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Letters from Downunder

Sleeping with the enemy

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

I am the enemy you killed, my friend. Wilfred Owen, 1918

(5/2015) There is no question that the emergence of the radical Islamic group known as ISIS is the most appalling international event of the 21st century. Their aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate would be ludicrous if they were not so hell-bent on it, while their apparent success shows that their appeal to disaffected and radicalized Muslim youth throughout the world has struck a chord, allowing fundamentalist clerics and their converts using social media to blind the young to the real message of the prophet, which is, in part, one of co-existence and tolerance.

This seems to have created an almost insoluble problem for the west, especially for America and its allies. it is, however, a problem of their own making, one whose origins can be found in the development of American foreign policy and aims. Without going into the history – often murky, generally devious, and well documented - ISIS is actually part of a continuing revolt against American imperialism. This is something you may not like to hear, because imperialism, that horrid old-fashioned colonial concept, has been redefined by you so that it now means ‘being policeman to the world.’

And, as police, the idea of bringing stability to a country or region is an easy sell, even after inducing the instability yourself. Everyone wants stability, even the people in the unstable country – to begin with, at least – but the reality has never taken long to be realised. The stability, the economic benefits, the splendor of democracy as touted has only ever been an avenue for exploitation. This was the whole purpose of imperialism, like it or not. Police are not noted for their peaceful natures, and in the case of imperial police they have never been kind or caring of the populace, something their masters approved of as they took their payments for the ‘liberation.’

And this is the point: Everyone suffers, especially the young; those that love their country, the academics, and left wingers, the worker - everyone to whom their country is their home, no matter the tribulations – all except the puppets you put in place to dance to the strings, and even they get out to do their own thing as soon as they can. The list of such bringings of peace is long; you can easily look it up (see ‘Blowback’ by Chalmers Johnson) but for every puppet there are a million or more disaffected locals. In most cases - in fact up until now - they were not organised, had no cause but their suffering, and more importantly, no rallying cry.

The shift to terrorism as revenge by the Taliban (and then others) grew exponentially after the gulf war, with the first violent act the 9/11 atrocity. The U.S. reaction was as swift as it was unconsidered. Rhetoric was ramped up, the reasons for the act ignored, and outrage was the order of the day. It still is, and congress still barely understands the outrage that was the root cause of the act. And now the ISIS rallying cry, so irresistible to many young people, is also misunderstood. Islam is not responsible for ISIS, but ISIS has taken the name of the prophet as a rallying point, subverting the truth for their cause. They believe they are right, just as you believed you were right when you interfered with and altered the running of another country to suit your own ends. Sure, ISIS is openly violent, beyond the rule of law, but their hatred will never be reasoned with, and their appeal grows with every act of reprisal; disquiet can be ramped up to antagonism, and when religious intolerance is added the overwhelming need to address 21st century imperialism becomes the ideal to which the young new zealot is converted. Their deaths then becomes the welcome price to pay, there is no such idea as logic, all others are infidels, and as we are seeing, such cancers are unstoppable by any approved means.

Indeed, killing them makes it worse, giving more impetus to others to take up the cause – remember the sorcerer’s apprentice? – while saying ‘sorry about the gulf wars, sorry about Afghanistan ’ is impossible and far too late. Yes, grinding them into the sand would be one way to finish them, but their cause would go on, their vengeance become more devious and terrible, and the middle east destroyed.

There is, however, a surprisingly simple answer, 100% guaranteed to work, but totally unpalatable.

The real power of ISIS is in its victories. No one joins losers, zealots included. Territory is position. Manifestos become actions, words take on truth, and this the recruits see and believe. A just cause is appealing, but it all rests on winning the war. And this can be stopped by depriving them of weapons. All wars need weapons, and ISIS has enough to overcome the opposition. Where do these weapons come from? Why, America! Not all of them, but mostly, so here we have one of the craziest situations the world has ever seen.

How do you run a war on terror when your economy survives by supplying arms to the terrorists? And also depends in part on making the armaments used to run that war? It may be argued that if you did not make those sales someone else would, but apart from that immoral response, those groups could be persuaded not to – persuasion being one of your great strengths. After all, apart from ISIS, who wants to continue this appalling situation? Oh yes. The arms sellers. I wonder why this is never brought to our attention, why our news is very silent on the subject?

And I wonder how you can live with yourselves. Because the real enemy is your armaments manufacturers, and thus your government. Talk about living off immoral earnings, (and we are as culpable as you), this impossible conflict is in stark contrast to any other, as fire is being used to quell fire, retaliation is anointed with vengeance. But then, what’s a few more deaths, a bit more terror, a lot less liberty? Oh yes, we have to consider employment. We have to respect the armed forces. And we can all live happily ever after, always anxious, almost terrified, but secure in the knowledge that terrorists will not ever rule us. Oh yes? Depends on where you look.

ISIS wishes to establish a caliphate. Let them. Ensure the only weapons they have are those of the earlier caliphates – swords.

Lindsay, marginally safer down under

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker