The Management of Savagery

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The Management of Savagery
The Management of Savagery

Thus, we need to massacre (others) and (to take) actions like those that were undertaken against the Banu Qurayza and their like. But if God should give us power and we take control and justice spreads, how tender the people of faith will be at that time and they will say to the people: “Go, for you are free.”

The Management of Savagery

Having looked already at Hybrid War and the new UK doctrine of Integrated Action I thought this time that I would look at what is reputed to be the doctrine that ISIS is following.

The Management of Savagery” was written circa 2004 by Abu Bakr Naji and is assessed to be highly influential within jihadist and specifically ISIS circles. “The Management of Savagery” is much more than the A-Z of how to establish a caliphate, it is an Islamist justification for the use of violence and in particular of exemplary violence for political (religious) ends. If Afghanistan was about Armed Politics according to Emile Simpson then what we are looking at with “The Management of Savagery” is as much Armed Evangelisation as it is caliphate building according to Abu Bakr Naji.

The book has been translated into English and is widely available through the power of Google; the version I have used is the 2006 translation by William McCants of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. It is important to note that while I have spent time in the Middle East and am familiar with some Islamic and Islamist teachings I am not an Arabist.

The title “The Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Umma Will Pass” refers not to the stage managed savagery for which ISIS is infamous. Rather it refers to the interim stage between the collapse of the old order and the establishment of the caliphate and reflects the characteristics of that stage; ungoverned space where life is brutal, the politics savage and where order must be established and the Umma (nation or community) defended.

The Stages to Establishing the Caliphate
The Stages to Establishing the Caliphate

Figure 1: The Stages to establishing the Caliphate.

It is immediately apparent from reading it that the logic of the work and the worldview of the author is significantly different from that familiar to many in the West. The structure is both more circular and multi-active than linear and sequential, and the world is viewed through an Islamic and eschatological lens. This is important because although beating ISIS militarily may be straightforward, in order to defeat the movement we have to defeat them in terms that they recognise, and the logic of their campaign plan and narrative may not be apparent to us. A force can be defeated militarily, but a movement is only defeated when it recognises itself as defeated in its own terms; the narrative of any campaign must reflect this. It is also very clear that this doctrine is part indoctrination as well as doctrine, it is the “why” as well as the “what” and the “how”. It explains its ideological roots and is much more holistic than UK doctrine: a mix of Fukyama’s “The Origins of Political Order”, Clausewitz’s “On War”, “ADP Operations” and JDP 3-40 “Security and Stabilisation: The Military Contribution” in one document and underpinned throughout by theological justification. This should make it abundantly clear that the struggle against Islamist groups such as ISIS is a much broader struggle than a purely military one. Indeed considering the focus given to the theological underpinning of the document I go so far as to state that the Centre of Gravity for Islamists who follow these teachings is likely in their particular strain of Islamist theology.

“The Management of Savagery” is divided into five topics:

1)   Definition of “the management of savagery” and an overview of its historical precedents

2)   The path for establishing an Islamic state.

3)   The most important principles and policies for implementing the plan of action and achieving, in general, the goals of the stage of “the power of vexation and exhaustion”; and, in particular, the goals of the stage of “the management of savagery.

4)   The most important problems and obstacles that we will face, and ways of dealing with them.

5)   Conclusion: Are there other solutions that are easier than this solution?

The text is a holistic guide to a putative campaign to establish a caliphate and covers a broad spectrum of topics. Topic three for example, is sub-divided into a further 10 sub-topics.

Topic 3: Principles and Policies (illustrating the broad range covered)
Topic 3: Principles and Policies (illustrating the broad range covered)

Figure 2: Principles and Policies contained in Topic Three.

Throughout the emphasis is on teaching not what to do, but what subjects should be thought of and the way to think about them. In that sense this is very much conceptual as opposed to practical doctrine, although it does give practical advice and historical vignettes. As conceptual doctrine it reminds me in part of the German doctrine of Auftragstaktik as it enables operations to be conducted with unity of purpose in the absence of effective communications. It is worth noting that the text is evidence of a coherent analysis of recent campaigns and as such even dispersed non-state groups now have the means as well as the motive to conduct a lessons learnt loop and then publish and disseminate the results.

Throughout the book these elements are clear in the design methodology:

  • This is a religious struggle to establish a theocratic (shari’a) state.
  • War is the means by which this will be brought about.
  • This war is a religious duty (active jihad).
  • This war must demonstrate strength and shari’ah justice.
  • The use of violence is essential to the campaign narrative; it is both justified and exemplary.
  • This violence sends a message and the message must be consistent with the war (strength and shari’ah justice) narrative.

The use of violence (and the Islamic justification for it) pervades the text. Active jihad is raised under the interpretation given here to a level equal with if not beyond that of spiritual jihad: “when we say that the religious practice of jihad —despite the blood, corpses, and limbs which encompass it and the killing and fighting which its practice entails —is among the most blessed acts of worship for the servants, if not the most blessed in reality”. Violence is designed to be exemplary, to terrorize and deter the opponent. As such the information campaign is indistinguishable from the military campaign. The fight is as much about the message as it is about the tactical effect and the violence must always be considered in terms of the campaign narrative. In the UK we still tend to think of the tactical actions first and the Influence effects second (although our new doctrine of Integrated Action is designed to change this). In “The Management of Savagery” Shari’ah comes first, the campaign narrative supports this and the violence supports this; they are nested within each other.

 

The Place of Violence (central and nested)
The Place of Violence (central and nested)

Figure 3: The Place of Violence.

The violence is also designed to provoke a Western response which will in turn inflame a Muslim response. This is based on an analysis of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan where it was assessed that intervention both weakened the Soviet state and inspired Muslims to conduct jihad. The greater the West’s participation in the fight, the greater the reaction from the Umma and the greater momentum imparted to the struggle. The West and its proxies will be seen as unable to win and the initiative and momentum will shift to the Islamists. Not escalating into this narrative is therefore going to be one of the West’s significant strategic challenges.

Building momentum in the struggle.
Building momentum in the struggle

Figure 4: Building Momentum.

Bearing in mind that this was written in 2004, the following extract on “paying the price” highlights the exemplary nature of the violence and indicates the possible underlying thinking of ISIS in how they killed Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasaesbeh:

As for the stage of “the administration of savagery,” we will confront the problem of theaerial attacks of the enemy – crusader or apostate – on military training camps or residential regions in areas which we administer. Even though defensive fortifications and trenches are put in place to deal with that problem, we should also follow the policy of “paying the price” when confronting the crime of the enemy. The policy of “paying the price” in this situation will deter the enemy and make him think one thousand times before attacking regions managed by a regime of the administration of savagery because he knows that he will pay the price (for doing so), even if (the retribution) comes later.

Violence and war are seen as both a political and religious means to an end, hardening and purifying the Umma as well a means of spreading fear amongst and defeating the enemy. Significant theological exposition and justification is given throughout the text for this radical approach to violence. The very radical nature of this ideology possibly contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction, as the theology stretches most mainstream schools of Islam. However countering this ideology can only be done effectively through these selfsame mainstream schools and for those who have not been exposed to contrary Islamic interpretations the ideology will seem credible.

As Clausewitz says: “The first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking.” Understanding “The Management of Savagery” is an indispensible first step towards understanding the kind of war that some Islamist groups have embarked upon; it is not necessarily the war we think it is. For those involved in campaign planning at the operational and strategic levels this is undoubtedly a text worth understanding, it should also be essential reading for those involved in Influence activities.

