The Widdershins

Activist Monday: What Happens Now?

Posted on: November 16, 2015

Peace for Paris

As we all mourn the terrible attacks in Paris over the weekend, and the 129 victims who senselessly lost their lives, I know that I am wondering what we will do now. What is the answer to how to stop ISIS, aka “The Islamic State,” from doing this again? How can we stop the terrorist group from taking over Iraq and Syria, and extending its reach throughout the Middle East in the long-awaited radical Muslim “caliphate” called for by the group’s leaders? Can it happen here, again? Will New York, or some other American city, be the next target? Will it be Great Britain? ISIS has already spat in Putin’s face (I think they will come to regret that soon), and now Hollande’s. This can’t be allowed to stand.

And so far, the response of the US and France has been to counterattack. Twenty bombs were dropped on an ISIS stronghold in Raqqa, Syria yesterday.

The French defense ministry has said the “massive” airstrikes which hit Raqqa on Sunday night, was carried out in coordination with US forces. Twenty bombs were dropped, destroying a command center, jihadi recruitment center, a munitions depot and a training camp for fighters, the defense ministry said in a statement.

This approach does make sense. Unlike Al Qaeda, ISIS is trying to take over state governments and became a “state actor.”  While Al Qaeda’s strongholds and leadership were hidden for protection, ISIS shows its hand boldly and proudly. This leaves the terrorist group open to traditional-style warfare.

As an aspiring government authority, ISIS is also committed to providing public and social services to the population, activities in which it is already deeply engaged. These many public goods include power and water services, law enforcement, health care, dispute resolution, employment, education and public outreach. These responsibilities cost money, which in ISIS’ case comes from extortion (or taxation, as it were), control of energy and water resources, and plunder.

These sources are of course vulnerable to physical attack and disruption. Strategic assets such as oil facilities and utilities infrastructure are highly visible and vulnerable to air strikes. ISIS also makes little effort to disguise governing facilities, political headquarters and policy and security installations. As a self-appointed state, ISIS sees little reason to keep a low profile in its own territory. Remarkably, its rivals have made little to no effort to target these assets, which are essential pillars of ISIS’ political authority and governance. For those very reasons, however, destroying these facilities without empowering moderate Sunni groups to govern in ISIS’ place would only lead to state collapse in ISIS-held areas. International efforts continue to focus on foreign terrorist finances such as donations. ISIS – a self-funded organization – remains wealthy.

The question is, what else is going to happen? How will the governments of France, the United States and other sympathetic countries react?

The Guardian’s view sounds good to me.

Which brings us to Syria. The defeat of Isis in Syria will not dissolve the threat of jihadi violence, but it is a necessary step on that road. That will surely entail military action, though that does not mean the west has to do all the fighting. Friday’s recapture from Isis of Sinjar in northern Iraq is instructive. The combination of US warplanes in the sky and Kurdish fighters on the ground proved decisive. For all that, the core of the answer must be diplomatic.

Saturday’s talks in Vienna brought together disparate antagonists, including Russia, the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But perhaps now – as Russia, for example, has seen that its dogged support for Bashar al-Assad comes at a heavy cost – those nations might finally rise to the occasion. This could be the moment when previously warring interests come into alignment. We urge all the governments involved to seize that moment – for the sake of Syria, for the sake of the innocent dead of Paris, for the sake of our common future.

That’s what our nation’s leaders should do. But what should we do? Maybe something like this.

French Muslim leaders gathered outside the Bataclan concert hall on Sunday to honour the 89 people who died there in the bloodiest attack by jihadi terrorists France has known.

They carried white roses, which they laid among the hundreds of candles and bouquets left by members of the public and were accompanied, as a show of inter-faith solidarity, by representatives of the French capital’s Jewish community.

As the group stood at the barriers around the music venue where heavily armed gunmen went on a murderous rampage on Friday night, they broke into a ragged rendition of La Marseillaise.

The message and symbolism was perfectly clear: the four gunmen who stormed the Bataclan, cutting down concertgoers in a hail of bullets then picking survivors off one by one with cold-blooded precision, may have claimed to be killing on behalf of Islamic State, but their actions had nothing to do with Islam.

