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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 9/12/14

Why ISIS?

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The comments on Obama's ISIS speech overlooked the fact that ISIS is an all-volunteer army, yet that has some significance when trying to explain its success. Fifty-five year old Senator Bob Casey has declared that he expects the campaign against Islamic terrorism to last beyond his lifetime. That would seem to imply that we are indeed dealing with a clash of civilizations. However, time having marched on since Samuel Huntington coined the phrase, it's a different clash from the one evoked by those few Western commentators who acknowledge it.[tag]

ISIS Beheading James Foley - Is British Rapper L Jinny, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary Beheader?
ISIS Beheading James Foley - Is British Rapper L Jinny, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary Beheader?
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They see it as a clash between 'freedom' and a religious dictatorship. If that were the case, why are hundreds - and perhaps thousands of young people from the 'free' West flocking to join ISIS ranks? Where did they come from - the technicians who help them pump and sell their oil on the black market, the financial geniuses who enable them to make sophisticated money deals around the world, the doctors who presumably treat their wounded, not to mention the writers, photographers, video streamers and other technicians who run their recruiting websites, etc. etc.? Or rather: why did they come?

There must be a very compelling reasons why Westerners would overlook medieval beheadings to join the campaign for an Islamic Caliphate. (One commentator argued yesterday that beheadings are not necessarily more shocking than death by drone, but that explanation doesn't suffice.) They do so for the same reasons that others join their national armies to fight organizations like ISIS: a belief in the values those armies defend. For Westerners, it's about the freedom for individuals to develop to their full potential without too much government interference. But that freedom has increasingly been manipulated by Madison Ave that promotes the acquisition of as much 'stuff' as possible to fill the coffers of the 1%. That relentless campaign uses men, women and children as props, trivializing and often degrading them, with repercussions on their lifestyles. If you doubt this argument, consider that German cities are seeing 'Sharia Patrols' in their streets, (rt.com/news/185664-sharia-police-patrol-germany/) while Iran's president Rouhani sought to soften restrictions on women's dress in a recent speech click here.

ISIS's black-flagged campaign against the West is not so much about God as it is about life-style. Its Western recruits likely range from puritanic men who want all women to wear the hijab, to men and women who reject the emptiness of the consumer society and are convinced that speaking and writing against it will have no effect on a system that can crush all enemies. Since there are no revolutionary movements in the West for them to join, they join ISIS, considering that the priority is to overthrow the Behemoth.

I do not believe there will ever be another Caliphate because the world has changed too much for that to happen: but part of what underlies the North/South divide is a radical difference in visions of the good society. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, like most leaders of the developing world, condemn the barbarism of radical Islam, but they disagree with the Western model of society. Together with a growing number of Western thinkers they see the lifestyles the consumer society promotes as often degrading. They pursue a modern capitalism that would preserve ancient notions of human dignity.

But that story doesn't make good headlines.

 

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Born in Phila, I spent most of my adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books, my latest being Russia's Americans.

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring

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