Jim Clark: Paris attacks spawn modern-day Reign of Terror? (part 2)
Last week’s column was a summary of how and why the problems in the Middle East came about and why the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also called “Dabiq,” which they don’t like) poses a clear and present danger to the west.
It was based on a recent presentation at Reno’s National Security Forum headed by former Reagan Administration official Ty Cobb as well as a presentation by the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism headed by Dr. Robert Pape.
Ty recruited three Mid-East experts — two former military and one retired State Department — who traced the history of the troubled area. They explained how the Koran describes an Islamic State headed by a caliph who is chosen by Allah and how this plan fit nicely into a scheme devised by an al-Qaida fighter named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Baghdadi was arrested, jailed and radicalized during the Bush Administration’s 2007 troop surge designed to pacify warring Iraq elements. When the Obama Administration pulled all US troops out of Iraq, Baghdadi was released and organized ISIS.
I also laid out Dr. Pape’s alternative Mid-East analysis. Pape, an expert on air power, was commissioned after the 9/11 attacks to study how to counter Islamic terrorism.
His research concentrated on Islamist suicide attacks, and he found that prior to the 1983 Marine Barracks attack in Beirut, Lebanon, there were none.
He theorized that the trigger for suicide attacks was foreign troops occupying Arab homelands, not dictates of the Koran. He also theorized that suicide bombers were used because they are an effective weapon against overwhelming military power, not because of some Islamic promise of paradise for martyrs.
So much for analysis. The question is what policies the US should adopt to deal with ISIS. The conventional assumption is that ISIS is an international Islamist movement led by radicals inspired by perversions of Muslim texts to inflict grievous harm on non-Muslims and Muslims they consider apostates, acting in pursuance of a goal of bringing all 1.6 billion Muslims within a “caliphate” governed by Sharia Law.
In a recent Reno Gazette-Journal oped, Ty Cobb recommended the following innovative policies: first resist putting American “boots on the ground” but provide logistics and armaments to Kurds, Free Syrians and others currently fighting ISIS; second, put our differences with Russia on the back burner and fashion a “working agreement” (if not an alliance) in the fight against ISIS; third, recognize that ISIS are primarily Sunni and that Iran, as the lead Shia country, should also be our ally in this fight; and fourth, encourage and enable “Anonymous,” the outlaw hacker group which has declared war on ISIS, to devastate ISIS’s sophisticated social media and secure communications by which they recruit and conduct terror operations.
The Project on Security and Terrorism has a different take. Dr. Pape recently told the Atlantic Institute meeting at Emory University that the core problem is western democracies and their allies occupying Arab lands keeping in power puppet governments, which the people do not support.
Pape believes that the 2007 military surge was effective only because (as reported in the New York Times and Boston Globe) the U.S. paid 100,000 Sunnis, the equivalent of $300 per month each, to not kill allied troops; that the surge allowed Iraq’s Shia government in Baghdad to crush the Sunnis in Anbar; and that ISIS was formed to oppose the Shia governments in both Iraq and Syria.
Dr. Pape also believes in “offshore balancing,” whereby allied special operations troops are provided to train local troops, that air strikes (which have halted ISIS expansion but not their consolidation) should be continued and that perhaps we should again make payments to those Sunnis who do America’s will.
Who is right? Maybe both. We should look at all options.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Nevada and Washoe County GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.