To me, the key is for those Muslims who do not support radical Islam, to become more visible and be braver about their resistance. This is far easier said than done – in fact, one of the imams who stood with Jewish leaders has a fatwa against him, and he is far from the only one – but it must happen, in order to truly start delineating the peaceful majority of Muslims from the hateful minority, represented by Isis, Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. These terrorist organizations get all the air time and attention from the media, and regularly perpetrate the kind of unimaginable horrors that populate our nightmares, waking and sleeping.

To counter the terror, non-Muslims need to see a reform movement coming through Islam – a movement which we can identify and understand, and which is demonstrably large and widespread. Otherwise, how are we to know friend from foe? How can we assume that it is safe to let refugees from the Middle East into our countries, when we have no way of knowing who is a part of a radical Islamic movement and who isn’t? In Israel, almost two million Muslims live peaceably – all they have to do is sign a declaration that they have no intentions to harm the country or its people. While I don’t think this exact action would work anywhere other than Israel, the concept is the right one. Why could it not be adapted and adopted in other countries?

I feel it isn’t incumbent upon those who have been repeatedly attacked by jihadists and terrorists to assume that all Muslims inside their borders are interested in peace and citizenship. Instead, it’s incumbent upon those Muslims who are interested in peace and citizenship to say so, publicly and often, and in the company of non-Muslims. And the sooner they turn these demonstrations into a reform movement as strong as ISIS, the sooner groups like ISIS will be gone for good.

The interfaith gathering in France is a wonderful and positive response to a terrible and terrifying tragedy. May it bloom and spread across the world in a second Arab Spring.

This is an open thread.


30 Responses to "Activist Monday: What Happens Now?"

I’m damn close to speechless. Again I watch the media beating the war drums. The right wing, who could not have been more Francophobic over the past decade, are all but singing “La Marsailles”. Ob ama is stuck between the Seal raids rock and the Occupation Forces hard place.

Yes, the neocons will use any excuse to go to war. It is revolting. I hope Obama does not listen, but his faux dove act was one reason I didn’t support him in the first place.

These hateful terrorists should not get their wish and cause World War 3.

To call the neocons ignoble would be too generous. To hear them tell it, all Obama has to do is say, “radical Islam” three times like a reverse Beetlejuice and the problem disappears.

Could someone tell me what difference between the current policy of bombing and support of the Pesh Merga and Kurds and what any of the Republicans have said except Lady Lindsey. The Lady is the one Republican who has called for 10,000 boots on the ground. The rest of these hypocrites haven’t dared to go there.

There’s 5 million soldiers in Middle Eastern armies who have been armed by us. Saudi Arabia alone has 500K Sunni soldiers. Until the region can police itself, it will not be policed.

All these Rethugs are clamoring for another “Mission Accomplished” moment. Not one of them has a clue about what comes after decimating ISIL. That is the question, what comes next? A hundred years of occupation — where are the non-nation building, non-world police, non-interventionist, non-foreign aid, budget deficit hawks now? Cut children off food stamps so that we can encamp in the deserts of Syria and Iraq — now that’s a plan.

And one more thing while I’m on a rant — these craven pustules masquerading as governors who are putting up their “brave” opposition to fully vetted and confirmed refugees — how easy it is for them to bravely send someone else’s sons or daughters to a war half a world away, but cower at the thought of having a refugee’s family in their state. Seems as though bigotry and cowardice are now formal planks of the Republican Party.

Great post, Madama B! And here’s the truth: this is not exactly over, but I hope that smart power takes over.

Yes, totally agree Prolix! Especially with the last sentence.

I am heartened to read about the moderate Muslims coming out and denouncing the Paris attacks in droves. I hope this leads to a.reform movement for Islam. It’s long past time the majority started defining their own religion and taking it back from the crazy hatemongers.

I feel if peace is ever to come to the Middle East, this would be step 1.

What the Repubs fail to mention is that we – under Republican leadership – caused every bit of this. Reagan armed bin Laden, Bush 41 invaded and left troops in Saudi, and Bush 43 screwed the pooch completely with Operation WTF and Abu Ghraib.

Mad, at this point it is also time for good people of all religions to denonce their lunatic fringe and endorse sanity. It is fine to have deeply held beliefs, as long as you realize that they are yours, and everyone else may not be on board, and it’s just fine that we may all have different beliefs. That is what the Bill of Rights says. No wonder more and more people are leaving religion in their rearview mirror.

