Archive for the ‘ISIS’ Category

Speech to this year’s J Street conference

So let me be very clear: to oppose the policies of a right-wing government in Israel does not make one anti-Israel or an anti-Semite. We can oppose the policies of President Trump without being anti-American. We can oppose the policies of Netanyahu without being anti-Israel. We can oppose the policies of Islamic extremism without being anti-Muslim.

Source: On Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Palestinians | Common Dreams

By Danny Sjursen, TomDispatch | News Analysis

US Air Force members prep for an in-air refueling mission over Iraq, August 11, 2014. (Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr. / US Air Force)

The United States has already lost — its war for the Middle East, that is.

The United States has already lost — its war for the Middle East, that is. Having taken my own crack at combat soldiering in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that couldn’t be clearer to me. Unfortunately, it’s evidently still not clear in Washington. Bush’s neo-imperial triumphalism failed. Obama’s quiet shift to drones, Special Forces, and clandestine executive actions didn’t turn the tide either. For all President Trump’s bluster, boasting, and threats, rest assured that, at best, he’ll barely move the needle and, at worst… but why even go there?

At this point, it’s at least reasonable to look back and ask yet again: Why the failure? Explanations abound, of course. Perhaps Americans were simply never tough enough and still need to take off the kid gloves. Maybe there just weren’t ever enough troops. (Bring back the draft!) Maybe all those hundreds of thousands of bombs and missiles just came up short. (So how about lots more of them, maybe even a nuke?)

Lead from the front. Lead from behind. Surge yet again… The list goes on — and on and on.

And by now all of it, including Donald Trump’s recent tough talk, represents such a familiar set of tunes. But what if the problem is far deeper and more fundamental than any of that?

Here our nation stands, 15-plus years after 9/11, engaged militarily in half a dozen countries across the Greater Middle East, with no end in sight. Perhaps a more critical, factual reading of our recent past would illuminate the futility of America’s tragic, ongoing project to somehow “destroy” terrorism in the Muslim world.

The standard triumphalist version of the last 100 or so years of our history might go something like this: in the twentieth century, the United States repeatedly intervened, just in the nick of time, to save the feeble Old World from militarism, fascism, and then, in the Cold War, communism.  It did indeed save the day in three global wars and might have lived happily ever after as the world’s “sole superpower” if not for the sudden emergence of a new menace.  Seemingly out of nowhere, “Islamo-fascists” shattered American complacence with a sneak attack reminiscent of Pearl Harbor.  Collectively the people asked: Why do they hate us?  Of course, there was no time to really reflect, so the government simply got to work, taking the fight to our new “medieval” enemies on their own turf.  It’s admittedly been a long, hard slog, but what choice did our leaders have?  Better, after all, to fight them in Baghdad than Brooklyn.

What if, however, this foundational narrative is not just flawed but little short of delusional? Alternative accounts lead to wholly divergent conclusions and are more likely to inform prudent policy in the Middle East.

Let’s reconsider just two key years for the United States in that region: 1979 and 2003.  America’s leadership learned all the wrong “lessons” from those pivotal moments and has intervened there ever since on the basis of some perverse version of them with results that have been little short of disastrous.  A more honest narrative of those moments would lead to a far more modest, minimalist approach to a messy and tragic region.  The problem is that there seems to be something inherently un-American about entertaining such thoughts…

Source: The Misuse of US Power Has Left the Middle East in Chaos

Danny Sjursen

Major Danny Sjursen is a US Army strategist and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. He lives with his wife and four sons near Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Given the linguistic, geographic, and cultural diversity of the Muslim world, it is facile to suggest that Islam is the source of all these problems. There is after all very little relationship between the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and that practiced in Egypt, Malaysia, or the United States. To the extent that there are problems in Muslim-majority countries, it is far more likely that they arise from a shared history of colonialism, oppressive governance, poverty, disease, and war—especially over natural re-sources—than a common religious underpinning.

 

Source: Reclaiming Tradition: Islamic Law in a Modern World | International Affairs Review

Those who have been telling us that Islam, not just revolutionary Islamism, is a lethal threat to Western civilization should now feel satisfied: the US president and his main advisers agree with them. Less than a century ago, the same arguments were used to exclude and persecute Jews.

Source: The New Anti-Semitism by Ian Buruma – Project Syndicate

Isis is losing territory. Recruits are deserting. But the hardcore fanatics will never surrender

Paul Wood

…Last year I met an activist called Abu Ibrahim who runs a network that gets people out of Isis territory. ‘Most of those who go to the caliphate are true Muslims,’ he told me. ‘They are shocked when they get there and see what things are really like. It is horrible — for them it is either flee or commit suicide.’ He estimated that 40 per cent of foreign fighters wanted to leave. But desertion involves a terrifying risk. In one six-month period last year, 400 fighters were executed for disloyalty, according to his own source inside Isis. He managed to take out a handful before they were killed, including three Britons: two men and a woman…

Source: The truth about Islamic State: it’s in crisis » The Spectator

On Sunday, Riad Hijab, the head of the opposition’s high negotiations committee and a former Syrian prime minister, reiterated the opposition’s demand that airstrikes are halted and sieges around the country lifted, adding that Assad must leave for peace in Syria to take hold.

“Every day, hundreds of Syrians die from airstrikes and artillery bombardment, poison gas, cluster bombs, torture, starvation, cold and drowning,” said Hijab, speaking in Munich. “The Syrian people continue to live in terror and in utter despair after the international community failed to prevent even the gravest violations committed against them.

“The best approach to put an end to Daesh [Isis] and other extremist groups must start with the removal of the Assad regime.”

Source: Airstrikes hit hospitals in northern Syria | World news | The Guardian

Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks at a town hall on Wednesday. (Photo: Elise Amendola / AP)

Perhaps nothing captures the imperialist arrogance of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz more succinctly than his campaign’s statement declaring, “What is best for America is best for the world.” In addition to the obvious issue that billions of people around the world might disagree with Cruz on this point is the fact that it is not at all clear that the Republican presidential candidate’s proposed policies are even best for most Americans. But given his victory this past week in the Iowa caucus, Cruz’s ultra-conservative views can no longer be ignored while mainstream and progressive pundits busy themselves dissecting the bombastic rhetoric of the far less scary Donald Trump…

Source: Terrifying Ted and his Ultra-Conservative Vision for America | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community