The Purpose Of This Essay
This essay is intended to be a factual synthesis that helps to answer these questions:
1. What caused the ISIS militant group to arise, and why are they terrorists?
2. Why did ISIS attack Paris, killing 129 civilians on November 13, 2015?
This essay is addressed to young people, like American teenagers, who are on the brink of being launched into the dangerous and confusing world of today which we, the elders born in the 20th century, have brought to the present sorry state that we saw tragically displayed on the 13th of November of this year, in Paris.
Actually, tragedies of equal magnitude have occurred this same month in Beirut, Lebanon, and in Africa, and they occur on a nearly daily basis in Syria and Iraq. But, terrorist tragedies that occur in Europe and the United States easily get much more attention from Europeans and Americans. So, I will have to explain why there is ISIS terrorism in the first place, and then why Paris was one of its targets.
Since my intended audience will have no tolerance for my mincing of words, I will be direct, in a manner that I believe to be fair, and can thus guarantee that many of my peers will find objections of all sorts to what is written here. Since I have no ambitions to boost a career, nor win an election, nor inflate an ego, and while remembering that I have a promise to keep, I will proceed without concern.
I have used extensive excerpts from wikipedia, and the sources are cited. The graphics were found posted on the Internet.
In the above map note that Israel and the Palestinian Territories are grouped into the yellow area between Egypt, Jordan (Jo), Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea.
The island of Cypress is split between Greece and Turkey.
Iran is to the east (right) of Iraq.
The Egyptian Goddess Isis
Long before “ISIS” became associated with a militarized Sunni Islamic fundamentalist group primarily based in Syria and Iraq, “Isis” was the name of an ancient Egyptian goddess.
Isis is one of the supernatural beings in the polytheistic religion of ancient Egypt. Isis was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife, as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the falcon-headed deity associated with the king and kingship. Isis is also known as the protector of the dead, and goddess of children.
The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Roman empire and the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era. The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on from the fifth century in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus.
It is clear to me that many public figures, like President Obama, refer to the “ISIS” militancy by other labels so as not to tarnish the association of the word “Isis” with the lovely mythology of the goddess Isis, which most people had until recent years.
For more on the Egyptian goddess Isis, see:
ISIL: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, or simply Islamic State (IS), is a Wahhabi/Salafi jihadist extremist militant group and self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate, which is led by and mainly composed of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, and through loyal local groups has control over small areas of Libya, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia.
All the following paragraphs help to understand the meanings of the six terms: Islamic, Sunni, Wahhabi, Salafi, jihadist and caliphate.
A Muslim, sometimes spelled Moslem, relates to a person who follows the religion of Islam, a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. Muslims consider the Quran to be the verbatim word of God as revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. They also follow the teachings and practices of Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632 CE) as recorded in traditional accounts called hadith. “Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “one who submits (to God).”
A caliphate (khilāfa) is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph (khalīfah) — a person considered a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad (Muḥammad ibn ʿAbdullāh), and a leader of the entire Muslim community.
Sunni Islam is a denomination of Islam, which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s first caliph was his father-in-law Abu Bakr. Sunni Islam primarily contrasts with Shia Islam, which holds that Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib, not Abu Bakr, was his first caliph.
Sunni Islam is by far the largest denomination of Islam. As of 2009, Sunni Muslims constituted 87%-90% of the world’s Muslim population. Its adherents are referred to in Arabic as ahl as-sunnah wa l-jamāʻah, “people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah” or ahl as-sunnah for short. In English, its theological study or doctrine is called Sunnism, while adherents are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis, and Sunnites. Sunni Islam is the world’s largest religious body, followed by Roman Catholicism. Sunni Islam is sometimes referred to as “orthodox Islam”. The word “Sunni” is believed to come from the term Sunnah, which refers to the sayings and actions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad as recorded in the hadith.
Wahhabism or Wahhabi mission is a religious movement or branch of Sunni Islam. It has been variously described as “orthodox”, “ultraconservative”, “austere”, “fundamentalist”, “puritanical” (or “puritan”). Adherents characterize it as an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship” (tawhid), while opponents characterize it as an “extremist pseudo-Sunni movement.” Adherents often object to the term Wahhabi or Wahhabism as derogatory, and prefer to be called Salafi or muwahhid. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strictly Wahhabi state.
