I can claim no expertise on the matter; except that of a moderately informed American citizen trying to keep up…
Key points: ISIS clearly represents a form of radical Islam; one with fascistic and Western elements, yes, but Islam-inspired nonetheless. To my knowledge, there are no non-Muslim, nor non-Muslim-aspiring converts and self-radicalizers joining this fight, nor seeking to advance ISIS aims.
I do not believe people in the West are at war with Islam, perhaps that’s not as obvious as it should be in certain quarters, but in other quarters it should be just as obvious the West has been in a form of warfare with radical, guerilla-style, Islamic-inspired terrorist groups for some time. These groups keep emerging out of Islamic societies, capable of attacking Western societies, and even radicalizing a few Muslims within Western societies.
Some of these radicals have been forged (supported even) out of direct contact with American military engagement in the past and present, and also other Western/Russian engagement, too. Some such radicals can even be born within, or travel freely to and from, Western societies and the front lines of their ordained battlefield, as many Muslims are voting with their feet; seeking more freedom, opportunity, and security than their own societies can provide, becoming immigrants, economic migrants, and in some cases, benefit-seekers, and in a few, rarer cases…radicalized terrorists and murderers.
Deeper down, though, it seems these radicals are being born out of the conflict within Muslim societies and those societies’ contacts/conflicts with both the West and what is generally called ‘modernity.’ Islam and Islamic societies are having a pretty rough time with so much change, and most Muslims’ view of how society ought to be, and what the good society is, and what will happen in the future, differs greatly from what many in the West live and propose.
So, how does the West respond, and according to which leaders and ideas?
As to ISIS, Grame Wood’s piece and interview seem like a decent place to start:
Here he is in a VICE interview on the same subject:
As to the American response, I’m quite sympathetic to viewing the President thusly: Take the easy path of blaming your ideological enemies at home when the fruits of your foreign-policy decisions are borne. Elide over the radical Islamic nature of the threat which can cost people their lives and likely prohibits reasonable policy-making. Gloss over the humanitarian disaster Syria’s become, largely on your watch.
If necessary, double-down on your own policy positions and political coalitions (climate change is the real threat, peace is next, the Syrian mess will be solved by humanitarian means alone, that’s what ‘good’ people do).
Jonah Goldberg here. Walter Russell Mead here.
‘From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.’
Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Which map are you using to understand this conflict?: From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington
Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform
al-Zawahiri’s Egypt, a good backstory: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’
Michael Moynihan jihad.com.
Link sent in by a reader to Alexander Hitchens essay: As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became The Face Of Western Jihad
Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’…From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’
From Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’
Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech: Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant…From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’…Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders–Yale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk. Hitchens was not a fan of religion.