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Hohum
Hohum

Remarkably similar to some of the old school communist/socialist insurrectionist writings from the interwar and immediate post-war period. Particularly brings to mind some of the stuff written by Mao. Trying to separate politics and religion here is of little use though- what marks out a hardcore Jihadi is that the two are the same thing. What I would really take issue with though is this:

“The West and its proxies will be seen as unable to win and the initiative and momentum will shift to the Islamists. Not escalating into this narrative is therefore going to be one of the West’s significant strategic challenges.”

Beating around the bush trying to not to escalate will be time consuming and inevitably fail. The correct approach is overwhelming force to achieve absolute victory. Total defeat makes it hard to make the argument that god is on ones side.

Beno
Beno

I think which ever way we jump they will attempt to spin it as an affront to God.

However on the whole I have to agree with Hokum. If other states will simply be portrayed as puppets of the infidel. Then a shock and awe campaign should be considered.

Instability in the region and across Africa continues to expand, and will be being used to great effect in the “ENCOURAGE \ RECRUIT” cycle. Undoubtedly leading soon to more UK soil attacks.

I cant see a reasonable route to negotiate. And delay is costing lives.

Beno

Hohum
Hohum

DHF,

My own view is that its not our problem, and that is not just a Daily Mail/Angry Telegraph reader view. The problem with “our” involvement is that “our” distance makes it difficult for us to properly undertake the mission that needs to be undertaken, by contrast proximity breeds decisiveness. The great thing about ISIS is that their ideology is of ever more expansionism which means they will eventually run into somebody who can really make a mess of them- either Iran (although I’m dubious- they have grossly under-performed in Syria) or more probably Israel. Also, it only takes one stray western bomb to feed a thousand propaganda videos for an Umma that already watches little else.

To strip it back to the communist example: such insurgencies either had to be contained (with significant ongoing causalities- see India), or utterly defeated through the extensive use of force. I am always reminded of the fact that the Communist Party rules China today because Chiang Kai-Shek failed to prevent the escape of communist forces after the fifth encirclement campaign. The Japanese were somewhat more successful whilst they had the chance.

stephen duckworth

A very interesting post that illustrates the depth of thought and conviction behind the perpetrators of the violence that is sweeping through the Levant and Tigris and Euphrates region. It reads much like a business plan , think J D Rockefeller and the rise of Standard Oil. How to defeat this ? Perhaps addressing what is perceived to be so good about living in a Sharia’ah State to the male and female volunteers and turning that around. If not stopping western volunteers leaving and joining is pretty pointless as their numbers will be more than made up with volunteers from other states with much larger muslim populations. The ones to be concerned about are the ones returning to the west or ones even told to stay and fight from within the home state which were our security services will be hard stretched to monitor and contain. A very thought provoking article Mr Hume.

Hohum
Hohum

DHF,

It’s important to remember that IS played their part in creating said power vacuum.

I concur that the ideology is the issue, IS is simply the latest and most successful umbrella under which it’s many adherents have gathered. I would also suggest that IS have advanced that ideology considerably, AQ’s aims were essentially a ragbag of local whinges; IS have gone full into reestablishing the caliphate, they have rooted their activities and ambitions in the actions of the Prophet himself and have followed his actions in seeking the conversion or slaughter of non-believers.

Kent
Kent

On occasion, I contemplate visiting savagery on an unimaginable scale upon those following the dictates of “The Management of Savagery.” They can polish up their “Meine Ehre heißt Treue!” belt buckles while we unleash hell on earth upon them. This “proportionate response” crap is just that. Come on, Pope Benedict! Call for an armed crusade!

Oh, and a Marshall Plan is out of the question. Establish an independent Kurdistan and an independent Assyrian Christian State.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

A very interesting read, thanks for posting.

I’ll add my tupence worth as to what we do.

First and formemost we need to sit back and confront with proxies as much as possible while providing capabilities they do not possess.

This will be a long game which will require a strategic plan and a slow change in mindset of the general population to what is required to confront ISIS in both hard and soft power. At the moment we are not ready for this fight and need to prepare.

It would be easier for us IMO if ISIS do manage to create a Caliphate and that way we can confront them on our terms as in a state on state conflict. ISIS it seems wants to drag the West into another confrontation where our sensibilities with restricted ROE will reduce our ability to destroy them militarily while we slowly bleed and add to their ranks through collateral damage and cultural insensitivities etc.

Kent
Kent

@DavidNiven – “…restricted ROE…”

Exactly my point. If we aren’t ready to visit hell on earth upon them yet, we should get ready as quickly as possible. Their existence IS an existential threat to us. Also, the “fifth columnists” in the West who support Daesh in words, financially, and by encouraging others to act in their behalf need to be treated as traitors.

All these “sensibilities” have led to the “pussification” of the West. We call the WW2 generation “The Greatest Generation,” and I’m afraid it’s the last great generation unless someone with balls explains exactly what is at stake.

Me? I’m not living under a Caliphate or any other theocracy.

stephen duckworth

The above manifesto pretty much spells out the type of war the wanabee founders of a caliphate are willing to practice , in Clausewitzian terms ,Total War , they don’t seem to have any rules as such as I can make out so its a gloves off , knuckleduster type pounding they are looking for. The soft power aspect escapes me in that if we are trying to influence individuals and persuade them that beheading children and gang rape are a ‘ bad thing’ then we possibly deserve whatever fate they will set for us. A very wise chap 2500 years ago said “No long war ever profited any country: 100 victories in 100 battles is simply ridiculous. Anyone who excels in defeating his enemies triumphs before his enemy’s threats become real”.
Total annihilation of these vermin as quick as possible is the best way to contain and destroy this contagion . They are a disease that needs to be expunged from this world not because of their belief in forming a Caliphate under a Sharia’ah rule, Saudi is one is it not , but because of their chosen method to achieve it , murder and mutilation of innocents.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

…I agree that we need to “discredit their ideology”…but struggle to see any way to do that bar a crushing military defeat, and cannot readily imagine such defeat being inflicted or even sought by anyone but the West. Even if the local actors took the task on, could they accomplish it? And even if they did, would that result in the poison drawn…or the emergence of an Iranian, Gulf Arab, Turkish or Pushtun Caliph in place of the unlovely Ibrahim? After all, none of the above seem to perceive an existential threat so much as an opportunity to impose their own hegemony; up to and including our supposed allies in Turkey… :-(

Furthermore, what comes after even the most crushing military defeat seems a touch problematic…at the end of the day the key components of de-Nazification were those horrifying black and white films of Bergen-Belsen and the accompanying Nuremberg Trials (and executions)…doesn’t work so well when Daesh celebrate their own atrocities as a highly successful recruiting tool, and we back uneasily away from ideas like actually PUNISHING people for acts of unforgivable wickedness, rather than trying to “understand” them.

I’m with Kent on balance…but without much hope of a sensible outcome. After all, that nice Mr Hitler laid out his plans in some detail in 1926, and we for the most part successfully ignored them for years in the face of mounting evidence that he meant every single word he wrote…

Singularly Gloomy

Kent
Kent

@monkey, @GNB – Welcome aboard. The problem is that our “sensitive” societies seem to be afraid of offending ANYONE, even murderous scum who have threatened to behead our “leaders” in their own homes. Screw sensitivity! If you’re offended by my opposition and dedication to the destruction of the Daesh “Caliphate,” YOU are my enemy, too! Take arms against me, and you shall be destroyed as well!