Jihad is an Islamic term referring to the religious duty of Muslims to maintain the religion. In Arabic, the word jihād means “to strive, to apply oneself, to struggle, to persevere”. A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural of which is mujahideen. The word jihad appears frequently in the Quran, often in the idiomatic expression “striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah),” to refer to the act of striving to serve the purposes of God on this earth.
Muslims and scholars do not all agree on its definition. Many observers — both Muslim and non-Muslim — as well as the Dictionary of Islam, talk of jihad having two meanings: an inner spiritual struggle (the “greater jihad”), and an outer physical struggle against the enemies of Islam (the “lesser jihad”), which may take a violent or non-violent form. Jihad is often translated as “Holy War,” although this term is controversial. According to “Orientalist” (historian of the Middle East) Bernard Lewis, “the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists”, and specialists in the hadith “understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense.” Javed Ahmad Ghamidi states that there is consensus among Islamic scholars that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against “wrong doers.”
[Religion is the most convenient excuse ever devised to justify inflicting cruelty on selected victims — “wrong doers.”]
Salafi jihadism or Jihadist-Salafism is a transnational religious-political ideology based on a belief in violent jihadism and the Salafi movement of returning to what adherents believe to be “true” Sunni Islam.
The term “jihadism” has been in use since about 2000, and “jihadism is used to refer to the most violent persons and movements in contemporary Islam, including al-Qaeda.” The term “jihadism” usually denotes Sunni Islamist armed struggle. Sectarian tensions led to numerous forms of Salafist and other Islamist jihadism in opposition of Shia Islam, Sufism (Sufism or Tasawwuf is, according to its adherents, the inner mystical dimension of Islam) and Ahmadiyya.
Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam.
[My good friend Hooshi is an Iranian Sufi]
Ahmadiyya is an Islamic religious movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908). Ahmadiyya adherents believe that Ahmad appeared in the likeness of Jesus to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice, and peace. They believe that upon divine guidance Ahmad divested Islam of fanatical and innovative beliefs and practices by championing what is (in their view) Islam’s true and essential teachings as practiced by Muhammad and the early Islamic community. Thus, Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam.
Shia, an abbreviation of Shīʻatu ʻAlī (“followers/party of Ali”), is a denomination of Islam which holds that the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s proper successor as caliph was his son-in-law and cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. Shia Islam primarily contrasts with Sunni Islam, whose adherents believe that Muhammad’s father-in-law Abu Bakr, not Ali ibn Abi Talib, was his proper successor.
Adherents of Shia Islam are called Shias, or the Shi’a as a collective, or Shi’i individually. Shia Islam is the second-largest denomination of Islam: in 2009, Shia Muslims constituted 10%-13% of the world’s Muslim population, and between 68% and 80% of Shias live in four countries: Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, and India.
Shia consider Ali ibn Abi Talib to have been divinely appointed as the successor to Muhammad, and as the first Imam. The Shia also extend this “Imami” doctrine to Muhammad’s family, the Ahl al-Bayt (“the People of the House”), and certain individuals among his descendants, known as Imams, who they believe possess special spiritual and political authority over the community, infallibility, and other divinely-ordained traits.
The Alawites, also known as Alawis (ʿAlawīyyah), are a religious group centered in Syria who follow a very highly contested and controversial branch of Shia Islam. Today, Alawites represent 12 percent of the Syrian population and are a significant minority in Turkey and northern Lebanon.The majority of Syrians are Sunni.
Since Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970, the government of Syria has been dominated by an authoritarian political elite led by the Alawite Al-Assad family, with Bashar al-Assad as the head of state since the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000.
The modern Syrian state was established after World War I as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945 when Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which legally ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946.
Since 2011, the government of Bashar al-Assad has been waging a vicious war against the majority of the Syrian people, to remain in power. Today, the Syrian Civil War is an ongoing international armed conflict. It began in the early spring of 2011 within the context of “Arab Spring” protests [peaceful popular mass gatherings and marches throughout much of the Islamic Arab world, advocating democratic government and protesting corruption and repression]. Nationwide protests in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad’s government were met with violent crackdowns by military forces (troops firing on unarmed civilians, torture and murder of civilians taken prisoner). The conflict gradually morphed from prominent unarmed protests into an armed rebellion, after months of military sieges (which pushed many civilians to arm themselves, and portions of the Syrian Army to join the revolt).
