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A must-read article in the Atlantic Monthly about ISIS

I haven’t time for a lot of commentary on this but thought I should at the least put up a link to this long, very important Atlantic Monthly essay about ISIS, or whatever else the would-be creators of a global Islamic empire, aka Caliphate, want to call it. The article makes it clear that the people involved most definitely DO regard themselves as serious scholars of Islam. While it might be comforting to dismiss them as hoodlums or chasers after the glamour of violence (not that these are not true), the people involved are much more. They are deadly serious and don’t regard themselves as aberrant or innovators in their faith.

Whatever other issues get mentioned here (AGW, tax, Ukraine, etc) this – the need to utterly defeat such people, and crush and humiliate them in the eyes of any would-be admirers, is the dominant issue of the age.

82 comments to A must-read article in the Atlantic Monthly about ISIS

  • I always go with “Daesh Islamic State”… the Salafists hate being called “Daesh” and Obama (et al) hates people pointing out that, yes, Salafists really are genuinely “Islamic”.

  • I strongly agree that these Islamic maniacs are indeed motivated by Islam. I basically agree with their interpretation of Islam, which is all part of why I am not a Muslim and call on all other nice and semi-nice Muslims to stop being Muslims, now, and thus stop helping such people, which they all do, a bit. (I think many Muslims will dump Islam, in large numbers. They already are doing so in small numbers.)

    But as for these Islamicly motivated maniacs being the “dominant issue of the age”, I am not sure. By that I do not mean that they definitely aren’t and I am being passive-aggressive about it. I am genuinely not sure. I’d be interested to hear what others think about this. The Developed World (ISIS is not even now the Developing World), or The West as we used to call it, has massively more firepower than ISIS, and could Dresden it out of existence, if it ever seriously decided to, over about one weekend. But because the Developed World is so much more powerful, the mistakes it makes are perhaps also of far greater consequence than the delusional dreams of global conquest of a bunch of people who will never conquer the world, but only screw with it.

    The sort of mayhem that ISIS is unleashing in the Middle East is certainly the dominant issue for those who live near them. But for the rest of us, in places like here, I wonder.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed – if ISIS is not Islamic in its theory and practice, than neither was Mohammed.

    Mr Obama and his media (and education system) friends, are living in a fantasy world.

    In this fantasy world Mohammed was similar in his behaviour to Jesus or Buddha.

    And ISIS is tapping into a “lack of jobs” and “lack of housing, medical care and other injustice” (as if free stuff from government is a matter of “justice”) to “pervert” the peaceful religion of Mohammed.

    The establishment elite of the West – either Marxists or muddle headed “Progressives” are not the ideal leadership for this serious time.

  • Paul Marks

    Rocco – your reference to “and a state” reminds me of something that has often been pointed out about the history of Israel (indeed I briefly touched upon it myself recently).

    Before 1948 Jewish schools, hospitals, even military forces in what became Israel were voluntarily funded.

    Then the Labour government set about setting up tax support for all these “public services” (as well as nationalising various business enterprises – mostly Jewish owned ones actually).

    The obvious question is “why”?

    Not why from the point of view of socialist ideology – but why in the sense of whether really was an overwhelming practical need to set up a “modern state”.

  • Brian,

    I started studying Islam seriously in the post 9/11 era. The ISIS is absolutely bedrock Islam given the various interpretations of its scholars that have passed through the filters of history.

    There were possible turning points to an alternative universe. We are in this one.

    I’m with JP:

    Whatever other issues get mentioned here (AGW, tax, Ukraine, etc) this – the need to utterly defeat such people, and crush and humiliate them in the eyes of any would-be admirers, is the dominant issue of the age.

  • Paul Marks
    February 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    It is not Marxism or Progressive muddle headedness in America. BHO is a Muslim. Shia or Sunni I can’t quite tell.

    Rudy Giuliani: President Obama doesn’t love America

  • I am with Brian on this.

    The West as we used to call it, has massively more firepower than ISIS, and could Dresden it out of existence, if it ever seriously decided to, over about one weekend.

    But the West does not have the will to do what needs to be done (whether it is literally ‘Dresden’ or something else, from a military POV, is a separate matter, albeit an important one as well). Why does it not have the will? That is the dominant issue of the age, in my opinion.

  • BTW, here’s a link to Paul’s talk on Israel.

  • Mr Ed

    The Developed World (ISIS is not even now the Developing World), or The West as we used to call it, has massively more firepower than ISIS,

    The firepower of the West is worth naught if the West is not prepared to use it, or indeed, prefers to use its power against itself. The situation of the West is not quite but getting towards the situation of a chess player caught in a smothered mate, where an attack by one piece may win the game, with the King encumbered by his own pieces and unable to defend himself.

    In virtually every Western country, the civil power of the State smothers those who would defend against ISIS. There is one exception, the one closest to the fire.