Fedaykin

@GNB @Kent

I read a very interesting article about the origins of ISIS recently but damned if I can find it! Problem is they as a movement positively salivate at the prospect of taking on the west in the fight preferably at the city of Dabiq in Syria Recently ISIS’s twitter streams were in ecstasy when one of their fighters saw somebody that appeared to be in American combat fatigues near Dabiq! More on Dabiq in a moment…

With ISIS we need to deal with some large elephants in the room, first of all it is nonsensical when Western leaders and moderate Muslims state they are not Muslims. ISIS are “Takfiri” an extreme offshoot of “Salafism” and “Wahhabism”. They are the Islamic world’s equivalent of 16th century Puritans. Takfiri believe only following every edict of the Koran to the letter is the correct way to be a Muslim, any interpretation outside of the Koran is apostasy in their eyes. Add to that their extreme aversion to idolatry that they have inherited from Wahhabism. In respect of the city of Dabiq in the Koran Mohammed stated the final apocalyptic battle against the anti messiah would be there. ISIS spent a lot of effort and blood capturing the city just so they would be ready for that battle, by the by they believe the Mahdi and the 2nd coming of Jesus will lead them to victory at the battle but I digress. They even call their propaganda magazine “Dabiq”, curiously the Western media barely notices this detail when reporting on ISIS despite ISIS making constants announcements about Dabiq!

Wahhabism and Saudi Arabia is the ten ton elephant in the room IMHO, when you see ISIS fighters destroying relics in Iraq it should be noted that Mecca and Medina have been devastated! 95% of Mecca has been bulldozed all down to the Wahabbi desire to prevent idolatry. There is now a hideous monstrosity of a hotel/shopping complex next to the Kaaba, the grand mosque with centuries old irreplaceable architecture is gone! Any building even remotely associated with the Prophet or his family is gone, if the clerics in Saudi Arabia had their way then even the Kaaba would be bulldozed to prevent any hint of idolatry.

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/files/Kaaba.jpg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1ySH2wh3M0

Now add to that the Saudis sponsorship of madrassas and Mosques around the world spreading the Wahhabi cult around the Muslim world and is it hardly a surprise that we end up with something like ISIS!

Chris
Chris

I must admit the only defeat I believe IS would recoil from is if they believed it was an act of a very displeased God. Pretty hard believing and proclaiming they are in the unique position of understanding and obeying God if the very same God sends them all to hell. Hence, a plague upon all their houses.

Kent
Kent

@Fedyakin – Think they’d consider “fire from the sky*” utterly destroying Dabiq a sign that Allah is displeased with them?

*(Ground burst thermonuclear warhead sufficient to the need.)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Fedaykin – Coverage of Daesh will remain poor until they can find the odd journalist with some religious faith of their own, who might be able to get in to the heads of the protagonists…in the absence of such, they will find their motivations incomprehensible and report their activities inadequately.

GNB

Fedaykin

Alas Kent they don’t actually care about the well being of Dabiq so Nuking it might well be rather counter productive. They are just concerned about having their apocalyptic end time battle led by the Mahdi, Jesus 2.0 against the Crusader armies and the Anti-Messiah going on their propaganda!

Certainly beating them conventionally at Dabiq would seriously undermine their message amongst some Muslims and go a long way to weakening their Caliphate unfortunately it would also play into their argument that the Muslim world is under attack.

The best solution might well be containment and let the Caliphate burn out as they run out of resources and their various pronouncements fail to come off.

Fedaykin

@GNB

Well there is Juergen Todenhoefer the German journo will balls of Depleted Uranium who visited ISIS.

Phil

Is ISIS enough of a perceived threat to warrant a total mobilisation effort from the West? Evidently at the moment it is not. It is nowhere near.

So to my mind any practical action will have to defer to this reality and responses will need to be within the scope of it.

So the greatest risk in that case is to escalate the conflict by feeding into their “narrative” and acting as a vector for radicalisation at home and recruitment abroad whilst not maintaining the appropriate level of military force to contain the threat.

In other words we engineer our own military difficulties.

With this in mind the best way to deal with them is to get others to fight them, preferably Muslim states. We provide various niche enabling actions but otherwise it is Muslims that fight Muslims and we thereby side-step a lot of the narrative. The more successful the campaign the harder it will be to keep Muslims fighting as the political costs of fighting other Muslims begin to outweigh the immediate dangers of ISIS.

So can ISIS be fragmented into its constituent groups primarily by other Muslim nations and then defeated in detail by more discreet Western operations? I think so. They’d certainly not be the first group to break apart under pressure and when the military victories are reversed see their recruiting pool go into reverse.

We need to turn a seemingly coherent threat into smaller splinter criminal bodies with no political legitimacy by using proxies and then completing the dismantlement using SF type operations to target key leadership.

This in the context of increasing the legitimacy and inclusiveness of the governments in that area.

Not easy really.

But the key matter is side-stepping that narrative using proxies and applying pressure along the boundaries between various factions inside ISIS by targeting leadership. Which takes a lot of intelligence and patience to learn the human terrain.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Phil – Completely agree as to the how…but have profound misgivings as to if it can be delivered; not least because I’m not convinced our own political class can even really understand such an approach, much less maintain it over a long period of time…it will take longer than five years, and will not deliver votes in key marginal seats in the Midlands after all; it might even cost some – so their tiny Westminster Bubble Brains will struggle to comprehend it.

Furthermore, it will not be cheap (but the costs will not lend themselves to pork-barrel politics)…and might require resources like the Foreign Office Library, and the Arabists in that Department and the Intelligence Services, which expertise was trashed by Blair, and has subsequently been replaced with travelling salesmen by Cameron…worse still these new investments will not replace the various costly elements of hard power, but will require that element of the mix to be deployed rapidly and at high intensity as and when required…yet more expense in forward basing, airlift, long supply lines…maybe even a CVF with a big enough air wing to unleash hell from time to time, or deliver the underwater knife fighters hither and yon at short notice and in some numbers…

So, right answer…but not one likely to be attempted until ignoring it all and hoping it will go away has been tried for a (very!) prolonged period…

Irredeemably Gloomy.

Phil

I think something else that should be said is that the model “they” posit is flawed in that it does not allow for reciprocity.

They see themselves as fighting the liberal democracies of Desert Storm and make no allowance for the fact that as their savagery becomes more telling, and as their danger increases, they’ll go from fighting states with the character of the Desert Storm liberal democracies to fighting western states with the same character as those that fire-bombed cities in WWII or which fought in the Thirty Years War. Whilst their world changes and develops, that of their enemies, where they don’t succumb to the managed savagery, stays exactly the same.

That dog just won’t hunt.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Phil – Again, I completely agree…I do not expect the West to lose, but would prefer it to win at some distance, with the minimum expenditure of blood and treasure, and by carefully calibrated interventions undertaken by volunteers. If the moment of decision is delayed until we need to wage a full-scale war against an enemy enjoying a ramshackle dominance on the Southern and Eastern Shores of the Mediterranean, the death and destruction that will then ensue will be truly dreadful to behold.

As we all have good reason to know, the West waging war in an uninhibited and serious way is a very bad business and should be avoided if at all possible.

