Sunday, August 17, 2014

Can and will the world come together to eradicate ISIS?

Whether or not the world is prepared to confront ISIS, ISIL, or whatever these thugs want to call themselves, is still an open question. Whether or not the new iteration of Islamic terror is primarily the result of Assad's civil war in Syria, or the result of former Iraqi prime minister Maliki's pro-Shia approach, that excluded Sunni's from the government of Iraq seems almost a mute question, given the serious threat that these monsters pose for the Middle East, and much less hyperbolically that previously, to the "west".
What is facing the Obama administration, and through it the principal countries comprising the
G7, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, China, Canada (currently excluding Putin's Russia, now destined to reinstate spying capability in Cuba, after having forgiven some $32Billion in Cuban debt to the former Soviet Union) is the primary question of how to bring ISIS to heel, how to dismantle it, disarm it, destroy it....whatever verb seems appropriate...in order to rid the world of the scourge that threatens not only the land regions of Syria and Iraq, but potentially the way of life that includes both religious tolerance and some form of democracy, in order to accomplish their "holy" caliphate.
Iran's hands, arms, weapons and financial support are all over the former Maliki government's Shia leanings, excluding the Sunnis, and whether the new prime ministers, also a Shiite, is really prepared to change course, is another of those questions to which the world will have to wait to learn the answer.
It was Richard Hass, appearing on GPS with Fareed Zakaria, who proposed that the United States ramp up support for the Kurdish forces currently fighting ISIS in Iraq, and help them move through the swiss-cheese boundary that used to exist between Iraq and Syria, and begin to take on the Assad regime, ironically also opposed by the ISIS terrorists.
Why doe the people of the Middle East appear to be facing one of two equally "bad" options, rule under a repressive and Iranian backed tyranny or life under another chapter of ISIS?
And can the world even contemplate one or  both of these options, given the west's reluctance to become fully engaged, with "boots on the ground" in what looks dangerously like a quagmire of military and civil as well as sectarian conflict?
Ethnic and religious "cleansing" as a way to describe the overt mass killings of the encircled Tazidis on Sanjir mountain in northwest Iraq, likely to be renamed Kurdistan very shortly, seems almost clinical and antiseptic, given the impact on families and children. Is the world truly horrified about the massacre of this religious minority, given the hundreds of Syrians who have been slaughtered over the last three years plus in that conflict, without the west using air strikes to defeat Assad?
Or have the western leaders come to the place where avoiding military intervention in Syria is no longer a viable option, given the stronghold that ISIS has established there, far beyond what most observers would or could have predicted only a few months ago?
Of course, recruiting among the Islamists is galloping along, apparently including hundreds at least from many western countries, who, having converted to Islam, are seduced by the brainwashing propaganda of this version of the faith, including the promise of some kind of eternal paradise for those who volunteer to serve as suicide bombers. "National Security" is now the phrase that many observers are using, in reference to the dangers posed indirectly to countries like the United States, and potentially Canada, from these Islamic terrorists, trained to fight in ISIS camps, but potentially returning under their native passports, to inflict harm back home.
Fighting the last war, a theme that attends most conversations about how the western countries approach their military threats, is clearly no longer a viable option, given the dramatic changes that have evolved both through western inaction and from western action since 9/11. The course of Middle East geopolitics has changed dramatically, following the Arab Spring, that eruption that initially promised hope and change from dictatorships to democracies, for those of us naïve enough
to have swallowed that pipe dream. Violence, from and through the rapid growth and development of Islamic radicals, supported by sinister forces both civil and state from the Middle East itself, is now the norm in Syria, Iraq, as well as between Israel and Gaza with Hamas fighting under the umbrella of Iran, while she negotiates with the Group of 5 + 1 over whether or not she will be enabled to develop highly enriched nuclear materials, some fear that could be used in a bomb.
While there are attempts at diplomatic negotiations among and between "state" actors, it is clear that there can be no negotiation with ISIS, that Islamic terrorism, like Ebola, has to be stopped, stamped out and eradicated....and also just like Ebola, there is no known "cure" or political protocol that can or will achieve such an eradication...
The world is facing very dangerous threats from many quarters, spawned it seems by those ready and eager to inflict death and devastation, no matter whether military action is taken against them or not.
Quarantine is a medical tradition, that could help in the Ebola crisis; however, a similar measure is extremely difficult to impose against ISIS, if not impossible. And this ISIS cancer will not "spend itself out" if all carriers are quarantined; in fact, it has demonstrated the capacity to morph into whatever form and shape is needed, above ground and public, or underground and much more secret, depending on the ways in which it views the world's attempt to stop them.
Education, employment and the provision of good food and health care, while necessary in the long run to dry up the pool of recruits to ISIS, will take too long to remove the current threat. We have to come together, as this space has argued for months, as a world community, to put our intellectual, political, military, intelligence and creative capacities and skills together, to devise and to execute a short- medium and long-term strategy to eliminate this movement from our lives.
And we do not have much time.....and even the most responsible political leaders are now expressing similar views. They are no longer the exclusive rant of those who see the apocalypse in every outbreak of violence.

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