2015-11-14

So why does this keep happening, and on this scale?

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

From The Daily Beast, by Maajid Nawaz, Paris Proves We’ll Never Kill Enough Jihadists to Stop Terror . . . .

So why does this keep happening, and on this scale?

The answer is not a comfortable one.

Jihadist terrorism is alive and kicking. And though we must continue to put terrorists on the back foot by targeting their leadership, we will never kill our way out of this phenomenon. In January 2013, after Bin Laden’s death but long before ISIS’s emergence, my counter-extremism organisation Quilliam declared (to choruses of raised eyebrows at the time), “It’s a full blown jihadist-insurgency, stupid.” And no insurgency is sustainable, or even possible, without a level of residual support for its core ideological aims among the core communities from which it draws its fighters.

Jihadism has well and truly taken root among an entire generation of angry young Muslims. This is particularly the case in Europe, where thousands have left to join ISIS. This insurgency is incredibly hard to tackle, because its recruits remain invisible in our very own societies, born and raised among us, fluent in our languages and culture, but full of venom for everything they have been raised into.

Though London is by now well overdue a similar attack, a question that could legitimately be asked is why does France seem to be bearing the brunt of such coordinated jihadist terror, up until now most potently symbolised by the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately for France, though not unique to it, between 5 and 10 percent of its population is Muslim. Real, serious problems with economic and social integration prevail in this group, fuelling resentment on a scale that baffles most expert policy makers. Even if hundreds, out of millions, take this resentment to its deadly conclusion, France has a huge problem on its hands, as we saw on Friday. But so do we all.

Recognizing this is not to stigmatize every European or Western Muslim—the vast majority of whom are not, of course, jihadists—but it means being realistic about exactly where the challenge is coming from, and what the challenge is called: Islamism.

Up until now the bitter truth that our Muslim populations have been subjected to decades of sustained Islamist propaganda by those who live among them has gone almost totally ignored. The long term solution cannot continue to ignore this truth, and cannot continue to neglect those few Muslims, and others, attempting to take on this threat within their own communities.

For now, my guess will be that these attacks will only aid the anti-immigrant rhetoric of France’s far right, sweeping xenophobes to prominence, further polarising communities, which for good or for bad, will only sustain the process of radicalisation even further. This is so despite the fact that France has taken hardly any Syrian refugees, and Germany, which has taken tens of thousands, has yet to be hit as hard as France has. European born and raised jihadists have so far posed the biggest problem, not immigrants.

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108 Comments

  • 2015-11-14 05:12:51 GMT+0000 - 05:12 | Permalink

    “And no insurgency is sustainable, or even possible, without a level of residual support for its core ideological aims among the core communities from which it draws its fighters.”

    -Then use death squads to kill the most likely residual supporters, like the anticommunist Latin military governments did. Worked for them.

    “European born and raised jihadists have so far posed the biggest problem, not immigrants.”

    -Translation: second-generation immigrants have so far posed the biggest problem, not first-generation ones.

    Message between the lines: don’t expect the descendants of Muslim migrants to pose any less trouble than the migrants already do.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 05:30:45 GMT+0000 - 05:30 | Permalink

      Am I understanding you correctly if I think you are seriously calling for the systematic murder of all Islamists?

      Do you have a constructive/informed view of how the following situation might be ameliorated?

      For now, my guess will be that these attacks will only aid the anti-immigrant rhetoric of France’s far right, sweeping xenophobes to prominence, further polarising communities, which for good or for bad, will only sustain the process of radicalisation even further.

      Is your answer that the 6000 people under surveillance in France since the Charlie Hebdo murders should all be murdered?

      • 2015-11-14 19:43:29 GMT+0000 - 19:43 | Permalink

        “Am I understanding you correctly if I think you are seriously calling for the systematic murder of all Islamists?”

        -Not all of them. Just the ones most likely to give aid to the most likely future attackers. I think that might number in the several hundreds.

        My constructive view is a much more restrictive immigration policy, especially from countries from which the parents of prominent terrorists arrived, and perhaps some deportations.

        I’m not left-wing, and I don’t know much about the French National Front, so I don’t know whether it should come into power or not. As far as I can see, the biggest threats to freedom in France are not from anti-Islamist right wing. Has any significant number of Muslims become a fundamentalist due to the domestic policy actions of right-wing parties?

    • AU
      2015-11-14 13:16:40 GMT+0000 - 13:16 | Permalink

      -Then use death squads to kill the most likely residual supporters, like the anticommunist Latin military governments did. Worked for them.

      The Latin military governments killed many, many civilians in the process. They were … “terrorists”.

      So, basically, you’re saying to to defeat terrorism we should use … terrorism. Ok!

      • Neil Godfrey
        2015-11-14 15:04:53 GMT+0000 - 15:04 | Permalink

        Sam Harris has also called for this “final solution”. Mano Singham could scarcely believe it when he heard about it so checked Sam Harris’s words for himself:

        I recently came across an item where the author claimed that Sam Harris had advocated that some beliefs are so pernicious that they merited the person holding them being killed. The critic was using this quote supposedly made by Harris that “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.” Although Harris has advocated ideas that are terrible (such as bombing campaigns against Islamic countries), racial profiling, and concocting elaborate scenarios to justify the use of torture, I thought that advocating killing people for thought crimes was a bit much and that he must have been taken out of context.

        So I looked up the context of the sentence and here it is on pages 52 and 53 of his book The End of Faith (2004).

        The power that belief has over our emotional lives appears to be total. For every emotion that you are capable of feeling, there is surely a belief that could invoke it in a matter of moments.

        Consider the following proposition:

        Your daughter is being slowly tortured in an English jail.

        What is it that stands between you and the absolute panic that such a proposition would loose in the mind and body of a person who believed it? Perhaps you do not have a daughter, or you know her to be safely at home, or you believe that English jailors are renowned for their congeniality. Whatever the reason, the door to belief has not yet swung upon its hinges.

        The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them [My italics-MS]. This may seem an extraordinary claim, but it merely enunciates an ordinary fact about the world in which we live. Certain beliefs place their adherents beyond the reach of every peaceful means of persuasion, while inspiring them to commit acts of extraordinary violence against others [My italics-MS]. There is, in fact, no talking to some people. If they cannot be captured, and they often cannot, otherwise tolerant people may be justified in killing them in self-defense. This is what the United States attempted in Afghanistan, and it is what we and other Western powers are bound to attempt, at an even greater cost to ourselves and to innocents abroad, elsewhere in the Muslim world. We will continue to spill blood in what is, at bottom, a war of ideas.

        Notice that he seems to be advocating killing people for merely having certain thoughts, not for taking active steps to carry out the intent of thoughts so as to make them an imminent danger to others, the usual standard we use to justify killing in self-defense. He also says a little earlier that “Beliefs are principles of action (p. 52, italics in original) and seems to think that at least some beliefs lead inexorably to actions based on those beliefs, so having the belief is sufficient cause for summary execution.

        I simply cannot see any way of interpreting that passage to make it seem any less horrific. . . .

        Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2015/10/09/sam-harris-on-killing-people-for-thought-crimes/#ixzz3rTi6TLnW

  • Tom
    2015-11-14 06:47:46 GMT+0000 - 06:47 | Permalink

    You are right the answer is not a comfortable one. this is not just some bunch of jihadis who leave a mosque after friday prayers to shoot up people, this is highly organised well trained terrorists who do not let their plans be known on Facebook or twitter, we have missed the opportunity to stop de radiclisation of these guys. This is now a war footing and to protect the majority some pretty tough decisions need to be made. one is first to recognise what you are up against and then re think our strategy.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 12:22:50 GMT+0000 - 12:22 | Permalink

      What worries me is that some of us would find going out and shooting lots more people a very comfortable answer.

      • George Hall
        2015-11-15 07:59:55 GMT+0000 - 07:59 | Permalink

        Speaking OF Twitter…which is something more my specialty…some news today has shown that Muslims were among the victims…Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco…I’m also just retweeting one from Turkish news sources that one victim was Turkish.

        The terrorists in Paris didn’t care who they killed. Christian, Muslim, atheist…they just didn’t care who.

    • George Hall
      2015-11-15 09:10:39 GMT+0000 - 09:10 | Permalink

      also regarding Twitter…there were enough ISIS fans out during the situation on Twitter and using their own hashtag, #ParisBurns. I was more concerned with finding and Tweeting resource links that helped people…but one of my Twitter correspondents was keeping an eye on the ISIS fans posting to that hashtag.

      Maybe it wasn’t their plans…but at least it gave an idea who supported them.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2015-11-14 08:04:18 GMT+0000 - 08:04 | Permalink

    Given that terrorists have been leaping from strength to strength, expanding their networks, carrying out ever more spectacular and grisly attacks, wreaking more (not less) terror than ever, we can scarcely deny that they continue to hold the strategic initiative. I fear some of our reactions will be exactly what they have calculated for and want.

    Like al Qaeda before it, ISIS derives far more strength from our response to its provocation than from the twisted values it promotes.

    Stern and Berger, ISIS: The State of Terror

    I’m guessing that those responsible for the Paris attacks are sympathetic to ISIS. Also from Stern and Berger:

    The ISIS propaganda machine is a calculated affair. It has five major goals, all of which involve an effort to simplify the complexity of the real world into a cartoonish battle between good and evil:

    * To project an image of strength and victory.
    * To excite those with violent tendencies by pairing extreme violence with a moral justification in the form of its alleged utopian society.
    * To manipulate the perceptions of ordinary citizens in its enemies’ lands to incite demand for military action, while at the same time planting doubt that such action can succeed.
    * To place the blame for any conflict that does result on the aggression of Western governments and the incitement of “Zionists.”
    * To recast any military action against ISIS as an action against Muslims in general, specifically by highlighting civilian casualties.

    • AU
      2015-11-14 13:13:57 GMT+0000 - 13:13 | Permalink

      Richard Kemp, who was a British commander in Afghanistan and has since worked for the Intelligence Committe and Cabinet Office, was on Radio Five Live an hour ago, and he was saying that people admire power, and ISIS shows off power, and therefore ISIS is gaining admirers amongst Muslims, and therefore, we sholuld launch a full-scale invasion of Syria to “smash” ISIS. To be honest, I don’t know what worries me more, ISIS, or people like Richard Kemp.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2015-11-14 15:16:16 GMT+0000 - 15:16 | Permalink

        I’ve heard the same. “Boots on the ground” is what’s needed — I was trying to imagine Australia sending military boots as part of a coalition to occupy France but finally decided he probably meant Syria.