GNB

Nick
Nick

@Thread

Whilst I believe we should certainly provide very significant support, in reality ISIS/Boko Haram are very much more of a threat to the Islamic states of the Middle East (very specifically Saudi, UAE, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Iran) and North Africa then they are to us today.

The solution should come from within the Middle East; why should we play to their underlying narrative (more ungodly Crusaders) by dealing with (what isn’t an immediate threat of any serious scale) which is much more likely to grow support. Its their narrative that this is the end times where there will be an world wide apocalypse between Islam and the west. It’s much better all round that we support the forces of moderate Islam deal with their loony fringe than do their dirty work for them so they can keep their hands clean.

North Africa is perhaps a different situation, but again providing hi-tech and logistic support to African Union troops is still a better idea than putting our troops on the ground.

Whatever happens, I’m afraid a independent Palestinian state based on East Jerusalem capital is a minimum requirement, whatever the Israeli’s think. Providing a peace keeping force to separate the two states and spending the money needed to build the beginnings of a successful economy for the Palestinian state will be very expensive, but is surely a better than funding the Syrian civil war.

A new tactic against Iran is also long overdue. Isolation and (oil) sanctions have brought them to the table. Let’s do the nuclear deal and then bring them back into the fold. There are enough internal contradictions inside Iran to collapse the existing state without the external pressure which is holding it together.

Nick
Nick

@Gloomy

To pick up a point you made earlier, I don’t think we can discredit their ideology; nothing we can say or do matters (even to the small minority within European populations who lean towards ISIS and their fellow travelers).

The response has to come from mainstream islam (ie a fatwa from all of the leading Islamic authorities). Whilst I don’t actually think this would matter to the current followers of IS (they probably already believe the existing Islamic authorities are not true believers) it may make it harder to penetrate mainstream islamic thought.

Obsvr

Last year when it kicked off I told a mate bombing was a waste of effort, only ground action leading to destruction would do. I’ll amend that slightly, it also needs legislative action to clear the decks of notions such as ‘proportionate use of force’ and similar constraints, although I wouldn’t support the summary execution of prisoners.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu

@Fedaykin

Was this the article http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/
Can’t remember where I got the link think it was on Think Defence.

It complements the post in terms of the ideology. In particular it explains the importance and attractiveness of the concept of caliphate.

I thank DHF for this post as it confirms my belief that it is misleading to describe ISIS as radical or extremist.

Hence they have to be fought on two fronts physical and ideological and it is the latter that may prove more difficult.

Fedaykin

@Deja Vu

Yes that is the article, required reading IMHO if you want to understand Islamic State!

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Nick – You assume that local actors have the capacity to beat Daesh, and will retain the will to do so long-term…but the difficulty is that the “Founding Legend” of Islam is of the multi-national Caliphate bringing all before it to “submission” – which is I believe the best translation of what “Islam” actually means…and it is to this compelling central myth that Daesh plays with considerable and mounting success.

Not read the Article identified by @Deja Vu yet, and time presses…but it’s my guess that is pretty close to what it says.

We think they are a bunch of bloodthirsty psychopaths…they KNOW they are the Islamic equivalent of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, awakened in the time of the Ummah’s greatest need…and the idea that they might be has tremendous traction in the minds of a great many Muslims, including many who themselves would never seek to get involved.

GNB

Nick
Nick

Deja Vu. Thanks for posting the link. Its a very interesting article. Nothing in it tells me that the west in its broadest sense should go anywhere near fighting it on ideological grounds (just like the Sunni/Shia/other variants in Islamic practice, we have nothing to contribute).

Islam, in its entirety has to decide what sort of religion it wants to be; the ideological solution IS has to come from within the religion. We didn’t fight the second world war to defeat Nazi ideology in of itself (just as brutal after all), but to prevent that ideology from controlling us. Pretending that IS today is the same threat to us as Nazi Germany was in 1936 would be a mistake. The game they want to see is just that, for us to make this a west verses Islam conflict to perpetuate the status quo indefinitely. The end times aren’t here.

Nick
Nick

@gloomy

I don’t know if they have the capacity (which goes to will as much as anything else), but they certainly have the military capability to do so on paper.

As the article linked points out, Islam is essentially what its adherents want it to be (just as Judaism and Christianity are). You can easily look through the old testament and institute Christian (Judaic) law and justify behaving just like IS. However would many present day Christians believe that doing this would be a Christian act ? Probably not, but it would be.

I would suggest that all religions have enough internal contradictions in that the peace loving Islam of many is just as valid an interpretation as IS’s view. I don’t think we should try and characterize an entire religion and its adherents by the actions of a minority.

Fedaykin

I agree with Nick the “Gulf Cooperation Council” states have been luxuriously armed over the decades by the Western world. Nevertheless the response of the GCC states to ISIS has been lackluster at best, even worse they were funding and supplying arms to the very groups that eventually formed into the murderous organisation. At best we have seen some bombing raids but even then only with Western support! I wouldn’t be surprised if the GCC states are slightly squeamish about taking on fellow Sunni’s they were only recently (and in some accounts still) supporting. They seem to be more concerned about saving face and making sure their large Shia populations don’t step out of line!

Jordan has stepped up a bit with bombing raids but they are not a member of the GCC (being regarded as the pauper in the region) and I haven’t seen any pictures of Jordanian Challenger 1’s rolling to the Syrian border.

Turkey could probably give ISIS a serious thumping as well if they were so inclined but again a bit of face saving bombing raids and ensuring the problem stays at their border. Turkey if they decided to roll their tanks into Syria could probably even do it unsupported from the other NATO states. They even have plenty of experience of Counter Insurgency. One interesting and positive side effect is the autonomous Kurdish state and Turkey are getting on far better these days due to the disconnection from Baghdad and the turmoil in Iraq. There is huge trade potential for both nations and the Kurdish state and they appear to be jumping at it!

So far the most effective forces arrayed against ISIS have been Assad and the Iranian’s! Which in itself causes a few problems, if the GCC and Saudi in particular feel Iran is gaining too much power they might well start discretely helping ISIS forces.

So far the best solution appears to be keep the problem bottled up in Iraq and Syria with the hope that ISIS will burn itself out.

Chris
Chris

Fedaykin – a fair summary. I think back to summer 2013 when the Commons gave the PM a sore nose when the vote went against directly engaging Assad’s military; had the UK joined the US and pushed Bashar off the Presidential podium, who now would be holding IS back? Israel? On the whole I am relieved the Syria vote went the way it did; I said at the time that the situation was too complex to declare ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, and that in my opinion some of the rebels (we might now label them IS) were more than capable of forging an atrocity on those arguably on the same anti-Assad side just to gain unwitting international military assistance. Their capability for cruel barbarous butchery has since been proven.

Hohum
Hohum

Chris,

How wonderfully naive. IS is almost a creation of Assad, his forces have habitually ignored it and generally left it to grow in order to drag the west into the conflict on his side- which has effectively worked as the US and others are now busy bombing rebel material.

Most observers of Syria agree, its rare that IS and regime forces engage each other despite facing each other over long front lines. But the relationship goes back even further, prior to the Syrian civil war the Assad regime was cooperating with what would become IS in its insurgency in Iraq.

