Quid Rides? De te Fabula Narratur

What are you laughing at? The joke's on you.

The Moral Imperative to Destroy ISIS

Posted by Anthony on July 20, 2015

This is an article which I had been planning, and wanting, to write for some time. The issue isn’t what to write about or how to present the facts; rather, my concern here was that I would not be able to restrain myself from lashing out in an overly emotional morality infused rage before I even got to the mid-point of the writing. Surely, if anyone can bring that out in abundance it is ISIS.

Comparing ISIS to other historical organizations is not entirely fair. For example, to bring up the Nazi regime is to insult the memory of the tens-of-millions of deaths that abomination was responsible for both directly (through their racial policies and the Holocaust) and, well, directly by starting the Second World War. In this regard, ISIS is, as President Obama referred to them, “the JV team”. Their death toll pales in comparison to regimes such as that which existed under Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mao in China (who may well hold the record for deaths), the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia under Pol Pot which, although much lower on the scale for total deaths must be recognized for the absolute barbarity of the regime, or even any of the more localized genocides such as the Hutu extermination of Tutsis in Rwanda.

Some people right here might argue, “yes, but it’s only because they do not yet have the ability to wipe out people… look what they have done in many of the places they’ve conquered and just imagine what would happen if they managed to take over a city full of, say, Hindus?” I would lend this line of thinking some credibility, but the fact remains that they have not yet done mass killings on a huge level and we here aim to describe a regime not by what they had wanted to do (the Nazi regime after all had intended to starve 30 million people living in the then Western Soviet Union) but rather by what they have done.

Rather, I think it is the degree of ideological psychosis to which they fervently cling that puts them into a different category and allows us to make some justified comparisons to those more blood-soaked regimes of years past. During the Holocaust, the annihilation of the Jews was carried out mostly in secret. Yes, the Nazis made no bones about creating the ghettos nor were they quite secretive about sending in special groups to round up Jews when they had conquered new lands. The mass killings, however, centered around the extermination camps that were created with the only purpose being to erase all Jewish life in Europe, were shrouded in secrecy. Did people have ideas about what went on there? Of course they did, but overwhelmingly they were not allowed to become cognizant about it.

Stalin’s regime as well, for all of its show trials and “public confessions”, most signed by a hand still dripping blood from the torture used to procure said confession, still maintained a large degree of secrecy about what went on. People simply disappeared, were sent to the east, were shot inside a prison and dumped in a mass grave, or a variety of other things, but only the most prominent were given the distinction of having their executions be made known for public consumption.

ISIS is different on several levels. They seem to revel in their murder-lust and they have no qualms about others knowing of it; quite the opposite, in fact they take pains to ensure that every beheading, every hanging, every killing of whatever sort is broadcast to the largest possible audience. They are a child of the internet age and have used it both for the dissemination of their ideological underpinnings (largely to gain recruits) as well as to showcase their latest batch of executions. They murder with a real sense of glee, not just because they have to go on with it. Perhaps some of them are, as the old adage goes, “just following orders”, but the first order of business with that tired trope is that it has never (with the exception of post- World War I German court inquiries) been accepted as legitimate. No banality of evil here; we are being allowed to gaze upon what hell would look like if it existed.

ISIS also has an ideology that puts them at odds with all competing states. All regimes at one time or another make treaties or covert deals with others that do not share their common cause. Hitler did not want a war with England, he wanted them to leave him alone in Europe so he could focus on the real enemy: Soviet Russia. Just the same, Stalin agreed to a non-aggression pact with Germany even though both sides could clearly see that the shoe of Eastern Europe was only big enough for one foot. ISIS however has no problems attacking every and any state that it borders and, since the declaration of subordinate provinces beyond its immediate reach, other states abroad. They have, in effect, declared a state of perpetual war to exist between them and anyone who does not submit. This is, of course, not terribly different than the primary modus operendi followed by the Caliphates of old with the one exception being that they had the military power to back up their threats. Another is that they treated subject nations with a large degree of mercy and justice. Indeed, many peoples found it much better living under the Islamic system (even as Christians, and especially as Jews) than under their previous state.

ISIS also makes a mockery out of Islam by their complete trampling on the tenets of that faith. Cruel methods of execution such as burning a man alive are forbidden under Islamic Law. Rape is forbidden under Islamic Law (though they seem to ignore that point when they consider, for example, Yazidi girls whom they have captured as sex-slaves and rape them up to five times a day) as is waging war during the month of Ramadan. During discussions with other Socialists, it is common to hear the old claim that Marx and Engels would have been horrified by Stalin. Just the same, Muhammad would be horrified by ISIS. Islamic leaders in the past have not laid waste to culture (Mahmoud of Ghazni aside), but ISIS seems to create a barren wasteland and establish a state that would have made Orwell consider it too extreme to model the world of 1984 after.

One could go on about the massive differences between this regime and those of the past, but this article is not written in an apologist fashion. The main issue here is to point out that for all of the reasons previously stated, ISIS is a scourge on human civilization and must be eradicated. How best to do this? There are those who suggest military action and this is not altogether a bad suggestion. Yet to be very frank, there is no reason to believe that any western democracy is going to risk the lives of their soldiers fighting this menace. One only has to think back twenty years to the debacle that befell American servicemen in Somalia and the subsequent demand for the withdrawal of troops from that country in order to imagine what the repercussions of seeing an American serviceman turned into a human torch would elicit on the home front. That leaves us with the alternative method of engaging a proxy to do the dirty work for us, say arming the Kurds or any of a number of opposition groups that are currently engaged in fighting ISIS. While this does have promise, the issue of accidentally arming the “wrong” groups is always at hand and in any case all one is really doing is piling on to the arms race of the region.

Perhaps the best way to go about dismantling everything ISIS has built up is to cripple their ability to generate income. True, it’s nowhere near as sexy to sit down and comb over a multitude of reports in order to cut off streams of revenue as it would be to simply announce that the bombing starts in five minutes, but it will work. Without money it will be increasingly difficult for ISIS to launch any real offensives. True, they will still have the capability to abduct, suicide-bomb, and behead individuals but even that, over time, will diminish. ISIS is built on an ideology that needs above all else to go from victory to victory. They need to conquer, lest their brand suffer, and all of the foreign fighters upon which they depend to swell their ranks will think twice if they truly feel that ISIS is just one of a number of failed attempts to revive the caliphate rather than the genuine item. Nobody wants to back a loser. and without money and the ability to continue functioning as a true state in the territories they control a loser is exactly what ISIS will become.

Another key issue is to help expose them for what they really are within the Islamic Community thereby reducing the chances that any young man or woman in that community will think to travel over and join them. Even though the number of individuals who have gone over is very small compared to the Muslim population at large, one can never do enough to reduce that number until it reaches zero. Fortunately, Muslim leaders are doing this by and large in most parts of the world. Especially in the West, where the allure of becoming a fighter seems to resonate a little with dissatisfied younger Muslims, we need to do all we can to work with the Muslim Communities and all possible to support them in their drive to ensure that people do not associate ISIS with mainstream Islam.

In the end it will probably be a combination of economic sanctions, public education, and military force (and quite possibly in that order) that leads to their dissolution. One can only hope that this takes place as quickly as possible, obviously, but a lot of that depends on the efforts of several major states both in the region and elsewhere. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has recently come out and vowed to help the United States in destroying ISIS, which is a fine bit of news and very welcome indeed, but we need more than just two states if only because ISIS is damaging to so many states around the globe. Let us hope that sooner rather than later the forces of civilization and the civilized world decide the time has come to put an end to these barbarians once and for all.

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