In thinking about the crisis that has been pending with ISIS, a radical terrorist group, I can't help but wonder...will a war against this group really solve anything? Of course, we can't just sit by and watch a terrorist group ''take over the world,'' but how can anyone opposing ISIS, eradicate its ideology? For that is what is at stake. ISIS represents an can its opposition successfully combat that which can't be seen, but yet controls an entire group's actions?

How can we go to war against an ideology? Is there any hope of 'winning?' I suppose the world stood up to Hitler's ideology (and defeated his regime), so can that be done in this case with ISIS?

Just thinking out loud ...wondering what you all think?

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I don't think there's any way to destroy a system of beliefs.  maybe Atheists should do more to systematically un evangelize people.  Preach the truth just as loud as the fundies!  :-)

As with Hitler, as with Stalin, it was a complex interaction of events and time. Hitler's expansive military strategies made military defeat possible (but not a certainty), with the defeat the ideology rapidly withered. Communism probably was more destructive in human lives because it went on for decades instead of years.  But eventually it failed, not militarily but by collapsing under its own weight.

The Islamic State is a bit different. It's currently on a roll, has the ability to cause a great deal of destruction and death in its area of operation, but in the long run it will not take over the world or even take over all Muslims. Sects of Islam have fought vehemently for centuries over doctrinal absurdities, there will be plenty fighting against these guys.

there is no solution to the Islamic problem.  It is a worse disease than Communism.  My main phobia is Muslim extremists.  People in those countries live their lives in fear.  People get their tongue cut out just for speaking about their political views.  Gives me the creeps!

it's a sad world out there :(

This is going to be an interesting conversation.

I will sit back and observe.

I see the fight against ISIS as being a short term and long term issue. In the short term, to put it bluntly, ISIS needs to have its ass kicked. I would prefer to see this happen through a coalition forces much like what was used in the Gulf War something over two decades ago. Whether Obama and Cameron can put such a coalition together or not, I don't know, but I see them together being far more effective than George W Bush was with his half hearted efforts of 10 years ago.

Dealing with the long term is far more difficult. It involves getting to the people that ISIS wants before ISIS can get to them. It means in a word, educating them and their children and orienting them away from ISIS and its brand of extremism. This is a project which would require effort, money and tremendous persistence. In other words, it is not something that is typically prone to easy success.

That doesn't change the fact that it needs doing, and is probably the only means to long term success.

The Beheadings Are Bait

Posted: 09/04/2014 2:42 pm EDT Updated: 09/04/2014 2:59 pm EDT

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses..." -- Osama bin Laden

On the last day of March, in 2004, four American contractors were ambushed and killed in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah. Mutilated and immolated by a mob, their remains were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.

Barely a month later, in May, Nicholas Berg, a young American who had traveled to Iraq looking for work and had been captured, was beheaded.

Videos of the swinging American bodies and Berg's execution were posted online and aired hourly on cable television. Americans were horrified and shocked. Operation Iraqi Freedom was unraveling. With this graphic confirmation of barbarity and terror President Bush reacted forcefully, desperate to demonstrate American resolve, strength and revenge.

U.S. Marines attacked twice into Fallujah, in April and then again in November 2004. In some of the worst fighting of the war, large parts of the city were destroyed, thousands killed and the majority of the city displaced. Throughout Iraq, American forces went on the offensive, attempting to stamp out "terrorists" by launching greater and more violent operations than had been seen since the invasion.

This military action, which was quite successful in sheer numbers of Iraqis killed or interned in detention camps, backfired as the often arbitrary, uncontrollable and escalatory nature of violence, as so happens in war, further enflamed hatred of the foreign occupation and led to greater Iraqi support, directly and indirectly, to the insurgency. This, in turn, strengthened al-Qaeda in Iraq, as well as al-Qaeda's broader global narrative of fighting "Crusaders" and defending Muslims. When the release of the Abu Ghraib torture photos added to this narrative, thousands of outraged Muslim men traveled to Iraq to join al-Qaeda's cause and fight the Americans.

Alongside this increased military action, the U.S. accelerated the transfer of "sovereignty" to the Iraqis through an inept political process that replaced the incompetent American-led Coalition Provisional Authority with a corrupt network of mostly Shia expatriate Iraqis. This interim government in Baghdad, full of Iraqis whose chief qualification was that they spoke English and dressed in Western suits, oversaw a political vacuum that deepened the chaos.

Shia groups battled other Shia groups for power and money in Baghdad; Sunnis and Shias massacred one another; minorities, such as Turkmens and Christians, fled Baghdad; the Kurds smartly walled themselves off in their homeland in North Iraq; and everyone who was not on the United States payroll fought the Americans, primarily young American men, many really boys, who were mired in a rising and bloody civil war in which they were ordered to pick winners and losers, with the barrel of a rifle, in a society and land they did not understand. With that, 500,000 Iraqis were killed, millions wounded and maimed, and one in eight Iraqis were displaced forcibly from their homes in a civil war that is still raging ten years later.

