Two Myths About ISIS

Raed JarrarThere are so many myths that have been thrown around in the last few weeks. One of them is, as you mentioned, that there is this one bad guy that we are stepping in with our good allies to save the day and get rid of. And this is not an accurate description of the situation in Iraq or in Syria. Although ISIS — this terrorist group — has been committing gross violations of human rights and other atrocities, other groups in Iraq — the ones who we call our allies — have been also committing similar atrocities. Actually, a couple of days ago, one of our allies beheaded Sunni militants. We didn’t see much about that in US media. A few weeks ago there was a massacre committed by one of the Shiite militias backed by the Iraqi government. This massacre was documented by Human Rights Watch and other international organizations. We didn’t seem to hear about that either. We never hear about violations and war crimes committed by the Iraqi government itself — or by other ethnic and sectarian militias in Iraq. That is one part of the problem: that there is media focus on the crimes of one faction in Iraq without focusing on other factions. I don’t think that the crimes committed by ISIS in any way are unique. They are bloody, but they are similar to other crimes committed by others in Iraq — especially those who we are funding with our taxpayers’ money.

The other part that is a myth is that we can defeat ISIS through military action. And that is, I think, one of the byproducts of our foreign policy, which brings up the question that you mentioned, “We have to act!” We either don’t act at all or we have to act by dropping bombs. It doesn’t seem like there are any shades of grey between not acting and dropping bombs on other nations. And this myth that we can bomb Iraq into stability and we can bomb Iraq into moderation — that we can destroy extremism by throwing more bombs on Iraq — there is no evidence that this can happen! The US has tried that many times in the past. Actually, the US tried it while the US had more than a hundred thousand troops on the ground in Iraq. There was a military engagement with ISIS. It used to be called ISI at the time: the Islamic State in Iraq. And obviously, the group was not defeated. I think this is what many people in the US and around the world have been saying for a long time: we can’t defeat extremism by dropping more bombs. Actually, dropping more bombs, and having US military intervention fuels extremism.

—Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee
Interview on CounterSpin

2 thoughts on “Two Myths About ISIS

  1. Immediately upon losing the Soviet Union as a threat worth the trillions taxpayers doled out to the Pentagon, arms contractors, and various intelligence services so they could build a military machine capable of defending the US from the imminent nuclear destruction that would otherwise befall us, a core group within G.H.W. Bush’s administration began looking for a new rationale to tell Americans why they shouldn’t expect to see a peace dividend resulting from cuts to the military reflecting the drastically reduced threat level that came with the end of the Cold War in and around around 1990. Dick Cheney, “Scooter” Libby, Gen Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, and a couple others were tapped by Bush to construct that “new rationale”. That white-paper was soon leaked to the Times by a Pentagon employee concerned about the lack of public input over the direction the USA was about to embark on in the post-Soviet Era. A draft copy of the first DPG (Defence Planning Guidance) soon to be issued by the Pentagon to all the nation’s senior administrators in charge of overseeing the US military for the next decade promoted a US military requiring MORE taxpayer funding, the establishment of the USA as a global military hegemon, US recusal from treaties limiting it’s means or method of response to anything it saw as a potential rival to US military supremacy over the next century. This “Wolfowitz Doctrine” was so militant in tone that Cheney tried to distance himself from it, claiming it had been shelved permanently. However the actual 1992 DPG was merely a reiteration of that same document worded somewhat differently. The only thing that stopped its implementation there in 1992 was the election of a Democrat to the White House later that year. When, ten years later, Dubya took over, most of that very same crew walked back into positions where they could implement their plan to save the defence budget from the cuts most rational people saw as long overdue. Which is exactly what they did, whether the intel had to be cooked or not, Cheney and the neocons used every resource available to them to replace the fear of soviet nukes…a threat that had worked to fatten defence budgets for over 4 decades, with similar fears of Muslim terrorists who might do ???? to the USA /if/ the USA didn’t immediately establish an expanded military presence worldwide capable of countering that threat. To do that the US military establishment adopted the Israeli approach toward the middle easts Arab population. That included the use of torture, which has been an ongoing issue concerning Israeli treatment of Palestinians, including the Israeli habit of denying detainees basic habeas protections to Palestinians arrested by the IDF (such as no trial date set, or no charges ever being laid, yet kept indefinitely regardless with no opportunity to defend against whatever accusations are being made against them). Anyone deemed hostile to US interests would now, under the terms of the War on Terror, be treated the way Israel had been treating Palestinians already for decades. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn how vastly over-represented among the neocons who pushed America into fighting this idiotic war are the dual-citizenship US-Israeli Zionists. Indeed, a casual look at the PNAC membership rolls gives an estimate of 50% or more for a group that actually makes up less than 1% of the American population.

    In short, that’s why the US military is sent to do these impossible, often inane tasks. To fail to remain actively engaged around the world might once bring into question the costs associated with maintaining a superpower defence despite no superpower attacker capable of justifying such an expense since 1990.

    • Very interesting, balanced description of the change from the Cold War to the War on Terror. I would only add that the neocons were to a large extent clueless before 9/11 — still looking for ways to justify why Russia was such a threat. And even more pathetically: Iraq! I often think with the death of economic liberalism in the Democratic Party, the main thing that separates the Democrats and the Republicans is basic competence. That’s not enough, but I suppose it is something.

      In the early 1990s, I had a DOE fellowship for my graduate work in global warming and about the only thing they required of me was that I work for a summer at a national lab. This was part of an effort to retool the national labs to do environmental and other non-military work. It was part of the whole thing about the “peace dividend.” But I don’t think it was ever anything more than propaganda. It doesn’t seem to me that the national labs are doing any more environmental work than they were before (which was always substantial).

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