        Yeh, after reading Stern and Berger as well as Weiss and Hassan and then Cockburn (and having just begun Burke’s latest) — I have been thinking that such attacks is what we can and should expect more of in the coming months. As you say, ISIS is projecting an image of great power through such attacks, and especially with this one. It’s a monumental propaganda (and recruiting) coup for them.

        “Our” response to 9/11 has had the effect of spreading and growing terrorism until it has “culminated” in something far more horrific than even al Qaeda. Stern and Berger warn the solution will take generations of effort to work. That’s too depressing to contemplate.

        • 2015-11-14 19:48:47 GMT+0000 - 19:48 | Permalink

          Wasn’t it, rather, “our” response to the Syrian and Libyan protests? I, too, am a fan of boots on the ground in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, though mostly in an advisory role.

          The U.S. invasions of Panama and Kuwait and war on Gaddafi took “generations of effort” to work, didn’t they?

  • George Hall
    2015-11-14 11:21:15 GMT+0000 - 11:21 | Permalink

    Interesting..but in the end…it’s standing up to them that works best.

    Hence their strategy would really be to NOT want us to stand up to them.

    Standing up to them creates lots of noise…but actually works.

    But then, that’s the difference between real-world experience and books.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 12:21:38 GMT+0000 - 12:21 | Permalink

      Books that I have read both some years back and now recently (and spoken about on Vridar) are grounded in the real world experiences of the terrorists themselves, their victims, their followers, their supporters and their opponents, and the scholarly research that has put these real-world experiences together and applied tests to help explain them. They yield informed real-world understanding. I often see their authors interviewed for comment because of their expertise in the field. More of us would be a bit smarter if we took some notice of them.

      Where do you learn about real-world experiences and facts about terrorist atrocities like these if you hold the scholarly research in such contempt that you presumably do not even bother to read it?

      • George Hall
        2015-11-14 20:19:17 GMT+0000 - 20:19 | Permalink

        Clarification. I don’t hold scholarly research in contempt.

        But I might point out that terrorists don’t read the scholarly research and if they do, they laugh at it. The point is…at heart a terrorist is still a bully-boy. You stand up to bullies or you get walked over.

        Simplest thing…you don’t need to be a scholar to work that out.

        I might especially point out ALL forms of bully-boys walk over bookish scholars. That is a real-world experience.

        Also…if it’s not done effectively…you get more problems. Not less.

        • Tom
          2015-11-14 21:56:30 GMT+0000 - 21:56 | Permalink

          George Unfortunately what you said is correct. What the problem is the lack of understanding of the Mid East, this is and always has been a Shite VS Sunni war and Bush failed to realise that removing a Sunni ruled Iraq leader (Saddam) and replacing him with a pro Shite leader was eventually going to lead to persecution of Sunni majority this then lead to Isis who are backed by mostly Bath party and Saddam ex military men.
          If we keep blaming ourselves for this mess we are just giving them more reason to attack us, this Shia/ Sunni war has been going on for 1000 of years.
          It is a complex problem that needs strong wise leaders to solve and I do not see any on the scene at the moment.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-15 02:28:05 GMT+0000 - 02:28 | Permalink

          George, you did not address my comment.

          No-one is talking about submitting to bullies. We are talking about how to get the better of the bullies by outsmarting them, by learning their secrets and exploiting their weaknesses.

          Because standing up to a bully who doesn’t care about being killed just doesn’t work when he knows someone else we can’t yet identify is going to fill his place and kill some of us at a time and place we least expect.

          And Tom, calling for a messianic leader to magically solve such a scenario is not going to help, either — unless we believe in miracles.

          Why not learn from the intelligence services, the military, the people who talk with the terrorists and their supporters and have got to know them very well….

          Why do you guys not want to do that? I really can’t understand why we don’t want to understand our enemy.

          Sometimes wars are lost because of a failure to understand the enemy. In fact some of the books you think are worthless are even explaining that the reason we have ISIS now is because we failed to understand the nature of our enemy in Iraq in the first place. Maybe it’s time to learn something?

          • George Hall
            2015-11-15 02:55:07 GMT+0000 - 02:55 | Permalink

            It really depends on who I’m talking to.

            Understanding the enemy as part of tackling him is VALID.

            Understanding the enemy and let him have EXCUSES for what he’s doing isn’t.

            As for the military…really, at the moment, does the US military HAVE the experience and expertise it NEEDS? I think an HONEST appraisal says that no, it’s LOST a lot of the best experience in recent years.

            Outsmarting bullies…oh, I SERIOUSLY agree there…and it’s FUN to do when it’s possible.

            But sometimes it also needs just sheer out-gutsing a bully too. Even when you’re at low resources you wouldn’t think would allow you to.

            Of course, experience also tells me it’s quite good to stand up to a bully in such a way you get 200 of his fellows actually cheer you and not him…and then let them do the rest. Nothing like winning crowd support.

            I take your next point, Neil, about the fact that there may be something that crops up in his place…but perhaps you should be telling Mr Obama that. I’m looking at where Mr Gaddafi’s weapons ended up after Mr Obama and Mr Cameron taking out Gaddafi at a phase of his career when he was actually being LESS of a problem.

            Please just once defer to me there. It proves your point in a way.

            “Why not learn from the intelligence services, the military, the people who talk with the terrorists and their supporters and have got to know them very well….”

            Well…if what’s gained is the way to stop them…that’s fine.

            There is a problem that does crop up from that, though.

            At what point do the people TALKING to them start sympathizing with them too much?

            At what point does Stockholm Syndrome end up being the only result?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2015-11-14 19:11:23 GMT+0000 - 19:11 | Permalink

      George, France has been bombing ISIS. Have they not been “standing up to them” in the correct manner?

      They’ve been doing more than the rest of the West with respect to Syria. And they’ve been doing it in this “real world” that you claim to know about.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/14/france-active-policy-syria-assad-isis-paris-attacks-air-strikes

      So, just what are you talking about, George?

      • 2015-11-14 19:50:08 GMT+0000 - 19:50 | Permalink

        I still remember when France was arguing in favor of funneling oil money to Nusra.

      • George Hall
        2015-11-14 20:24:08 GMT+0000 - 20:24 | Permalink

        Yeah…but really…has anyone got the point that “destroy and degrade ISIS said by another leader elsewhere has looked the most FARCICAL destroy-and-degrade exercise out?

        I monitored things via Twitter from the day the US side of handling ISIS started. Didn’t take me long to realize ISIS literally IGNORED things, didn’t worry about the US bombing Raqqa, and they kept on heading straight for Kobani.

        In fact, watching how Kobani went…made me wish for the days of Stormin’ Norman, a general who knew what the hell he was doing.

        No faulting France. They weren’t the ones I think could be doing a better job.

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-14 11:57:14 GMT+0000 - 11:57 | Permalink

    Paris vaut bien une…capitulation?

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 12:11:40 GMT+0000 - 12:11 | Permalink

      Again, please be direct. I have no idea what you mean or want us to consider.

      • David Ashton
        2015-11-14 22:44:25 GMT+0000 - 22:44 | Permalink

        This adaptation of a notorious statement attributed to King Henry IV of France regarding an earlier territorial conflict with an ideological dimension has its modern resonance today. I leave you to consider what could or should, or not, be done to reduce the risk of any such well-organized horrors in hitherto relatively unaffected cities from Sydney to Santiago.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-14 23:18:34 GMT+0000 - 23:18 | Permalink

          Are you afraid to say what you mean? You are still leaving me guessing. I don’t want to guess the worst – I can’t guess the worse. I’d rather you clarify and assure us of your meaning.

          • David Ashton
            2015-11-15 00:29:11 GMT+0000 - 00:29 | Permalink

            Why don’t you clarify what you mean by the “worst” that you suspect might be hidden in my proposal to reflect upon a well-known event in a “religious” but in fact territorial war in history?

            • Neil Godfrey
              2015-11-15 02:34:21 GMT+0000 - 02:34 | Permalink

              I prefer an open discussion and lose patience with guessing games. I cannot figure out the worst at all except that it sounds like something terrible about losing Paris. I can only assume you wish to say something you know I will think is outrageous — perhaps you want to say we should launch a reign of terror against anyone suspected of sympathies with Islamism anywhere in the world — shoot suspects on sight until we are finally sure only people who think like us are still alive.

              You don’t think that? Of course not. So stop playing guessing games.

              • David Ashton
                2015-11-15 13:59:14 GMT+0000 - 13:59 | Permalink

                My response to the Henry IV query is not that I think the alternative to surrender to ISIS terrorism in western capitals is to massacre thousands of innocent Muslims. It was to note two points especially: (1) religious belief or its references can be used as a motive or pretext for territorial dominance, and (2) understanding this phenomenon could help to end “religious” wars for territorial acquisition.

                However, I do deprecate attitudes of suicidal white racial collective guilt induced by sections of the “liberal” media and “educationists”, ably criticized by James Burnham, Pascal Bruckner, Michel Houellebecq, &c.
                Cf. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6874/paris-attacks-shocked

                For the record, I have consistently held, and expressed, two opinions, not just one or the other: (1) It was and is a mistake to allow the settlement of Muslims (among others) in large numbers in western homelands, and (2) it was and is a mistake to provoke Muslim hostility by initiating wars against their homelands, including Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, or helping to arm and stir sectarian violence. If this makes me an opponent of universal human “rights” – as distinct from human realities or actual lives – too bad.

                I admit, of course, my own “petty prejudices”, e.g. seeing my once Anglo-Saxon east London homeland of Waltham Forest, transformed into an Afro-Asian colony in about two decades, currently described in a book on urban crime as “Gangland”, with my aunt’s old shop in Hoe Street having been used for planning a fortunately foiled Islamist sky-bomb plot and the same road recently the under-reported scene of a pitched battle with weapons between the black girls of what was originally my grammar school (founded 1527) and those from another nearby school, and councillors who wanted to close the William Morris gallery as of no interest to their new ratepayers; I am prepared endure but not to “celebrate” or promote such “diversity”.

                Racist, Right-wing, Islamophobic, secretly Zionist and secretly Antisemitic Troll…or just an independent thinker, albeit still attached to his own threatened heritage?