  • I agree that “The West”, i.e. its current leaders, have no will to defeat Islam, but funny thing about The West. It had very little will to win the Cold War, but it won that, almost without trying. It took a long time. It gave it a lot of thought, mostly thought about how winning the Cold War was impossible. And despite lots of people saying we shouldn’t be nasty to the Moderate Communists (or “Russians” as they were known) The West won. Oh, not completely. You never win wars completely. But, it won. And it might do something similar to Islam with only a fraction of the people of the West taking the war, of Islam against it, seriously.

    Just as I view ex-Muslims willing to declare themselves to be ex-Muslims as highly significant and of course hugely admirable individuals, so too do I notice with great pleasure various individuals going out to fight with Peshmerga. No doubt significant tracts of the US war machine are getting geared up for just such “individual” contributions to the cause of civilisation and against barbarism, aka Islam. And other tracts are gearing up to tell the first lot of tracts that they are wrong, dangerous, illegal, etc. The West never agrees about stuff like this.

    Another ongoing argument concerns whether it is wise to describe all Muslims as, somewhat, enemies. My attitude to that is, they are, so at least some of us had better face the fact. It may not be a truth that is “useful” or “helpful” (adjectives that were used against Reagan’s forthright descriptions of Soviet Communism), but it is, I contend, still the truth, and truth is better faced than funked. To clarify, I do NOT favour unleashing the criminal law in countries like mine upon Muslims, just for being Muslims. But I am increasingly willing to tell Muslims to their faces that they are morally wrong for choosing to remain Muslims, just as I used to tell Communists that they were evil for persisting with Communism, during the Cold War. Will that upset any Muslims? Maybe. Will they feel that their beliefs are being threatened? I hope so. And if so, tough.

  • Butler Reynolds

    The problem is that it is precisely the West doing things over there that delivered the ISIS monster in the first place. Do you really want to see what our Western “men of system” unleash in that part of the world next?

  • Another thing about the “will” to do stuff. Consider that old chestnut, the effort to stop Hitler. At first appeasement was tried. While it was being tried, you could have been forgiven for supposing that the West (the good bit of it) had no “will” to give Hitler and his version of Germany a good seeing-to. Yet, it subsequently did exactly that. And the appeasement bit was all part of how angry the Good West eventually became with Hitler. “We gave you everything you wanted, yet still you carried on attacking. Fuck you Hitler, and fuck Germany for having allowed him to foist himself upon the world. Burn, Hamburg. Burn, Berlin. Burn, Dresden.” People constantly underestimate the willingness of the West to turn nasty, including lots and lots of Westerners, and especially when the West is trying to make a success of playing nice, as it now is with Islam. (Not with all Islamic countries, with Islam as an entirety.) In ten years’ time, the whole atmosphere could be entirely different. And all British Muslims could find themselves being treated like Germans in Britain in 1940.

    Muslims who feel scared now are kind of right to be scared, I think.

  • The problem is that it is precisely the West doing things over there that delivered the ISIS monster in the first place.

    Completely and utterly wrong.

    The Daesh were spawned in Syria, not Iraq. We only bothered to notice them when they emerged from Syria like a coiled serpent and knocked over the preposterous Iraqi army. But the west had somewhere between zero and no influence with the tyrant who ran (and still runs part of) Syria or the people shooting at him, so it is ludicrous to say “We created the Islamic State”. This is America-centric thinking at its most crass, as if nothing of major import happens anywhere without the USA being at the root cause. Wrong, you want a root cause for the Daesh? Decades of brutal Ba’athist Socialism in Syria (and indeed Iraq).

  • John B

    And elsewhere we have attempts to install a Caliphate based in the religion of environmentalism, with the Apocalypse being Climate Change, methods include declaring all infidels anathema and heritic, crucifying them figuratively if not actually, subjugation of the People and rendering them back to a pre-industrial age.

    Curiously then both IS and we are destined for the 7th Century.

  • Mr Ed

    But I am increasingly willing to tell Muslims to their faces that they are morally wrong for choosing to remain Muslims, just as I used to tell Communists that they were evil for persisting with Communism, during the Cold War.

    Brian nicely shines a light on the absurdity of laws against discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, people are not ‘Muslims’ or ‘Communists’ so much as people who choose to believe in Islam or Communism. The employer who requires his religious member of staff to work on their holy day is not ‘discriminating’ indirectly against them by imposing this requirement, he is offering a choice. What, pray, will happen to you if you go against your religion? (Punishment for apostasy apart and too remote?). Nothing. You can work on your holy day and nothing adverse happens at all. If you say that you will be punished in the afterlife, the burden of proof is on you. Yet a whole corpus of ‘law’ has sprung up in this area.

    People choose religions, costs and benefits come with that, those costs should be borne by the adherents alone.

  • pete

    The whole ‘scholars of Islam’ phenomenon is an irrelevance, a patronising and pointless tactic by appeasers in the liberal media to attempt to completely disassociate Islam from anything bad in case the thoughtless and bigoted proles they assume the rest of us to be start getting nasty.

    It never occurs to these pompous prats that we can all grasp that terrorism is not a part of the muslim faith just as we can grasp that child abuse by clergy is not part of the Christian faith, and we don’t need ‘scholars’ trotted out to reassure us.

