2015 March 08 Sunday
Audrey Kurth Cronin: ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group

Audrey Kurth Cronin argues in Foreign Affairs that ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/IC is not a terrorist group because they hold territory and field a conventional army. See her piece: ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group: Why Counterterrorism Won’t Stop the Latest Jihadist Threat

In a nationally televised speech last September explaining his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, U.S. President Barack Obama drew a straight line between the group and al Qaeda and claimed that ISIS is “a terrorist organization, pure and simple.” This was mistaken; ISIS hardly fits that description, and indeed, although it uses terrorism as a tactic, it is not really a terrorist organization at all. Terrorist networks, such as al Qaeda, generally have only dozens or hundreds of members, attack civilians, do not hold territory, and cannot directly confront military forces. ISIS, on the other hand, boasts some 30,000 fighters, holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, maintains extensive military capabilities, controls lines of communication, commands infrastructure, funds itself, and engages in sophisticated military operations. If ISIS is purely and simply anything, it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. And that is why the counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies that greatly diminished the threat from al Qaeda will not work against ISIS. 


Cronin makes many great points and gives a pretty developed and nuanced picture of what is ISIS. Part of the pitch to recruits is 50 Shades Of Grey:

The group also procures sexual partners for its male recruits; some of these women volunteer for this role, but most of them are coerced or even enslaved. The group barely bothers to justify this behavior in religious terms; its sales pitch is conquest in all its forms, including the sexual kind.

What should we do about ISIS? Help radical Muslims from Western countries go to join it. Get radicals out of the West. Stop letting them come in. Then we should arm any of its enemies that show a willingness to effectively use guns against it. This means at least the Kurds and Assyrian Christians who are fighting ISIS in Syria. The Assyrian Christians are crowd-funding the Nineveh Protection Unit and are getting trained by American veterans.

ISIS does raids on Assyrian Christian communities to do kidnapping. Ransoms are a major source of funding for ISIS. These people are just evil. We should help the decent people who are trying to defend themselves against ISIS.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2015 March 08 11:59 AM 


Comments
Mike Street Station said at March 8, 2015 4:24 PM:

I think at this point yes, ISIS is more than a terrorist group. It seems like it's evolving into a terrorist state. Of course, it doesn't matter what it is as long as Obama is in office since he will continually mischaracterize it based on what he finds politically convenient or what fits into his narrow ideological worldview. And he’s not going to try to do anything about it other than try to minimize the news coverage.

Wolf-Dog said at March 8, 2015 7:37 PM:

Nazi Germany was not a terrorist group because it had a very popular elected government and their military machine employed people from all Aryan segments of the society.

But this was precisely why World War II became a total war, in the sense that since most Germans at the time actively supported the war effort of the Nazi government (all areas of industry) bombing the civilian areas became not only morally forgivable but even necessary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_war


Florida resident said at March 9, 2015 8:11 AM:

In my humble opinion, "bombing the civilian areas" may be "even necessary" (necessary for reaching what goal ?), but is not "morally forgivable."
From Wikipedia( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Dresden_in_World_War_II ):
The bombing of Dresden was an American and British attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place in the final months of the Second World War in the European Theatre. The attack was carried out in direct violation of international law[1] and the Hague Convention of 1907. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[2] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre.[3] An estimated 22,700[4] to 25,000[5] people were killed, although both German and Soviet authorities in 1945 claimed that 200 000 had died.

Florida resident said at March 9, 2015 8:35 AM:

It looks that "Wolf-Dog" has found a brilliant justification for any violation of whatever conventions and/or moral principles:
just stick the label "total war" to the enemy, and you are in your right to do whatever your side decides to do.
Disclaimer: having said this, I count state of Germany under Hitler's rule as enemy.

