So, if you did your homework reading I sent along over the last few days (here and here), you learned that the troubles today in the larger Middle East, while they didn't start with Western colonialism, were made worse by it.
Look anywhere on the globe where Western colonial powers moved into far-off foreign lands, decided to do some interior redecorating while exploiting their resources, then left. What you see, with only the rarest exceptions, is trouble... usually big, bloody trouble.
The links I sent earlier showed how the French and Brits divvied up the Middle East a hundred years ago, creating whole (fictitious) nation-states where they suited them, regardless of the tribes and religious sects lived there.
To those Christian westerners the 1400-year old feud between Sunni and Shia Muslims was just another example of how non-Christian heathens couldn't manage without the moderating hand of civilized Christian colonialists.
For the next hundred years, iron handed colonial governors ruled those creations. Then, as colonialists came under pressure to allow local rule, one colonial-supported tyrant after another took their places. Such tyrants -- like Saddam Hussein et al -- were absolutely required, since at the slightest sign of government weakness sectarian violence, which always simmered just beneath the surface, would erupt.
Then, in the wake of 9/11, the West's biggest dog blew that uneasy Middle East status quo to hell and back. America's heavy handed response, in both Afghanistan and Iraq, unleashed long restrained Muslim demons.
Now ISIS is in control of more land in Syria and Iraq than their failing governments. And they are on a roll. We've entered a new stage. Something irresistible has encounter an unlovable force. And, just as with the meltdown of a nuclear reactor, once it's begun, it's too late to stop it. All there is remains to do now is to try to contain it. After that just get as far away from it as you can until the worst is over.
Finally, the decisive battle fight over just who runs Islam, in the larger Middle East, has, after a 1400-year pause, begun. The matter was never allowed to be settled, to run it's natural course. It's not so much that some definitive victor will have to emerge before Islamic nations can move on. Wars end in many other ways. For example, the warring parties become exhausted by the chaos and blood and loss and decide fighting is a waste of time and decided to form, more stable relationships.
But that can't happen -- won't happen -- until the players in this drama, the Sunnis and Shia, are finally allowed to fight it out to a conclusion -- their own conclusion this time.
Western interventions of the past have proven that our attempts to redirect or moderate this sectarian feud only hits the "pause" button. The second we leave they get back to the business of slaughtering one another.
Whether Western intentions are driven by crass colonialism, geopolitical gain, resources or, as will be the case now sympathy for innocent civilians, getting involved will only make matters worse in the long run. Any relief the West can provide will be cancelled out by what we've seen over and over in recent years:
1) Forces on both sides will refocus their fury on Western forces. Any cop will tell you that's why the calls they dread most are family disturbances. When they get there and try to separate the fighting family members they, the cops, become the enemy.
2) The only way Western forces can achieve another period of uneasy peace there would be to install another heavy-handed bastard. And that bastard, though he is our bastard, could only rule by violating most, if not all, the principles of freedom and human rights the Westerns claim they got involved to gain. (I refer you to Egypt today and rest my case.)
That's why we need to keep our nose out of the Middle East. The sh*t is hitting the fan. So, if we don't want to get hit by any of it, stay the hell away.
Then, once it's over in a year, five years or decade from now, deal with the winner(s.) Let them "de-complicate" the matter for us, the old fashioned way.
Otherwise it's going to be more of the same for a far as the mind can imagine. A fight that's been on simmer for over a thousand years is finally boiling over, and the stove ain't ours to monkey with.