  • Gene

    Perry, in your first comment referencing the “Salafists,” you seem to use that word as another name for the Islamic State people. However, in the Atlantic article you’ll note that the author talks at some length about Salafists and points out that they are definitely NOT the same people as IS. In fact his discussion of what he calls “quietist Salafists” is well worth reading as it makes some subtle yet important distinctions in Islamist thought that have some bearing on possible [short-term at least] solutions to this situation.

  • pete

    Well, whenever I can force myself to read the Koran, I find (as do many others far more learned in such things than I) that “terrorism” is very much part of the Muslim faith. And that is what is becoming widely understood. Did you read the piece JP linked to? This point is spelled out (again) in that. Sexual abuse of children, on the other hand, is not recommended in the Gospels, unless I missed that bit. (As for sexual abuse of children in the Koran …)

    Not all Muslims are terrorists, thank goodness, although an appalling proportion of them say that they support terrorism when asked about it, which is not surprising given what they say they believe. But the goodness we have to thank is the goodness shared by all humans (along with lots of nastier stuff that we also all share). This goodness is not to be found in the Koran, other than as a duplicitous tactic.

  • However, in the Atlantic article you’ll note that the author talks at some length about Salafists and points out that they are definitely NOT the same people as IS.

    Yes I know what the author says and I must say my Kurdish chums disagree completely. They all refer to the Daesh as ‘salafists’ and think ‘deep Islam’ as one of my friends calls it (he is a Kurdish nominal Muslim, albeit one married to a Kurdish Christian) cannot realistically be non-political, hence his view is that Salafism needs to be quite literally exterminated with the utmost ruthlessness. He also take the view that once Salafism has been wiped out, there is really no longer any reason not to do the same to the Wahhabis.

  • Kevin B

    On the importance of ISIS in the general scheme of disasters facing ‘Western Civilisation’ I reckon they will play the same part as the Goths did in the fall of Rome.

    That is as a physical manifestation of an evolving collapse which is largely being brought about by the corruption and decay of the institutions that are the core of our ‘civilisation’.

    And since institutions are made up of people, the corruption and decay starts with them. (Or us).

  • PersonFromPorlock

    One point that needs to be examined is whether the West really has a dog in that fight: it can be, and is, argued that ISIS is strictly a local problem and can’t really endanger the West.

    That is probably true. But I wonder how long we can watch the slaughter of the innocents without harming our own culture by doing nothing.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Islam represents only an edge to all of libertarian mindset, they are an extreme version of those who busy themselves with what other people do, and spend their waking hours plotting and planning to crush free will, history is awash with such types and their piles of corpses.

    Expand Brian’s “enemy” to cover anyone who thinks they somehow know best, whether it’s how to spend your cash or how you should wipe your bottom, it makes no difference, as is their excuse of a higher power or greater intellect or insight, the principal is the same, and it needs to be opposed.

    I’m not particularly concerned with adherents to religion or political ideology, just whether they think I should be doing what they consider “right” or not, that is the red flag that raises libertarian hackles.

  • Barry Sheridan

    While most western leaders and peoples appear spineless this can change. Sometimes the shift is gradual, at other times it gathers real pace. One of the major motivations behind this phenomenon comes when the ability to deny the obvious looses its grip, a second comes when those at the top find they too are affected by events. The first part has happened, the second is looming.

  • It had very little will to win the Cold War, but it won that, almost without trying.

    No, it did not. It “won” on one of the many fronts (it hadn’t really won, either – the enemy just starved itself to death on that particular front), but there are several others that remain intact. And the enemy has in fact penetrated that very West and gained a lot of ground there. By which I mean, here.

  • Trofim

    I saw a great suggestion how to deal with ISIS on Twitter today: persuade the Chinese that eating jihadi testicles prevents impotence. It would get rid of ISIS and save the rhino at the same time.

  • CaptDMO

    Am I to understand that The Atlantic Monthly went to press BEFORE “approval” from the Official (U.S.)Executive Branch, (with official public ‘splainers), and Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, and his OFFICIAL pronouncement of HIS OFFICIAL Foreign Affairs/Political Science/World History/Theology intellectual interpretation, in retaliation against certain unsympathetic media/net intellectual outlets?

    The closer to the target, the heavier the flak…or something.
    And when the flack misses, the Misses claim “failure to contextualize”.(is that a word?)
    (para) It’s not that they’re stupid, it’s that they KNOW so much that just ISN’T SO.”

  • Johnnydub

    So the West “had very little will to win the Cold War, but it won that, almost without trying”. Did we? Yes the USSR may have fallen, but look at the progress of Cultural Marxism. Remember CM came into being when the Hard Core commies became frustrated because the people wouldn’t vote for Communism, and their goal was to destroy society from the inside.

    Look at the indoctrination of our children via the education system, political correctness (a war on noticing – like 200 blacks are killed by Cops in the US per annum, 5800 blacks are killed by other blacks), multiculturalism and mass immigration. Do you think the west will exist as such in 50 years? Look at the fuss Diana West’s book American Betrayal about the Communist infiltration of the US; or Gorbachev’s observation that having defeated the USSR, he was astonished that we were busy recreating it in the EU.