Johnb said at March 9, 2015 10:09 AM:

ISIS is no business of America, what we need is a total moratorium on Muslim immigration into this and every other Western nation. That's exactly what the treasonous leadership won't even consider. ISIS is just another "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" con designed to distract Republican yahoos attention away from the erasure of borders and genocide through colonialism the elite are waging against them. It just doesn't get any more blatant than Boner invited Bibi over to make a speech on the same day he capitulated on amnesty. When you have enough Muslims occupying your country you'll get your own ISIS, and the Republican elite are working to bring that day forward while they are getting their simple, cowardly followers all hyped up about the fundamentalist Muslim threat in the Middle East. Betray your own people while treasonously shifting their allegiance to a foreign power or attention to a foreign problem.

Seth W. said at March 9, 2015 3:38 PM:

I wouldn't worry much about ISIS extermists doning much harm to America. 25% of Americans don't know that the Earth acutally moves around the Sun. Only 48% know that humans come from other animal species and 50% believe -as a scientific fact- that our date of birth and the position of a plantet influence our destiny.

There are some other forms of extreme terrorism in America that are more silent and subtle, but a lot more dangerous and effective.

Wolf-Dog said at March 11, 2015 1:16 AM:

Florida Resident: Stop putting words in my mouth. Bombing civilian areas that are also militarily significant does not include bombing all civilian areas AFTER it already became clear that the Germany was losing the war. The fire bombing of Dresden was not morally justified primarily because Germany was already being overrun by the Soviet troops who were doing the dirty work of hand to hand combat for the Americans, and Germans were perhaps more flexible than the Japanese to understand that they had already lost the war, but the previous (before Germany seriously started to lose its capacity to wage war) massive bombings of German industrial civilian areas like the Ruhr region and other places that fueled the Nazi military machine were fully justified despite the millions of civilians who got killed and maimed, precisely because Germany was not yet being defeated at that time. In addition, many civilians were being recruited as soldiers. Also, imagine the following entirely realistic alternative scenario: what if the failed Nazi nuclear bomb project had been successful? After all, Manhattan Project was launched precisely because of the rumors that Nazi Germany already had a military nuclear program. Suppose for a moment that the Nazi nuclear technology was becoming so advanced that it became possible for them to disperse all their nuclear facilities as small modular chunks all over Germany among civilian areas to use people as human shields to protect the manufacturing of these nukes, and imagine that it became known to the Americans that Germany was about to build thousands of nuclear bombs. THEN it would have been 100 % justified to nuke all of Nazi Germany before their nukes became ready. Manhattan Project was launched with this scenario in mind, and the intention was to build hundreds of nukes before Nazi Germany, not just a few. Total war is when the majority of the civilian population is actively supporting the military machine of the enemy.

Wolf-Dog said at March 11, 2015 1:28 AM:

That being said, clearly ISIS is not yet being supported by the majority of Sunnis. For this reason, we don't yet have a total war by any definition of the term. However, the Caliphate, despite the fact that it does not yet have the support of the majority in its territory, already declared total war against us: the only thing that they are lacking is their military power.

Florida resident said at March 11, 2015 8:39 AM:

Posts by Wolf-Dog are "read and understood", which does not mean "agreed with".

Wolf-Dog said at March 11, 2015 4:24 PM:

No, not "read and understood", only "read and disagreed". If you disagree with the portion of the bombing of the civilian industrial regions of Nazi Germany that took place BEFORE Germany started to lose the war, be my guest. But know this: without the heavy bombing of these industrial civilian regions, Germany would not have lost WW II. Germany was producing enormous quantities of liquid fuels by converting coal into gasoline and diesel. Without bombing these civilian industries that literally disabled the Nazi armored vehicles due to the resulting shortage of fuel, Germany would not have lost WW II.

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1981/jul-aug/becker.htm

In fact, WW II was an air war won by heavy bombing, not by dogfights that look great in Hollywood movies.

