Still No Coherent and Effective Strategy for
By Alan Hart
Way back in July I wrote an
article with the headline No sign of a coherent strategy for
defeating perverted and barbaric Islamic fundamentalism. Four
months and several jihadist atrocities on, and with still no sign,
my conclusion is that Western leaders do not have the will to do
what is necessary to put ISIS and its affiliates out of business
because they don’t want to come to grips with the bottom line truth.
It can be summarised as follows.
ISIS and its affiliates are empowered by the hurt,
humiliation, anger and despair of many who make up the Arab and
other Muslim masses. It follows that the only way to erode support
for ISIS and its affiliates and eventually put them out of business
is by addressing this hurt, humiliation, anger and despair.
As I wrote previously, there are two prime causes
One is American-led Western foreign policy
for the Arab and wider Muslim world including its double standard as
demonstrated by refusal to call and hold Israel to account for its
defiance of international law and denial of justice for the
In passing I note that in an interview with
The Real News on 17 November, retired colonel Lawrence
Wilkerson who was chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell, said: “We’ve created too many problems in that region of the
world. Most likely our invasion of Iraq started all this…”
And that was a view echoed in his own inimitable
way by John Pilger in an article for Counterpunch on 17
November. He wrote:
“By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s
invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000
people – in a country that had no history of Jihadism. The Kurds had
done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and
sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was
common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq
without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be
Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a
presence. Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest
The other prime cause of Arab and other
Muslim hurt, humiliation, anger and despair is the corruption,
authoritarianism and repression of most if not all Arab and other
Muslim regimes. (In most cases they are regimes supported/endorsed
by American-led Western foreign policy).
It also follows that addressing these two prime
causes is something that can’t be done with bombs and bullets. They
only play into the hands of ISIS and its affiliates.
So if Prime Minister David Cameron succeeds in a
second attempt to get the House of Commons to give him the green
light for UK participation in the bombing of Syria, that, almost
certainly, will only make matters worse. And probably guarantee that
what recently happened in Paris will happen in London.
Though it is necessary. ramping up security and
surveillance on our home fronts throughout the Western world may
also be counter-productive to some degree if it leads (as it easily
could) to Muslims feeling that they are being unfairly targeted.
What could American-led Western governments
actually do to if they were willing to play their necessary part in
addressing Arab and other Muslim hurt, humiliation, anger and
As a priority that could endtheir double standard
with regard to Israel by putting the Zionist state on notice that it
will be isolated and sanctioned if it continues to demonstrate
nothing but contempt for international law and its lack of interest
in justice for the Palestinians.That really would give Western
foreign policy a degree of credibility and respect and by doing so
assist the process of eroding support for ISIS. and its affiliates.
On Palestine John Pilger had this to say in his
“The issue of Palestine is the region’s most
festering open wound, and the (I would say an not the) oft-stated
justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden
made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the
Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.”
But the single most important thing Western
governments could and should dois use their leverage to persuade
Arab and other Muslim leaders that it really is time for
authoritarianism to give way to something approaching democracy. If
Arab and other Muslim leaders agreed (no matter how reluctantly),
this would rob ISIS and its affiliates of their most persuasive
argument – that the Arab and other Muslim masses have
nothing to gain from politics and non-violent demands for change.
What I find deeply troubling is that President
Obama knows that the corruption, authoritarianism and repression of
Arab and other Muslim regimes is a prime cause of the rise and
growth of ISIS and its affiliates. An opinion piece he wrote for the
Los Angeles Times included the following.
Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL exploit the
anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption
leave them with no chance of improving their lives. The world has to
offer today’s youth something better.
Governments that deny human rights play
into the hands of extremists who claim that violence is the only way
to achieve change. Efforts to counter violent extremism will only
succeed if citizens can address legitimate grievances through the
democratic process and express themselves through strong civil
societies. Those efforts must be matched by economic, educational
and entrepreneurial development so people have hope for a life of
I quoted those fine words in my July article and
commented that there was no sign of a policy to give them substance.
Given that Obama and presumably other Western
leaders are aware of the bottom line truth as I have summarized it
above, the question in need of an answer is this.
Why, really, are Western governments unwilling to
do what is necessary to put ISIS and its affiliates out of business?
I can think of two answers.
One is that governments are not free agents. They
are prisoners of powerful vested interests including and especially
the Military Industrial Complex and the Zionist lobby in all of its
manifestations. (In America this lobby has the assistance of those
organizations which represent and promote deluded, mad, Christian
The other answer is short-termism – the art of
politics in which decision-making is determined by what has to be
said and done for short-term gain and winning the next election.
In my view this short-termism is the cancer at the
heart of politics throughout the Western world because it provides
no space and time for consideration of what has to be done over 10,
15, 20 and more years if a whole range of problems which threaten
the wellbeing of all of humankind (the threat posed by ISIS and its
affiliates is only one of many) are to be solved.
So it’s not only the Arab and other Muslim nations
which desperately need new politics. We all do.
A very interesting poll, the 2015 American
Values Survey which was conducted by the non-profit,
non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, has just been
published on the Huffington Post web site. Its
findings support the conclusion that“Americans
don’t have much faith in the government, businesses, the economy,
the power of their vote and the future of the United States.”
I take that to mean that even Americans are waking
up to the idea that they need new politics. If so that’s really good
Alan Hart has been engaged
with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and
terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of
Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way,
another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years…