    As for Barack Obama I agree with MSimon. If not a closet paid up member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he certainly feels more empathy for them than he does for a Christian Farmer in Wyoming

    Then there’s ISIS. Like Al Queda before it a bunch of religious fanatics created by Saudi Arabia and Qatar who escaped the leash and bite their owners. This time the goal was to take Al Assad out of the game. The EU’s adventures in Ukraine distract Russia. The Chinese have their own fish to fry in the East (as witnessed by the rapid rearming of the Japanese) So who now stands alone? Iran.

    So who wants Iran isolated, and doesn’t care if Europe commits social and cultural suicide?

  • Pardone

    You can pay for “crushing them” out of your pockets, not mine. Saudi Arabia is loaded with money and arms, let them clean up their own stinking Wahabbi mess. Let John McCain pay for the actions of his head chopping friends.

    ISIS are funded by Saudi Arabia and its putrid, terrorist monarchy.

    As long as we lick the bottoms of Saudi scum, and sell arms to them, we are screwed. Remember the shameful bum-licking by our leaders that followed the fat Saudi King’s long overdue death. And it would be wise to remember that this extremism was largely non-existent before Ibn Saud and his Wahabbist cult.

    Saudi Arabia and its many tentacles must be crushed and wiped off the face of the Earth, the House of Saud, the architects of Islamist terrorism, preferably executed.

  • ragingnick

    America has no will to fight the Islamists, it has been neutered by decades of cultural marxist infiltration. And how can we hope to fight the likes of ISIS when they have one of their own installed in the white house. Europe is already close to become dominated by Islam. Ultimately the fight against those who want a global caliphate will be fought by the likes of Russia and China.

  • Johnnydub

    Mark Steyn (as usual) is sopt on here:

    “We are at war with a depraved enemy, but we cannot be allowed to assert our moral superiority even to head-choppers, rapists, slavers and immolators. Thus the priority of Barack (“Hey, how ’bout those Crusades?”) Obama has been to undermine our sense of probity, and make us not merely equivalent to but worse than our enemies. That was the purpose of this last week of Official Lies.”


  • Patrick Crozier

    I really don’t care what these people get up to in the Middle East. They would need nuclear weapons to do us serious harm and if they tried it they’d get crushed.

    The thing that really matters is what happens here in the West, the home front. And it is here we seem to be losing. Freedom of speech is under threat. Saying what you think about Islam might still be legal but the Islamists have made it a dangerous occupation.

    It seems to me that western governments have no better idea of how to deal with Islamist terrorism than the British government had of dealing with the IRA during the Troubles.

  • Europe is already close to become dominated by Islam.

    This is where you (and Steyn) enter Barking Moonbat (Right Edition) territory.

  • Johnnydub

    Perry, at what point do you acknowledge what is happening.

    Sweden goes gaga for immigration and is now the rape capital of Europe (by some margin)


    Rotherham – covered ad nauseam, but one interesting fact. The deputy head of the council, Jahangir Akhtar, and the local DI, Abdul Aziz, in charge of Child sex exploitation – Childhood friends from Pakistan.



    Then as Mark Steyn has said for over a decade now, it simply comes down to demographics. Muslims are currently what 3 or 4% of the population? Not for long:


    But the most important story for the last three or four days? Oh yes, the moron Chelsea fans. Gotta keep our eyes peeled for those nasty white racists…

  • Not a single one of those links come anywhere near “Europe is already close to become dominated by Islam”.

    Not even close. I am not saying “there is no problem”, indeed if you have actually read this blog, you would realise how pointless your links are, because I have been decrying cultural surrender for years. But that is not the same as “close to being dominated by Islam”. Seriously, it is preposterous.

  • Johnnydub

    Perry, I think you’re splitting hairs. When the Jewish kindergartens in Denmark and France are currently being guarded by police/soldiers armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, and the Jewish communities are giving serious thoughts to upping sticks and leaving, well for them, Islam is dominating. The Jews have always been the canaries in the coalmine.

    If you’re a pretty blonde in Malmo, I’m sure getting the fuck out is high on your list. What about the gays in Tower Hamlets?

    But you’re right in highlighting cultural suicide. That was my main point and the theme of this thread. All of these issues could be addressed by a society with sufficient will. And to be honest, that is Mark Steyn’s main point – that our current elites don’t. Whether this due to them be trapped by their ideology or the plan all along is what’s being discussed.

  • So when the IRA was regularly bombing London, was the UK already close to dominated by the Irish? You seem to be confusing a significant problem with a zombie apocalypse.

    What about the gays in Tower Hamlets?

    I’ll have put that question to a couple gays guys I know in Tower Hamlets.

    I am not worried Islam is going to ‘dominate Europe’ so much as worried that our worthless elites are going to take another decade to twig that we are indeed in a major cultural war and it is long past time they started fighting it.

    But the most important story for the last three or four days? Oh yes, the moron Chelsea fans. Gotta keep our eyes peeled for those nasty white racists…

    Yes totally agree with that. I mean FFS how is this headline news?

