By John Stanton
The system is broken.
Governments and state institutions are increasingly incapable of protecting their own civilians from militants who have become weary of seeing their homelands, friends, relatives, children, livelihoods, futures and institutions obliterated. They are sick of the oppression of their own Western backed governments to the point that death is no longer relevant to them. Until structural cracks in the foundation of the global capitalist system are addressed and repaired, the rewind button will stay locked and organizations like Daesh-ISIS-ISIL-AQ, and ultimately its offshoots, will continue to kill and maim citizens with impunity. They have seen the same done to their own, so why should they spare anyone else?
As long as the global economy continues to make surviving from paycheck to paycheck a reality for the bulk of the Earth's populace, the more destabilized societies will become, and the more Daesh or other radical groups will be able to recruit from the outcasts. The rise of Donald Trump in the United States, Le Pen in France, and the neo-Nazi's in Ukraine are foreboding signs. Austerity measures are a force multiplier for Daesh. Internal warfare can no longer be confined with borders.
The Internet and World Wide Web and social media are continuing to diminish the role of the State which can only confront challenges in a binary format of military action or economic sanctions. Insurgent groups like Daesh continue to exercise media and technological prowess that its opponents can't match.
How effective has the United States' (other nations too) political-military-intelligence strategy and tactics been in countering Daesh-AQ insurgencies? Let the events of 911 be a starting point going forward in time. What does the record show? Have insurgents been contained in their homelands? Is fighting them there really working? What's Daesh-ISIL-ISIS-AQ been up to since they have felt the full fury of American and European military might in Iraq and Afghanistan, punitive air strikes in Syria and the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya?
Daesh/AQ notches kills and maims in France (Paris), Russia (Metrojet 9268 in Egypt), Southern Lebanon, Turkey (Ankara), Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan/South Sudan, Libya, Yemen, USA (9-11), Spain (Madrid Subway), and England (7/7).
According to Scott Atron writing in the Guardian:
Radical Arab Sunni revivalism, which Isis now spearheads, is a dynamic, revolutionary countercultural movement of world historic proportions, with the largest and most diverse volunteer fighting force since the Second World War. In less than two years, it has created a dominion over hundreds of thousands of square kilometers and millions of people. Despite being attacked on all sides by internal and external foes, it has not been degraded to any appreciable degree, while rooting ever stronger in areas it controls and expanding its influence in deepening pockets throughout Eurasia.
Simply treating Isis as a form of "terrorism" or "violent extremism" masks the menace. Merely dismissing it as "nihilistic" reflects a willful and dangerous avoidance of trying to comprehend, and deal with, its profoundly alluring moral mission to change and save the world. And the constant refrain that Isis seeks to turn back history to the Middle Ages is no more compelling than a claim that the Tea Party movement wants everything the way it was in 1776. The truth is more complicated. As Abu Mousa, Isis's press officer in Raqqa, put it: "We are not sending people back to the time of the carrier pigeon. On the contrary, we will benefit from development. But in a way that doesn't contradict the religion.
Think of the group's appreciation of focus on cause and effect: "Work to expose the weakness of America's centralized power by pushing it to abandon the media psychological war and the war by proxy until it fights directly." Ditto for France, the UK and other allies.... Consider reports suggesting a 15-year-old was involved in Friday's atrocity. "Capture the rebelliousness of youth, their energy and idealism, and their readiness for self-sacrifice, while fools preach 'moderation' (wasatiyyah), security and avoidance of risk."
How many civilian deaths has the West, led in war or supported by the USA, caused in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, West Bank, Gaza, Libya, Somalia or Yemen? How many displaced persons/refugees/migrants have the Western-led wars created? The European Union, France in particular, now know how foolish the destruction of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya were. So do Lebanon, Jordan, and Iran who are home to many thousands of displaced persons escaping from the fallout of maniacal military adventures. Daesh war planners must be thrilled that their personnel had such a fluid pipeline into the heartlands of the "crusaders" in Europe.
The Daesh-AQ vs. The World conflict has at least a dozen causes dating back to the fomenting of radical Islam by the United States and Saudi Arabia for the purposes of destroying the USSR (starting in Afghanistan). One could even point, as Daesh did early on in its ascendancy, to Sykes Picot. Fast forward to 2015. The talent pool for Daesh to recruit from is wide, deep, young and unemployed with few prospects. The global unemployment rates for those 14-24 year old global population are dangerously high. Consider these figures for youth out of work: France, 24 percent; Greece, 58 percent; Iraq, 34 percent; Lebanon, 20 percent; Libya, 51 percent; Saudi Arabia, 27 percent; Spain, 57 percent; Sudan, 24 percent; Tunisia, 31 percent; UK, 20 percent; Syria, 30 percent; Yemen, 30 percent and the United States, 16 percent. Many of these human "percentages" have known nothing but war and carnage, and recognize that their efforts during the "Arab Spring" were futile; for example, a 2013 coup-supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia--negated the open elections that put Mohamed Morsi into office.
World political, military, economic and academic leaders are of a mind that punishing military action, domestic repression, economic sanctions, media bombast, and torture will ultimately eliminate groups like Daesh. The thinking is that "fear" as a tool of control or oppression still matters. It's the same kind of thinking that drives the grand brains in the United States to reignite a Cold War with China and Russia, engaging in brinkmanship right up to the borders of those two countries emplacing missile defense systems or engaging in pissing contest flybys using nuclear weapons carrying platforms like the B-52.