  • AU
    2015-11-14 13:07:15 GMT+0000 - 13:07 | Permalink

    Hi Neil,

    I don’t know if you have come across Lisa Stampnitzky before, but she’s an academic who specialises in “terrorism” – she used to be at Harvard but she is now here at Sheffield University in the UK. She wrote “Disciplining Terror: How Experts Invented ‘Terrorism’” – a review of which can be found here:

    http://soc.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/02/11/0038038514566844

    There will be a conference on terrorism next month that she will be attending, you might be interested in following it as part of your research into terrorism.

    http://www.orfaleacenter.ucsb.edu/projects/trends/events

    Thank you.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 15:23:24 GMT+0000 - 15:23 | Permalink

      There’s so much to read and keep up with. I’m still trying to bring myself up to speed with research into the nature of religion itself as well as some of the more recent studies in extremist behaviour. Will try to catch up with these links, too, when I can.

      Meanwhile you might want to ask Dan Jones about them. I know he is far more on top of all of this stuff and quite possibly knows of the persons and conference details in some depth.

      • AU
        2015-11-14 22:01:37 GMT+0000 - 22:01 | Permalink

        Yes, I know you read a lot, and appreciate your problem – I have a similar problem with Computing – because technology is changing so fast these days there are so many books being written on new areas of research, and so my list of books to read keeps getting larger and larger!

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-14 22:28:33 GMT+0000 - 22:28 | Permalink

          Until I get to it, I would really love you to draw it to Dan Jones’ attention and get his thoughts, too. Dan — are you reading this??

          • AU
            2015-11-15 15:51:11 GMT+0000 - 15:51 | Permalink

            Sure, will do so…

  • 2015-11-14 16:27:55 GMT+0000 - 16:27 | Permalink

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Palestinian-rights-activist-raises-possibility-Israel-behind-Paris-attacks-433010

    “A co-founder of the Free Gaza movement, Mary Hughes-Thompson, raised the possibility that Israel was behind the deadly attacks that hit Paris on Friday night and killed 120 people.

    “I haven’t accused Israel of involvement. Still, Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] is upset about the European settlement boycott. So who knows,” Hughes-Thompson tweeted following the attacks on Saturday morning.

    This is not the first time that Hughes Thompson has questioned if Israel was involved in terrorist activity on French soil.

    Following the January Paris terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper, she similarly hinted at Israeli involvement.

    “Hebdo killings indefensible. Can’t help thinking JSIL Mossad false flag though…,” ADL, the American human rights group quoted her as tweeting. ADL explained that JSIL is the acronym for “Jew­ish State in the Lev­ant,” a term used by anti-Israel activists to equate Israel with ISIS.

    Hughes-Thompson’s co founder of Free Gaza, Greta Berlin, explicitly blamed Israel for the Charlie Hebdo attack.

    “MOSSAD just hit the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in a clumsy false flag designed to damage the accord between Palestine and France…Here’s hoping the French police will be able to tell a well executed hit by a well trained Israeli intelligence service and not assume the Muslims would be likely to attack France when France is their freind [sic.] Israel did tell France there would be grave consequences if they voted with Palestine. A four year old could see who is responsi­ble for this terrible attack,” Berlin wrote on Facebook ADL reported.”

    JW:
    It’d be nice Neil if you could spare some time in between your criticism of Israel to unilaterally and unconditionally criticize Palestinian supporters. It would be so much easier to find the evidence.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 20:24:54 GMT+0000 - 20:24 | Permalink

      Joe, do you even bother to return to read any responses to any of your comments here or are you just a troll who likes to drop in with another bit of excreta innuendo about my character. I am still waiting for you to respond to my comment at http://vridar.org/2015/02/22/expulsion-of-the-palestinians-pre-war-internal-discussions/#comment-74402. Please do. It’d be nice if you would actually attempt to engage in a reasonable discussion.

      Reply civilly to my earlier comment so I know you are not just trolling here.

      By the way, there’s something I find much uglier than your regular smears accusing me of loving hatred and murder of Jews — it’s your ability to turn the Paris massacres into another plea for us to “remember” that no one has ever ever suffered in the past or suffers today as much as your tribe. It’s probably called a form of narcissism, Joe. Is this all the feeling and reactions that the Paris attacks can elicit from you? You’ll have to excuse me Joe if I don’t give a stuff about you and your obsession with people thinking conspiracies about your State of Israel or Mossad right now.

      • 2015-11-14 21:30:16 GMT+0000 - 21:30 | Permalink

        I’ve started a blog series to respond:

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-14 22:32:38 GMT+0000 - 22:32 | Permalink

          Have you. Well I don’t give a stuff about your blog and have no intention of bothering to read it.

          If you really wish to respond to my comments where I expose your ignorance and superficiality then you can do so here where I made them. If not, I can only assume you have no interest in dialogue and I certainly won’t be running around the internet trying to find out where or if you said anything I might want to address.

          In other words you only come here to troll.

          And now, it seems, you also come here to try to use Vridar as a means to attract readers to your own platform for ADL excreta, and presumably to a space where you can get people to stop their wayward obsessing over the French for a moment and give their full attention to where it should be at this time: that is, to how much your State of Israel is suffering right now by being so cruelly mentioned as a possibility behind the terrorist attacks.

          • George Hall
            2015-11-15 00:19:14 GMT+0000 - 00:19 | Permalink

            Might I make a suggestion, Neil…?

            Rather than do NO great good for the ancient biblical scholarship side of the blog by articles and posts on the CONTEMPORARY side of things…

            …have you ever thought to do the contemporary stuff you so obviously want to give your viewpoint on in a DIFFERENT new blog?

            There is some GREAT stuff in the ancient biblical scholarship side of Vridar.

            But the contemporary posts cause some really interesting debates that don’t help that side of the scholarship.

            The fact you mix them works negatively and I think DETRACTS from the good work you do with the other scholarship.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2015-11-15 05:32:50 GMT+0000 - 05:32 | Permalink

              The byline of Vridar is “Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science”.

              My approach to understanding the Bible and Christian origins is the same as my approach to understanding the world around me. I am what I am today as a result of the lessons I learned from my religious years; I have learned the value of studying serious and tested research into human nature and how the world works, and in learning how to evaluate and test arguments and evidence.

              It seems some of us don’t think we need to bother learning how the media works or how humanity and cultures and governments work, etc, and that we can know it all just from watching a couple of news channels. I have learned not to accept the Bible at face value and have learned so much from specialist studies of it. It is no different from how I analyse and understand what I see/read/hear in the news media. Ditto with understanding the world of science.

              (George — I’ve had to limit your comments; they would be swamping the comments discussions otherwise. I have kept back any that I consider less specific to the topic or are mere opinion without supporting evidence.)

  • 2015-11-14 16:50:41 GMT+0000 - 16:50 | Permalink

    A full-scale invasion of Syria, if it could eliminate ISIS?

    Well, why not? I ask that literally.

    Again I appeal to pragmatism. We don’t have “generations” to solve this. If this keeps up, Europe will feel its back is against the wall and it will lash out with whatever measures it feels necessary to ensure survival. When you’re trapped in a burning building, there is no such thing as letting cooler heads prevail.

    Chamberlain and others allowed Hitler to reoccupy the Rhineland, to gobble up Austria and Czechoslovakia while they babbled about “peace in our time.” Had they marched into the Rhineland in 1936 and expelled Hitler (which he feared they would do), the second world war would probably not have taken place. Would anyone today, with hindsight, have said that such a move by Britain and France should not have been carried out?

    The West (including a dithering Obama) failed to give any support to the initial rebels against Assad. How many Western politicians now regret that?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2015-11-14 18:58:45 GMT+0000 - 18:58 | Permalink

      Earl, we engaged in a full-scale invasion of Iraq to eliminate Saddam’s regime. We engaged in a full-scale invasion in Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban.

      If we engage in a full-scale invasion of Syria, we will without doubt eliminate ISIS. And the people who constitute ISIS will melt back into society and wait for however long we stay there. And when we leave, the next horrible regime will take its place.

      And as far as Chamberlain goes, if he had opted to invade the Rhineland in 1936, his war planners would have told him that he could expect the same situation as the Great War, only much, much worse. As historian David Dutton pointed out:

      Chamberlain was no fool. But no individual could change the basic facts of the international scene, which made fighting Germany almost unthinkable for most of the decade. Like all his generation, Chamberlain had been deeply scarred by the memory of the First World War. Expert opinion predicted that any future war would be even worse: to the slaughter of the battlefield would be added unspeakable destruction from the air. Extrapolating from the Spanish Civil War, it was estimated that the first few weeks of a German air assault would bring half a million casualties: Britain was defenceless in the face of the bomber.

      Of course, the calculations were way off the mark. But Chamberlain was doing what many of his critics complain he was reluctant to do — following expert advice. In addition, he was only too aware of the unfavourable balance of power. The enormous coalition assembled against the Kaiser’s Germany could not be recreated: only France was clearly on board, and of her military capacity Chamberlain was deeply sceptical (with good reason).

      In any war, if the forces are equal, the defender has the advantage. But the forces at that time were not equal.

      Chamberlain was not an idiot, but he’s a useful foil for right-wingers who always see war as the first and best option.

      Earl: “Would anyone today, with hindsight, have said that such a move by Britain and France should not have been carried out?”

      Yeah. Me. And probably a majority of historians.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/6062452/Neville-Chamberlain-should-be-praised-not-buried.html

      • 2015-11-14 19:55:54 GMT+0000 - 19:55 | Permalink

        “If we engage in a full-scale invasion of Syria, we will without doubt eliminate ISIS. And the people who constitute ISIS will melt back into society and wait for however long we stay there. And when we leave, the next horrible regime will take its place.”

        -Just like in Germany. But maybe that was because the U.S. never left Germany.

        Yeah, I too see blaming Chamberlain as pretty useless. Britain took a giant risk in declaring a war it couldn’t win in 1939.

        However, France should have done something in the Rhineland. It would at least have delayed the inevitable.

        • Tim Widowfield
          2015-11-14 20:04:02 GMT+0000 - 20:04 | Permalink

          That fact is that France wasn’t going to do anything and didn’t do anything. At best, it would not have delayed the inevitable, but instead moved the timetable up a few years.

          I’m reminded of those who say the Allies should have invaded France earlier. It was actually Churchill who kept telling the Americans they had no idea how difficult, huge, and dangerous an operation an amphibious landing in France would be. You got only one chance to get it right.

