Friday, September 19, 2014

Islam is Islamic

"Whether in Iraq or in Syria, these terrorists will learn the same thing that the leaders of al-Qaeda already know: We mean what we say."
"We've always known that the end of the war in Afghanistan didn't mean the end of threats or challenges to America."
"The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq."
U.S. President Barack Obama

Puzzling, and opaque, as a threat the first statement promises what the last statement makes impossible. Air strikes are well and good enough, and the Islamic State capital in Raqqa Syria has seen a sudden disappearance of IS jihadis, forewarned that their days are numbered. But not really, since though they can doff their uniforms and mingle with the civilian population they are safe from being picked out as long as they cannot be differentiated from the air, though with boots on the ground they would be readily identified.

Precisely what General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, top military adviser to the president, stated when he said that if air strikes proved insufficient to rout the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham 'extremists', ground forces might be the way to go, and he would be prepared to so advise the Commander-in-Chief. Who lost no time in publicly disowning the statement. Advise Dempsey might, accept Obama won't. Unless he finds himself in a position where he cannot dissent.

Which has happened before. This is not a particularly resolute president, nor a particularly astute war-time president. Insecurity of decision-making is not a notable attribute of a good president. Everyone prefers peace to war, and a president should know when it is time to advance toward war to maintain peace. Except that, in his defence, this is the Middle East that is involved, and no amount of force in the hopes of exerting enough influence to turn Arab and Aryan Muslims toward civility among themselves has ever been seen to work.

It is often enough said that local problems must be locally solved. That this local problem has tentacles abroad capable of disrupting life and security elsewhere on the globe is a prime motivator for intervention. But to intervene in the belief that, being on the side of justice is sufficient requirement, the surprise is that in so doing, one must reflect that the countries involved in their Byzantine conflicts all flaunt versions of fanatical Islamist dysfunction.

The choice becomes one of supporting evil against evil, a job for the devil himself. While Barack Obama asserts that "No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim" is to be wholly (perhaps deliberately) ignorant of the history of Islam and the Middle East. And where all Muslims representing diverse interpretations of Islam believe that Islamic State is to be condemned, it will not be, since it presents as a living branch of traditional Islam, fundamentalist in its very nature.

Osama bin Laden and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood all have their support among the most esteemed clerics of Islam and those that rule the oil-rich countries of the Middle East. Their argument is with one another. And this intervention on the part of the United States and its allies to help the oppressed and the vast refugee population fleeing murder by their own rulers is interference in Islamic affairs. Whether Sunni or Shiite versions of Salafist Islam, they do represent Islam.

Has the 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the United Nations of Islam, offered to eradicate the atrocious presence of the Islamic State threatening the stability of the entire region? Not to anyone's notice. And do most of the globe's billion Muslims believe in Western intervention in Islamic affairs? Much doubted. Turkey, a NATO member and once considered the closest Muslim country to European sensibilities now refuses to allow its territory to be used to battle ISIS.

It has, after all, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other oil-wealthy regions, supported all those Islamist jihadis who have thrown in their lot with Islamic State. President Obama may insist that the Islamic State does not represent Islam, but the Islamic States that surround Iraq and Syria, feel that ISIS does indeed reflect the deepest held values in Islam.

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