Category Archives: Mid East other / S Asia

Is The Islamic State Really Such a Psychological Enigma?

by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening!, 1/7/15

The costly debacle known as the Iraq War put the US government in a tough spot that’s now exacerbated by the rise of the Islamic State in Anbar Province and western Syria.

A recent New York Times story referred to the Islamic State (also ISIS or ISIL) as a “conundrum” — “a hybrid terrorist organization and a conventional army.” The focus of the story was Major General Michael Nagata, who heads something within the Pentagon known as the Strategic Multilayer Assessment. The Times called it an “unofficial brain trust outside the traditional realms of expertise within the Pentagon, State Department and intelligence agencies, in search of fresh ideas and inspiration.” Besides this theoretical effort to delve into the psychology of the Islamic State, General Nagata has been assigned by President Obama the practical battlefield task of training local Syrian and Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.

Major General Michael Nagata, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Camp Bucca and the Islamic State leader todayMajor General Michael Nagata, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Camp Bucca and the Islamic State leader today

“We do not understand the movement,” General Nagata said of the Islamic State. “And until we do, we are not going to defeat it. We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.”…

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Even if we defeat the Islamic State, we’ll still lose the bigger war

by Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Post, 10/3/14, excerpt:

Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.

Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew….

read the full article at Washington Post

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The War of the Heads

by John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 9/30/2014

Ain’t no time to wonder why.
Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.
– Country Joe McDonald

I like to call it The War of the Heads. ISIS beheads people one-on-one, up-close-and-personal on You Tube while the United States of America and its coalition of cautious or secret partners prefers “decapitation,” as in using powerful F16 bombs and drone rockets to whack off metaphoric heads.

It’s easy to work up a vengeful frenzy sitting on our couches watching the medieval slicing off of heads. Especially when it’s heads we recognize! It’s harder to get worked up about people we don’t know who die much more horrible deaths in the buildings we obliterate in an instant. We sometimes watch the buildings go up in a fiery cloud on our TV screens. But not to worry, no one is doing You Tube videos of the heads and torsos inside the buildings incinerated into a fine dust of biological matter and concrete. You have to be a local Arab or Muslim helping to drag the extant pieces of humanity out of the buildings to feel the call to vengeance from these F16 and drone hits….

continue reading at This Can’t Be Happening

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Isis

excerpt from Doug Muder, “Unwarranted,” The Weekly Sift, 8/25/14

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria beheaded American journalist James Foley — and posted the video on YouTube — after the U.S. government refused a 100 million Euro ransom demand and a rescue attempt failed. This sparked a lot of discussion about widening the U.S. involvement in Iraq beyond the current air strikes.

I don’t doubt that a lot of people in ISIS are bad guys. But it gets old watching the pro-war spin machine work. Once again, we face a group of insane, unstoppable monsters far worse than the last group of insane, unstoppable monsters we were warned about. Rick Perry thinks they’re coming over the Mexican border, and a former CIA deputy director warns us that they could get an AK-47 and shoot up a mall — not because either man has any evidence that such things are in the process of happening, but because we have a new name for the Boogie Man.

The problem with the panic-mongering is that it just raises the pressure to do something. It doesn’t increase the effectiveness of any of the somethings we might do. Couldn’t we someday have a rational discussion of what our options really are, and what good or bad things are likely to result from the various things we might do?

[n.b.”Every war, when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” — George Orwell]

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