How to Defeat ISIS

Bush_Obama_ParisBy Rula Jebreal, a Palestinian foreign policy analyst, journalist, novelist and screenwriter, Salon, November 17

…As grotesque as these acts of terrorism have been, they are guided by a political logic: ISIS is looking to swell its ranks and funds by appealing to the most nihilistic impulses of thousands of young people vulnerable to its extreme ideology, and also to sharpen those divisions in the societies it targets that best serve its goals. In Iraq and Lebanon, ISIS seeks to re-kindle civil war between Sunni and Shia; in Paris its strategic goal is to turn European societies against their Muslim minorities – both dynamics from which experience has taught the extremists that they can profit.

Each new terrorist attack reminds us of the total failure of the War on Terror. After 14 years of disaster, the policies enacted by the Western powers should be thoroughly and drastically re-examined before digging us all deeper into the quagmire of endless violence….

It’s not hard to see how ISIS has made a mockery of U.S.-led efforts to counter it. For many Arab states in the “coalition,” fighting ISIS is simply not the top priority. For Turkey, ISIS is a secondary issue in the face of countering the Kurdish separatists of the PKK. Much like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates view Shia Arabs, Houthis in Yemen and Iran as a more important threat than ISIS. Egypt treats the non-violent Muslim Brotherhood and critics of the regime as more threatening than ISIS. Indeed, key partners in the coalition are more determined to shatter the forces on the front lines in the fight against ISIS….

As Baruch Spinoza beautifully put it, to check passion, you have to find a stronger passion. To win against ISIS, it’s essential to offer a third way beyond terror and tyranny, a new paradigm similar to the one that guided Europe’s reconstruction after World War II.


2 responses to “How to Defeat ISIS

  1. The Spinoza quote is lovely. An informed discussion on a more immediate level appeared in yestrday’s NYT:

  2. The west won’t defeat ISIS (which I think of as “Al Qaeda 2.0” (and with a bigger better vision than AQ)). At some point Iran and Saudi Arabia will have to cooperate enough to defeat Muslims with Muslims. This may take some time.