Nick said at March 12, 2015 7:21 AM:

Wolf-Dog, your reasoning is a justification for the mass-slaughter of civlians. Where exactly did your read that the Allies believed mass killings of civilians was the way to stop the "Nazi military machine"? Your "millions of civilians who got killed and maimed" from "massive bombings" sounds like a number your pulled out of thin air as well. Some facts would serve you better than "what if" scenarios. Allied air capacity in the early years of the war wasn't great enough for the general bombardment of "industrial civilian areas" but only specific targets. For those who are interested in the specifics of aerial bombardment during World War II I recommend this book: LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay

Florida resident said at March 12, 2015 9:50 AM:

Before the post by "Nick", I read the Wikipedia entry about Curtis LeMay, whose name I definitely knew.
Now, with gratitude to "Nick", I am going to buy the said book by Warren Kozak. Thanks !

Wolf-Dog said at March 12, 2015 2:14 PM:

Nick, "Allied air capacity in the early years of the war wasn't enough"
----------------------------------------------------

True, but your reasoning seems to be based on the assumption that the annihilation of the industrial capacity of Nazi Germany was not the crucial factor in the outcome of the war.

Actually it was during the second half of WW II that the Nazi military industrial complex (most notably the liquid fuels, but many also new weapons getting ready for mass production in the second half of the war) started to skyrocket, but just around that time it was wiped out by the allied bombing that became much more capable right on time during the second half of the war. Had these industries not been disabled, it would have been impossible to defeat Nazi Germany: despite the initial success of the Russians in repelling the German advance (mostly thanks to the lack of liquid fuels in Germany), it would have been impossible to invade Germany, and most likely the D-Day could have also failed because there was going to be far more tanks and armored vehicles (with enough synthetic fuel which lacked at the end of the War and most German vehicles could not be used at that time) as well as a lot more German soldiers defending the beaches in France. And with a stalemate, the Nazi weapons had a very good chance of surpassing the Allies, leading to a partial success of Germany in controlling most of Europe with a peace treaty to cement that partial victory of the Nazis.

Actually, most people accuse me of being leftist, and an appeaser. The "what if scenarios" that you are elliptically talking about, were the reason the Manhattan Project was launched, and the only reason Nazi Germany abandoned its own nuclear program was because resources were scarce during the war, but with more resources in in Germany during WW II, it was a real possibility. The father of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller was the PhD student of the German physicist Heisenberg, who was leading the Nazi nuclear project.

Many decisions are based on "what if" scenarios. The what if scenarios prevented the Cold War from escalating into a total war, because NATO was prepared for war by means of simulations and researching the future probabilities.

Wolf-Dog said at March 12, 2015 2:14 PM:

Nick, "Allied air capacity in the early years of the war wasn't enough"
----------------------------------------------------

True, but your reasoning seems to be based on the assumption that the annihilation of the industrial capacity of Nazi Germany was not the crucial factor in the outcome of the war.

Actually it was during the second half of WW II that the Nazi military industrial complex (most notably the liquid fuels, but many also new weapons getting ready for mass production in the second half of the war) started to skyrocket, but just around that time it was wiped out by the allied bombing that became much more capable right on time during the second half of the war. Had these industries not been disabled, it would have been impossible to defeat Nazi Germany: despite the initial success of the Russians in repelling the German advance (mostly thanks to the lack of liquid fuels in Germany), it would have been impossible to invade Germany, and most likely the D-Day could have also failed because there was going to be far more tanks and armored vehicles (with enough synthetic fuel which lacked at the end of the War and most German vehicles could not be used at that time) as well as a lot more German soldiers defending the beaches in France. And with a stalemate, the Nazi weapons had a very good chance of surpassing the Allies, leading to a partial success of Germany in controlling most of Europe with a peace treaty to cement that partial victory of the Nazis.

Actually, most people accuse me of being leftist, and an appeaser. The "what if scenarios" that you are elliptically talking about, were the reason the Manhattan Project was launched, and the only reason Nazi Germany abandoned its own nuclear program was because resources were scarce during the war, but with more resources in in Germany during WW II, it was a real possibility. The father of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller was the PhD student of the German physicist Heisenberg, who was leading the Nazi nuclear project.

Many decisions are based on "what if" scenarios. The what if scenarios prevented the Cold War from escalating into a total war, because NATO was prepared for war by means of simulations and researching the future probabilities.


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