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Iraq, part umpteen

September 23, 2014

Alastair Crooke explains why the Obama administration’s attempts to paint ISIS as outside of Islam will fail to achieve its foreign policy goal. Purely as a philosophical matter, it seems strained to me for anyone who doesn’t believe in Allah to argue over which Muslim groups more closely adhere to his “true” desire. That would be like an atheist judging Mormons, Catholics, or dispensationalist protestants for their fidelity to Jesus. To those outside it, a religion is what its believers make of it, neither more nor less.

Crooke’s article discusses how similar in outlook ISIS is to the Saudis, whom we keep as allies. And not just outlook. It’s hard to imagine that ISIS, were it to achieve power, would behave much worse than the Saudis. The Saudis regularly behead people, sometimes for absurd reasons such as sorcery or apostasy. The Saudis persecute Christians. And Saudi-based religion and money led to 9/11. Bob Graham draws a link between US failure to hold the Saudis responsible for that, and the rise of ISIS. Matt Stoller blames censorship.

But ISIS is a real threat, right? Maybe not so much.

It’s disheartening how easily Americans are moved by outrage and fear.
Foreign policy is complex. It’s sometimes necessary to ally with ugly regimes. Inevitably, most of us have to hope that the executive branch is planning prudently on better information than we possibly can have. As was the case before the 2003 invasion, it is my sincere hope that the current efforts make the world enough better to justify the loss of life and treasure. But it’s hard to see that the current Iraq strategy is more based on some cool calculation of that, with recognition of the inevitable unforeseen consequence, rather than stemming more from reaction to political fervor. I worry it is just as much fantasy as our previous disastrous efforts. Andrew Sullivan is dumbfounded that Obama now is treading in Bush’s footsteps.

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