  • No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by curing poverty in the other poor dumb bastard’s country!

    General Marie Harf.

  • Phil

    The IRA analogy is interesting. When the IRA finally touched the “elites”, ie the Brighton hotel bombing, did the “elites” finally realize that they needed to double the effort of not negotiating with terrorists and really double down on defeating them? No. Within 6 months a settlement was negotiated and to this day we have “Irish” members of our parliament affecting our laws. And that was with the Iron Lady in the “elite” seat.

    So when Islam finally touches the Cameron’s and the Milliband’s how long till sharia law by our Iman MPs?

  • bobby b

    It’s like we’re in the National League West watching the teams from the National League East fight it out for the Eastern title. We may have a preference as to who wins, inasmuch as one might be less bloodthirsty than the other, but in the end, the winner is eventually coming to play us. Ideally, the less bloodthirsty team wins the title, but its star quarterback breaks his leg on the last play, leaving us with an easy win in the Super Bowl.

    So, how can we arrange that without pissing off all of the nonparticipating fans enough to go join their favorite team? It’s this aspect that drives the “it ain’t Islam” crowd. If we simply decide we’re at war with “Islam”, we end up with no friends over there, no matter who wins. If we publicly aim at “those asshats who are trying to pervert your very decent and morally upright Islam”, we at least stand a chance of not alienating all Muslims, and unless we’re willing to kill ALL Muslims, we need to avoid that.

    Life was easier when combatants wore uniforms and carried banners, or at least looked different from each other. If only the damned Messiah – somebody’s Messiah – would come and get all of this over with.

  • Johnnydub

    Bobby – I think more nuance is called for. Simply saying it’s not Islam make the speaker look naive at best and a liar at worst.

    Maajid Nawaz spoke on this quite eloquently. Video link at https://twitter.com/MaajidNawaz/status/568791203841495040

  • Within 6 months a settlement was negotiated and to this day we have “Irish” members of our parliament affecting our laws. And that was with the Iron Lady in the “elite” seat.

    Heh, and yet Ulster is part of the UK and Sinn Fein is working within the system legitimising the status quo. And you think THEY won? Oh you crack me up 😉

  • I finished reading the article now, and surprisingly to myself learned several things I did not know. I very much recommend taking the time to read the whole thing.

  • cynical1

    You cannot compare ISIS to Nazism.

    ISIS has no true State,no Nationality, no uniform and no army.

    Who are you going to “Dresden”?

    Meanwhile, “Lone wolves” bring the death of a thousand cuts as unlike Nazis
    they freely move through the West as tourists,refugees, immigrants or illegal immigrants

    The threat now lives among you, and in many cases was even born there.

    That’s why Politicians spout wishy washy crap.

    It’s all they can do to keep the peace. The experiment has failed.

    The welfare state has even financed and bred the enemy.

    Good luck bombing Bradford…

  • Mr Ed

    Is not ISIS ‘Islam’s’ answer to the Khmer Rouge?

  • Chip

    Politicians keep saying ISIL isn’t Islamic but they never use an Islamic argument in doing so.

    For example, slavery. It is not forbidden in the Koran and enslavement of non Muslims is rather okay. So when ISIL enslaves infidels what exactly is Cameron’s and Obama’s argument that this is unislamic?

    There isn’t one. Same goes for burning and crucifying people. A ok according to the Koran.

    Muhammad would probably feel quite comfortable in ISIL territory today.

    Btw, Saudi, Yemen and Oman only banned slavery in the 60s and 70s after pressure from the West. Other countries like Chad stl have it on the books as permitted under Islamic law.

  • NickM

    Am I redacted?

  • ISIS has no true State

    Sure it does. It has a capital in Raqqa and collects taxes and flies its flag over an area the size of the UK. It has state supervised schools and law courts.

    no Nationality,

    Their ‘nationality’ is based on ideas rather than ethnicity. In that manner at least it resembles the early USA.

    no uniform

    Nor did most armies in Europe between the fall of Rome and the seventeenth century, beyond some basic recognition mark on a shield or a surcoat. They just had a flag, much like the Daesh Islamic State.

    and no army.

    Say what?

    You seem to be confusing the amorphous hydra of Al-Qaeda with the Daesh Islamic State.

  • Read the article, cynical1.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Cynical 1 plainly needs to read that article. The idea that ISIS doesn’t have an army is self evidently fatuous. Tell that to the Kurds.

  • NickM

    You shoot and you score. Bang-on!

  • Josh B

    The strictly factual parts of the article are excellent. However, it being an article in the Atlantic, there had to be some total DERP in there somewhere in order to re-establish liberal cred –

    “The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?”

    While one can argue causality until the cows come home, and I certainly would buy the argument that without Bush’s policy of spreading democracy to the ME and invasion of Iraq that there would have been no Arab Spring and no civil war in Syria (and hence no Islamic State), the more immediate casual event of the vacuum in Western Iraq that the ISIS filled WAS THE US COMPLETE WITHDRAWAL OF FORCES FROM IRAQ. Whether that was the right or wrong policy, completely skipping that and going straight to the “occupation” seems like a transparent attempt to absolve the Obama administration policy for Islamic State and lay the blame and the doorstep of Bush only (I don’t doubt, though, that he deserves much of it).

