Frontpage, by Daniel Greenfield, March 31, 2015:
The Jihad is a machine for generating atrocities.
A new horror is deployed. Then it becomes routine. The horror of one decade, such as suicide bombing, has to be made dirtier and uglier by using women and children, by targeting houses of worship and families, and then finally superseded by the horror of another decade, mass beheadings.
Terrorism is a shock tactic. It only works if you’re horrified by it. If you get bored of ISIS beheading its victims, it will bring out child beheaders. It will set men on fire. Then it will have children set men on fire.
Like an acrobat juggling at a telethon, it’s always looking for ways to top its last trick.
In a crowded market, each Jihadist group has to be ambitious about its atrocities. No matter what horrifying thing an Islamic group did last year or last decade, another group will find a way to top it.
The old group will become the lesser evil. The new group will become the greater evil.
“If Hitler invaded Hell,” Churchill said of the Nazi invasion of the USSR, “I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”
There are a lot of favorable references to the Jihadist devil in Foggy Bottom where the terrible terror groups of yesteryear turn out to be misunderstood moderates who can help us fight this year’s devil. Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism program is tweeting Al Qaeda criticisms of ISIS. Iran and its Hezbollah terrorists no longer show up on the list of terror threats. Instead they’re our new allies.
When Western governments embrace the “lesser evil” doctrine, they ally with terrorists who are not fundamentally any different than the terrorists they are fighting. When ISIS broke through into the media, multiple stories emphasized that it was more extreme than Al Qaeda (despite having once identified as Al Qaeda.) But is a terrorist group that flies planes full of civilians into buildings full of civilians more moderate than a sister group that chops off heads on television? Is ISIS’s sex slavery more extreme than Iran’s practice of raping girls sentenced to death so that they don’t die as virgins?
The distinction between one evil and another is insignificant compared to their overall evil. The search for the lesser evil is really a search for ways to exonerate evil.
The Jihad creates endless greater evils. Today’s greater evil is tomorrow’s lesser evil. If another Jihadist group rises out of Syria that commits worse atrocities than ISIS, will we start thinking of the Islamic State’s rapists and headchoppers as moderates? The behavior of our diplomats suggests that we will.
Experts used the rise of ISIS to urge us to build ties with everyone from Hamas to Hezbollah to the Taliban to head off ISIS in their territories. The new president of Afghanistan is proposing apologies to the Taliban while defining ISIS as beyond the pale. Obama has chosen to turn over Iraq and Syria to Iran and its terrorist groups to fight ISIS.
If the process continues, then the United States will end up allying with terrorist groups to fight ISIS. And all this will accomplish is to make ISIS stronger while morally corrupting and discrediting our own fight against Islamic terrorism.
And if ISIS loses, there will always be a Super-ISIS that will be even worse.
We had few options in WW2, but ISIS is not the Wermacht. We don’t need to frantically scramble to ally with anyone against it; especially when the distinctions between it and our newfound allies are vague.
The Syrian opposition, that we armed and almost fought a war for, consists of Jihadists, many of them allied with Al Qaeda. But the Syrian government which we are now allied with, turned the Iraq War into a nightmare by funneling the suicide bombers across the border that ISIS used to kill American soldiers.
ISIS may be officially at war with the Syrian government, but it’s also selling oil to it, and there have been accusations that there is a secret understanding between Assad and ISIS.
How unlikely is that? Almost as unlikely as a Hitler-Stalin pact.
The Communists and the Nazis were tactically intertwined, despite their official ideological enmities, because they shared many of the same enemies (moderate governments, the rest of Europe) and many of the same goals (seizing territory, radicalizing populations, shattering the European order).
Iran and Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, cooperate based on similar premises. That was why Al Qaeda could pick up terror tips from Iranian terror groups to prep for September 11. Both Sunni and Shiite Islamic revolutionaries want to topple governments, conquer territory and radicalize populations. Despite their mutual enmity, they share bigger enemies, like America, and bigger goals, destroying the current map of the Middle East and remaking it along completely different lines.
The collapse of the Iraqi military that led to ISIS marching on Baghdad was caused by its Shiite officer corps inserted into place by a sectarian Shiite government. That government was not interested in maintaining the American fantasy of a multicultural democratic Iraq. It wanted to crush the Sunnis and Kurds through a partnership with Iran. The collapse of the Iraqi military endangered its survival, but fulfilled its overall goal of driving recruitment to Shiite militias in Iraq trained and commanded by Iran.
Obama’s avoidance of Iraqi entanglements and panic at the ISIS juggernaut led him to a deal with Iran. The deal effectively gives control of Iraq to its Shiite proxies. The sheiks of the Sunni Awakening were ignored when they came to Washington. The Kurds have trouble getting weapons. Instead they’re going to the Shiite militias. By using ISIS to create a crisis, Iraq’s Shiite leaders forced a US deal with Iran.
ISIS has killed a lot of Shiites, but for Iran taking over Iraq is a small price to pay for losing the pesky ‘not really Shiite’ Alawites of Syria. And it hasn’t actually lost them yet.
Iran’s ideal situation would be an ISIS Caliphate spread across parts of Syria and Iraq that would destabilize the Sunni sphere. Like the Hitler-Stalin pact, such an arrangement could end with the ISIS Hitler stabbing the Iranian Stalin in the back, but ISIS does not actually need to defeat Assad. It is not a nationalist group and doesn’t believe in nations. Its focus is on ruling Sunni territories.
Sunni nations have far more to worry about from ISIS than Iran does. Its advance challenges the bonds that hold their nations together. Its goal is the destruction of the Sunni countries and kingdoms.
That is also Iran’s goal.
Both the USSR and Nazi Germany described Poland as an illegitimate child of Versailles. Iran and the Sunni Islamists likewise view the countries of the Middle East as illegitimate children of Sykes-Picot with Israel standing in for Poland as the infuriating “foreign-created” entity ruled by a “subject” people.
ISIS and Iran want to tear down those old borders and replace them with different allegiances. The USSR and the Nazis elevated ideology and race over the nation state. Iran and ISIS elevate the Islamic religion over the nation state. It’s an appeal that can destroy the Sunni nations that block Iran’s path to power.
The trouble with the “lesser evil” doctrine is that the lesser evil is often allied with the greater evil. Hitler used Stalin to cut off any hope of support for Eastern Europe. Stalin then used Hitler to conquer Eastern Europe. While huge numbers of Russians died, Stalin got what he wanted. And that’s all he cared about.
Shiites are dying, but Iran is getting what it wants from ISIS.
Before we start saying favorable things about the devil, we might want to think about the hell we’re getting into.
- Carnegie Middle East Center Director Touts Al-Qaeda as Ally (clarionproject.org)