Thank you SM77!!

Chat – very well said. We had a lot of help in causing this situation, though. Sadly, our foreign policy has been both racist and imperialist for.quite some time.

I hope France’s President doesn’t go all Dubya now. France is a secular nation, and I don’t think its people will welcome Iraq Part Deux.

Don’t sell the Middle Easterners short. Just like people everywhere, they’ve never needed a lot of help to trash each other and themselves.

The West has certainly contributed. A lot. The colonial powers caused plenty of obvious damage. But the recent event I’ve seen historians finger as most directly related to the current bloodsoaked fanaticism is the CIA-sponsored murder of Mossadegh in 1953. He was a secular and popularly elected leader in Iran, who didn’t want to cut special deals for the country’s oil to the US. 1953 predates Ronzo by a long time.

I saw this cartoon online.

It’s a well-written piece.

Yes Quixote. I was talking to my husband about that too. The second we decided that the CIA should be interventionist rather than intelligence-focused (1953), we went down a very bad path whose repercussions are now coming to a head.

I think ISIS is starting to become as dangerous as the Nazis. In 1934, they were a vocal minority. Just saying.

@13, I can sympathize with Piyush’s statement, “This is not his time,” and neither is it my time to take wings and fly — seriously doubt there will ever be such a time.

Prolix, I had the same unworthy thoughts, only mine involved modeling bikinis. There was a time where it may have scraped up against possible, but that damn skippy isn’t now.

@15, Chat, I, too, thought of something totally outrageous like modeling bare chested, with flowing locks, ala Fabio for romance novel covers, but I thought I would leave it as flying since there was at least a hint of possibility there.

Amazing post, MB. And the comments also…exceptional. I wish I could add something, but I’m too tired & in dire need of a catnap.

I read the wapo article, which was good. The comments of course were the usual vile young idiot / rethug troll stuff.

SophieCT posted that Jim Obergefell (one of the gay men that sued KY over gay marriage) has endorsed Hillary on Twitter.

This is bizarre. You probably heard that “Anonymous” (the hacktivists) have vowed to cyber attack daesh’s online websites, twitter accounts, etc. Now daesh is saying that Anonymous are idiots. ?!?!

I just thought I’d offer my condolences to Fredster on Jindal dropping out of the GOP primary. I’m offering condolences because if he’s not running for the GOP nomination, he’s going to be in LA a lot more. I wonder if Vitter is upset about him coming back to LA and being around to drag him down? LOL.

@20, LOL! Yep, Fredster can NOT stand lil’ booby.

@20 – every silver lining has a cloud. 😄

A propos of nothing, since GA6th showed up…I hear a new UGA is debuting shortly. (I currently work with a die-hard Dawgs fan.) I saw a pic. Super cute!!!!

I’m offering condolences because if he’s not running for the GOP nomination, he’s going to be in LA a lot more.

And to Prolix, chat et al: Yep I was worried about that too but I saw he said he’s going to work at his *think-tank*.

Of course he could come back and try to work on the $500 million dollar shortfall in the current budget that was passed in July, but hell he’ll only cut healthcare and education some more so I say good that he’s going to his think-tank. I only hope it’s like Houdini’s tank and has the same outcome.

I’ve also suggested that we put sentries at every airport, air strip, dirt road, highway and train station in the state. Not for Syrian refugees but to keep his azz out of the state! 😆

Ga6th: Maybe he’ll join Vitter on the campaign trail. It would only be fitting.

@22: Yep. Little ‘Que will become UGA X. The bone and collar will be passed Saturday. And,yes, ‘Dawg fans are ubiquitous.
I can really date myself by recalling that I was there when UGA I retired…………..

Awww, you guys get a cute doggie for a mascot. We get a doofus warrior on a horse. Well, the horse is nice.

UGA has been named America’s best mascot more than once, and has graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.

LOL. Y’all keep up with UGA stuff more than someone who lives in GA does!

All I can say is I am glad my husband dragged me into watching football. It helps fill conversational voids at work events. 😄

Fredster, why stop at Booby? Let’s keep all the Republican candidates out of our states! Think how much clearer the air would be. 😄

@28: I’m from Georgia, and I’m a UGA grad. I’ll always follow my ‘Dawgs, and almost everyone here had been most gracious about allowing me to babble freely.

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