From the early stages of the civil war, the Syrian government received technical, financial, military and political support from Russia, Iran and Iraq. In 2013, Iran-backed Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian Army.
Iran has been a Shia theocracy since 1979.
Iraq is majority Shia, with a Shia-dominant government since 2005.
Hezbollah (“Party of Allah” or “Party of God”) — is a Shi’a Islamist military force and political party based in Lebanon.
Russia has only one foreign military base (the U.S. has about 800), which is a naval base on Syria’s coast.
So, the allies of the al-Assad regime in Syria are the Shia powers of the Levant (the “Middle East”) and of Western Asia (Iran), and also Russia.
By August 2015, the territory fully controlled by the Syrian army was reported to be only about a sixth of the country, but in the most densely populated area, which lies between the Mediterranean coast (to the west) and the capital city of Damascus.
A United Nations report in late 2012 described the conflict as being “overtly sectarian in nature,” between mostly Alawite government forces, militias and other Shia groups fighting largely against Sunni-dominated rebel groups.
The Syrian Civil War is a fight between four “sides,” one side being the government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, and three sides being in opposition to the government, but also to each other. The four sides are:
1. The Assad regime with the help of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and Iraq.
The Syrian Army and its allied Iranian and Hezbollah troops have attacked mainly rebel-held (and civilian) areas and rebel forces that are supplied (largely through Turkey) by the oil-wealthy Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates) and Jordan.
The Syrian government forces have expended less effort against the Kurds (who are seeking to establish an autonomous Kurdish province in far northeast Syria, whether under the al-Assad government or its successor). The Kurds are an ethnic minority with a unique language, though still a large population, who want to establish their own country in the territory near the junctions of the borders of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Kurdish struggle has gone on for decades.
The Syrian government forces also seem to expend as little energy against ISIL (ISIS) as they can manage without suffering major loses. The Syrian government has tried to make it easier for ISIL to attack other rebel groups. The Syrian government buys oil from ISIL, which ISIL pumps out of oil wells it has captured in eastern Syria, and this oil helps keep the Syrian Army fueled.
Because Assad’s forces were slowly losing ground, Russia intervened in September 2015 and only bombed rebel positions, not ISIS. However, in its effort to regain territory for Assad, the Russians did attack ISIS targets in late October. So, ISIS retaliated by blowing up a Russian passenger airplane in Egypt on October 31, so by the first of November Russia was at full-scale war with ISIS, as France had been even before November 13, when the ISIS attack in Paris occurred.
2. The Kurds
The Kurds (who are Muslims) are motivated by a strong desire for a homeland where they can be free from domination by other ethnicities, and free from discrimination and oppression (as has happened in Iraq in the past, and as is always the case in Turkey). The Kurds are determined fighters against ISIS, which is both an ideological enemy (extreme Salafist “religious” violence against ‘not fundamentalist enough’ Muslims, and all non-Muslims) and a territorial competitor (the ISIL goal of creating its theocratic state, a caliphate that absorbs the countries of the Islamic world). The US supports the Kurds in Syria with arms, money and even the participation of US Special Forces teams, because the Kurds are determined fighters against ISIL.
3. Syrian Rebel Groups
The moderate and secular Syrian rebel groups have largely evaporated due to the length and harshness of the war, and to their lack of foreign military support in comparison to the Salafist Syrian groups who were favored by the undemocratic oil-wealthy Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Gulf States. Along with that influx of Sunni wealth, these Syrian Salafist groups gained many foreign volunteers.
The U.S. had been a tepid supporter of “moderates” because it was opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad both because it is just a horrible, criminally abusive government, and also unfortunately because Israel opposes Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, and the U.S. has a major problem of not being able to untangle its national interests and foreign policy actions from Israeli ambitions.
The money from the Arabian Gulf States given to oppose the al-Assad regime is converted into arms and supplies that are funneled to Syrian Salafist rebel groups through Turkey, Jordan and Israel. With the loss of a non-Salafist Syrian opposition to al-Assad, the Obama Administration has become frustrated because it neither likes the al-Assad (Alawite-Shia) regime nor any possible Salafist (fundamentalist Sunni) successor to it, and because it is alarmed at the increased threat of terrorism worldwide from groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL, which have grown so rapidly in the destruction, chaos and power vacuum created by the Syrian Civil War.