Is the Western World following the Daesh-AQ playbook? According to Atron:
There is a playbook, a manifesto: The Management of Savagery/Chaos, a tract written more than a decade ago under the name Abu Bakr Naji, for the Mesopotamian wing of al-Qaida that would become Isis. Think of the horror of Paris and then consider these, its principal axioms...Hit soft targets. "Diversify and widen the vexation strikes against the crusader-Zionist enemy in every place in the Islamic world, and even outside of it if possible, so as to disperse the efforts of the alliance of the enemy and thus drain it to the greatest extent possible."
It conscientiously exploits the disheartening dynamic between the rise of radical Islamism and the revival of the xenophobic ethno-nationalist movements that are beginning to seriously undermine the middle class - the mainstay of stability and democracy - in Europe in ways reminiscent of the hatchet job that the communists and fascists did on European democracy in the 1920s and 30s. The fact that Europe's reproductive rate is 1.4 children per couple, and so there needs to be considerable immigration to maintain a productive workforce that can sustain the middle class standard of living, is a godsend for Isis, because at the same time there has never been less tolerance for immigration. Therein lies the sort of chaos that Isis is well positioned to exploit."
In the United States, trillions of dollars have been expended to, ostensibly, protect Americans at home and abroad. But in the process, since the post-WWII years, the United States federal government has been responsible-through ill-advised military adventures, coups or sheer ignorance-for the deaths and wounding of many millions of civilians in other countries. The United States has not produced a Stalin or Mao yet, but as the years pass, the body count in terms of the dead, wounded and displaced mounts at home and abroad.
Ill-conceived United States military adventures abroad, or blind support for countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will increasingly cause problems for Americans and the organizations that, in fact, really do protect and defend Americans: Law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, emergency medical personnel, etc. These individuals and organizations work within a warlike American landscape in which approximately 14,000 Americans are murdered and 79,000 raped each year.
And the odds of getting away with a crime in the United States are not that bad. According to the FBI: "When considering clearances of violent crimes, 64.1 percent of murder offenses, 40.6 percent of rape offenses (revised definition), 40.0 percent of rape offenses (legacy definition), 29.4 percent of robbery offenses, and 57.7 percent of aggravated assault offenses were cleared.." Translated another way, a 36 percent chance of getting away with murder, and a nearly 60 percent chance of raping someone without consequence.
One can't help but recognize that America's propensity for violence in everything from video games to the militarization of sports like football is pathological, even infecting policies like federal funding for the unemployed and impoverished and segments of the populations that would sooner send immigrants from Central and South America to Guantanamo Bay.
How violent is American society? According to an unflinching report by the World Socialist website: "The United States incarcerates children at a rate that far surpasses the rest of the world. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, almost 3,000 children have been convicted and given life sentences without the chance of parole. On any given day, 10,000 children are held captive in adult jails and prisons, where they face high chances of sexual assault. Tens of thousands more are held in juvenile centers that are so commonplace they are called by their nickname, "juvies."
So what is this protection racket all about? What does it mean to protect citizens? What are they being protected from? Should protection mean the State ensures, even enforces, a robust mixed economy that can employ nearly all of its citizens, provides health insurance, and that favors all and not just a few, thereby eliminating much of "life's" intolerable uncertainties? Would protection include forcing corporations and financiers to stay home and pay their share of taxes?
Who can't sympathizing for those killed, wounded or grieving on either side of this conflict? I certainly do. One moment rocking out with a heavy metal band in Paris and in the next instant a bullet in your stomach and you're bleeding out on the floor. But should I not value the suffering of those in Afghan wedding parties, MSF in Kunduz, children slaughtered/starved in Iraq, Christian communities decimated or forced to migrate (Iraq-Syria), Sunni and Shia conflict enflamed by religious zealots and Western leaders? The human being no longer matters in this world.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said that people are fungible. He was vilified for this by me, among others. But this is at the core of human capital theory and the globalized capitalist system that the United States created and that now operates in various guises in China, Russia, India, Brazil, and in every country on the planet except North Korea.
A system that assigns use value to life has no place for the sanctity of life.
In the end, the United States, the European Union and Russia will conduct a large scale ground invasion of Syria and portions of Iraq. They will divvy up the spoils probably along the lines of Sykes Picot, and throw some of the carcass Turkey and Iran's way. It'll be like a sectored Berlin post WWII.
The war will not end though. Daesh has spread all over the globe. They know well that their home bases in Syria and Iraq will be destroyed. When the anti-Daesh forces (ground troops, mercenaries, embedded media) show up in Daesh strongholds will they even be there? How far will the chase for Daesh go? To Yemen and Libya? What about their affiliates in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, or maybe right here at home?
On this point there is certainty: Security will continue to override liberty and freedom of expression. Dissent will be a perilous act. Rehearse the singing of your nation's national anthem and practice your nation's pledge of allegiance. Don't fasten your seatbelt for the bumpy night as the actress Betty Davis once said. Rather, be prepared to move and adapt quickly.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org