  • John, he brought that up as a counterargument to re-invasion as a solution, and rightly so.


    Indeed, and that was part of the botched job he is talking about. This being The Atlantic, I too was looking for lefty bias, but to my great surprise found nonesoever.

  • John Galt III

    Talk here about the West and the military

    1) Europe’s military today would have trouble defeating Honduras. Outside of a few nuclear missiles in the French and British navy on subs there is not much to the military of Europe.
    2) I joined the US Army in 1965. They would virtually take anyone just like WWI and WW2. We had a citizens military back then for the last time. IN WWII only one in 4 enlistees in US Army had graduated high school. Today we have a volunteer, active military of 1,450,000 soldiers or so but that is way, way smaller with the added burden of 800,000 civilian Pentagon workers (idiot bureaucrats) and 71% of America’s youth can’t even get in the military due to drug use, felony convictions,lack of education and so forth:


    3) Obama has totally and utterly politicized the military, FBI, CIA and so forth after Clinton did the same for 8 years and Bush had other things to focus on. Therefore, anyone in our military above the rank of Captain is suspect. Any critical words of Islam or Muslims will not be tolerated anywhere, anymore by anyone in government.

    To remedy this will require an astute Republican president who can turn things around and who can see the problems. I am not convinced that anyone will come forth in that regard with all the hoopla for Jeb Bush who is as clueless as his brother and father and then there is Hillary and Biden – God help us and Europe.

  • cynical1

    I have read the article.

    The point being the “Army” is not in uniform.

    Did you see the SS working in Woolies in 1940?

    So they have a state?

    And the Tower Hamlets are an outer suburb I suppose.

    There are probably as many extremists in London.

    And they are undercover and in place.

    You people are confusing a nation with an ideology.

  • The point being the “Army” is not in uniform.

    So what? Did a lack of uniforms stop them capturing Mosul?

    Did you see the SS working in Woolies in 1940?

    So what? I suggest you google what a non sequitur is.

    So they have a state?

    Yes, already explained that by any reasonable definition, they have a state: capital – Raqqa. Have law courts, an army and collects taxes. So yes, the Daesh Islamic State is indeed a state.

    And the Tower Hamlets are an outer suburb I suppose.

    How odd, I did not have to show my passport there a few weeks ago. And shockingly I had a beer!

    There are probably as many extremists in London.

    No, I rather doubt that. If so they are amazingly inactive. These teaming hordes of jihadis will need to chop off the heads of a vastly larger number of off-duty soldiers for me to suspect there are more extremists in London than Syria and/or Iraq. I think we have more of a problem with rapist Islamic thugs than actual Islamic terrorists.

    And they are undercover and in place.

    And you know this how? Got inside connections with GCHQ?

    You people are confusing a nation with an ideology.

    Nope. The Daesh Islamic State is a nation with an ideology. The Really Big Clue is in the title”: the words “Islamic” and “State”.

  • cynical1


    No mention of a state, or ISIS.

    Funny that.

    Next you will be saying the “Islamic State” has borders and a national flag.

    Wonder if you can use the Geneva Convention on them?

  • Johnnydub

    Cynical you’re just being obtuse.

    The first words of the story are: “The al-Qaeda branch in Somalia released a video “

  • cynical1

    Nope. The Daesh Islamic State is a nation with an ideology.

    Calling yourself a “State” does not make you one.

    Fancy the chances of the Islamic State being recognised internationally?

    Mapmakers are already doing overtime, I’m sure.

    Attack the “State” and it’s soldiers will disperse home to all parts of the World.

    And they won’t be in uniform or have an Islamic State issued passport.

    They may be returning “home” though, and that’s the problem.

  • cynical1

    Cynical you’re just being obtuse.

    No, Because the problem is not ISIS.

    It’s militant Islam, and many adherents are Western born and educated.

    It’s a Hydra that will morph into different forms when attacked.

    How to totally defeat the ideology.

    That’s the real problem.

  • NickM

    Tower Hamlets is really quite central. I lived there.

  • Calling yourself a “State” does not make you one.

    Indeed, but having an army, conquering and holding territory, running law courts and taxing people does indeed make you a state. Which bit of that is confusing you? Much as you might like to define them away, the Daesh Islamic State is an observable reality.

    Fancy the chances of the Islamic State being recognised internationally?

    So what? Has a lack of international recognition driven them from Mosul or Raqqa yet? And has a lack of recognition driven Russia from Transnistria or Crimea?

    Attack the “State” and it’s soldiers will disperse home to all parts of the World.

    Actually the state is being attacked, do you not watch the news or even YouTube? And as a consequence more Islamic jihadis are probably being killed than at any time since… well… when was the last Crusade? And we already had Al-Qaeda doing the irregular stuff and guess what? Vienna has not fallen and the world is still turning.

    They may be returning “home” though, and that’s the problem.

