The West Set Up the ISIS EndgamePolitics / ISIS Islamic State Aug 24, 2014 - 01:20 PM GMT
The Conventional Explanation
This can be found in the MSM or mainstream media, and paints a picture of political leaders in the US and its European partners being so committed to the overthrown of Syria's Bashr al-Assad regime that not enough notice went to where the arms supplied to the so-called “moderate opposition groups”, like the Syrian Free Army, were really going. The anti-Assad forces were “porous”, and in any case the most extreme jihadists received both funding and weapons supplies from Saudi Arabia and the other Arab Gulf states. But this was OK because these jihads, western security “experts” said, were totally opposed to al-Qaeda. Also, the anti-Assad forces, of all kinds, were either supported or tolerated by the west simply because they were anti-Assad, and simply because Putin's Russia was pro-Assad.
The Syrian civil war starting in 2011 has, according to recent UN estimates, probably resulted in the death of 200 000 persons to date.
Further rationalizations for western support to a grisly civil war in Syria included unconvincing claims that the country could serve as a transit country for Qatari or Saudi natural gas exports to Europe, when or if a gasline was built, probably costing .$40 billion and taking up to 10 years to build. Syria's own small and declining oil production was cited. Potential Syrian deep offshore gas resources were also occasionally touted. Other claims included the “strategic location” of Syria in the east Mediterranean sharing borders with Turkey and Iraq. As in thee case of the 2011 Nato-led campaign to overthrow Libya's Gaddafi, there were even claims that Syria, like Libya “could become a major tourist venue”. The country's archeological heritage was sometimes added as another reason to destroy al-Assad.
By late summer 2014 however, most of these rationalization had disappeared from the MSM, as it shifted to finding, or rather inventing explanations for a direct standoff with Russia over Ukraine – which has major coal reserves and large undeveloped domestic gas resources, among other good things. Unfortunately, its economy has spiraled into deep red territory, for example reflected by the exchange rate for Ukraine's national money and estimates for its national debt. Ukraine is a basket case.
To date estimates for the human toll in Ukraine's civil war run at about 2000 dead and 600 000 refugees and displaced persons.
No Rational Basis for Doing Nothing
Few persons are convinced that any economic reasons exist for the west to actively foment terror war in Syria, or civil war in Ukraine. In both cases the simple and straight political desire to “face down Putin” is clear, but the ISIS threat already makes this rearview mirror. As we know, the Syrian terror war has now jumped the border into Iraq, and has massively spread like a cancer, the exact words used by president Obama this week. The Ukraine crisis is being maintained at “near fever pitch”, but the fever is weakening, using various strategems and ruses ranging from the MH17 atrocity to the 'provocative' Russian truck convoy of relief aid, but it is clear the Ukraine is no gift to anybody..
The ISIS terror army or movement is much more threatening than the Ukraine civil war. ISIS or ISIL, described by US president Obama as “nihilist” as well as barbarian, includes fighters from failed Islamic insurrections inside Russia, for example in Chechnya and Dagestan, and other republics of the 23-republic Russian Federation. To date, there is no sign of the western leaderships wanting to draw on Russian experience and support fighting Islamic insurgency. At one and the same time the vastly challenging threat of the ISIS cancer across the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is being treated by western leaders on a “compartmentalized basis”, still using national boundaries and territories as their reference. ISIS is only slowly coming to be recognized as a direct challenge to western civilization – which is how Russia has treated the Islamic insurgency, inside Russia, for more than 15 years. China's intransigent attitude to Islamic insurgency in China can also be cited. The potential for anti-Islamic insurgency cooperation between the west, Russia and China is large.
However, as UK journalist Patrick Cockburn says in his new book, “The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising” (OR Books) the ever-growing and fast increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq, and across the MENA, was “generally unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West”. One reason, Cockburn says was that Western governments and their security forces only defined the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qaeda's “central command” or “core”. This was the supposed main threat and seemed to be a declining force. Western security services could paint a picture of their success in their “war on terror”, but this was totally unrelated to what was really happening on the ground or “in theatre”.
Cockburn brands western leaders and their security services as frankly naïve and even obsessional, for example obsessed by the New York and Washington 9 / 11 events of 13 years ago. The security services believed that al-Qaeda and ISIS were opposed and even “actively fighting each other”. Cockburn cites supposed “security experts” saying that they had been comforted in their false analysis by learning that “al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri criticized ISIS for its excessive violence and sectarianism”. Cockburn dismisses that by citing a security expert who interviewed a large range of Syrian jihadi rebels not affiliated with al-Qaeda in southeast Turkey and northern Syria earlier in 2014, who said that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the USA.”
Assassins' Creed We can say that only since the barbaric decapitation of US journalist Jim Foley have the MSM and western political leaders begun to – belatedly – take any notice of the real threat. Obama now uses the term “nihilst” to talk about ISIS. His Secretary of Defense Hagel says ISIS is a threat to “all Americans and Europeans”. Supposedly separate and distinctly national incidents and events such as Libya's transformation, in only 3 years, to a “fully fledged terrorist state” in fact a non-state, should have sounded the alarm bell long ago. Only belatedly has the reality of Iraq also becoming a “non-state” begun to be admitted, and the dangers of this start by understanding the vast stocks of weapons in Iraq, accumulated since the 2003 war, and from long before.
