Responding To ISIS: A Nation Or A Stateless Organization?

The world is in mourning for the horrible attacks in Paris. The issue for both France and the West is how to respond. ISIS is playing a game of psychological warfare with these attacks.

The problem is that ISIS is not really a nation even though it controls some territory. This is a very important point as bombing their civilians is not the same as bombing Germany in WWII!

Cenk Ugyar of the “Young Turks” has given a classical liberal response in the video below. I share some of his beliefs but not all. The video is about five and one-half minutes long.

Let me, as a Progressive first give my analysis of ISIS then I will respond to Cenk Ugyar’s classical liberal response.

How ISIS Is Waging Psychological Warfare Against The West

Many want to bomb ISIS. Vice President Biden favored this approach in Afganistan. The issue is civilian casualties. Frankly I have no problem with that except there is no nation called “ISIS” to bomb. The territory that ISIS “occupies” is seized territory where most of the inhabitants do not support ISIS.

The cold fact is that we waged war against civilians in the American Civil War when General Sherman invaded Georgia. We did not have the ability to air bomb but if we did I am sure General Sherman would have bombed the Confederacy to obliteration.

In World War II we bombed Germany and Japan with the deliberate strategy of inflicting civilian terror. I am referring to conventional bombing, not the two nuclear bombs that hit Japan.

Wikipedia states that in Germany alone:

We killed a minimum of 305,000 civilians.

But the number was believed to be higher. Wikipedia states:

“In addition to the minimum figure given in the Strategic bombing survey, the number of people killed by Allied bombing in Germany has been estimated at between 400,000 and 600,000.

The aim of bombing is to:

  1. Destroy the enemies ability to produce weapons for it’s armed forces.
  2. Destroy their economy.
  3. Undermine civilian morale and the enemies will wage war.

Throwing flowers at the NAZIS did not work. Dropping bombs on their civilian population pushed their armies to collapse. Cenk Uygar seems to believe that bombing of civilian targets is always wrong. I disagree. In some cases such as WWII it was the correct thing to do.

The French just launched a massive attack against ISIS. Actually they only dropped a mere twenty bombs according to the Huffington Post. That does not constitute a massive bombing in my opinion.

However, ISIS presents a problem.

There is no such thing as a civilian population of ISIS. The territory that ISIS occupies is conquered territory. The supporters of ISIS come, for the most part, from surrounding nations.

The civilians under ISIS control are victims. Bombing them would only increase the number of refugees fleeing to Europe. -Exactly what ISIS wants. Europe then gets flooded and the groundwork is laid for the recruitment of future “radicalized” young Muslims.

By alienating those Muslims who live in Europe, conditions are created for more “radicalization”. Exactly what ISIS wants according to the Huffington Post and I agree. But Europe is going to have to protect itself from those who live there without being loyal to a secular democratic society.

Cenk Uygar is correct that we need to use our “special forces” to decapitate the leadership of ISIS. The problem is that sending them would result in more TV scenes of orange jump-suit execution victims to fuel recruitment videos. This will aid ISIS recruitment in Europe and in the Muslim homeland.

The Goals Of ISIS

  1. Bring about the bombing of civilians under their control. This bombing will result in an enormous migration of refugees into Europe.
  2. Encourage right wing extremism against European Muslims to bring about radicalization.
  3. Force the West to invade as this will lead to the conditions for massive recruitment in the Arab street.
  4. Increase hostage taking to raise money.

ISIS Is Not A Classic Country

It is more akin to Viking occupied areas of Normandy and the British Isles where the occupier settled in but was not the majority of the population. By pulling in Western troops to occupy their territory, ISIS gains more volunteers to come and fight for them in their territory.

What is the West to do then?

  • Occupy all of the land from Morrocco to the Indus?
  • Have every human activity in Western homelands involve bomb scanning?
  • Deport every Muslim?
  • Go bankrupt in an endless war?

I agree with Cenk Ugyar that we need a “special forces operation” but the problem is such a force may not be large enough. I believe we need a larger force combined with a massive air attack but to do so in a very quick time frame.

The critical issue is:

A large force that is focused and then withdrawn after the task is done. Allow the Arab League to police the area after ISIS is destroyed. That was the critical mistake we made in Iraq. Not simply going there but staying there.

But I do disagree with Cenk Uygar concerning bombing civilian targets. The world is not a nice place so get over it. We did massive conventional civilian bombing of both Germany and Japan in WWII and it worked. What else could we do? If you disagree would you have been willing to be a member of the armed forces in that war and have it prolonged?

By the way with all the talk about Paris and 9-11 that is nothing to the number of lives lost in Darfur.