Mark Collins – Not Grokking ISIS

First the start of an earlier post:

Guess What? The Caliphate Thinks It’s, er, the Caliphate, Part 2

Further to this post, excerpts follow from an article at Foreign Affairs. Guess what? Young men just want to have fun and seek what they conceive of as justice.

In my case when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 I, a thirty-two year old Canadian diplomat and just married a year, felt a great urge to go join the Mujahedin; I had spent a bit of time in Afghanistan as a traveller, and more time there later when covering the country from our embassy in Pakistan, and felt considerable affinity for the Afghans–and my best friend in Pakistan was a Pathan. Upon rapid semi-mature reflection I did not join the fight. But perhaps my emotional reaction long ago may mirror what many young men in the West feel today about ISIS. Though the Muj by comparison were very good guys. The excerpts:

ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group…

Now the conclusion of a piece well worth the read at the NY Review of Books:

The Mystery of ISIS
Anonymous

August 13, 2015 Issue
ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan
ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger
The author has wide experience in the Middle East and was formerly an official of a NATO country. We respect the writer’s reasons for anonymity.
—The Editors…

I have often been tempted to argue that we simply need more and better information. But that is to underestimate the alien and bewildering nature of this phenomenon. To take only one example, five years ago not even the most austere Salafi theorists advocated the reintroduction of slavery; but ISIS has in fact imposed it. Nothing since the triumph of the Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible, and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS. None of our analysts, soldiers, diplomats, intelligence officers, politicians, or journalists has yet produced an explanation rich enough—even in hindsight—to have predicted the movement’s rise.

We hide this from ourselves with theories and concepts that do not bear deep examination. And we will not remedy this simply through the accumulation of more facts. It is not clear whether our culture can ever develop sufficient knowledge, rigor, imagination, and humility to grasp the phenomenon of ISIS. But for now, we should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled.

Very relevant:

The Chasm Facing Mutual Comprehension: Islam and the WEIRDS

WEIRD Omabadreaming About Defeating the Caliphate

Decades-Long War vs ISIS?

Not Terrorism: An Idea and a State–The Clever, Cuddly, Killing Caliphate

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Not Grokking ISIS”

  1. A friend with considerable historical knowledge responds:

    “‘Nothing since the triumph of the Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible, and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS. Nothing since the triumph of the Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible, and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS.’

    A rather apt analogy, especially given the zeal with which the Vandals (unlike other Germanic conquerors) zealously pushed their Arian faith to the exclusion of others. The Vandals also took to the seas and made a right nuisance of themselves and until 535 repulsed all expeditions aimed at ousting them. Moreover their seizure of Africa essentially gutted the fiscal heart of the Western Empire.”

    Mark Collins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s