brotherhood is one example. They’ll find that the government repressing the fundamentalists doesn’t solve their problems either.

        Eventually, they’ll come to the same conclusion the Peace of Westphalia did–that people should be free to exercise the religion of their choice regardless of the religion of their rulers. If they go through the same process the West did in the Reformation, they’ll exhaust every other option first.

    3. “The biggest mistakes we’ve made (Iraq War, ObamaCare, the drug war, etc.) are mistakes we make when we’re trying to do things on behalf of other people.”

      Don’t be ridiculous. How can those things be bad when they had good intentions behind them?

  11. The forces that created ISIS are a function of the Muslim world’s problems, and those terrorist threats aren’t going away until those problems are resolved. When we see the rare opportunity to do something in our own best interests, we should, but generally speaking, why would we want to be responsible for solving the Muslim world’s problems when there’s nothing we can do about them. Do people not see the nature of the problem?

    These people have been under the thumb of corrupt and vicious dictatorships for so long, many of them have come to see religious authoritarianism as the only legitimate form of government.

    What can the U.S. military do about that?

  12. “ISIS is a Sunni group that has mostly targeted Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority. “

    ??

    Saudi Arabia is one of the least-affected countries in the region as far as ISIS attacks go. And they’ve had security services targeted as equally as shiites… who suffered similar attacks long before ISIS ever came into being.

    ISIS has demonstrated far more than simple “anti-shiite” animus. They’ve murdered hundreds of Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, etc… Trying to characterize ISIS-terrorism in simplistic, one-dimensional ‘anti-shia’ terms papers over the fact that they have regional political objectives which extend beyond mere sectarian hatreds. They attack Sunni-opposition groups with as equal fervor and frequency as they attack minorities.

    The entire piece is full of this sort of cartoonish over-simplification.

    “Saudi Arabia’s coalition will be successful only if all Muslim countries set aside their internal divisions and join ranks against the terror group. That would mean Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran burying the hatchet. This would basically be like the NAACP teaming up with the KKK to fight climate change.”

    “Only”? “All”? Hatchets? *climate change*? Ted Cruz “even looks like a hawk”?

    I’m not a big fan of Ed and Sheldon’s clunky Foreign Policy musings either, but this is just absurd. Stick to moaning about immigration, Shihka.

    1. The entire piece is full of this sort of cartoonish over-simplification.

      The evergreen remark re: Dalmia’s work.

    2. Do they have any non-crappy foreign policy writers?

      1. Steve Chapman aint bad, unless you think his Syrian-Refugee argument disqualifies him.

        I’ve found him at least readable, informed, and reasonable. Which can’t quite be said for Sheldon or Shikha. Ed is hit or miss. Sometimes prone to terrible WWII analogies, making moralizing assertions out of the blue… but at least not a hot mess like this stuff.

        1. True, I don’t really like his style but he does seem to be more informed.

          1. re: Chapman,

            Ed is better when he doesn’t appear to be taking a side

          2. That said, it wouldn’t take much to be considered more informed than Sheldon or Shikha on foreign policy

      2. Zenon Evans was one of the few people at Reason to immediately notice Ukraine being victim of Russian aggression, not the other way around.

        Of course, he’s no longer working here, so…

    3. Saudi Arabia’s coalition will be successful only if all Muslim countries set aside their internal divisions and join ranks

      Alas, history has proven that the only thing able to unite the entire Islamic world is defeat at the hands of the devil state of Israel.

      1. For the last ~40yrs, the sunni nations have talked a lot of shit, but Iran seems to be the one that consistently delivers..

    4. It’d be nice if she’d stick to writing for publications other than reason. Even on the occasions I find myself grudgingly agreeing with her viewpoint, I find her arguments to be couched in emotionalism, oversimplification, and half truths.

  13. OT: Looking at white paper….ready for some buzzword stew?

    The evolution of governance, risk and compliance.
    The explosive pace of industrialization and technological advancements over the past century has exposed systemic weaknesses that can arise from an increasingly complex global industrial infrastructure. The synthesis of human competencies with other factors such as computer systems, heavy machinery, chemical and nuclear engineering, and more has demonstrated, through a series of unfortunate events, that unforeseen risk can be a contingency of modern business operations.
    Major industrial and financial catastrophes such as the sinking of the Titanic, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Three Mile
    Island, Enron, the BP oil spill, the most recent financial crisis and the London Whale have contributed to the growing need for a formal strategy to combat and prepare for known and unknown risks.

    Oh, yeah, I am RUSHING OUT to hire this bunch.

    1. Consultants? Or are they actually selling some kind of insurance?

      Either way, the bullshit is strong with them.

    2. “through a series of unfortunate events, that unforeseen risk can be a contingency of modern business operations.”

      Whoooooooooa man! Business involves risk?? That’s the most profound shit I’ve ever read in my life!!

  14. And to torment Nikki – try this clean and compact sentence out:

    “Governance, risk, and compliance software has emerged from the need for a programmatic approach to risk management and enables companies to meet the challenges posed by the pace and depth of regulatory
    change with agile solutions that provide transparency into enterprise-wide risk and compliance processes.”

    1. [cuts and pastes into capital spending request for software]

      Thanks, Swissie!

      1. Try to read that in a news broadcaster voice, in one breath.

        I just couldn’t do it.

    2. Holy shit, I hope whoever wrote that paragraph gets an award of some kind.

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