Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

What History Teaches Us about the Islamic State

What History Teaches Us about the Islamic State

The death cult's 13th-century origin story sheds grim light on mounting strikes in Syria.
By Crawford Kilian, December 2nd

It's easy but inaccurate to blame the Americans' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for the rise of "Islamism" -- a violent, dogmatic and fundamentalist version of Islam that thrives in social chaos, and which has now produced the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and Daesh.
If only it were that simple. Syrian historian and journalist Sami Moubayed argues that the 21st century is paying for the sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in the 13th century -- as well as for a couple of recent centuries of exploitation of the Arab peoples that also induced social chaos.
In the early 1200s, Europe was a dull, smelly backwater and Islam was a high civilization stretching from Moorish Spain to much of India and central Asia. The caliphate ruled from Baghdad over Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other sects. Science, engineering, architecture, poetry and trade all prospered..........

Bombing won't work
A radical variant of Islam that's survived persecution since the 14th century is not going to be bombed out of existence, any more than the Nazis' Blitz defeated Britain. Even exterminating 20,000 Islamists in Hama bought Hafez al-Assad only a few decades of peace.
It's hard to see what the secular nations can do about this. The vast majority of Muslims are clearly appalled by the Islamists (note that Syria's refugees do not seek shelter in Saudi Arabia). They can see how ISIS is manipulating us, encouraging anti-Muslim fear and loathing. If we reject ordinary Muslim refugees, they will find nowhere to run; eventually their choices will be the caliph or the deep blue Aegean.
Treating the Islamic State like North Korea would be problematic. Alienated young people would still try to reach it, or carry out terrorist attacks in its name. Money would still filter in and out, along with oil and weapons. Even the internet would likely still be accessible.

Invasion won't work either
Could a grand alliance of all secular nations, from the U.S. and Canada to Russia and China, overwhelm the Islamic State? Unlikely, as each would demand very different post-ISIS regimes (and borders) across the Middle East.
But we should know by now that ever since Genghis Khan, a military victory over Islam only stores up trouble for centuries to come. We are paying now for the stupidity of the Sykes-Picot agreement a century ago, with its arbitrary borders around artificial states like Syria and Iraq and Jordan (not to mention the very hazy borders around Israel).
A violent extirpation of the Islamic State would only ensure future nightmares. Anything less would keep it sputtering away for decades, like the colonial wars in Indochina and Northern Ireland.
Our best hope may be for a cooling of ISIS's expansionism and its willingness (to paraphrase Joseph Stalin) to settle for "Islamism in one state." That might lead to a negotiated settlement (or at least a cold war), under which ISIS could rule as it pleased over its patch of land in return for leaving its neighbours (and us) alone. 
Like Cuba, ISIS would suffer economically under many embargoes, and would still attract admirers. But the rest of us could get on with thrashing out climate change, which will produce enough refugees without ISIS adding to them. Like the equally noxious Saudis, ISIS may settle for comfortable survival amidst the unbelievers

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