Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hubris and history as well as competing agendas complicate and even corrupt our efforts against both ISIS and Ebola

Clearly the United States-led coalition dropping bombs on ISIS in Iraq and Syria is finding it increasingly difficult to find  ISIS targets, while the Kurdish fighters attempting to hold Kobani on the border with Turkey are also surrounded by hundreds of ISIS fighters, and likely to give way to an ISIS victory in that town.
We all know and concede that bombs will not eradicate Islamic terror. And we also know that even among what would normally be considered the "allied camp," the Turkish government is playing a very dangerous game, permitting terrorist fighters to enter Syria through their country and ISIS oil to be smuggled out through their country, while negotiating with the U.S. and the west on terms that could make it possible for them to join the ground war against ISIS. It is hard for those of us gathering little scraps of information coming from the conflict to ascertain whether the Turkish government considers ISIS more of an enemy that Assad, the dictator in Syria whom they allegedly despise.
What is clear is that the situation is more complicated than most would consider manageable. The conflicts within the larger conflict against ISIS seem to be creating  impediments that could sabotage the larger effort. And just this morning the question of "boots on the ground" is being debated in the Baghdad government, with the motion to ask the west to send in such troops requiring a unanimous vote in the Iraqi parliament. The Sunni tribes in the west of Iraq, allegedly alienated by the former Malaki government, and among the most sought after candidates for ground troops against their "Sunni" brothers in ISIS, could understandably resist supporting such a motion. The Turkish government is posing another potentially insurmountable hurdle to providing ground forces in Syria to engage in combat with the ISIS terrorists believing that ISIS poses the most serious threat to their hated enemy, Assad.
In the shadows, but never very far from the consciousness of both planners in the west and significant players in this gordion knot of a Greek tragedy, are both Iran and Russia. It is almost as if the universe has conspired to generate a theatre in which all of the Iago's of all of the potential participants have converged with their own respective nefarious and competing agendas, along with their shared addiction to violence as their chosen method of operating, to generate a cauldron of chaos that would make the witches in MacBeth astounded in awe.
Even John Milton would recoil in confusion if he could watch and listen to the emerging battle of the evil giants, comparable to the epic struggle in Paradise Lost. Which of the actors best warrants the comparison with Beelzebub, and with Satan and with the legions of characters supporting those leaders. Dante's Inferno is another of the literary images that come to mind when casting a nervous eye in the direction of projections about the direction and outcome of this boiling.
And, at the same time, one is prompted to ask, "Is the whole world analogous to the frog in the boiling pot, unable to sense its own demise until it is too late?"
This pot is not in the control of the coalition that continues to valiantly drop bombs. The limits of hard power, especially the hard power that was designed to defeat other states with giant bombs, have been reached and surpassed in the moveable and recurring fight against the Taliban, AlQaeda and the derivatives that have emerged like matastasizing tumors of Islamic terror. Not only is the hard power
obsolete, but so are all the strategies and tactics that have been stored in the text books in all of the military and surveillance intelligence libraries and hard drives in all of the conventional military establishments around the world.
And for the foreseeable future, the giants will continue to play catch-up to the more nimble and more sinister and increasingly well funded and trained and viscious combatants on the other side.
Having poured billions, even trillions into a defence establishment to purchase homeland security, too many western nations find themselves scratching their heads in bewilderment that this scourge could be so resistant to impairment, never mind destruction and defeat.
These is a wide gap between the thinking and the attitudes and the methods of the two "sides"....one committed and even addicted to the giant footprints of a military Goliath, determined to bring about an almost instant and heroic victory, the other committed to a century long conflict, if required, using whatever scraps of leftovers in military material and training objectives they can seduce to join their band of bandits. For those whose lives and careers have been spent in the military academies of the west, they could well be "insulted" by the pretense and the bravado of the terrorists. Their respective governments and populations are also wondering why these bandits and thugs can hold the rest of the world hostage while we scurry around using new laws and criminal investigations to stem the tide of recruits to the cause of the terrorists.
And the battle, not unlike that of a patio filled with affluent tourists chasing clouds of mosquitoes on their sea-side patio, could to a visitor from another planet, look quite ridiculous, given the size and military might of the affluent and the miniscule yet persistent hordes of insects.
Ridiculous, yet extremely and seductively dangerous.
It was one of the terrorists himself, hiding behind his facemask, who told the CBS reporter that he was appalled by the hypocrisy of the United States, his homeland. He also warned that every bomb would legitimize whatever violence might be and will be perpetrated on the homeland.
Evil has always sought and found its enemies most treasured traits and turned those very traits against their enemies. We have for too long placed way too much confidence and trust and even hope in those Hollywood-like protections, to our own peril. Just as the NRA wants all schools patrolled by armed guards, making every school child a pawn in the war between law enforcement and criminals who seek their own "stardom" the western governments have generated such high expectations among their populations that no political leader in most western countries dares not advocate and support these bombings in Syria and Iraq...not matter whether the rational to buy time to create on-the-ground fighters proves misleading.
Let's admit that on both ISIS and Ebola, all of the "power" and "strength" and super-structures of success in labs and war theaters of our collective past, are demonstrating themselves to be out of touch with the inordinate power of the bacteria and the terrorists. Let's admit that as we scramble, we are losing the fight in both theaters; we have become complacent and detached and culturally and psychically immune to these foreign powers. We have permitted our own unconsciousness, as we blithely and arrogantly believed that we were "in good hands" with both our governments and our doctors.
These weeks and months and even years, if they are to serve our grandchildren and their survival, will hopefully help us to shed our complaisance and our hubristic impunity that is empirically butterfly-wing fragile. It is our own denial of our fragile truth and reality that is most at risk in these turbulent months and years. Will we awaken in time to climb to a different level of consciousness, capable of integration of our pride and our humility, our strength and our vulnerability, and our differences and our shared needs and identities, in the face of common and shared enemies?

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