Now, in 2014, with the ghastly beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, America is poised to make the same mistakes. While escalating American airstrikes and sending more troops to Iraq may assuage the fear and horror affecting the American public, and motivating America's politicians, acting on those feelings will ensure greater conflict and loss.

The Islamic State, like al Qaeda, requires the United States to serve as a villain in order for the Islamic State to receive manpower, logistics and financial support from Sunni Muslim communities. Additionally, an American military re-entry into the Iraqi Civil War in support of Shia and Kurdish factions, without lasting and serious political concessions from Baghdad towards Sunni grievances, will worsen the same political disenfranchisement and sense of existential danger that has pushed the Sunnis to align with the Islamic State. In the short-term American bombs may hurt the Islamic State, but in the long-term it is what they need and want.

The Islamic State is a parasite of war. Its members and its narrative need war for their personal, organizational and ideological validation and success. That is why the only way to defeat the Islamic State is to take the war away from them. Abandoning support to all sides in the conflict, including oil sales from the Iraqi government and American support for the oil fields seized by the Kurds this summer, will put all sides of the Iraqi Civil War at a disadvantage and force concessions in order to meet Sunni grievances. Achieving a permanent political solution will divorce the Islamic State from the Sunni community. Notions of American support to a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands, again, will only strengthen the Islamic State by giving them the Sunni population's support they require and by feeding into the Islamic State's members own romantic visions of their historical and divine place defending Islam.

In our rush to return to war in Iraq we are playing into the Islamic State's hands, just as we played into the hands of al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004 and into Osama bin Laden's larger strategy with our morally disastrous Global War on Terror, including the invasion of Iraq in 2003, in reaction to the 9/11 attacks.

After tens of thousands of American dead and wounded, with veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq killing themselves at rates three times greater than their civilian..., and with a total cost of the wars projected at six trillion dollars, it is safe to say that Bin Laden's goals, with respect to the above quote, have largely been achieved.

We seem likely to take the bait again.

I wonder how this writer would have viewed concerns about the Nazi concentration camps.

It definitely is true that this is not something that can be done by outside military action. It also cannot be done by ignoring the situation, or hand wringing. There are ways to turn the tide. It's not as if the IS is working unopposed, they have alienated millions of the people of the local tribes (tribal affiliation is often much more significant than national affiliation there) but these people do not have the resources to take back control of their own land. What the West DOES have is resources that can support the locals.

For one thing, Hitler made it very clear about what he planned to do with the Jews. Also, the US didn't get involved in WW II to save Jews, it went in with other things on its agenda, including some knowledge that a bomb was possibly in the works.

Initially ISIS ought to be crushed ruthlessly. 

In terms of opposing the ideology start by avoiding the political expediency in portraying it as an aberration, as an extreme position in relation to its origins in religion. (Islamic extremists to be known as Islamic purists) Teach history and analyze the growth and development of ISIS. Explore the history of cults that have emanated from Christianity and Islam. Isis is simply another one in long line of fruit of poisonous tree.

Make it understood that the underlying ethics of religion are barbaric. The mission in the west is to catch our Ethics up with science and reject our self-defeating memes. Isis is just a symptomatic pimple of a sickness that is threatening to take the entire edifice down. Show how the endorsement of faith results in an absence of standards. There is no way to judge of the ethics of right and wrong when a make-believe creator decrees the standards and the adherent just has to believe because to do otherwise is to reject the creed. Demonstrate the control that is being exercised at the expense of the individual. Use science to explain the process of indoctrination at the level of the neurons. 

Also the west should protect its muslim citizens. But reject multiculturalism. And reject muslim immigrants unless they declare their apostasy and reject their former cult. And offer assylum to the poor and unfortunate people who are surrounded by a culture they reject. t

Glen, some of your last paragraph was appealing, and feeds into American thoughts about immigration in general.  Protect muslims  /reject multiculturalism / reject non-apostastasized mulslims / asylum to those they persecute.  The devil may  lie in the details.  Do you see some internal contradiction in the concepts?  Does rejection of Islam interfere with separation of church and state / freedom of religion?

As others have said this is a problem that wont be solved in the short term.

Any military response is going to be limited in benefit at best and more likely to attract more of the disaffected muslim youth from around the world.

For me its a simple mantra that has to be repeated to beat ISIS and other such groups..

Educate to eliminate.

That's all. It wont be a short victory, and things are likely to get worse before they get better but eventually the general populace will have had enough and peace will win out.

As similar thing happened in Northern Ireland, although that process is yet to be complete. Eventually the desire to live peaceful normal lives won out over sectarianism.

To be honest though my real fear isn't present day ISIS, its the ISIS, or similar group that wins Afghanistan. Once that happens Pakistan will fall within years and they are a Nuclear armed state. Imagine that awful weaponry in the hands of those madmen.


Of the people who have posted above, Nick Bottom came closest to identifying a tactic well known to those who do hardball politics: take out the leaders and the followers resume their former less aggressive activities.

If we here were to list the many ways to take out leaders, co-opting might appear. Or might not.




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