Thursday, November 19, 2015

Let's be precise about what "weak" means - and does the Right never learn?

I think there is a bit of a silly debate going on around the matter of whether IS, or whatever you call it, is "weak" or not.

This guy seems to know a lot about the extremely complicated ethnic and religious groupings around Syria, and he says they aren't "weak".   And other Right wing commentators - man, have you seen Andrew Bolt, Steve Kates and the  commenters at Catallaxy bouncing off the walls since last Friday? - are calling it a Lefty (hello Waleed Aly) claim to argue they are weak.

But surely this is just a definition thing:  I reckon that most people using "weak"  just mean that IS doesn't have long term prospects as a viable State, as they claim is their aim.   Sure, they are dangerous, both locally and in the encouragement of international terrorism:  but it's at heart an apocalypse inspired movement - and how long do they ever last when their Prophet or Messiah does not appear in the sky as predicted?

I don't even think that acknowledging that ground troops will be needed to remove them totally from captured cities means that they are "strong".  Give any group enough guns and explosives and they are capable of creating major violence and digging in for a long time.  But they are ideologically weak if they think their indiscriminate violence against civilians won't hasten their downfall.

And as for the matter of the need for ground troops - I find it hard to credit that those on the Right could think that it should be Western ground troops in large numbers who need to do the job.   The matter of identifying the "good guys" from the "bad guys" will be incredibly difficult for Western forces, even more so than it was in the original invasion of Iraq;  and have they forgotten the insider attacks on Western military bases trying to train up Afghani soldiers? 

Besides that, the whole conflict is tied up with a centuries old fight between the two main branches of Islam - it's not up to the West to try to sort that one out militarily.   (Although involvement in political negotiations is another matter.)

Are they also not paying attention to the detailed reporting that most IS dimwits believe they are about to have the End Times war with the forces of the Infidel who are going to come to the Middle East for the fight?  This has been explained in parts of the press for many months now, but here is the condensed version, repeated again in the Washington Post a couple of days ago:
According to the group’s extremist ideology, the caliphate will eventually triumph in a great war against infidel forces, culminating in a final end-of-days battle in Dabiq, an obscure Syrian town near the northern city of Aleppo.
The group’s online propaganda magazine is titled “Dabiq.” Each edition features the same prophetic quote about how the conflict will unfold: “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify — by Allah’s permission — until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.”
How much sense does it make to encourage them that this confrontation is indeed about to happen?  ("None at all" is the correct answer.)

As I have made clear before, I don't have a problem with air operations, especially if targetted to isolating IS economically, or even directly on the battlefield when the targets are clearly IS.   And I still don't even feel overly critical of the West's initial decision to invade Iraq, even though it now looks like a (very) bad idea in  hindsight.  (No one can know with full confidence what may have happened if Saddam stayed on - I doubt he was above letting guest terrorists hide out and plan further attacks on the West from  the deserts of Iraq.)

But seriously,  I can't believe that neo-cons or nutty conservatives think that another large scale Western ground invasion in that part of the world is a good idea.

As with climate change, they just seem incredibly resistant to evidence, or lessons, or common sense.


Not Trampis said...

You send in troops and win back territory.

What happens when you leave?

That is why ISIS began in the first place and then took territory.

John said...

Some things never change ...

LBJ at staff meeting during Vietnam War to Army Chief of Staff Harold Johnson,

"Bomb, bomb. bomb. That's all you know. Well, I want to know why there's nothing else. You generals have all been educated at taxpayers' expense, you're not giving me any ideas any any solutions for this damn little piss-ant country. I don't need ten generals to come in here ten times and tell me to bomb. I want some solutions. I want some answers."