The dangers of weapons proliferation “in the wrong hands” has already been distanced by reality. Weapons are falling into the hands of anybody and everybody. To the extent that ISIS is structured or organized and not a “terrorist network” it can of course take a large share of the weapons, but this immediately triggers counterpart arming by – for example – Shia militia in Iraq. ISIS also can and does “lose weapons” including their re-sale. There is no firewall at all between “simple criminal” use of weapons for “simple criminal” ends, and their use for the pursuit of the Grand Caliphate. Organized crime runs hand in glove with so-called “Islamic fundamentalist” terror.
The often nonsensical, confused and usually duplicitous actions of Saudi Arabia are described by Cockburn as notably concerning KSA's so-called “Southern Front”, imagined by prince Bandar bin Sultan, and since 2013 more or less abandoned. Supposedly, Jordan and Lebanon could be bolstered by jihadi fighters to oppose Bashr al-Assad, but these jihadis “would also oppose al-Qaeda”. For starters, was Bashr al-Assad ever in the game of invading Jordan, if not Lebanon? No weapons would “fall out” of the Southern Front and the process would operate under gentlemanly terms of war conduct.
Dreaming Out Loud
Cockburn is far from the only analyst who “joins up the dots” and says what the ISIS “phenomenon” really means. Other writers including myself say that western political leaderships, and their MSM have sunk deeply into a pool of narcissism – which runs very well with Nihilism. Infatuated by the supposed global reach of their security services – still obsesses with 9 / 11 and al-Qaeda – they were unable to see tens of thousands of young males from dozens of countries, including the west, flocking to a macbre and degenerate “final struggle” vaguely against the west, and vaguely for the “pure doctrine” of a few degenerate (and often Arab racist) Islamic philosophers stretching back to Ibn Hanbal about the year 850AD.
This “final struggle” is itself meaningless or devoid of reason. A large number of the ISIS “fighters for Islam” are simply Hoodlums on Holiday. After weapons and explosives training in the Middle East they can return home and improve their hoodlum businesses.
Simply the size of the phenomenon and its massive geographic reach should have alerted somebody, but western leaders and their security “experts” were out to lunch beside a nice little stream reflecting only their insights and deep thinking. Besides, their absurd (and dangerous) stand off with Putin over the Ukraine seemed so much more exciting!
Cockburn and others are right to charge the west with gross negligence, and Cockburn himself says that even by 2002 or 2003, over 10 years ago, al-Qaeda had been beaten or dismantled in Afghanistan and had mutated into “a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs centering on the creation of an Islamic state and the imposition of sharia”. The long list of other want-its included the subjugation of women and waging “holy war” against other Muslims, notably the Shia, and all communities in victim countries which will not “submit and convert”.
In its gory heydays, called “the Bible, gin bottle and Maxim gun” period of western colonization in Africa, this event could be considered as barbaric as the ISIS plan, or non-plan, but at least this colonization brought some economic development. It was not pure and straight “lose-lose”. Western intellectuals, today, are able to explain and not excuse western colonial barbarity – but western society moved on. ISIS wants to move back to an entirely imaginary “Grand Caliphate” that never existed. It is not an ideology or a doctrine. Mr Obama used the word “nihilism” and for once he was right.
Final Struggle for ISIS
ISIS has a non-plan. Probably, sooner or later, we will get “ISIS intellectuals” telling us about the plan but they will be unable to make even a flimsy cockleshell husk out of it – inside is pure Nihilism. Unfortunately perhaps, talking about nihilism always jumps to Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, Hitler's favorite philosophers. The real origins of nihilism may be surprising to some but will instantly join up the dots with ISIS.
Ivan Turgeniev's 1860s best-seller book in Russia, translated as “Fathers and Sons” concerned a Youth Revolt, a generational split in Russian society – very similar to the 1950s and 1960s US Beat Generation and the Hippy movement. Russian youth rejected everything their elders held near and dear, including their religion and morals. These morals disapproved of violence, so the youth revolt favored violence and only for that reason. Christian religion was favoured by the parents, so youth rejected it totally and sought what we call Gothic New Age today. Interestingly enough, the youth revolt even rejected Anarchy – it was too tidy and its meanings were too clear for them!
Nietzsche was certainly influenced by what was happening in Russia through about 1860-1870 but rightly called “The Punk Philosopher' by several commentators, Nietzsche deliberately set out to shock western society, firstly by saying “there is no such thing as society”. Speaking recently on French radio about Nietzsche, a relatively well-known European philosopher said how he would deal with what “The Punk” claimed to say was no problem at all. When he died, the philosopher would go to Heaven, put on a false mustache, and be told by God to write down “God does exist!”. Nietzsche was wrong, society does exist and in no way is obliged to “assassinate God”.
The late-19th century Russian youth revolt soon petered out. It was nihilist. It constructed nothing. It denied everything. It preached random violence. This is ISIS!
By Andrew McKillop
Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights
Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012
Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.
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