Chris
Chris

Hohum – thanks for the patronising insult. I was unaware of the theory that Assad nurtured ISIL (a theory I still find awkward in that it is akin to the UK aiding and encouraging the SS in the 39-45 war, also as Assad is Shia and cosy with Shia Iran encouraging the most hyperviolent territory-grabbing Sunni militants seems barely credible). All that aside, had Assad been deposed the political/factional vacuum of Iraq would have become larger and deeper all the way to the Mediterranean coast. And wherever the Arab spring kicked over the establishment and infighting between factions developed, IS affiliates have been quick to move in suggesting the encouragement of Assad even if it exists is not a major support for the butchering movement.

Hohum
Hohum

Chris,

Simply doing a public good by providing education. There is nothing awkward about it, Assad has claimed from the outset that his enemies are Islamist terrorists thus equating his war with that of the west in Afghanistan, it is exactly the same line deployed by Vladimir Putin when he was engaged in Chechnya.

IS also attacks other rebel groups more frequently than it does the regime, the regime reciprocates. If the regime had been brought down earlier Syria would still be a mess, but the humanitarian situation less severe and the various rebel groups less extreme. Four years on unrelenting slaughter and destruction on all sides has produced the worst possible outcome.

Hohum
Hohum

DHF,

I am afraid that actually Assad is one of the parents of IS. His regime turned a blind eye on it whilst it was only engaged in Iraq (IS crossed the Iraqi/Syrian border with impunity even before the civil war) at best, there is evidence that there may have even been outright cooperation. Certainly in 2011, just as the civil war kicked off, Assad emptied his jails of Jihadis- many of whom became key members in IS (and Nusra). Since then IS has become convenient, the regime has turned its fire on the moderate rebels allowing IS to become the main rebel fighting force. As a double bonus to the Assad regime, toppling it is less of a priority to IS than it is to the other rebels.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Nick – “I don’t think we should characterise an entire religion and it’s adherents by the actions of a minority”…I think that’s the point where we need to agree to differ…not because I believe that all or even a majority of Muslims support Daesh as it currently presents…but because I think Daesh represent a very compelling idea of a united Ummah led by a universal Caliph bringing Islam to the whole world which is at some level attractive to all Muslims…which opens the way for some to sign up, others to discreetly help the real enthusiasts along and most to quietly observe events whilst preferring not to get involved – especially not by phoning the Peelers.

The unavoidable fact is that Islam’s moment of glory was the way in which it was imposed by fire and sword across the Middle East and North Africa during it’s first three centuries…that Golden Age was quite explicitly referenced by subsequent Islamic conquerors (Seljuk, Mameluke, Ottoman, Mughal)…and is explicitly being referenced by Daesh now…

…and all the evidence is that most Muslims (even those living here) are at very best ambiguous about if that is a good thing or not. :-(

GNB

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

At risk of sounding like some mad Dr Strangelove, we defeated the Germans & Japanese in WW2 by bombing Berlin & Tokyo flat. They knew they were beaten. Now we want TV friendly wars with civilian casualties minimised. This may sound kind, but the opposition does not feel beaten & the war drags on & on, leading to the casualties we were trying to avoid.
The range & payload of our fast pointy jets is too feeble to achieve shock & awe. The RAF in the seventies still had 70 Vulcans. That’s the kind of firepower needed.

Obsvr

Not true, 100% tripe really. Germany was defeated but the defeat of the Wehrmarcht, on the Eastern and Western fronts (especially the former), although once across the Rhine resistance to the western allies dropped considerably, possibly because the Germans wanted the western allies to meet the Russians as far east as possible. Strategic bombing against civilians wasn’t notably effective, the Wehrmarcht kept fighting. Once the western allies had boots ashore in Europe the resources put into bombing would have been better used by the armies, but unfortunately such a switch of effort was not in the realm of the possible.

Shock & awe (so-called) from above might impress Daily Mail readers but it doesn’t defeat a well motivated force on the ground.

Nick
Nick

Obsvr

I agree with you. The economic and manpower resources tied up defending against strategic bombing (which also included building secure locations and rebuilding damage) was very significant (as was holding onto Norway and France in 1943/44). In any case, Hitler practically lost the war in 1940 by failure to knock GB out (allowing strategic blockade to limit resource import into Germany) and certainly by 1942 when it was clear that the Soviet Union wasn’t defeated.

Nick
Nick

Gloomy

many nations and peoples look back on a glorious past. Just look at the UK/France post 1945 or Russia post 1991for a closer to home example.

Whatever you and I think about the IS Caliphate and the pull of the Caliphate concept on the Umma, it is clearly a minority position to actually want to pledge and fight for it. Nothing today tells me that this is our fight (yet).

Even if NATO deployed land forces and killed every single man, women and child within the Caliphate, we would not kill off the idea that IS represents. In fact, we would be strengthening the idea, kindling the fire by proving to a larger population that IS is right in its description of our motives.

After almost the entire period of human history, we have decided that we are not interested in owning and controlling an Empire; our Imperial tendencies are gone (for the moment anyway). Yes, we have replaced it with a different concept, which you can argue has many similarities at a practical level, but fundamentally we have decided that we will not enforce our beliefs over others.

stephen duckworth

The article posted by Dejavu clearly illustrated that the self styled Islamic State and its appointed leader ( according to the article Herr Baghdadhi had to pushed into it , yeah right ) support, condone and actively take part in the enslavement of other human beings, be they men , women or children. As IS is not Internationally recognised as a legitimate state the territories it claims as its own are still the legal holders and as such are beholden to their UN membership agreements. Under the 1956 Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery the UN has a mandate to prevent these practices and if member states where such activities happen cannot restrict these practices then the UN can take action to do so. This alone should be sufficient reason to bring a UN sponsored coalition of military force together to eliminate these practice’s and bring the guilty parties to the Hague to stand trail for their crimes against International law. Britain once led the World against slavery , Tony Blair when PM was even an apologist for the British Empires previous practices Centuries before , perhaps its time again for us to lead the way.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Nick – “Many Nations look back on a glorious past”…true enough, but we, the French, and other Europeans can look back on ours from a very comfortable retirement…the Americans still think of themselves as the “Indispensable Nation”and are very much in the game…and China, Russia and India are all in various different ways and with various levels of success rebuilding in that direction…even Turkey is busy constructing a network of influence amongst the Turkic peoples of the various ‘jans and ‘stans that lie to their East.

Those who look back with nostalgia on the united Muslim Ummah of their own Golden Age have no such consolations…furthermore those who live in Muslim States for the most part do so in various states of poverty and oppression, or at best as clients of the House of Saud or one of the Gulf Arab Sheikhs…and those with more opportunity and wealth achieve it only by living amongst the filthy Kufr in Haram States, whose morals and way of life many of them despise…80% don’t think we should be allowed to make jokes about their Prophet; 26% understand why one of their Co-Religionists might take violent action to prevent it; 16% might take such action themselves…the cases are very different.

Furthermore, God…or at least his Prophet…laid out the rules for proselytising war to extend the Ummah and bring Islam to that and those which are Haram in some detail…in a Book every word of which is deemed to be literally true, and which is very pointedly being used as the basis for the actions being taken by Daesh and their Caliph…and which all observant Muslims are required to own and learn by heart.

Is that the only way in which it can be viewed? Clearly not…but it is no great stretch to disregard the Mecca Verses as being less pertinent than those written later, after the Prophet fled to Medina and became the prototypical Islamic Warlord.

GNB

Nick
Nick

Gloomy

I cant disagree with much of what you write. See this link for more on Muslim attitudes in the UK:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/16/moderate-muslim-devout-liberal-religion

which confirms or supports the data you indicate.