          Anyhow, the people who continually bring up Chamberlain don’t really care about alternate history, what they want is an alternate — and much more violent — present.

          • George Hall
            2015-11-14 21:04:04 GMT+0000 - 21:04 | Permalink

            Sorry, Tim, but appeasement is still a bit of a dirty word.

            Appeasement is giving the school bully all your lunch money.

            Alternate-world scenarios. Imagine a world where nobody stood up to the Nazis. Sure, we’d have a world of sycophants, but we’d be missing Jews, Gypsies for starters…I myself wouldn’t have even been allowed to have been born…no kids with disabilities, but everyone basically being blond-haired, blue-eyed clones…

            No thanks. There’s only so far appeasement can go. Then it has to be replaced by a set of balls anyway.

            • David Ashton
              2015-11-14 23:09:09 GMT+0000 - 23:09 | Permalink

              Historically, Britain could not begin protect or rescue Poland, and never did. We lost France unexpectedly quickly. We could not even guarantee the safety of Britain. We did not save the Jews of Europe. We won WW2 only with the eventual help of the USA and the USSR.

              Now unknown/forgotten, during the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the CPUSA joined the isolationists in 1940-41 attacking the “Jewish interventionist lobby” while also the antisemitism of Poland and Finland.

              “For all the rhetoric of honour,” concludes Richard Overy in “Countdown to War” (2010), “the reality of war in 1939 was not to save Poland from a cruel occupation but to save Britain and France from the dangers of a disintegrating world.”

              Except that it didn’t.

              History has its lessons but its facts are complex and controversial, and one must draw the right ones, especially in new circumstances such as present development of communications and weapon technology.

              The Zionist-Islamist conflict provides its own fresh complexities, however much they derive from e.g. the British Empire, the Holocaust, the Qur’an, and the geopolitics of oil, demography and international banking.

              Is this “up front” enough?

            • Tim Widowfield
              2015-11-14 23:43:02 GMT+0000 - 23:43 | Permalink

              George, “appeasement” is a label. The wise man chooses his battles.

              • George Hall
                2015-11-15 01:30:10 GMT+0000 - 01:30 | Permalink

                Tim…”appeasement” is a label ONLY to those who’ve never experienced the circumstances.

                Yes, I agree the wise man does choose his battles, but sometimes, there ends up being no choice, because a battle has been brought on the wise man anyway.

                If you’ve ever been in a situation to be where someone gives you the choice of appeasing him or standing up to him…appeasing is only lack of self-esteem. It only results in having to life a third-rate life. That’s the experience of facing bullies. To those bullied…appeasing does not really work over the long term and only suits the bully.

                Some of us can look at that in the abstract…but in the concrete application…if a creep says to you “Give me your wife and part of your house and I’ll be nice to you,” you’re only appeasing him, not really dealing with him.

                To consider it a “label” belies the fact it is pushed as a choice in the real world.

                It also shows that considering it ONLY a label means not really addressing it. “Definition” does not change it happening. Nor does it do anything about it.

                Chamberlain himself would have had to have sat through the years after the failure of his appeasement policy and wonder if he had done the right thing. If he was brutally honest with himself…he’d have probably thought that it was proven the wrong thing…and didn’t stop doing what NEEDED to be done anyway.

                In the end…standing up had to be done.

                Otherwise we’d be living in a Nazi world. As I said on another comment…I wouldn’t exist in such a world.

      • 2015-11-15 18:08:58 GMT+0000 - 18:08 | Permalink

        Not sure I am following your reasoning, Tim. I cannot for the life of me see that opposing Hitler in the Rhineland (which the Versailles powers had every right to do by the terms of Germany’s surrender) would not have stood a good chance of halting Hitler in his tracks and thus preventing WW2. Can you walk me through your reasoning (or the reasoning of others you seem to be appealing to)? I mean, if we can’t even undertake something as simple, direct and legitimate as opposing Hitler in 1936, then what CAN we do? Should we just turn the world over to the tyrants and the terrorists and let them have free rein by default? (Sorry, but I don’t happen to put much faith in ‘persuasion and education’ in the case of those who carve people’s heads off.)

        You seem to be assuming that putting up an opposition in such situations (whether Hitler’s or ISIS’) is somehow a mark of “right wing” approaches which automatically make it suspect and doomed to failure. I don’t see the reasoning there either.

        And is there really a fundamental difference between what the Western coalition is doing by bombing ISIS, and taking the next step by instituting a ground war, if that’s what is necessary to eliminate them? (If there were not enough lifeboats on the Titanic to save everyone, does that mean supplying those sufficient lifeboats would not have done the job by meeting the necessary requirements?) If an air bombardment can’t do the job, does that automatically mean that a full-scale ground war couldn’t do it either? You’ll have to walk me through that reasoning, too.

        Yes, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. Was it a failure? Hardly. It may have been incomplete, but without that invasion the Taliban would still be executing women in the soccer stadium and the population would have been living under far more repressive conditions than they do now. It also achieved its objective by depriving Al Qaeda of a secure political base from which to launch more attacks on the West and likely be far more effective than it is now. If Afghanistan is still a failed country, it is largely the fault of the Afghanistanis who cannot lift themselves out of their 13th century thinking and two millennia of sectarianism.

        The same goes for Iraq and Saddam Hussein and his psychopathic sons. The failure of post 2003 Iraq is only partly the fault of idiots like Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, but mostly the endemic sectarianism which plagues most of the Muslim world and the failure of the Iraqi government to rise above it, helping lead to the emergence of ISIS.

        Naive? Well, maybe, but maybe only in the view of those who think that we can never do anything right or effective or never take drastic action.

        • Tim Widowfield
          2015-11-22 01:29:09 GMT+0000 - 01:29 | Permalink

          Earl, I’m sorry to take so long to answer. I’ve had a busy month.

          Earl wrote: “Tim. I cannot for the life of me see that opposing Hitler in the Rhineland (which the Versailles powers had every right to do by the terms of Germany’s surrender) would not have stood a good chance of halting Hitler in his tracks and thus preventing WW2. Can you walk me through your reasoning (or the reasoning of others you seem to be appealing to)?”

          Looking back in hindsight it looks like a simple decision. But of course we know how it would eventually play out. We know how bad things would eventually get. At the time, however, most people in the West thought they could get away with ceding a little bit of ground here and there, until Germany was satisfied. “The Germans want the Rhineland? Fine. Take it. We’ll sit behind our wall.”

          I want to be very clear that I’m not talking here about what I would do or what I think England should have done. Instead, I’m talking about what Chamberlain or any hypothetical Prime Minister believed was possible and prudent. He was strongly motivated not start a new war, based on Britain’s memory of the Great War. He also knew that the French had placed their hopes in the Maginot Line.

          Ironically, when the Council of the League of Nations met to discuss Germany’s re-militarization of the Rhineland, only the Soviet Union voted for sanctions. Pretty much the same thing happened in the Ethiopian Crisis and the Spanish Civil War. They understood better than anyone where Hitler wanted to expand.

          I am not saying “halting Hitler in his tracks” was impossible. I’m saying that there was no consensus for war against Hitler in the west, and it is worth understanding how and why leaders (as well as the poplulace) did not want to fight.

          I am reminded of the shell-shocked British airmen who, after many bombing raids were psychologicially shattered and could not go on. The command stamped their records “NMF” for “No Moral Fibre,” effectively condemning them for a lack of will, while ignoring the real reasons. The RAF knew better, of course, but they were interested only in shaming the airmen back to their duty.

          We fall into the same trap if we call Chamberlain a coward. It’s easy to pin the failure on a few “Guilty Men,” but I would rather understand what really happened. The vast majority of people who villify Chamberlain today barely know anything about the man or the times. They just use the figure of Chamberlain a convenient shorthand for “We will paint you as a coward and an appeaser if you do not choose the path of immediate and extreme violence.”

          Earl wrote: “You seem to be assuming that putting up an opposition in such situations (whether Hitler’s or ISIS’) is somehow a mark of ‘right wing’ approaches which automatically make it suspect and doomed to failure. I don’t see the reasoning there either.”

          You appear to be falsely equating opposition with military force. Yes, violence as a first resort is a mark of right-wing politics in general. However, oppostion of any sort to Hitler was not necessarily a feature of the British far right in the 1930s, who admired the Axis dictators, saw the Soviet Union as the true threat, and wanted to make peace and possibly ally with the Germans. Nor was it necessarily a feature of the French far right, many of whom collaborated gladly in the Vichy government.

          “Putting up an opposition,” as you put it, should depend on serious political and practical calculations. And, of course, military intervention is certainly not the only way to oppose a threat. We won the Cold War in large measure thanks to a policy of containment, seeking to avoid direct confrontation. Recently, we brought the Iranians to the negotiating table through economic sanctions. And whether or not you think that will work in the long run to keep them from building a bomb, it was worth trying.

          Resorting to extreme violence is not necessarily doomed to failure, but I submit the recommendation that we, as a recent presidential nominee for the Republican party put it, “Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran,” is not so much a strategy as a masturbatory fantasy. Bomb what? For how long? What’s the aftermath? What’s the end game?

          Earl wrote: “And is there really a fundamental difference between what the Western coalition is doing by bombing ISIS, and taking the next step by instituting a ground war, if that’s what is necessary to eliminate them?”

          Yes, there’s a huge difference. Who’s going to go? The soldiers who have already served three, four, or five combat tours in Iraq or Afghanistan? Or a new generation of cannon fodder, fresh out of high school? These are real people, not just boots.

          Earl wrote: “(If there were not enough lifeboats on the Titanic to save everyone, does that mean supplying those sufficient lifeboats would not have done the job by meeting the necessary requirements?) If an air bombardment can’t do the job, does that automatically mean that a full-scale ground war couldn’t do it either? You’ll have to walk me through that reasoning, too.”

          I can’t walk you through reasoning on a point that I did not make.

          I’m not sure where you got the idea that we could not beat ISIS. I wrote, “If we engage in a full-scale invasion of Syria, we will without doubt eliminate ISIS.”

          But I also wrote, “And the people who constitute ISIS will melt back into society and wait for however long we stay there. And when we leave, the next horrible regime will take its place.”

          Earl wrote: “Yes, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. Was it a failure? Hardly.” [And more stuff after that.]

          From the N.Y. Times, dateline Nov. 10, 2015:

          Breakaway Taliban militants loyal to Islamic State behead seven kidnapped ethnic Hazras, including two children; officials say increasing factionalization, rather than weakening Taliban, makes group more threatening to Afghan civilians, government and security forces.

