ISIS 101: Will the West ever get it right?

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Tom Brennan

As ISIS moves itself across Syria and Iraq, as Yemen and other territory is placed under the Black Flag, the United States and other Western Nations persist in terming the Jihadists “terrorists”. The Obama Administration even shrinks from using “Muslim” in any dispatches or statements. The Administration also persists in using ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant). This surrenders the entire region to them because it includes everything from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Israel onwards. This is the same White House that draws redlines, announces battle plans in advance, and is courting the ISIS’s evil twin, Iran as the new regional power. Unfortunately conservative forces in America, especially on social media and talk shows, insist on “bombing them back to the stone age”, killing all of them,  urging everyone to put “boots on the ground” in an all-out war to end the 7th century scourge once and for all. Unfortunately they see a Middle Eastern mindset as one that will either sit down and negotiate and hold to signed agreements such as they think Iran is more than happy to do or surrender and return to their pre-jihad lifestyles.  The US State Dept. is bereft of locally knowledgeable persons who know history, culture and social mores of the nations where they are stationed. The White House regularly promotes big campaign contributors to Ambassadorships.

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What is going on at the core of the hostilities in the region is a civil war between two sects of Islam, the mindset of both dates from the 7th century. Both desire to be the deciding factor in the establishment of The Caliphate, led by the Mahdi, and this event will usher in the complete submission of the world to the form of Islam the winning Caliphate ideology holds. The 21st century difference is that The ISIS Caliphate uses social media to convert and intimidate. Can you imagine the effect on morale of Iraqi troops after seeing videos of beheadings of prisoners and the brutal execution of the Jordanian pilot? No Geneva Convention rules of humane treatment of prisoners. The mainstream media in America is too focused on a well-managed race war to be covering the advance of the concepts of Islam by ISIS or the steady buildup of nuclear weaponry potential and constant deceit of Tehran. Tehran funds proxies in the region and keeps the United States on a short leash while it openly ridicules an Administration whose spokespersons’ remarks result in universal disbelief and confusion.

What is at stake is a world war of conquest such as occurred during the time of Muhammad. Looking at a map of the Muslim world in the 7th century it is one of conquest. The Islam of that time saw no secular, only Islam and the fire and sword advance pushed far into Europe. The passion, energy and full commitment was a-political. It was a mission from a divine source and only submission was allowed. Adherents did battle in confidence of a reward dictated by the Quran and battled without fear.

Western concepts are built on individual intellectual concepts and cannot fathom the mind of ISIS and their cousins in Tehran. In WW2 the Kamikaze warriors of Japan intentionally flew their airplanes into targets. Western combatants were mystified and shaken by an enemy who did not fear death, only dishonor and failure. Western mentality can accommodate change easily and intellectualize the process and a progression. Here we see the danger. Social media seethes with “bomb them into the stone age”. Yet the Jihadists still fight, commit barbarities right from the 7th century and use media to publicize the acts. The intent is to intimidate and generate a fear of the coming war. The high tech internet world spreads the intoxicating suggestions of power and being part of something that others fear. The “lone wolf” is a worldwide pack. Terror is a weapon enhanced by digital communication.

The river running mightily beneath it all is a civil war that began after Muhammad’s death. Leadership was disputed and means of spreading the faith soon divided the Muslim world into Sunni and Shia. These are the two chief sects in Islam although there are others. The war in the Middle East is a battle for supremacy and the leadership to establish the caliphate, led by a Mahdi who will usher in a Muslim Apocalypse. Until Western minds accommodate 7th century Middle Eastern intellect, the battle will continue. Perhaps a Charles Martel is needed. An ideology that respects only force will not respect weakness or vacillation. The war in the Middle East is an ancient civil war being played out on a global scale. Until Western countries start listening to Israel and the nations combatting both ISIS and Tehran’s forces, the “issue is in doubt”. When the Japanese attacked Wake Island in 1942, heroic defenders gave all they had against a determined enemy whose mindset was totally different from theirs. Today the Middle East is ablaze in turmoil that is spreading worldwide. As in 1942, the “issue is in doubt”. Only with an objective understanding of the ideology of the two Caliphates can any victory be achieved.

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