Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Impotent Islamists

While media pundits sound the alarm about ISIS and imminent attacks on the United States, ISIS "spokesmen" play upon such fears with cruel and gruesome videos of the beheadings of two American journalists--James Foley and Steven Sotloff. These videos features narratives threatening harm to American and calling out President Obama by name--as if the narrator enjoys some kind of parity with the President of the United States.

From the first video:

"This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country. As a government you have been at the forefront of the aggression towards the Islamic State. You have plotted against us and gone far out of your way to find reasons to interfere in our affairs. Today, your military air force is attacking us daily in Iraq. 

"Your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims. You are no longer fighting an insurgency.

"We are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide.

"So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people."

“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision."

From the second video:

“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic 

State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and [unclear] on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings. You, Obama, have but to gain from your actions but another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people…

We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

Although cruel and gruesome, these executions simply expose these burqa wearing Bedouins as impotent, frustrated, dreamers living in the past. Centuries have passed since the idea of a caliphate evoked the least bit fear among rational people in the West. Taking hostages and murdering unarmed journalists hardly constitute some kind of existential threat. They are the actions of the weak and impotent.

Unfortunately some media pundits apparently believe that cutting the throat of  unarmed American citizens means that ISIS will soon make good their boast of hoisting their flag at the White House.

Meanwhile, other influential people seek instill fear of ISIS among Americans. In a recent  interview, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warns that ISIS could hit Europe or the United States in two months. As an assessment of the military capabilities of ISIS, this is as speculative as any judgement that I myself have made. As a propaganda piece, this interview is slick. He seeks to draw the United States back into the Middle East to fight for the interests of Saudi Arabia.

 As custodian of Islamic holy sites and the birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia claims the leadership of the Islamic world. ISIS poses a direct threat to that leadership through its aim of creating a caliphate uniting as many Arabs as possible under one ruling authority. They possess billions of dollars of United States weaponry, yet they refuse to fight.

 Why not?

They know that the United States will do their fighting for them and suffer all the negative consequences of intervention in the Middle East. They will remain silent, of course, and publicly unsupportive of whatever actions we take.

With all his armaments, King Abdullah should send forth a fearsome "roar" as the lion of the Arabian peninsula that he claims to be. Instead, all we hear is a plaintive "mew."

                          King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia


CW said...

You have a very interesting take on this, V.L. I think it remains to be seen whether ISIS is impotent or not. It could be that we are so shocked by their barbarianism that we overestimate their capabilities; but history has probably seen its share of tyrannical usurpers who were regretfully underestimated, so I think it behooves us to take them seriously, even if we only do so quietly amongst ourselves. We now know from experience that it requires relatively little effort and resources to impact this nation in a devastating way. We MUST ask ourselves, “What would be the repercussions of an ISIS-led caliphate in the Middle East?” and if the answer bodes badly for the U.S. (it does), then we shouldn’t allow it to happen.

I can’t necessarily say that I blame the King of Saudi Arabia for trying to get the U.S. to take out ISIS. He’s looking out for the interests of his country and in doing so – for himself. If he can have the threat removed with minimal effort and risk on his part, it’s only natural that he would try and do so. But the natural tendencies of other gov’ts to look after themselves first doesn’t mean we have an obligation to go along with it. A smart leader would make the King understand what’s at stake for Saudi Arabia and would parlay that into a partnership that requires an appropriate sacrifice from them while helping to defray the cost and risk to ourselves. But of course, we don’t have smart leadership.

RightDetour said...

Hey CW!

You are right that we should not allow it to happen; but neither should be do the brunt of the fighting. Perhaps our President should convey in no uncertain terms that we will not do the fighting but will supply the intelligence, the logistic, and organizational support.

But no Lawrence of Arabia is he . . . at least no yet.

CW said...

I think Obama should do what a rational person (i.e. not Obama) would perceive to be in our best interests, and try (like the Saudi king did) to remove the problem with the smallest cost to us that we can get away with. What I would never do is announce to the enemy that you're tying your own hands in any way shape or form. They should be led to believe that every option will be used if necessary, even if your secret goal is to limit your options.

As I said, that's what a rational person would do in Obama's place. Unfortunately he always puts his political fortunes ahead of what's good for the country, which is why he keeps announcing what he won't do. We're seeing the results of what happens when you elect a president whose priority is himself, not the country.