    Yeah but a lot of them will not be returning “home”, which is why I think the Islamic State is great. It is like a black hole into which large number of these fuckers are simply going to their well deserved deaths. Also as a happy side effect, Kurdistan will almost certainly end up independent due to the action of IS.

    No, Because the problem is not ISIS.

    But this *is* about the Islamic State. Comment on some other threat that is about Al-Qaeda or Global Salafism.

  • jdm

    I really liked chain of comments leading to Brian’s statement, But I am increasingly willing to tell Muslims to their faces that they are morally wrong for choosing to remain Muslims. In particular because it can also be used as a lever when arguing with non-Muslims who defend Islam.

    But I don’t understand how to resolve that with Perry’s comment about having Kurdish Muslim chums. I realize that in the example presented, the man is question is (a) very moderate (Muslim), indeed. But that just seems to me to be an admission that he is bad (ie, lousy) Muslim. Doesn’t he need to be told that he is morally wrong as well.

    I’m not looking for a gotcha; I am genuinely looking for a means to deal with people who will not admit that the transplanting of Islam and Muslims to the West brings many new problems. People like my sister-in-law who counter with, “I have a Muslim co-worker and she and I get along fine”. For people like her, they don’t care about the real Islam or what is in the Koran: it’s the extremists that “pervert” the teachings. Obama’s arguments speak to these people – even if he’s a cynical SOB for doing so.

    It seems to me that unless this argument, this perspective is, well, defeated, that nothing will change.

  • What do you know, we are all Muslims

  • jdm, my Kurdish chums take the view that ‘political’ Islam needs to die, along with anyone advocating it. They simply do not think anyone who puts their religion about their nationality can be trusted. That said, I detect no urge on their part to renounce Islam as such, because to them it is just part of their cultural mix and frankly what the Koran says is not that important.

    On a related note, as I compulsively watch videos on the fighting in Iraq/Syria, I noticed a interesting thing a few weeks ago: Kurdish Peshmerga using cries of “Allah Akhbar!” and “Takbir!” as taunts to nearby Islamists. You can almost smell Islam’s hold weakening when nominal muslims start using “God is great” ironically to insult someone else who takes their religion very seriously. I wish I had saved the link actually.

  • JohnW

    I quote from the Objective Standard – “Islamic states and jihadists who attack and murder Westerners and other disbelievers are motivated to do so by their religion, Islam. Everyone paying attention knows this (including those who pretend not to).”

  • Simon Just

    I noticed that in marked contrast to the various Arab factions in the many Syria-Iraq war snuff videos on YouTube, the Kurds just shout happy shouts and almost never say “Allah Akhbar” when something goes BOOM, so I totally believe they might use it as a joke. I even heard some shouting “GOAL!” when their missile hit an ISIS vehicle 😀

  • Simon Just

    Here is that video! Turn on the subtitle and smile 🙂

  • Yes I saw that particular video too Simon and it did indeed make me LOL.

  • Nicholas (Natural Genius) Gray

    Trofim- that’s an absurd suggestion! We’d need to breed up jihadi numbers to meet the demand, if we don’t want them going back to killing rhinos! Are we supposed to clone them? Keep them on jihadi farms? Who would have the balls for that?

  • Zan MacArthur

    As Sam Harris, no fan of religions, has said, “The Koran is the mother load of bad ideas.” It is the specificity of those bad ideas that make Islam fertile ground for groups like IS, which allow no human value to stand in the way of their concrete, though magical, goals (well illustrated in that Atlantic article). I doubt that anyone of this crew would blink twice at a cage full of burning children.

  • bobby b

    Johnnydub: “Bobby – I think more nuance is called for. Simply saying it’s not Islam make the speaker look naive at best and a liar at worst.”

    Doesn’t it depend upon to whom we’re saying it?

    There are essentially two versions – interpretations – of Islam warring against each other in the ME. It’s been my experience that adherents of each do not tend to view the other as simply a slight variation on the One True Religion. To adherents of each, the other version is wrong, it’s heresy, it’s simply not Islam.

    We can choose to make both sides – all interpretations of Islam – into our foes. If we do so, we declare ourselves to be the mortal enemy of all Muslims throughout the world. If we simply declare Islam to be our enemy, then it matters not one whit which side wins, because the winners remain simply a subset of what we’ve declared to be evil.

    If we can speak to the Islamic world with some subtlety – if we can communicate to them that it is this wrong, heretic, murderous version of Islam that we oppose, and not simply Islam – then we leave the bulk of the Muslims of the world with a safe harbor that they can use IF THEY SO CHOOSE.

    Granted, if the non-jihadic Muslims Do NOT choose to read us, and react to us, in this way, then there really is no hope of avoiding world war. But if the voices of sanity in Islam, after putting down their jihadist element, decide that self-immolation is a poor choice, and we have used labels in such a way that they can choose to believe that we have left ourselves open to treating with them in a civilized fashion in the future, we might all find a way to co-exist.

    So, among ourselves, sure, we can agree that Islam sucks. But, absent a willingness to exterminate all of Islam, it behooves us to avoid telling each and every Muslim in the world that they are and will always be the subjects of our hatred. In the long term, our acknowledgment that Islam is not monolithic allows us to allow some of them to live.