I do have a couple of thoughts though:

1. We (that is the west) have come a very long way in the last 50 years ( or less) on a number of social attitude issues (eg Feminism, Racism, Homophobia). Whilst this journey isn’t over by any means, it isn’t that likely to reverse path either. In fact as global competition heats up, getting the most out of your entire society will become increasingly important.

To rule out that Islam as a whole isn’t capable of accommodating similar changes in social attitudes at all is surely premature ?

2. Many Europeans fled Europe to the US to escape actual prejudice (or worse) or to find space to adopt a society which better suited their beliefs than what was already a highly religious society. And yet, the US isn’t that different from western Europe today. We are more similar than we are different.

Whilst I do think Tolerance should be our watch word, equality before the law is equally important. It does seem that certain sections of our society and legal framework have been too accommodating to diversity. Equally though, we also have a way to go before there is real equality of opportunity in the UK.

In the long run, Petroleum generated wealth (like Coal, Steam Power and Iron Ore driven wealth before it) doomed to come to an end as the next generation of technology replaces it, with something cheaper and less polluting. Any society today which fails to use its Petroleum wealth to build a modern diversified economy using that wealth, but instead squanders it on current spending for the many (eg UK in the 1970s/1980s) or few (much of the GCC and Russia today) is making a major mistake. Whilst Norway and much of the GCC have probably accumulated enough investments to have a wealthy retirement, it may not be enough in the long run. Too much is invested in Property (just look at Dubai, Qatar, Saudi) and Retail but not enough in manufacturing or services which generate new wealth. As for the rest…

I’m afraid that Middle Eastern society (to which you can add Pakistan and some of the other Stans) needs to find an accommodation with Islam, that puts it onto a different path than the one you describe. It appears to me, that Islam in India (not Pakistan) and SE Asia doesn’t seem to have the same problem.

Kent
Kent

“…[G]lorius past…?” The creatures that make up Daesh are destroying the past, razing churches, razing mosques, bulldozing the ruins of Assyrian cities that existed thousands of years ago, sledgehammering irreplaceable statues and other archeological finds, and worse, much worse, burning books, knowledge that may be lost forever.

“The only way you deal with Islamic State — these bloodthirsty, blood-drunken terrorists — is to kill them, keep on killing them, until you kill the last one, then you kill his pet goat.” – LTC Ralph Peters, USA (Ret.)

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

I’m with Kent on this, though British official obsession with rules of engagement would not allow it.
As for shock & awe only impressing Daily Mail readers, my 95 year old dad was in the Polish Army in 1939. They fell back & back & back, thanks to the constant onslaught of the Luftwaffe. He says an army cannot stand if it has no air support, but the enemy has it in spades. He escaped to France, to join their army, only to be pushed back again by the blitzkrieg. He was on one of the last 4 ships to leave Le Verdon for England, still being bombed by Stukas (they missed).
Since the US & others started their air campaign against daesh, those cocky black clad IS fighters no longer strut down the middle of the road. They move from doorway to doorway instead.
Meanwhile, what do we do with returning radicalised muslims. Just arresting them for a few hours, then releasing on bail, seems like taking a huge risk they won’t do something ghastly. Compulsory gardening leave on St Kilda instead perhaps?

Chris
Chris

JH – Rockall

Hohum
Hohum

DHF,

IS are already facing Regime forces over long lines, most notably Deir Ezor, where a major offensive that wrenched the area from the regime would be a significant nail in its coffin, but it has done little. I concur that IS’s aim is the caliphate, thats one of the reasons its convenient to Assad- whilst its charging off and starting wars with Iraqi Shias and Kurds its not attacking him and its getting through the finite amount of material the rebels have too. We see the same thing from Assad, very little in the way of major offensives against IS. Admittedly it seems that the regimes capacity for offensive operations has all but vanished in the last 6-12 months (based on their appalling performance around Aleppo of late) but this has been standard Assad policy from the outset, squash the moderates then claim he is being attacked by Islamists.

“Parentage” is strong but I believe accurate. Assad colluded with the forerunners of IS (same people different name) prior to the Syrian uprising then swelled their ranks by emptying his jails of Islamists at the outset of the war.

IS not engaging strength? They have been picking a fight with the US for months, when they assaulted Mosul they thought they were attacking strength- they didn’t realise how easy it would be. My own view is that they have made a strategic error- had they focused on Assad they could have run most of Syria by now which would have given them considerably more resources. Charging ever deeper into Iraq until they dragged the US in may turn out to be their downfall.

Nick
Nick

Hohum

I had thought that Assad (being Allawite Shia) was mostly supported in what is essentially a Shia population around Damascus and the South. IS would automatically consider this population to be apostate with rather nasty consequences for the population ?

Spreading into Sunni Iraq already some political distance from the Shia majority government in the south makes good sense surely ? Once you have consolidated your Caliphate, you have the choice of expanding outwards to the North (Kurd), Southeast (Baghdad) and West (Damascus) with the west probably being the weakest. In any case, airstrikes are never going to defeat IS and bringing the US/west into the conflict plays to IS ideology it makes warped sense as well given your goal is to build the Caliphate ?

Given the obvious Sunni (GCC/Turkey) reluctance to deal with IS on the ground, you have to ask just how far will Sunni Iraq (Iran) bother to recover the North of Iraq given it is majority Sunni. No more than the strengthen the border zone would be my expectation.

Would GCC/Turkey be that concerned if IS moved to remove Assad next ? Jordan/Lebanon are the most exposed players after Damascus surely ? Egypt also has IS in Libya (North Africa) to be concerned about right now.

If Assad can’t hold out on his own, then Jordan/Israel must share a common interest in keeping IS bottled up to the North of them ? Netanyahu pissing off Obama probably isn’t the best idea right now. Also it might be better to have a deal Iran than not given the more immediate threat ?

It’s not that I don’t think Israel/Jordan can’t militarily beat IS easily, but like southern Lebanon and Gaza, they just can’t win ultimately either.

Hohum
Hohum

Nick,

Assad’s core support is basically anyone who is neither Sunni or Kurdish. But for that to remain the case he had to stoke up a virulent Sunni extremist group- IS was it.

Nick
Nick

HoHum

that might have made sense when the civil war started – encouraging sunni/sunni violence to reduce the immediate danger – but I’m not sure it would look like such a good idea today.

Unless his Russian friends are going to put troops on the ground, then I don’t see anyone from the region stopping the Caliphate until his regime has gone and Damascus is occupied by Sunni [a blood bath ?].

It still looks like good sense to partition Syria and Iraq and carve out a coastal Shia nation (a new Lebanon) and enlarged Sunni Iraq state in the middle under local government (not IS obviously). I don’t see it happening officially, but I could see something like that happen in practice.

stephen duckworth

IS attack in Tunisia , 22 dead including at least one Briton. 2 gunmen attempted to enter the Tunisian parliament who were in session discussing increased anti-terrorism legislation. The could not find a way through security so attacked a crowd of tourists outside the next door National Museum. The gunmen chased the tourists who fled inside . Police and Tunisian Special Forces assaulted the museum and killed the gunmen
.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/tunisia/11479898/Tunisia-attack-tourists-taken-hostage-at-museum-near-Tunis-parliament-live.html&sa=U&ei=nq4KVc3bLc7gsATD1oKYCw&ved=0CA4QqQIwAA&usg=AFQjCNGFKu-U-_xX-A2eTpPGYGFjhVIbmw

H
H

Nick,

It looks like an excellent idea today. IS are now the main rebel group in Eastern Syria but they are not really attacking the regime and they are being bombed by the West. It’s win-win for Assad.

