Something has to be done about ISIS.
If we want to do something about ISIS, then we need to ask ourselves what is causing ISIS in the first place. Otherwise we’re acting out of fear and ignorance, never a recipe for good results. If you attack a disease without knowing what’s causing it, then you could – and in this case will – accelerate rather than curb the disease. As virulent as ISIS is, it will grow under the US air strikes the way that a fire rises ever higher and hotter if you try to drown it by pouring gasoline on it.
As Haaretz reported on September 19, 2014:
The Islamic State jihadist organization has recruited more than 6,000 new fighters since America began targeting the group with air strikes last month, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
ISIS and al-Qaeda are the bitter fruit of the US invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. They are US policies coming home to roost in spectacular fashion. What Obama is doing in ordering relentless airstrikes in Syria and Iraq is fueling ISIS, not damaging it.
The US government and its allies have been shocked at the stunning rapidity with which their imperialist policies of domination and repression have literally blown up in their faces. They thought like all bullies do that they could get what they want by violently suppressing anything that stood in their way and buying influence and corrupt officials. But what do you suppose would happen when you carry out indefinite and unjust detention, torture and extrajudicial murders, drone attacks with primary victims innocent civilians and children, terrorize entire populations, including raining bombs upon large gatherings such as weddings and funerals, treating the locals with utter contempt – with dogs, children, women and men used for target practice – US soldiers literally pissing on the Quran and on dead “militant fighters,” opening fire from Apache Helicopters on journalists and others walking on the street, arrogant mercenaries opening fire on civilians on a whim and in drunken states of stupor, and so on.
All of this has produced deep hatred towards the US by the local populations of these countries that the US declares as in its “interests” to invade, kill at will, occupy, plunder and dominate, all while issuing scurrilously hypocritical homilies about freedom and democracy. H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds was a parable of imperialist domination, except that the alien invaders here come not from light years away but only thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.
Why should we be surprised then that out of this should spring up even more virulent versions of al-Qaeda. ISIS, it should be remembered, is so radical in its policies that al-Qaeda disavowed them.
What does it say about the US’s policies that its originally most radical opponent among fundamentalists is now superseded by an even more radical version?
If you side with these same policies in the form of the aerial bombardment of Syria and Iraq, you are supporting the very thing you hate. And it will come to take revenge upon us as indiscriminately as the US has been treating the people of the Middle East in the form of blowback. That was what 9/11 was – blowback. The seeds of terrible terrorist incidents inflicted upon Americans and others are being sewn with every bomb dropped in the numerous sorties by US and other nations’ bombers.
The rise of first al-Qaeda and now ISIS are the direct outcome of US crimes against these countries and peoples and is an expectable reaction in a world in which the two most influential ideologies are, to put this colloquially, McDonald’s and Jihad. Both of these are dead-ends. Their presence and persistence are far and away the most dangerous factors in play in the world today.
The Bush Regime’s war policies and their continuation under Obama are immediately and directly responsible for the horrors of ISIS and al-Qaeda. ISIS and al-Qaeda in fact are, as horrible as they are, even less horrible than the US’s policies, past and present, of death and destruction.
A true liberating alternative to those opposite poles of the same vile reactionary immorality and vicious violence exists: treating the lives of all people of all nations as equally precious, rejecting “my nation first,” respecting all people’s rights to live, think, assemble, and speak freely, and embracing the planet as a sacred place to be protected rather than to be plundered.
Dennis Loo is a member of the Steering Committee of World Can’t Wait. This article originally appeared on dennisloo.com on September 27, 2014.