It is important to note that France and some other US allies (Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom) had joined the U.S. in its support of Kurdish and non-Salafist Syrian rebels. France, which has had a long association with Syria (structuring the modern Syrian state and putting the Alawites in positions of power during its mandate of 1920 to 1946; and being a major arms supplier after), was even carrying out aerial bombing of ISIL targets before November 13, 2015. France has the largest Muslim population of any European country.
ISIL is in the Syrian Civil War solely to carve out and then expand its extremely inhuman fundamentalist Islamic (by ISIL’s definition) state, its caliphate. ISIL has put most of its aggressive effort into fighting the rebel groups opposing the al-Assad regime, murdering its captives, and into enslaving women and savagely abusing the civilian population in the territories it overruns.
Syrian Civil War
Syria’s War: A 5-minute History (video)
14 October 2015
ISIL/ISIS is an offshoot of al-Qaeda, so to help understand ISIL/ISIS I will first describe al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda (al-qāʿidah, “The Base”, “The Foundation” or “The Fundament”) is a global militant Islamist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam and several others at some point between August 1988 and late 1989, with origins traceable to the Arab volunteers who fought against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and an Islamist, extremist, wahhabi jihadist group. It has been designated as a terrorist group by the United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United States, Russia, India, and various other countries. Al-Qaeda has carried out many attacks on targets it considers kafir (a derogatory term meaning “unbeliever,” “disbeliever,” or “infidel”).
Al-Qaeda has mounted attacks on civilian and military targets in various countries, including the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings (Nairobi, Kenya), the September 11 attacks (New York City, Washington D.C., an airliner over Pennsylvania), and the 2002 Bali bombings. The U.S. government responded to the September 11 attacks by launching the “War on Terror.”
With the loss of key leaders, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s operations have devolved from actions that were controlled from the top down, to actions by franchise associated groups and lone-wolf operators. Characteristic techniques employed by al-Qaeda include suicide attacks and the simultaneous bombing of different targets. Activities ascribed to it may involve members of the movement who have made a pledge of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, or the much more numerous “al-Qaeda-linked” individuals who have undergone training in one of al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Sudan but who have not taken that pledge.
Al-Qaeda ideologues envision a complete break from all foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new worldwide Islamic caliphate. During the Syrian Civil War, al-Qaeda factions started fighting each other, as well as the Kurds and the Syrian government.
Among the beliefs ascribed to al-Qaeda members is the conviction that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam. As Salafist jihadists, they believe that the killing of non-combatants is religiously sanctioned, but they ignore any aspect of religious scripture which might be interpreted as forbidding the murder of non-combatants and internecine fighting (fighting between Muslims). Al-Qaeda also opposes what it regards as man-made laws, and wants to replace them with a strict form of sharia law (a body of moral and religious law derived from religious prophecy in the Quran and the Hadith, as opposed to human legislation).
Al-Qaeda is also responsible for instigating sectarian violence among Muslims. Al-Qaeda leaders regard liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other sects as heretics and have attacked their mosques and gatherings. Examples of sectarian attacks include the Yazidi community bombings, the Sadr City bombings, the Ashoura massacre and the April 2007 Baghdad bombings (all in Iraq). Since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, the group has been led by the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
ISIL began as al-Qaeda of Iraq, and grew during the early part of the American occupation of that country between 2003 and 2011. After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States by 19 al-Qaeda operatives (most Saudis) inspired by Osama bin Laden (a Saudi who was in Afghanistan and then Pakistan), the George W. Bush Administration exploited the national sense of hurt, and easily manipulated popular desire for vengeance, by launching a war of opportunity in 2003 to topple the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq (Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks in the U.S.). The Bush Administration (2001-2008) aim was to install a government of its liking in Iraq (and also to the liking of Israel), and then have US companies manage the Iraqi oil industry in a most profitable fashion (Iraq lies over major subterranean pools of high quality petroleum).