          Earl wrote: “Naive? Well, maybe, but maybe only in the view of those who think that we can never do anything right or effective or never take drastic action.”

          Never is a long, long time. And I never said never. But especially in the Middle East, unless there is a clear and immediate threat that requires a full-scale attack. (not the fabricated ones we’ve been fed in the past), I don’t see the point in more American troops on the ground.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 21:22:19 GMT+0000 - 21:22 | Permalink

      Earl, there was no Syrian opposition for “us” to support against Assad that was not itself an al Qaeda affiliate. Any opposition that was not under the control of such terrorists at the beginning was eliminated before it got started. US and other aid to supposedly pro-Western anti-Assad groups has for most part simply ended up with ISIS (who threaten the groups receiving the supplies) and/or found its way to support terrorist groups in Iraq fighting the newly pro-Western government there.

      Everything we know about ISIS and the situations in Syria, Iraq, and the rest, — (see the Vridar category “terrorism” for a list of posts where I discuss some of the works and authoritative sources, or just search “ISIS” on Vridar) — leave no doubt: ISIS is not the sort of enemy that can be defeated by an invasion.

      ISIS exists across Syria and Iraq. When under threat of invasion ISIS melts into the civilian population and is not identifiable as a convenient target. ISIS now has “affiliates” across North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caucasus. Worse, it has thousands of loyalist sympathizers living in our own cities who do not need coordination and control from any single headquarters, say in Raqqa or Mosul.

      Islamists would love nothing more than to have the Western nations sucked into another war like Afghanistan or Iraq. If we think a past generation ought to have learned from Mein Kampf when it was first published then today we need to be learning from the comparable literature of the Islamists today: Management of Savagery makes no secret of the fact that they want the US in particular to be involved in a boots-on-the-ground war in the Middle East. The idea that many of them would also be killed doesn’t make any difference to them — martyrdom after all is what they crave.

      We would have Americans and others being blown up by bombs planted by invisible enemies and “us” retaliating in ever more vicious ways that only further alienated the people we were occupying and meanwhile more extremists would be attracted to the cause outside those invaded countries — invasion would be repeating the same as we have tried already twice and expecting something quite different as a consequence. Definition of insanity?

      Stern and Berger speak of the need for a generations-long struggle. They were proposing a struggle that will work by eliminating the causes of extremism, not generations of warfare that so far have only exacerbated the threat and will continue to do so.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2015-11-14 22:12:18 GMT+0000 - 22:12 | Permalink

        From a Mein Kampf of Islamism, The Management of Savagery, that I mentioned above:

        A — The first goal: Destroy a large part of the respect for America and spread confidence in
        the souls of Muslims by means of:

        (1) Reveal the deceptive media to be a power without force.

        (2) Force America to abandon its war against Islam by proxy and force it to attack directly
        so that the noble ones among the masses and a few of the noble ones among the armies of
        apostasy will see that their fear of deposing the regimes because America is their protector is
        misplaced and that when they depose the regimes, they are capable of opposing America if it
        interferes.

        B — The second goal: Replace the human casualties sustained by the renewal movement
        during the past thirty years by means of the human aid that will probably come for two
        reasons
        :

        (1) Being dazzled by the operations which will be undertaken in opposition to America.

        (2) Anger over the obvious, direct American interference in the Islamic world, such that that
        anger compounds the previous anger against America’s support for the Zionist entity. It
        also transforms the suppressed anger toward the regimes of apostasy and tyranny into a
        positive anger. Human aid for the renewal movement will not dry up, especially when
        heedless people among the masses — and they are the majority — discover the truth of the
        collaboration of these regimes with the enemies of the Umma to such an extent that no
        deceptive veil will be of use and no pretext will remain for any claimant to the Islam of these
        regimes and their like.

        (C) — The third goal: Work to expose the weakness of America’s centralized power by
        pushing it to abandon the media psychological war and the war by proxy until it fights
        directly
        . As a result, the apostates among all of the sects and groups and even Americans
        themselves will see that the remoteness of the primary center from the peripheries is a major
        factor contributing to the possible outbreak of chaos and savagery.

        Invading Syria (and Iraq again) is exactly what ISIS wants us to do. It would also fuel their apocalyptic vision of the end times and related love of martyrdom.

        Notice also that the more barbaric (“dazzling”) the terrorist attacks the more they are understood to be recruitment bait for more jihadis.

        Of course we may think that it doesn’t matter what the jihadi Islamists say so long as we can kill them all anyway. If so we are forgetting (again) that ISIS is not a conventional army fighting a conventional war.

      • George Hall
        2015-11-14 22:23:36 GMT+0000 - 22:23 | Permalink

        I’m agreeing with you, here, Neil…

        Syria was REALLY hard to figure out anything supportable. So your first paragraph I’m in alignment with. Even worse for the fact native Syrians seemed to be shoved more to the side by Al-Qaida rebel groups. It stopped being anything to do with any real grievances of Syrians very early on.

        Where I may make a disagreement to the rest of it is…ISIS also wins where it gets indecision and inaction. Begrudgingly I have to say it’s a damned if we do, damned if we don’t thing. But they won’t respect indecision, inaction or weakness. That’s when they’ll go harder.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-14 23:12:30 GMT+0000 - 23:12 | Permalink

          The choice is not between killing and doing nothing. We understand a lot of the reasons for radicalization in our midst. The reason Nawaz said our options are not comfortable ones, if I understood him correctly, is that it is these reasons that need to be addressed.

          That means the answer is not simply to find ways of killing more people as some commenters here (who have missed the point of the post) are proposing.

          When you say “they won’t respect indecision, inaction or weakness” — Do you really believe that they will one day respect us if we continue to bomb them? Will that work magically all of a sudden? Do we think they’ll stop killing us if they “respect us”? Read the above extract: it is our decision and action and strength that they WANT to see in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere.

          Humans are potentially smarter and more imaginative than this.

          • George Hall
            2015-11-15 01:40:11 GMT+0000 - 01:40 | Permalink

            Based on some real-world experience some years ago…if I had a choice between being respected or liked…respect is more preferable, because that way a trouble-maker or nasty person stays out of your way.

            I once tried, with a particular nasty character, making a point, then stepping back to allow it to sink in. The person in question stated quite clearly he thought LESS of me for doing that. So I had to ADAPT.

            In the end…he may not have liked me…but he ended up respecting me. That kept me a lot safer.

            Iraq and Syria has happened BECAUSE of indecisiveness and lack of strength…opened the way for local players to jockey for position.

            Because of the vacuum.

            ISIS rose in that vacuum…and as I stated elsewhere…ISIS really didn’t take the start of the action against them very seriously at all. They just IGNORED it and kept romping up to Kobani.

            Meaning they clearly didn’t respect the “degrade and destroy” action of one Mr Obama.

            Do remember one thing…I was following that very carefully for six months. I realized within a few days of the 23rd of September last year that first action had done NOTHING to derail their intent for Kobani.

            They really didn’t take it seriously.

            I get the impression the US had to be embarrassed into even helping the Kurds survive that.

            • Tim Widowfield
              2015-11-23 23:50:37 GMT+0000 - 23:50 | Permalink

              It’s really tough for Westerners to comprehend the thinking of the other side in these sorts of conflicts. As a junior officer, I went to Squadron Officer School (SOS) where we learned about “war fighting,” with a focus on air doctrine.

              The U.S. military calls these asymmetrical wars “LIC” for “Low Intensity Conflict.” You can begin to understand their mindset by reading up on Maoist doctrine and by studying what the VC did in South Vietnam. To survive, they must turn every deficiency into an advantage. Every setback is a challenge to do better. Every death is a martyr to the cause.

              Of course, the biggest advantage, as the V.C. demonstrated, is that fact that they aren’t just visitors from halfway around the globe. They live there. They have all the time in the world to wait.

              Does respect play a role? Maybe. I doubt it. The Russians have really treated the Chechens harshly, pulverized Grozny, executed terrorists, bombed, invaded, annexed territory… You name it. Do the Chechens respect Putin? Or do they just hate him with every fiber of their being?

              As far as ISIS goes, they have a plan. That plan deals with expected behavior and responses. “If they do ‘X,’ we do ‘Y.'” Obama has hit them with over 6,000 airstrikes. Do they respect him for it? No, they hate the infidel. If he did less would they disrespect him? No, they hate the infidel. If he did more, would they respect him? No! They hate the infidel!

              And what’s more, if you think that you always want your enemies to respect you, you haven’t read Sun Tzu: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

              Never give the enemy what he wants. Never do what he expects.

              “If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

              ISIS is not like your schoolyard bully who needs to be stood up to with bluster and testosterone. It is vitally important to understand what they want and what they need and never let them have it.

          • 2015-11-15 18:24:19 GMT+0000 - 18:24 | Permalink

            Neil, what would have happened if Britain and the U.S. had not opposed the Nazis? I think it is safe to say that continental Europe (and maybe eventually Britain) would have undergone decades of German domination, every Jew within reach would have been slaughtered, along with many other “inferior” minorities, and civilization would have been dealt a great blow. Without a Western front, Russia would likely have been conquered (Hitler almost could have done it even with it). And that would have been preferable to a simple opposition to Hitler in 1936?

            Just because Islamists have a plan and agenda does not mean that we are powerless to act. I simply cannot see the wisdom of that. Only SOME humans are potentially smart and more imaginative. And sometimes smarts and imagination do not work against opponents like Hitler and ISIS. Did Western smarts prevent the massacre of Srebrenica? Did those Dutch “peace-keepers” rescue the day by withdrawing in the face of Mladic and his murderous thugs, leaving them free to slaughter 5000? If someone, had they been given an advance warning, had parachuted soldiers into Srebrenica the night before to oppose the Serbs, would that have been the wrong move?

            If that makes me a right-wing fanatic, so be it.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2015-11-16 04:09:33 GMT+0000 - 04:09 | Permalink

              I don’t follow you, Earl, sorry. You seem to be objecting on the understanding that I think we should do nothing or not act against ISIS. I don’t know what I have said to make you think that if that’s what you believe I said.

  • Proctor S. Burress
    2015-11-14 17:00:17 GMT+0000 - 17:00 | Permalink

    Inherent in this conversation is a contradiction: humans cannot live without religion and religion in its most extreme claims produces extreme behavior… giving one’s life (while taking the lives of others) for that extreme belief!

