Archives

Follow US

FacebookTwitterYoutube
August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

People Like Us: Understanding ISIS

It seems everyone knows where they were on November 13th, the night of the Paris attacks. I ask you to reach back and place yourself in that moment again.

Where are you?

For me, I was caught up in a film with my friend when our phones cut through the action. The immediate notifications we received from news outlets and friends disconnected us from the real world, as we began to glide over live news reports in intense silence.

Reports were confusing. Facts were dubious. The grounds for misinformation were formed. We were left perplexed as we tried to put together the ‘facts’.

When the news broke that Islamic State laid claim to the attacks I will never forget the joke my friend made to kill the silence. It went like this.

“What’s scarier than an ISIS attack in Rotterdam?”

“What?”

“Fighting terrorism.”

His words reverberated with me with every news report I read which claimed that ISIS was independent of Islam, the individuals responsible for this attack and many others were simply barbarians disconnected from our world. Apparently ‘they’ are not like us, which is not just naive, it borders on arrogance. The messages that were disseminated on social media conflicted about the ideal response, it seems that ISIS or its members were collectively framed in pop culture as the undisputed antagonists, the eminent threats to humanity. I talked to the most liberal of my friends and even they couldn’t shy away from supporting some form of military intervention in the Middle East to fight terrorism.

And that singular idea to ‘fight terrorism’ underpins the whole flaw in our thinkings about ISIS. Academic Scholar Helen Frowe in her book “The Ethics of War and Peace” examined the moral status of terrorism. In her work she noted and reminded readers that terrorist attacks are a means to an end. This captures the cognitive flaw in how we think about not just ISIS but terrorism in general. It is not about alienating the combatants and killing the ‘enemy’ before they kill us. No, that only exacerbates the situation, as it suggests that these people are unlike us. Dealing with ISIS goes deeper than pointing the finger at Islam and its radical components. To be fair the Bible is quite literally just as evil as the Koran yet we do not have freedom fighters beheading homosexuals and killing atheists in the name of Jesus.

Religion is just the vehicle of manipulation.

No, if we in the West were serious about ending ISIS at its core, we would need to focus our attention on breaking down the “us and them” mentality that pervades so much of the media and consider the factors that foster radicalism.

In an interview with Truthout, American philosopher, political commentator and logician Noam Chomsky argued that the United States was one of the key contributors in the formation of ISIS. In the words of Chomksy “Radicalism is a natural outgrowth when a country like the US wields its sledgehammer at the fragile society of Iraq.”

Chomsky makes reference to a respected CIA analyst, Graham Fuller who last year wrote “the United States did not plan the formation of ISIS, but its destructive interventions in the Middle East and the war in Iraq were the basic causes of the birth of ISIS.” When a country is stripped of all democratic authority, radicalism often fills the void.

This is not a new idea, history can attest to this narrative. Germany after World War One was slapped with back-breaking sanctions that crippled the country economically, benefiting the allied forces from the First World War. The country fractured, splintering factions fought for authority, people starved and unemployment rose to astronomical levels. The lack of political trust by the public, illusion of civil order and poverty gave way to a public which was willing to listen to one man’s idea of a utopia, promising to meet the needs of society by any means possible.

And that is exactly what happened.

While it may seem a stretch to fit this same formula to ISIS, radicalism and terrorism isn’t random. ISIS nor Nazism didn’t just materialise. There are real factors at play. A study in 2010 conducted by Atin Basuchoudhary and William Shughar sought to determine the factors that preclude terrorism. They found that there was a pattern in which the lack of economic opportunity in poorer countries had a causal relationship with terrorist activity.

Yet their study goes further, as they concluded that “terrorism is more likely to originate in ethnically tense nation-states”. Terrorism does historically have ethnic undertones. Radical movements have often placed ethnic identity at the forefront of their regimes. In a religiously divided country like Iraq, the unusual Shiite majority was historically ruled by a Sunni minority. The break down in power structures after the 2003 invasion of Iraq empowered the Shiite majority establish what we know as the Caliphate today, according to Graeme Wood in his landmark article “What ISIS Really Wants.

A systematic system of recruiting and dissemination of propaganda has lead many to join ISIS, Wood says that Islamic State population is growing exponentially. The eight million ‘barbarians’ that make up the Islamic State live in a bubble under Sharia Law. What is often not reported is that under Sharia Law free housing, food and clothes are all provided, which is almost comical given the media frames we have been accustomed to. If a member of ISIS wanted to make his own money with work he could do so.

A systematic system of recruiting and dissemination of propaganda has lead many to join ISIS, Wood says that Islamic State population is growing exponentially. The eight million ‘barbarians’ that make up the Islamic State live in a bubble under Sharia Law. What is often not reported is that under Sharia Law free housing, food and clothes are all provided, which is almost comical given the media frames we have been accustomed to. If a member of ISIS wanted to make his own money with work he could do so.

Now, my clarification of the West’s role in aiding the emergence of ISIS combined with the benefits it offers is not an attempt to glorify the group at all. My goal in its essence is to humanise the members of ISIS, try to understand why people join the group in the first place. Military action can only worsen the situation, legitimise Islamic State’s cause and contradicts all ideas of morality.

Instead of trying to fight, we should try to relate, understand and comprehend.

It makes no logical sense to use violence to create peace. These people are just likeus.

Ourmeansisendscreative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *