The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria-Levant
I’ve been wondering why a militant Arab organization chose an English acronym to advertise its jihadist movement. After all, if it feels obligated to occasionally kill co-religionists, shouldn’t it do so under a banner written in its own language: Al-Dawlah al-Islāmīyah fī al-ʻIrāq wa-al-Shām.?
Maybe ISIS thought its Arab name would not trip so lightly off the tongues of Englsh language television commentators, nor prove to be a memorable catch phrase with western audiences. Tis indeed a mouthful for non-believers.
Regardless, I have for too long been subjected to the shenanigans of Hamas, Mossad,Taliban, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Syria and all the Arabs and Jews who perennially kill each other, without regard for collateral damage. ISIS is only the latest and most virulent of the lot. As George Orwell predicted, war, in this case terror, has become a constant presence, distracting us from the unquenchable greed and insufferable stupidity of those who find chaos politicallyuseful and profitable. Religion, politics and money are fracking civilians. War has become boring and death mundane.
Which brings me to our own shenanigans. We are as militant as Jihadists and Jews. Rather than kick our bloviating politicians in their asses, the dictators of our publicly owned airwaves are allowed to maintain a 24 hour middle-east Jamboree. So screw our fellow citizens, those who lost their homes and dignity in New Orleans, our young students and their parents strung too tightly by usurious fees and our middle-class wealth subsumed in the maw of Wall Street. These are too depressing for western television and, methinks, too dangerous. Our media provide suicide bombers, rockets and amputees as diversions from our home land casualties.
So, what’s to be done? In his book The Limits of Power, the End of American Exceptionalism , Andrew J. Bacevich [1.] suggests, among other things, the United States dissengage itself from the middle east and allow them to get themselves sorted out without any intervention from us or anybody else, Much like the Russians and the Chinese have done and Christianity did during its Reformation.
Bacevich’s strategy reminds me of the New York City policeman who, when asked if he was concerned about a spate of mob killings, said, “As long as they’re killing each other I don’t see any reason to interfere.”
Apologists for imperialism stress a need to bring freedom to millions of people oppressed by malevolent dictators. Their impetus is merely a version of The White Man’s Burden (1899), subtitled The United States and the Philippine Islands, a poem by Rudyard Kipling in which he expresses a vision of men like himself civilizing the world. Today our burden has been updated to favour oil companies and armorers, otherwise the goal remains unchanged. Take all the natural resources we can use. That’s what the Brits did and it’s what we’re doing now. A profit motivated aggression hidden behind obfuscation, disambiguation and a war on terror.
An intense loathing by much of the world has been our reward. Now the world’s un-washed are fighting back and the only answer we can muster is, “Let’s drop the big one now. They don’t like us anyhow”. [2.]
“It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
-Samuel Langhorne Clemens aka Mark Twain, on US policy viz a viz the Philippine Islands, New York Herald, October 15,1900. [3.]
[1.] Henry Holt & Co. – 2008. Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr.(1947-) is an American political scientist specializing in international relations, security studies, American foreign policy, and American diplomatic and military history. He studied at West Point Military Academy and Princeton University and is a retired U.S. Army Colonel. He teaches International Relations and History at Boston University. His son, also an officer in the U.S. Army, was killed in 2007 in Iraq.
[2.] From the Song, “Political Science” © 1969 by Randy Newman, BMI.
[3.] The 1898 Treaty of Paris, surrendered control of Cuba and ceded Puerto Rico, parts of the Spanish West Indies, the island of Guam, and the Philippines to the United States.