George W. Bush’s father, George Herbert Walker Bush, had been president during the first US war against Iraq, in 1991 (to eject Iraq out of the Gulf State of Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded with the intention of annexing). Also, George H. W. Bush had been vice president in the Reagan Administration (1981-1988), during which the US government supported Saddam Hussein in his eight year war against Iran. The U.S. supplied Saddam Hussein with data on Iranian troop positions, observed by US satellites. The US also allowed Saddam Hussein to buy the equipment he needed to develop chemical weapons, and these were used against Iranian troops. Donald Rumsfeld, who would manage the war against Iraq in 2003, had been Saddam Hussein’s US contact person to accomplish all the deals made during the Reagan Administration. It is estimated that up to one million people died in the Iran-Iraq War.
The first members of ISIL were Sunni military officers from the Army of Saddam Hussein, who along with all members of Saddam’s government bureaucracy and military officer corps, were barred (by the US occupation authorities) from any role in the post-Saddam government of Iraq. This was not only a loss of career and status, but a loss of being able to earn a living, since the only real jobs left after the American invasion (and destruction of Iraqi industry, infrastructure and utilities) were government jobs under the American occupation.
The first election after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, in 2005, finally brought Shia representatives into positions of some political power. Because the country was majority Shia, and as they had been held back from major political power under Saddam Hussein, the Shia took advantage of electoral politics to make themselves the masters of subsequent Iraqi governments. This was a brutal process that included large-scale and vicious sectarian strife: scores of murders and counter-murders on a daily basis for years. The Sunnis now felt excluded from power and vulnerable in every way. A country in which Sunni-Shia marriages and mixed neighborhoods had been common in the days of Saddam Hussein now became one of ethnically separated and feuding enclaves, with many murderous militias at large.
Among these militias was al-Qaeda of Iraq, a group of embittered, radicalized Sunnis with military training who hated Shias, Israel, America and the entire idea of Western Civilization. These were men who knew how sweet the taste of power could be, and were ambitious, ruthless and capable enough to acquire such power “again” by taking advantage of the divisive political squabbles, cowardice and corruption of their political opponents, the lack of military expertise of their religious opponents, and the power vacuum that existed in Iraq in the aftermath of the Bush Administration’s Iraq War of 2003, and the power vacuum which developed in Syria after 2011.
Al-Qaeda of Iraq became so “notoriously intransigent” and pathologically violent that in early 2014 the main al-Qaeda network cut off any association with al-Qaeda of Iraq, which then became ISIL. In Syria, ISIL conducted ground attacks on both government forces and rebel factions involved in the Syrian Civil War. ISIL gained prominence after it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in western Iraq in an offensive initiated in early 2014. Iraq’s territorial loss almost caused a collapse of the Iraqi government and prompted a renewal of US military action in Iraq. ISIL recovered perhaps up to a billion dollars worth (?) of serviceable US military equipment (arms, ammunition, missiles, transport vehicles) left in Iraq after the US withdrawal in 2011, and also arms and equipment (originally from the US) dropped by the panicked Iraqi Army fleeing south and east back to Baghdad rather than facing the ISIL advance in 2014.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq
3 June 2015
What You Need to Know about The Origin of ISIS (video)
16 November 2015
[Libertarian viewpoint of Antiwar.com & Ron Paul]
1. What caused the ISIS militant group to arise, and why are they terrorists?
ISIL/ISIS is a militant fundamentalist Sunni group seeking to establish a medieval Islamic state in the territory of the Levant and Iraq. It is a movement by Sunni Islamic men who see no place for themselves in today’s Westernized (and feminized) world, and as a result want to eliminate any trace of it by violent means. They wish to exercise temporal power as the privileged members of a caliphate that has oil-wealth, enslaved women, and compels adherence to the ISIL view of what constitutes allowable religious practice and social conventions.
The destruction of the country of Iraq in 2003 by the Bush Administration’s war created the situation of unrecoverable loss of career potential, livelihood and personal safety for former Sunni government officials and military men, who were now living in a ruined country of unrestrained lawlessness and blood feuds under an American occupation. The ideology of al-Qaeda of Iraq was nourished by this environment, and ISIL mushroomed out of it.
The destruction of the country of Syria after 2011 because of the murderous brutality of the Bashar al-Assad regime in clinging to power against the majority will of the Syrian people created the situation of a loss of livelihood and personal safety for millions of people (many now refugees), and the collapsing of civil authority over much of the country’s territory, creating tracts of lawless power vacuum. This environment allowed for the maintenance, strengthening and growth of ISIL.
