The Middle East has never been a peaceful place. It’s been battled over since… well, probably since humans came to a lush, forested area with plenty of fish and animals and, in many places, amazing soil that grew a wide variety of plants. At the beginning there were lions to worry about, but over time we humans overcame — or at least mostly controlled — our environs.
Between the Greeks, Romans, Mamluks, Ottomans, European nation-states and then countries, the outside world has taken ruthless advantage the Middle East. Just as conquerors throughout human time and the world have done.
People talk about how how DAESH is the poisoned fruit of the West’s meddling. The wrongs of the infidel, and the sins of the apostate. The damn women. The sun. Money. The lack of money.
It’s all crap. Getting up in the morning and deciding it’s okay to kill someone, to rape someone, to expel someone from their home, in the name of a putative god is the individual sin of individuals. Weak? Sure, the temptation to take power and dispense violence is a strong one. Disempowered? Yep, no question many of those in ISIS’ thrall have not had their hands on the reigns of power much.
Yes, DAESH. And Al Qeda before it, and Puerto Rican FALN terrorists. And the Symbionese Liberation Army (whose seven-headed, supposedly fear-inducing flag is shown above). The current DAESH folks would probably not make the connection between their actions and that of the Hashishin — the Fedai — which Westerners know as “Assassins.” An entire sect known for their Fedaiyin, a name resurrected by Palestinians in the early 1950s as a way to justify their revenge attacks against civilian Jewish settlements in Israel. Just as Palestinians today are smeared with the brush of generations of terrorists among a people far more interested in social and economic stability than the blood of Jews on their hands.
Bravery in striking terror. The old bully idea that by making others suffer one feels better about oneself. And, as parents have said in America for decades, “this can only end in tears.”
What Al Qeda failed to learn, and what DAESH is just starting to learn, is that the United States, despite not acting with the posturing they expect from a “real” (read: testosterone-poisoned) opponent, is perfectly capable of waging a long, ongoing, targeted attack on DAESH. Showing compassion isn’t a weakness from the Western point of view. (It’s also not true, if one looks to the CIA prosecution of terrorists after 9/11.) For a calculated, unemotional, goal-oriented, disciplined military It’s not about the apocryphal “beheading the snake:” DAESH isn’t brainy enough to have one in one central location. The West learned how to systematically dismantle countries starting with the original defeat of the Moorish Empire, and hasn’t stopped learning since then. DAESH depends on money to pay it’s killers. Depends on bribes and payoffs to do business. There’s only so much they can squeeze from their increasingly poverished, mostly imprisoned “citizens.”
The Goebbels, the Mengeles, the Pol Pots and wannabe Serbian and Croatian murderers can only flourish when they’ve the power of Brown Shirts — mindless bullies — behind them. And Hitler got rid of his as soon as he had control of Germany. The DAESH murderers gleefully slaughtering innocents and torturing combatants in contradiction to every faith’s tenets will fall to the stones of the masses as soon as their puppet masters loose their strings. Which means, not to be cynical, paying their wage.
Yes, yes, this sounds like an angry screed. I rather think of this lighting a small fire to push back the dark. Fear must be met with truth, met with resolve and yes, met with force. They will rape. They will maim. They will kill. But ultimately DAESH will be not much more than the FALN in the larger scheme of personal and religious freedom and liberty. And while the Symbionese Liberation Army will live on mostly in its single successful media event — kidnapping and brain-washing the daughter of a rich newspaper publisher — DAESH will be relegated to the trashbin that will swallow the Khmer Rouge within the century: nothing will remain (especially not any edifices).