    One simply cannot eliminate extreme belief in all human beings.

    Mid 20th century one never dared ask, is the very nature of religion likely to lead to what rationally should be called insanity?

    Now we are seeing the answer being enacted in certain parts of the world: yes religious thinking can lead to behavior that rational beings must deem insane.

    No amount of poo pooing the thoughts of Sam Harris changes this. If the thoughts that are the source of the deeds are not attacked just as a virus or disease, then just live with it.

    This is the contradiction of human life. Extreme belief is rarely…never… amenable to psychotherapy!

    Categorical thinking persists in thinking there is NO continuity in basic belief systems between those beliefs and an extreme…life ending…expression of it.
    If there is a lack of rationality in core religious beliefs then extreme expression of them produces irrationality in the extreme, insanity.

    • Scot Griffin
      2015-11-14 18:45:21 GMT+0000 - 18:45 | Permalink

      “humans cannot live without religion”

      That’s just not true.

      “is the very nature of religion likely to lead to what rationally should be called insanity?”

      Let me answer that question: no. Why? Because there is no common “nature of religion.” You seem to be assuming all religions are and always have been like the Abrahamic religions.

      • Proctor S. Burress
        2015-11-14 19:28:17 GMT+0000 - 19:28 | Permalink

        So “there is no common nature of religion?” Many, many students of religion have said that all religion holds to some ultimate value that is essentially an a priori
        assertion. These assertions are taken as essential principles whether theism or non-theism.

        Thanks for clarifying how that so many…almost universally…have gotten this wrong!

        • Scot Griffin
          2015-11-14 22:57:05 GMT+0000 - 22:57 | Permalink

          “Many, many students of religion have said that all religion holds to some ultimate value that is essentially an a priori
          assertion”

          But do they all agree on what that “ultimate value” is? In any event, even if all religions hold to the same “ultimate value,” that does not mean they have a common nature.

          Your logic is a mess.

          • Proctor S. Burress
            2015-11-15 15:48:56 GMT+0000 - 15:48 | Permalink

            The slash and burn approach to dialogue is best relegated to 17 or 18 years olds.

            Again thanks for speaking so authoritatively from the throne. This is real competition for the Vatican.

            You are as nasty s-o-b. Richard Carrier needs to double his meds. Vitriol and attack…that is the terrorist temperament! Thanks for offering such a cutting example. LOL

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-14 22:53:29 GMT+0000 - 22:53 | Permalink

      Can you be persuaded to read a study on what ISIS actually is, who actually joins ISIS and why, and what its goals are?

      It is simplistic and misguided in the extreme to say that it’s fundamentally about “extremist religious beliefs” and that its actions are the consequence of their religious beliefs.

      To quote from Dan Jones’ post:

      If you want to understand the radical mind, and the behaviour it produces, I’d recommend starting with the short but excellent Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us, by Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko, which outlines 12 mechanisms of radicalisation that drive people to extremism (and not just religious extremism – these mechanisms are more general, and explain both religious and non-religious extremism), as well as providing lots of case studies.

      You might also want to look at Scott Atran’sTalking To The Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values, and What It Means To Be Human,

      and Anne Speckhard’s massive Talking To Terrorists: Understanding the Psycho-Social Motivations of Militant Jihadi Terrorists, Mass Hostage Takers, Suicide Bombers and “Martyrs”.

      The final chapter of the revised edition of Jason Burke’s Al-Qaeda: The True Story Of Radical Islam is also very insightful (again, he’s someone who has spent years in the field reporting on jihadists).

      Then there’s Pantucci’s “We Love Death As You Love Life: Britain’s Suburban Terrorists.

      It’s also worth reading contemporary accounts of ISIS, such as Weiss and Hassan’s ISIS: Inside The Army Of Terror,

      as well as Patrick Cockurn’s somewhat polemical The Rise Of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution,

      the substantial ISIS: The State Of Terror, by Jessica Stern and J.M Berger,

      and the slim volume The Islamist Phoenix: The Islamic State and the Redrawing of the Middle East, by Loretta Napoleoni.

      • 2015-11-15 18:51:09 GMT+0000 - 18:51 | Permalink

        I’d be curious to know if any of these writers explain why modern-day terrorism seems to be largely confined to Islam? If that is the common denominator, how can we automatically exclude the influence of a religion? Does it only happen to be Muslims who have grievances? Is it all the product of the (political) Arab-Israeli conflict?

        No one, not even Sam Harris, says that all terrorism is solely motivated by religious considerations. But that doesn’t mean that we ought to exclude it as a negligible factor. The question is, WITHOUT religion, would we still have the modern phenomenon of Islamist terrorism? I very much doubt it.

        (I found myself somewhat amused by the report that Mohammad Atta and his colleague on the Tower 1 collision the night before September 11, visited a strip club–and I had heard of that sort of thing even before Sept. 11. Perhaps to strengthen their resolve by getting a preview of the 72 virgins they could expect immediately after their terrorist act?)

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-16 04:35:44 GMT+0000 - 04:35 | Permalink

          In six of the titles above that I have read it was very clear why the terrorism they were discussing emanated from Muslim communities. They would hardly be worth recommending if they did not explain something so fundamental. Indeed, you apparently missed the peeved response of the author of one of the above books on this blog yesterday when he misread a reference of mine and mistook me for repeating Sam Harris’s nonsense.

          As for Sam Harris making his apparent disclaimers that he does not argue terrorism is motivated by religious considerations, we had a lengthy series of discussions on just those questions — the role of religion as a motivator and Sam Harris’s own contradictory claims — not too many weeks ago. It was pretty draining (and across two blogs) and I’m reluctant to go over much the same points again so will copy and paste:

          And yes, [Sam Harris] has given small – very small – hints that maybe religious beliefs are not the WHOLE story. (Although, seriously, show me some instances where he actually engages substantively with some other processes of radicalisation beyond religious beliefs.) Yet you seem incapable of seeing that the entire context of his discussion – and yours – is in tension with acknowledging the complex, multi-causal nature of violent extremism.

          As I suggested, no one who had read widely in radicalisation research would write that it’s almost impossible to pin the blame for Charlie Hebdo on anything other than blind adherence to religious faith. So to the extent that Coyne (and you) glibly acknowledge that there is more to violent extremism than beliefs, religious or otherwise, he (you) then go on to talk as if religious beliefs WERE all that mattered!

          (To put it another way, you want to have your cake and eat it, to be able to say, “Yes, I have a nuanced and sophisticated understanding of radicalisation – but then now I’m to talk about this phenomenon as if it can be boiled down to one factor.” If you’re then criticised for your narrow focus, you’ll say, “No, I acknowledge the points you make, so you’re attacking a straw man! And in any case, I was only responding to those ignoramuses who said ‘It’s nothing to do with religion”’ – even though you (or Coyne) then go on to rubbish the experts who DO NOT SAY THIS.

          It really seems that you only pay lip service to the multi-causal nature of extremism so you can lamely claim afterwards, “I accept the full spectrum of causal factors”, before carrying on like there’s just one. . . . ) — from a comment by Dan Jones (my formatting)

          I have regularly posted on the religious factor in terrorism. (One aspect of the religious factor was my “first terrorist fact“.) I have also been exploring in some depth the nature of religion and it relation to human behavior generally and terrorist extremism more specifically and that’s very much of the background reading I’m currently immersed in before resuming these posts.

  • Marine
    2015-11-14 19:25:26 GMT+0000 - 19:25 | Permalink

    I think it’s important to put things into perspective:

    -What is the main source of Islamist terrorism? Saudi Arabia:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-yousaf-butt-/saudi-wahhabism-islam-terrorism_b_6501916.html

    So, why are our governments pandering to the Saudis, when they are financing & indoctrinating terrorists as we speak?

    And of course, it’s not just Saudi Arabia. We are also allied with Turkey and Qatar, which are basically doing the same:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/qatar/11110931/How-Qatar-is-funding-the-rise-of-Islamist-extremists.html

    -The West is using Islamist terrorists to further geopolical agendas in the Middle East.
    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/officials-islamic-state-arose-from-us-support-for-al-qaeda-in-iraq-a37c9a60be4

    This means that while our governments claim they are fighting terrorism, they are actually playing with it. Here’s one of the few voices of reason in the US political arena, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:
    “You don’t defeat your enemy by also simultaneously helping them at the same time”


    -15 of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks were citizens of Saudi Arabia.
    But which countries has the US invaded? Afghanistan & Iraq.
    In 2007 General Wesley Clark stated that the plan was to invade 7 countries in 5 years:
    Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.


    Did we ever wonder why these 7 countries have been singled out for destruction?
    Here’s why: http://original.antiwar.com/thomas-harrington/2015/10/11/the-problem-with-faking-it/

    -As a result of the US coalition wars in the Middle East, the Christian communities are being destroyed. And people still believe that the US objective in the MidEast is to fight terror?

    Also, why don’t American Christians care that the US-supported “rebels” are murdering Christians?
    http://swampland.time.com/2014/01/30/syrian-christian-leaders-call-on-us-to-end-support-for-anti-assad-rebels/

    -Why are people so quick to say “Je suis Paris”, but don’t give a damn – say – about the Yemenis who are being slaughtered by the US-backed Saudis? Aren’t the Yemenis human, too?

    In short, we are losing our brains and our humanity. Or maybe we never had them to begin with.
    We look at the immediate consequences, but we don’t ask questions, we don’t research on our own, we quote neocon mouthpieces, we don’t doubt the intentions of people who clearly have no morals.
    We let the tyrants of Saudi Arabia sit at the head of the UN human rights council.
    We pretend that the absolute monarchy of Qatar is really worried about the lack of democracy in Syria.
    We forget that Syria was one of the safest countries in the world, and that the US was planning to destabilize Syria both before & after 2003. There is nothing new about this; read “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam” by Mark Curtis.

    People should be outraged, but they don’t even know or care.
    I’m truly sorry for the long rant, but as a European, I feel that if people don’t get out of their stupor right now, the entire continent will eventually turn into a giant battleground.

    Honestly, I really want to kill myself when I read that some of you are hoping for a full-scale invasion of Syria– an invasion brought on by the same people who sent terrorists to Syria in the first place? Weren’t Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya enough for you? Can’t you see by now that the objective for the US & its allies is to bring chaos into selected areas of the Middle East?