  • Johnnydub

    Bobby – what are these two interpretations? Its certainly not Sunni or Shia as Saudi and Iran are both on the theocratic side of your warring factions..

    But you ignore what Maajid Nawaz said in the link I posted. Call it what it is, Islamism. In your frame of reference, pin the West’s colours to the peaceful not Theocratic side. Simply sitting on the sidelines effectively ignoring the battle you’re describing would mean for most people that we support extremist Wahabism via the Wests support for the Saudis.

    In fact I think most of the Wests problems as regards our impotency in the current fight is the fact that the West is so closely aligned with Saudi. As many people have pointed out, there’s not that much difference in the religious punishments of ISIS vs the Saudi state, and a hell of a lot of the radicalisation going on in Mosques around the world is down to Saudi funding.

  • bobby b

    Johnnydub – no, I’m not referring to Shia versus Sunni. I refer instead to the split, in Islam, between those who see militant religious imperialism as a bedrock tenet of their religion, and those who . . . well . . . don’t.

    Essentially, I see the divide lying along the line separating those who believe “this is my religion and I shall live by it”, and those who believe “this is my religion and YOU shall live by it.”

    I understand that the written bases of Islam encourage – heck, command – the unyielding fight to establish Islam’s dominion over all, but Muslims have always approached this command with varying levels of enthusiasm, just as Christians have varying views about the primacy of scriptural language.

    Just as Christianity has its share of adherents who shrug off some of its literal written requirements and proscriptions, so does Islam. We can live with such people.

  • Johnnydub

    Bobby – I would agree with you up to a point. The people you describe I would suggest are the majority of Muslims in the UK.

    However, two problems remain.

    1 They’re essentially “bad” Muslims from a Theocratic perspective and thus not a restraining force on the Islam it’s.

    2 They’re effectively defined by their passivity. This is not the best quality in your key ally in a war to ensure the survival of your civilisation.

    The challenge for the Muslim community is to police themselves as they certainly don’t like it when it’s done from the outside.

    The problem for the rest of us is that the government seems to be losing the will to police it from the outside; that political correctness is trumping our will to survive.

  • Johnnydub and bobby b: the last paragraph of the discussed article deals precisely with this issue – again, I strongly recommend to read the whole thing.

    In any case, my approach would be beyond the dichotomy presented here, and it would rest on the assumption that people can change their minds, their positions on issues, and indeed their interpretations of an ideology to which they subscribe.

    On our part (i.e. on the part of people outside that particular ideology, in this case Islam), hating an ideology is not the same as hating its adherents. I may hate communism, but I do not necessarily hate all communists – as I realize that some of them are susceptible to changing their views. I would suggest that such an approach is far more realistic when the ideology in question is explicitly faith-based (i.e. a religion): if a communist abandons some core principles of communism, he is basically left with nothing, and is no longer a communist. Which is not a bad thing at all, but this is a factor that may prevent adherents of a secular ideology from changing their positions: they would be afraid of “letting go” and be left with nothing. Conversely, one may choose to modify one’s interpretation of one’s religion without the need of letting go of his belief in god, as it is much easier to just say “I misunderstood/misinterpreted god’s intentions before, and I now see the light” etc.

  • Zan MacArthur

    Bobby (and anyone else)–

    Historically, do the Shia accuse the Sunni of being apostates with the same vehemence as the Sunni accuse the Shia?

  • Alisa
    February 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Past about age 28 change is near impossible for the vast majority of people. The plasticity of the brain declines with declining endocannabinoid production.

    I don’t know if you remember the ’60s but “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” was a pretty good encapsulation of that fact.

  • Zan MacArthur

    Yes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But ironically it was precisely folks over thirty that you could trust in that their minds were fixed (America right or wrong). You knew what they were going to do in every instance. You could trust them to do what they were predisposed to do. Sixties youth chose to do the opposite of their elders; Islamic youth choose to do the same.

  • That is way too simplistic, MSimon. It is true that the older we get, the more we become set in our familiar ways of thinking and behaving. But firstly, I very much doubt there is some magic cutoff age where we stop changing – whether we do or not and when varies widely among individuals, depending on their particular set of circumstances, both internal and external. Note also that big external changes, such as personal or collective traumas, tend to cause people to change to at least some degree.

    Secondly, and most importantly, while as I conceded, with age people gradually lose their capacity for change, they also tend to become less zealous about their ideologies, whatever those may be, and are less eager to act upon them. Of course this is a simplified generalization, but it is about as good or bad as the one you made. So what we probably get with regard to age, generally and simplistically put, are two opposing forces that probably more or less cancel each other out.

  • Zan MacArthur

    To clarify: Sixties youth chose to do the opposite of their elders (that which attached to their elders: nationalism, capitalism, the primacy of family); Radicalized Islamic youth choose to do the same as their elders (what Sunni Imams advocate).

    Alisa, I see your point, but if these two forces cancel each other out, what do you end up with? Are older Muslims then as malleable as young Muslims?