The wasteful, knuckle-headed short-sightedness of the US Defense Department and the G. W. Bush and the Obama Administrations in allowing so much serviceable US military equipment to simply be abandoned in Iraq, and then left behind after the US withdrawal in 2011, became a gift to the arming of ISIL and the increasing of its destructive capabilities and political power.
2. Why did ISIL/ISIS attack Paris, killing 129 civilians on November 13, 2015?
ISIL/ISIS suffered losses of commanders, fighters, territory, arms, equipment, oil wells (income) and prestige as a result of air strikes by the United States, France and Russia during October 2015. So, ISIL sought to avenge itself on each of these enemies. It managed to blow up a Russian airliner with 224 vacationers and crew, in Egypt on October 31, 2015, and to shoot 129 French civilians dead in Parisian restaurants and a concert hall on November 13, 2015.
Besides the immediate tit-for-tat nature of such attacks, these actions fit into the larger unfolding of ISIL’s apocalyptic vision — it sees itself as the agent for the ending of the world as we know it.
What ISIS Really Wants
My Message To You
Lead a life of fearless kindness, fearless creativity, with critical thinking, and be proud to maintain a good moral character and a happy disposition. Then, regardless of what twists and turns your life takes and whatever its length, you will always be able to look back without major regrets. Also, you will be an individual that others experience in a positive fashion, and in that way you will be a carrier of light rather than a veiling darkness in human society.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” — Dalai Lama
Father and Son have the most precious conversation about Paris attacks
(Le Petit Journal) (video)
16 November 2015
The ever alert Louis Proyect (http://louisproyect.org/) pointed me to the article, linked below, by “here-comes-the-tumbleweed.” That article is about the nuances necessary to accurately describe the varied groups in opposition to the al-Assad regime.
The concluding (and fundamental) point of here-comes-the tumbleweed’s article is that Western observers (leftists are assumed), who claim to support the liberation struggles of foreign people against oppression and imperialism, should be consistent (in the case of Syrians) rather than only supporting such liberation struggles if they can be seen as resistance to US and Western imperialism.
Here-comes-the-tumbleweed is dismayed that many bleeding-heart Western leftists would dismiss the non-Salafist Syrian opposition to al-Assad (dismissing the entire opposition as Salafist and made up of al-Qaeda types, which is pure al-Assad propaganda) solely because such leftists see the massive Russian and Iranian intervention (which is imperialism) on the side of al-Assad as being some kind of worthwhile counter to US “imperialism” (in this case defined as its tepid support of some Syrian opposition groups).
This entire article reminds me that Arthur Koestler was making this same point to leftists (about opposition to Stalinism), and this has been very clearly described by Tony Judt in his 1998 (actually 2008) book “Reappraisals.”
A Belated Response to Glenn Greenwald
In Koestler’s day the idea was that opposition to Stalinism (e.g., 1953 East German revolt, 1956 Hungarian Revolt) did not have to equate to favoring US imperialism, or being fascist.
Here-comes-the-tumbleweed’s version of this idea is that opposition to al-Assad’s brutal oppression, which is massively supported by Russian and Iranian imperialism (their foreign interventions in Syria), does not have to equate to favoring US and Western imperialism in the Levant. Basically, here-comes-the-tumbleweed is scolding leftists, who would sacrifice a people struggling for liberation from oppression, as being today’s Stalinists, “conservatives” as he justifiably calls them.
The fundamental duality here is that between those who favor “order” in societies (the Stalinists) versus those who accept some sloppiness and even political chaos because they believe “freedom” (personal and political) is more important for the overall well-being of the society. Raymond Aron wrote on this duality, and he and it are also described by Tony Judt.
Today’s Stalinists are obsessed to oppose “US imperialism” even at the cost of maintaining brutal and oppressive regimes that are deemed to be “anti US-imperialist,” and even to the point of supporting imperialism by powers designated as anti US-imperialist. Reductio ad absurdum. “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
Actually, Tony Judt’s book “Reappraisals” was published in 2008. Highly recommended.
Other books to note:
Tony Judt, “The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century,” 1998.
Raymond Aron, “Politics and History,” published in 1978 (translated to English from French) is a collection of his essays. In Aron’s essay “A Liberal Definition of Freedom,” he describes the duality, or yin-yang of “freedom” and “equality of conditions.” This essay is a fascinating dialog between Alexis de Tocqueville and Karl Marx, where both men are written about appreciatively.