    Does any of you remember the time they caught British intelligence agents wearing traditional Arab clothes, firing at Iraqi police? They were aiding the Iraqi Insurgency. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/09/19/iraq.main/
    Ever wondered why?

    Again, the answer is: CLEAN BREAK.
    Please, read this article and share it as much as possible:
    http://original.antiwar.com/thomas-harrington/2015/10/11/the-problem-with-faking-it/

    Thank you for reading. This is the first time I’m posting here, but Vridar has helped me so much to make sense of early Christianity, and I think it’s always important to speak the truth, however uncomfortable it may be.

    • David Ashton
      2015-11-15 00:36:23 GMT+0000 - 00:36 | Permalink

      Re your Harrington source, do you think the Triple Towers were subject to controlled demolition as a result of Israeli action?

    • 2015-11-15 05:40:09 GMT+0000 - 05:40 | Permalink

      *Why are people so quick to say “Je suis Paris”, but don’t give a damn – say – about the Yemenis who are being slaughtered by the US-backed Saudis? Aren’t the Yemenis human, too?*

      Thank you for that and for the links. I’m going to go through them all. If you haven’t already, please see Ken O’ Keefe’s videos on Youtube.

      General Butler was right. War is a racket.

      • 2015-11-15 05:55:36 GMT+0000 - 05:55 | Permalink

        To add –

        How is it that passports of the culprits are always found intact in these sort of attacks?

        Was this another false flag operation to give France a ‘legitimate’ reason to enter into the ‘war on terror’ – http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/hollande-we-are-going-to-lead-a-war-which-will-be-pitiless/article/2576337

        Regarding the ’19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks’, seven are still reported to be alive –

        http://www.welfarestate.com/911/

        http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/hijackers.html

        • 2015-11-15 06:06:31 GMT+0000 - 06:06 | Permalink

          Also of interest, the three Zeitgeist documentaries by Peter Joseph –

          http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-15 07:02:14 GMT+0000 - 07:02 | Permalink

          Please don’t go the way of conspiracies with this one. That sort of thinking suggests we are incapable of handling situations that have happened beyond our control and also betray our failure to understand the nuts and bolts of how the real world works.

          If you would like to know how a passport can be found “intact” in such a situation then before jumping to conclusions let’s ask and find out. Don’t turn it into a rhetorical question for the sake of denying reality.

          There was a real conspiracy that was bad enough. Let’s try to learn all we can about what is beneath our noses first before leaping off into other fantasies.

          • 2015-11-15 09:19:02 GMT+0000 - 09:19 | Permalink

            That wasn’t a rhetorical question – I really want to know.

            I’m not trying to ‘deny reality’, in fact, quite the opposite. I think that to be able to know how to ‘handle situations that have happened beyond our control’ and to ‘understand the nuts and bolts of how the real world works’, it is necessary to ask questions and not dismiss certain ones as ‘conspiracies’. Why shouldn’t these be examined? How do we know for certain what is the truth and what is not unless we examine it? There have already been so many fantastic lies to start this ‘war of terror’. And now here we have President Hollande going the same path, using this tragedy as an excuse to attack Syria.

      • Neil Godfrey
        2015-11-15 19:55:21 GMT+0000 - 19:55 | Permalink

        *Why are people so quick to say “Je suis Paris”, but don’t give a damn – say – about the Yemenis who are being slaughtered by the US-backed Saudis? Aren’t the Yemenis human, too?*

        An eloquent echo of your sentiment has appeared in a Salon article by Jack Mirkinson. He concludes:

        For people to choose an alternative to such brutality, we have to make the alternative available in a way that we clearly haven’t been able to thus far. We have to find a different way to fight the evil of ISIS. We have to be a world that mourns the dead in Beirut [I have added the link to a reminder article – Neil] as fiercely as it mourns the dead in Paris; that greets the people who have been the chief victims of ISIS terror with open arms; that tells Muslims that they are not the enemy within; that works for peace and diplomacy as aggressively as it wages war; that sees civil liberties as a strength rather than a weakness; that pulls together in solidarity and love. Attacks like the one in Paris test our capacity for this like nothing else. For the sake of the world, we have to pass that test.

        Two Islamist leaders who left their outfit both testified in their biographies that a vital reason they came out of their warped thinking was experiencing a series of individuals who showed by their example a better way of life, one that encompassed acceptance of another no matter how different in values. Perhaps I should write more about those experiences, because they also gelled with my own experience of how I left my own cult, and with the accounts of many others.

        The worst thing we can do right now is make life more miserable than ever for others and put the forces of radicalization even more on the boil in the process.

        • 2015-11-16 15:58:06 GMT+0000 - 15:58 | Permalink

          These are laudable sentiments, Neil (you and Mirkinson), but would they really work? It’s one thing to have a few individuals swayed, as Mirkinson reports, but do they work on the grander scale, such as in response to the Paris atrocities? ISIS started on its path of murder and sectarian repression long before the bombing campaign on them started, slaughtering enemy soldiers and sects who didn’t live up to their extremism. I cannot think that anything of that nature would have any effect whatsoever on checking ISIS, let alone eliminating it. That strikes me as the height of naivete and wishful thinking. ISIS is a virulent virus by any measure, and you don’t mess around with viruses that can destroy whole cultures.

          • Greg
            2015-11-16 20:19:26 GMT+0000 - 20:19 | Permalink

            I would think that our more immediate concern should be whether what we have been doing has been working. Has this slash-and-burn approach proven effective so far, or has it simply led to more disillusioned youth turning to radicalism in response?

            I interpret Neil’s sentiments not as magic solutions to broad problems but as calls for reevaluation. Indeed, it’s naive and wishful thinking that are very much part of the problem.

            • 2015-11-17 03:34:06 GMT+0000 - 03:34 | Permalink

              I would say that it has very much had positive effects. ISIS was in the process of completely overrunning Iraq before the coalition started its bombing. Since then it has suffered checks and reverses, and been turned out of many important centers it had earlier taken over. We will see whether the increased retaliation by France produces further checks and setbacks for them.

              As for a recruitment of new fighters, I think too much has been made of that claim. Disaffected youth were going to fight with ISIS before the bombing started, and it is impossible to know whether those numbers are increased by military opposition or not. Are young men inspired more by heavier destruction and death visited upon the group it joins than by its success? I doubt it. All those videos from ISIS early on featured westerners (including a couple of Canadian converts) full of confidence and boasting, along with promises of carrying the conquest beyond the Middle East. Then came the bombing and increased support for the Kurdish fighters on the ground, and we got reports that some of those young spokespersons had been killed. It looks like Jihadi John the Beheader has had his own head severed by a drone strike. Do you really think that this sort of check to ISIS’ ambitions and successes is going to result in more recruits than would have happened if the earlier rosier situation had continued in the face of no military response by the west Besides, more recruits does not automatically spell increased success for ISIS, not if the coalition steps up its opposition. I would say that this “increased recruiting” card is definitely overplayed.

              • Greg
                2015-11-17 04:42:10 GMT+0000 - 04:42 | Permalink

                I’m not just talking about fighting ISIS. We shouldn’t overlook the history that brought us to this point nor its implications for the future. This will not end with ISIS.

                There certainly isn’t going to be a tidy solution in terms of military response to terrorism. Either they demonstrate that we are true monsters who will exercise terrifying force to get what we want and then deploy the media to justify, minimize, and hide the true scope of it from the world or prove that us monsters can be fought. All I can say is that something does need change unless we’re prepared to go all the way and solve this the way we did with the North American Indians. A full measure.

                But I don’t believe that this is the only path which is why I hope that we can at least be open enough to possibilities that we don’t automatically dismiss them.

              • 2015-11-17 05:28:16 GMT+0000 - 05:28 | Permalink

                The problem that I think you are facing Neil, is that ISIS is such an extreme case that it is almost impossible to advocate anything but complete defeat of it, virtual annihilation. When one is faced with mass graves uncovered in territory formerly overrun by ISIS, such as two recently found, one occupied (it is reported) by elderly women, the other by men, women and children, it is difficult to see them as anything but unmitigated evil, worthy only of total extermination. There simply are no other options to aim for, no other paths to follow. This is extremism beyond anything we have encountered before.

                I can only think to compare it to Auschwitz. Anyone witnessing one day’s work at that camp of horrors could only advocate total defeat of Nazi Germany, by whatever means necessary. I personally feel the same toward ISIS.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2015-11-17 06:12:47 GMT+0000 - 06:12 | Permalink

                Earl, I’m not sure if you posted your comment before you saw mine below. Of course we want the complete annihilation of ISIS and nothing less. I am perplexed at some of your comments directed at me that seem to assume I don’t want to take any action or simply fight them by being nice.

                I do have a little understanding of ISIS from the point of view of the professionals — the military and other intelligence agencies, the political scientists and anthropologists and others who know ISIS from first hand and know its close associates and have followed it in minute step by step detail and who understand what gave rise to it, what its nature is, how it operates, what its goals are, why different sorts of people join it, why it chooses the horror it does, and the best military and other intelligence analysis on the table for its defeat.

                When it comes to understanding early Christianity we don’t rely just on our own reading of the Bible and then listen to all the pundits and read occasional articles and the odd sound byte with a professional. We study the specialist literature in depth and then we understand how to make sense of and contextualize everything else we hear. What dismays me somewhat is that when it comes to understanding what’s happening in the world, something like ISIS, say, we think all we need to understand what’s going on is follow the mainstream media, the news, listen to what the politicians are saying!, the occasional articles, the odd sound byte with a professional — and completely ignore – people like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne even poo-pooh — the serious scholarly research that draws on all the relevant sources. People like Sam Harris and Coyne scoff at these studies and misrepresent them because they have no more idea or understanding of them then McGrath does of mythicism.

                I posted a bibliography of around half a dozen works by experts in the field. I am currently reading another that has been published since then, by Jason Burke, “The New Threat”, — in all of them we find a strand of understanding that all comes together, it all coheres, the messages are very similar, and frightening. I think if we want to understand ISIS and terrorism we owe it to ourselves to familiarise ourselves with what the best research and current studies can tell us. That’s one of the reasons for some of the posts I do. I will continue with them. I hate to see people viscerally calling out for a repeat of the very actions that got us into this mess in the first place, insanely thinking that this time round it will all turn out differently.