Hohum
Hohum

Nick,

It is very much a great idea now. IS are the main Syrian rebel group but most their energies are diverted away from the regime, and the US is now bombing them. It’s win-win for Assad.

Nick
Nick

Hohum

Do you think bombing will limit IS’s capability sufficiently that it will stop expanding the Caliphate ? If not them Damascus has to be next surely ?

Hohum
Hohum

Nick

ISIS has stopped expanding the caliphate, they have been forced on to the defensive by the US/Shia campaign in Iraq and Eastern Syria.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

“Unless his Russian friends are going to put troops on the ground, then I don’t see anyone from the region stopping the Caliphate until his regime has gone and Damascus is occupied by Sunni”

I suspect his friends in Teheran might not be averse to popping over to offer a bit of moral support.

As for the Caliphate expanding, watch for a change of location. Libya / Subsaharan Africa likely to be the next iteration.

Hohum
Hohum

NaB,

Lend a hand? Iran, in the form of the IRGC, already has troops on the ground fighting and dying with Assad’s in Syria, Hezbollah has also been pushed into the fight. The Iranians also just handed some ex-Iraqi Su-22s to the Syrian Air Force.

Nick
Nick

NaB

I thought that Hezbolah were their already ? HoHum’s description suggested Assad as particularly weak right now. I would have thought Iran actively participating in Syria (as opposed to in Iraq) might cause a few fits in Israel and the GCC. Still it would make some sense for Iranian militia to pretend to be from Lebanon to stop a massacre if IS went for Damascus. Could they move sufficient force quickly enough though.

Any linkage on the ground between Boko Harum and the Sahel mob spread across Algeria/Mali/Libya (along with the declaration of an additional Caliphate ?) would certainly be a game changer in North Africa. I think the French and AU troops might need some on the ground support. Could we (or the US) say no ?

Hohum – I agreed IS aren’t expanding right now, but do you think Baghdad (or the Kurds) intend to retake Mosel ? If not, then today becomes the new status quo. IS will expand the Caliphate somewhere from its existing base eventually. Assad looks the easiest target ? What does HMG think might happen next ?

I still think there is a good chance that the Caliphate will collapse anyway.

Hohum
Hohum

Nick,

Yes, the intention is absolutely to retake Mosul. Unfortunately that requires the construction of a viable Iraqi fighting force first- thats still a work in progress.

Hezbollah and the IRGC have been active in Syria for years now, the Israelis even killed an IRGC general, Gen Mohammad Allahdadi, in an airstrike on a convoy near the Golan heights earlier this year.

GAB
GAB

Or the best action may be to let the savages fight it out and exhaust themselves.

This is a great opportunity for Europe to flush radicals who fight or support either side – just do not let them return.

The only support that should be provided to Iran, Syria, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia should be through cash sales. None of these countries are reliable allies of the west, and most of the islamic violence is directly due to the policies of these nations over decades (Iraq excluded).

Let them choke on it.

GAB

stephen duckworth

An article on Iranian troops fighting IS . General Quarami Sulemani was once on the US wanted list for helping Shia terrorists in Iraq killing Allied troops but in these days of choosing between the lesser of two evils its forgive and forget ( not!) .
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9473542/forget-geneva-the-real-us-iran-carve-up-is-happening-in-iraq/&sa=U&ei=jdsKVda3OuHT7Qa01oGgCg&ved=0CBQQqQIwAQ&usg=AFQjCNERoWa9_Endi-dJHFx-hXkKCpQMGg

Chris
Chris

An interesting program on channel 4 this evening where Trevor Phillips (racial equality czar) took a long hard look at the UK, its racial stereotypes, its racial hang-ups and whether the modern politically correct approach has a down side. Quite a brave thing to do; several of the modern taboos were challenged and some criticised. In particular he recognised the drive to eliminate racism contributed to the authorities’ acquiescence in the face of the grooming ring nightmares of Rotherham, Oxford, Rochdale and others because to take action would have been ‘racist’. By extrapolation its clear the same timid attitude within authorities supposedly responsible for the nation’s good governance that has given the extremists and radicals the breathing space to spread their poison. How sad that a movement that with all good intention set out to remove discrimination, bigotry and hatred has been a significant enabler for those that choose to pervert normal kids into supremacists hell-bent on eradicating everyone who disagrees with their beliefs.

I was always a bit leery about the CRE and its approach; I had a feeling it would create virtual ghettos of untouchables and that it would disenfranchise the previously dominant white majority leaving them no say in the country’s direction. All credit to Mr Phillips, he essentially reached the same conclusion. He is now turning his mind to how to redress the new imbalance. I have to say by the end of the program I had a good deal of respect for this man.

Nick
Nick

Chris

Noble aims don’t always give rise to noble achievements. In reality, it can be quite hard to tell the difference between individuals who actually hold a racist (or homophobic) view point and those who express reservations regarding policy etc overlain by the anti-discrimination lobby mouthing off and politicians seeking political gain. However, it seems to me that we can move from what was clearly a racist/homophobic societal mindset in the 1950’s to 1960’s to enlightened nirvana in the 2010’s is a pretty silly one. I think it takes at least 3 generations to change any major attitude, which suggests racism and homophobia wont be entirely eliminated much before 2030, if then.

In my opinion, equality before the law should be a bed rock of any state. Allowing the creation of religious based “courts” to act in certain areas (eg divorce, child care) is a mistake. Whilst cultural awareness when dealing with these matters should be practiced it ought to be in the context of basic UK law, which applies equally to everyone.

I think we should also bear in mind that there is likely to be a degree of selective reporting going on. I very much doubt that other criminal gangs don’t operate in much the same way as in Rotherham/Oxford.

ChrisM
ChrisM

Much interesting information in all the above and links – thanks.
However I believe two things

1) You cannot defeat ISIS militarily. You can contain them, pick off the leadership, even have a semblance of control over terrain, but as they appear “defeated” the individuals would melt away to return in another format at a later date. The solution has to be political and economic (see point 2)
2)We don’t have to defeat their ideology, I think too much attention is paid to religion when the vast majority of humans don’t actually place it above security and economic survival. They rolled up Sunni Iraq because the Sunnis were being persecuted by the idiotic Shia regime in Baghdad. I believe the majority don’t want to persecute other faiths, they just don’t want others persecuting them, and they want security, and a job, and the ability to look after their family.

Give the Sunni Iraqis belief that they will be allowed to govern regionally with little interference from the Shia and they will get rid of the outsiders ISIS themselves (with the implied ugly alternative of a Shia/Kurdish force occupying Sunni areas)

As for Syria I think it has gone too far for pretty, liberal, niceties – we have to go with the principle of “the least worst is the best”, and that will have to involve Assad.

