Written by Christopher Putvinski and edited by Christopher Nash.
It has been almost 13 years to the day since the West, led by the US, invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and obliterate al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. Even after over a decade of war, the enemy sought all those years ago still pervades throughout the Middle East, menacing countries and countless numbers of people.
The Islamic State (IS), a group which now controls large swaths of Iraqi and Syrian territory, is its latest manifestation; a manifestation which shows that Islamic extremism has only been bolstered, not undermined.
The West has been struggling mightily to gain ground in this fight, and more likely than not has only succeeded in exacerbating the problem instead of mitigating it. IS, after all, is a mutation of al-Qaeda in Iraq, a group that emerged after the US’s invasion of that country.
Yet, we should not excuse or dismiss as an innocent bystander the ideology itself, an ideology its adherents want to impose, killing all those who disagree or oppose it in the process. This much was made clear in a recent statement released by IS, in which it stated that all Muslims abroad should kill all “disbelievers…in any manner.” One Frenchmen was kidnapped and subsequently executed by an IS-supporting group in Algeria, not even 24 hours after IS’s statement was released.
The West may be complicit in many of the underlying problems plaguing the Middle East today; the redrawing of the map after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the propping up of tyrannical dictatorships were not conducive to creating a future of stability. Much of the support radical groups such as IS have received is likely attributable to a distaste for the West, whether from the latter’s past or present actions.
However, the West is not guilty of fueling the vehemence that is wreaking havoc in Syria and Iraq, or the fervor that is causing problems in Nigeria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen or Somalia today. The bin Ladens of the day sounding the call to jihad really believe in what they preach, and will not be satisfied until their radical view on the world is one every living person has ingested.
This is the problem with Religious Fanaticism is the thinking that the only defensible response is to fight back, regardless of the form. Whether it be the Christian Fanatics who protest at funerals and have recently engaged in racism and mass shootings or the Buddhists, who persecute and murder Muslims, those who long for the day when the White House is overrun and the flag of the Islamic State is planted on top of it—are all equally dangerous. However, lest we fool ourselves, the levels of danger and absurdity differ, as do the responses they warrant.
I would, for instance, defend the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to be inane, callous and irrational. Free speech is too precious a right to undermine. Under this same principal I would even defend the right of someone to say that women deserve to be second class citizens, or that they have to be supervised by men at all times in public. But what I will not do is tolerate someone actually attempting to make these radical views a reality, let alone someone who attempts to do so by force.
Anyone who understands what I am getting at realizes why coexistence with Militant Islam is impossible. Groups like IS take intolerant and extremist views — anti-Semitism; a disdain for women’s rights, multiculturalism and religious pluralism; and the hopeful annihilation of all those who do not adhere to their system of belief — and seek to implement them, uncompromisingly, throughout the region, and however far else they can feasibly take it. It is a mindset that stands against every modern principle of Western democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
Islamic militants and their leaders will always try to instill their practices and way of thinking; the West to them will always be in the way, as will all moderate Muslims who wish to live in peace.
The cure for the Middle East is not a peaceful, healthy injection of Western democracy. It is the abolition of a way of thinking (framed by a mindset and form of jurisprudence that views missing prayers as mortal sin, or the killing of oneself and innocent civilians as a cause that deserves the utmost praise and aspires to revert life back to the seventh century. Groups such as IS are too dangerous to let be. (A laptop seized recently revealed that IS was carrying out research on biological warfare): “The advantages of biological weapons is the low cost and high rate of casualties” a manual found on the laptop said.
Many concede that the current air campaign against IS will take years, which not only means that the immediate regions adjacent to its operations, as well as the entire international community, will be living with the IS threat for some time; it also means that innocent civilians will continue to live in oppression, fear, or with the pain of not knowing where their loved ones are.
Islamic Exremism and its Militaristic forms are the greatest threat to the Middle East today, and they deserve to be met head on. But full-on Western intervention has backfired before, and it will likely backfire again. Thus, the current fight being waged—supporting Iraq’s Kurds and moderate rebels in Syria, while launching air and drone strikes in these areas and other countries is to use the cliché, the “least bad option”, which I guess substantiates the prescient but rather bleak point made by the late Christopher Hitchens almost ten years ago: Islamic militarism is an enemy for and of life.
Here at The Economic Savant, we would love to hear your comments and feedback.
Follow us on Twitter for daily and weekly updates.
© 2015 The Economic Savant. All Rights Reserved.