              • Greg
                2015-11-17 06:38:10 GMT+0000 - 06:38 | Permalink

                The higher message in all of this is that ISIS is just a symptom of a larger problem. We can fight as we please, but as long as people see a need for ISIS, we’ll eventually be right back in this discussion over radicalism’s new face.

          • Neil Godfrey
            2015-11-17 05:15:45 GMT+0000 - 05:15 | Permalink

            Earl, my “sentiments” were not proposed as a solution to the ISIS problem. Of course people “being nice” would not work on the larger scale and I did not suggest “being nice” was a simple panacea. Of course not. I’m not an idiot.

  • George Hall
    2015-11-14 20:54:12 GMT+0000 - 20:54 | Permalink

    Hmmm…you know, you make a good point about how much Saudi Arabia should be pulled up.

    Your analysis on what countries the West has been invading ALSO is pretty reasonable. It’s something I’ve been noticing since 2011 and the “Springs.” They are all revolts against minorities-led Middle East governments. The one time things went wrong was when it came to Syria…Assad stood his ground. This is also the problem that the amount of Syrians actually involved in the rebel groups are small and Al-Qaida and ISIS are on the non-minorities side.

    Yeah, doesn’t take a genius to see that.

    “People should be outraged…” Don’t disagree with you there. I can tell you what outrage is watching, last year, Kobani shrink on the map to nearly nothing before anyone even remotely started making it a fair contest. I was documenting that via Twitter and Storify for months.

    Of course we have another side to it too. Iran has its own political agenda. It would do the same thing as Saudi Arabia.

    The best optimum situation is just to keep a balance. Otherwise toppling one lot or the other only makes a new lot of victims.

  • David Ashton
    2015-11-15 12:40:18 GMT+0000 - 12:40 | Permalink

    Hundreds of people, mostly non-combatants, are being killed in conflicts around the world. Nothing new about that. “We” need to have an accurate and comprehensive understanding of them, particularly those in the byzantine tangle of Middle Eastern conflicts, if we are successfully to reduce or put an end to them. This is perhaps a platitude, but the problems and still more need to be fleshed out with solutions, the sooner the better and the better the sooner. Vridar’s “musings” and informed debate from various quarters can help, not hinder that process, provided that rational argument trumps personal animosity.

  • Al
    2015-11-15 21:54:52 GMT+0000 - 21:54 | Permalink
    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-15 23:29:06 GMT+0000 - 23:29 | Permalink

      Interesting coincidence — I had recently copied an overlapping section from the same source (Management of Savagery) above.

  • Mark Erickson
    2015-11-17 05:01:49 GMT+0000 - 05:01 | Permalink
    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-17 21:13:35 GMT+0000 - 21:13 | Permalink

      Thanks, I read this article and would love to comment on it if unable to repost it here.

  • Al
    2015-11-17 16:10:27 GMT+0000 - 16:10 | Permalink
    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-17 21:09:33 GMT+0000 - 21:09 | Permalink

      Donald Trump uses the Paris attacks as an excuse to ride his hobby horse about American gun laws.
      Joe Wallack uses the Paris attacks as an excuse to ride his hobby horse to attack criticism of Israel and call for more hatred of Palestinians.
      Jerry Coyne uses the Paris attacks as an excuse to ride his hobby horse to attack religion again and Islam in particular.

      Guns, goy and gods. (“Gold, god and glory” used to be the catch-phrase of imperialist motives; now we see Guns, gods and goyim.)

      I read Coyne’s piece and it physically hurt to read such ideologically based ignorance and inability to comprehend or even want to comprehend what a specialist in terrorism has to say about the Paris attacks.

  • Al
    2015-11-19 10:37:54 GMT+0000 - 10:37 | Permalink

    An excellent interview with Lydia Wilson

    http://m.democracynow.org/stories/15687

  • Al
    2015-11-22 17:06:34 GMT+0000 - 17:06 | Permalink

    Thought this would be of interest. New study by Olivier Roy

    https://life.eui.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/OLIVIER-ROY-what-is-a-radical-islamist.pdf

  • 2015-11-23 04:19:35 GMT+0000 - 04:19 | Permalink

    Tim, you’ve given us a history lesson on how and why Chamberlain (and others in 1936) acted in the way they did, and that’s OK. But my point was simply that IF he had acted otherwise, IF he had had the disposition and perception to see that Hitler’s ambitions could only have one eventual result and thus decided to oppose Hitler in the Rhineland in 1936 when he might have been nipped in the bud, the Second World War might well have been diverted from developing.

    I used Chamberlain as an analogy to advocate that the western powers need to have the disposition and perception that he did not, to see that ISIS needs to be thoroughly checked and eliminated as soon as possible. Naturally, no one is going to claim they have 20/20 vision into the future and to know exactly what will transpire. But just as the public slaughter of people in Afghanistan and the protection the Taliban afforded to Al Qaeda to continue to wreak 9/11’s upon the West with impunity necessitated immediate reaction to oust them (revenge for 9/11 was or should have been secondary), regardless of whether or not we could foretell exactly how the future would play out, so does the spectre of ISIS’ expansion and barbarism compel us to take immediate steps to do our best to eliminate them from the Middle East stage. To shirk from that task for fear of what the future might hold, or for considerations of ‘statesmanship’ such as Chamberlain showed, would be the greater folly.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-11-23 06:19:04 GMT+0000 - 06:19 | Permalink

      If I may drop in an aside here . . .

      Unfortunately the Taliban were never ousted from Afghanistan. (Or many simply sheltered in Pakistan temporarily.) The Iraqi army was never defeated. These forces for the most part simply gave the invading powers the slip. There was very little fighting. The rows of bombed out tanks we saw on TV were later found by reporters on the ground to have been abandoned long before US aircraft ever got to them. Mainstream media with its easy soundbytes from official government and military press releases and embedded journalists created a misleading impression of what was happening at the time. The Taliban returned again in 2006 and much of the Saddam’s Iraqi army is now the backbone of ISIS. (Saddam Hussein had prepared weapons caches and networks throughout Iraq for his forces to continue such a struggle in the wake of an invasion.) Everything we did and that transpired in Afghanistan and Iraq went according to the terrorists’ script (The Management of Savagery, 2004).

      They need to be defeated, obviously, but we have been misled if we think that a simple invasion and occupation is going to do the trick. We can continue to bomb targets and kill clusters of them here and there but these tactical setbacks won’t defeat ISIS. Even if we managed to wipe out all ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq we still have to deal with their members in Africa and the rest of the Middle East as well as Europe and America now, and South-East Asia and Australia.

      It is an ideology we are fighting and their losses (“martyrdoms”) don’t demoralize them. But attempts to kill them all in Syria and Iraq now will more likely result in them disappearing as they did in 2001 and 2003 in Afghanistan and Iraq and returning as the unseen perpetrators of more terrorist attacks — which will fuel their ideological war and win even more recruits globally. Their manuals explain that one reason for their terrorist attacks is to prompt the Western powers into a land war and we have seen how it worked to their advantage so well last time.

      What’s needed is to cut off their financial supplies (oil, Saudi sources, bribing connected tribal leaders) and reduce their ability to spread their propaganda through the web and to find ways to counter the ideological inroads they are making globally. Military campaigns are only part of what’s needed and they need to be waged with smarts, not just bombs.

      • Tim Widowfield
        2015-11-23 07:35:44 GMT+0000 - 07:35 | Permalink

        Neil, I think the only way to neutralize them for good is to have a coalition of Muslim forces do the bulk of the fighting. Sure, we can give them top cover, assistance with command and control, artillery, etc., but they need to see the victory over Daesh as *their* victory. Otherwise, we’ll be back to drain the same swamp within a few years.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-11-23 08:39:53 GMT+0000 - 08:39 | Permalink

          Which of course raises the next question. As Patrick Cockburn writes in The Rise of the Islamic State:

          At the start of the bombing in Syria, President Obama boasted of putting together a coalition of regional Sunni powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, but these countries all have different agendas from that of the US, and destroying ISIS is not their first priority. The Sunni Arab monarchies may not like ISIS, which threatens the political status quo, but, as one Iraqi observer put it, “They like the fact that ISIS creates more problems for the Shia than it does for them.”

          Cockburn, Patrick (2015-02-03). The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Kindle Locations 1502-1505). Verso. Kindle Edition.

          (For Turkey to be involved would risk the Syrian civil war spreading to that country; Turkey has been using ISIS to some extent to keep their feared Kurdish independence threat under control. ISIS is serving several state interests very well at the moment.)

          • George Hall
            2015-11-23 09:55:46 GMT+0000 - 09:55 | Permalink

            Having watched from September 23 last year…and focusing on Kobani for six months via Twitter…I’m surprised anyone takes that coalition seriously.

            I’ve pointed out before that ISIS was ignoring both the US and the coalition in the early weeks and sticking to their agenda to wipe the Kurds off the map.

            As for Turkey…Reporter Sarina Shim died after reporting that ISIS were operating from Turkish soil. There are still suspicions she was murdered because of that.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2015-11-24 11:25:06 GMT+0000 - 11:25 | Permalink

              George, the point made was that there is no serious coalition. No-one is taken it seriously so your comment misses the point.

              As for the Kurds, it would be more useful to have informed comments. ISIS has accepted the allegiance of over 30 Kurdish villages and has praised the Kurdish Muslims who have joined with them. It is the PKK that ISIS hates (considering them atheists). All of this is in several issues of the online journal of ISIS, Dabiq. ISIS are trying to capture strategic areas but not trying to wipe the Kurds off the map. I think you just make up stuff like that.

              Twitter followings are good by not for a complete picture of events. You are getting lots of propaganda via Twitter, too. You need to go beyond Twitter to learn what’s going on. That may mean books. Nor do your experiences with schoolyard bullies fill in the gaps. To make such comparisons is absolutely pitiful. There is no real-world comparison. ISIS is a war situation. You submit and/or get killed; you kill or submit and hope to survive. It’s not a game of bluff.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2015-11-24 00:55:46 GMT+0000 - 00:55 | Permalink

      A security expert, Loren Thompson, writing in Forbes gave five reasons why our sending in troops will backfire:

      1. It will give the terrorists easy targets.

      2. It will provide captives for influencing U.S. policy.

      3. It will take the pressure off local forces to perform.

      4. It will lead to taking sides in civil wars.

      5. It will become a force of occupation.

      Well worth reading here:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2015/11/20/killing-isis-five-reasons-american-boots-on-the-ground-will-backfire/

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