The Western strategy should be to support the least worst guys to create stability and security in their areas and push into ISIS areas, take out the leadership and hardware of the baddest guys with clinical strikes, and use all diplomatic and economic levers to control the meddling of the other muslim nations

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@ChrisM “I think too much attention is paid to religion when the vast majority of humans don’t actually place it above security and economic survival” …your view is mostly shared by people of a liberal disposition living in West European welfare democracies, rather less so by our Eastern European neighbours, and very much less so by many people living in the USA…and in fact in the fifty or sixty years since it became an article of faith in Western Europe, people seem to have pretty much convinced themselves that it was in fact always the case…a quite lovely idea on which much Western policy making is based… :-)

…but one that is in complete defiance of practically the whole of recorded human history, the conduct and activities of almost all the Religions, States and Peoples that have ever existed at any time or anywhere…and much more importantly the daily lives, views and behaviour of all the people currently in the World who are not liberals in Western welfare democracies…including, for example, the various “Ethnic” * and Religious groups in post-Tito Yugoslavia, a devout Mid-Western Congregation in the USA in the hands of a charismatic Minister…or indeed all those comfortably-off British Muslim Teenagers who “Love death more than we love life” and are trotting off to join Daesh to prove it. :-(

We are a touch inclined to think of anything which jars with our liberal certainties as being somehow an exception – often a pathological one – but the reality is the way we see the World is actually a vanishingly small exception to the normal rules of human conduct; and most of the problems we now face relate to our complete inability to to understand just how very, very different we are to most of the other people we share the world with. :-( :-(

As I’ve said before, any public policy based on wishful thinking is idiotic…foreign and defence policy based on it goes somewhere so far beyond idiotic that it might well be in a completely different dimension of stupidity…as well as being possibly lethal to quite a lot of us before we finally get the message and stop being so bloody daft in the face of those that hate us, want to kill us, are trying, will try harder…and now have their first foothold on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. :-( :-( :-(

A truly despondent Gloomy…back from Rome, where there are now Carabinieri in battledress in key public squares and at various points along the Aurelian Walls…knowing as they do where Libya is.

* I use the term “Ethnic” advisedly because I believe that ethnically most of the Yugoslav participants on all sides were much the same, but we somehow settled on “Ethnic” opposed to “Sectarian” cleansing, I rather suspect because we can no longer get our tiny brains around ideas like the absolute centrality of Faith for practically everybody on Earth…but not us, obviously.

ChrisM
ChrisM

I still hold that most people, anywhere, are more interested in security and money for their family, than religion.
Even in the Middle East there are millions who live peacefully in the “wrong” place ie Shia in a Sunni country and vice versa. It is only when they are persecuted, or economically marginalised, that they become susceptible to the extremists religious bigotry.
If you give them security, an economic future, and freedom to worship, then they don’t worry about ‘the other lot’

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

Osama Bin Laden was one of the heirs to a well connected Saudi Arabian Construction Dynasty with immense wealth, who was absolutely free to take care of his large family within a political, cultural and religious environment that was pretty much in line with his core beliefs…and at the other end of the spectrum most of the British Muslim Youngsters making their way to sign up with Daesh are good students with excellent prospects who have enjoyed all the benefits of our welfare state, have the supportive families that are key in making good choices that allow people to develop a successful career and raise their families in comfort…and are free to worship as they choose, and engage in democratic politics freely if they want to influence the direction of travel taken by the country as a whole…

I think we need to agree to differ.

GNB

Nick
Nick

@Gloomy

Agree with your sentiment. However, I do think that environment has a role to lay. If the Soviets hadn’t gone into Afghanistan and the US hadn’t seen the potential to cause big problems for them there, would Osama ever have amounted to much other than as a member of a rich Saudi dynasty.

If Iraq hadn’t invade Kuwait, no US troops would have been on Saudi soil; would his terrorist force have gained the same prominence that it subsequently has.

If Israel hadn’t fought the 6 day way and taken Jerusalem and the west bank, would the Palestinian issue today be as bad as it is ? Hasn’t the occupation of the west bank (and Gaza) amounted to a clarion call to Muslim’s since the 1970’s ?

It is clear (perhaps) that there has been a anti-western society reaction in the Islamic world (similar to, but different from, the anti-globalization, anti-EU sentiment we see in Europe).This was probably inevitable. However, if everything else hadn’t happened, would IS exist in its current form today ?

There’s no way of knowing, but I don’t think its quite as simple as you argue. In that respect, ChrisM is also right in my opinion. The majority do want to live peaceful productive lives; the minorit view becomes to dominate when there are other factors at play, whether real or imagined.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@Nick…I agree that other matters are at play…but amongst them is that religious faith is overwhelmingly important to some people…far more so than we, with our comforting post-enlightenment liberal certainties can really get our heads round…

…but if we are going to handle this we must, and kidding ourselves that actually they really see things pretty much as we do is a dangerous misjudgement that will lead to wrong actions.

GNB

ChrisM
ChrisM

You name a few examples, whereas I refer to the majority of, for example, a Sunni town in northern Iraq
To win their hearts and minds you don’t have to defeat ISIS ideology (I don’t believe you can do that), you have to give them confidence that you can give them a more secure and prosperous environment and won’t interfere with them praying to whoever the hell they like.
Whilst killing the ISIS leadership and foreign fighters as discreetly as possible

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@ChrisM…The British Muslim Community have every opportunity to worship in complete freedom, and to enjoy the benefits of a welfare democracy which gives them every opportunity to concentrate their efforts on a comfortable domestic life amongst family and friends…

…and yet 80% of them believe that their Prophet and their Religion should get special protection not enjoyed by any other Religion in the UK, and in complete opposition to our conception of freedom (which definitely includes the right to take the piss out of other peoples religious beliefs); around 25% understand why their co-religionists might choose to kill those who show them what they consider to be “disrespect”; around 15% would readily do the killing themselves…

…meanwhile, amongst the Sunni and indeed Shia of Iraq, Syria, the Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria….it seems to be possible to raise an armed militia to prosecute an extraordinarily brutal sectarian war pretty much at the drop of a hat…

…as I say, we need to agree to differ.

GNB

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@ChrisM – Final thought…the current generation of British Muslims were mostly born and brought up here…they are materially much more comfortable than their parents and grand-parents were on arrival, and have far more opportunities…

…they are also much more religious by some distance, in every respect from donning the hijab and niqab or long shirt, short trousers and full beard of the devout (when Mum and Dad favoured Shalwar Kameez or a slightly old fashioned suit with a tidy beard and a Jinnah hat)…to signing up with Daesh or shacking up with one of it’s “holy warriors”.

How exactly does that fit your thesis?

GNB

ChrisM
ChrisM

GNB – I haven’t noticed that the younger muslims are more devout (though to be fair I am in a Surrey town with a fair size muslim population, not Luton or Bradford).
Maybe they have more confidence than their parents that they can be openly muslim, as they aren’t the first generation trying to make a place for themselves? And of course the devout ones are more noticeable by their dress (I am actually more concerned about how many of the local muslim kids are mirroring white trash and acting like right little chavs!!)
But I think we are possibly arguing slightly different things, as your angle fits the jihadist more whilst I am thinking more of the poor bastards who are having their towns fought over.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@ChrisM – I believe the survey evidence supports “more devout”, although can’t immediately point to it…and on the other the most effective and brutal fighters are tribal or sectarian militias…so they are not so much the “poor bastards who are having their towns fought over”…as the wicked bastards who are attacking other peoples towns, killing the men and enslaving/raping their women and children. Their definition of “material well-being” seems to include purchasing a thirteen year old Yazisdi or two and then moving into a house confiscated from a Christian now occupying a mass grave on the outskirts along with his sons, friends and neighbours…all acts for which a pretty clear Qu’ranic justification can be readily identified.

You might want to read an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in today’s Times 2…or indeed her book, “Heretic; why Islam needs a reformation now”

GNB

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