In the preceding post I made the case for being calm and carrying on in the face of violent attacks. Specifically, in the face of violent attacks from politico-religious zealots of the Islamic stripe.
(For, despite what Marco Rubio says Islam is not the only religion to throw out violent politico-religious nuts - any religion worthy of the title does that - but those are the variety most likely to be on the other end of the AK-47 from your or me these days...)
In this post I wish to make the argument that the reason for this is that the West will suffer more of these violent attacks as surely as the sun rises and sets. And that there is, effectively, nothing - or nothing much - that the West can do about that.
And the reason for that is that the geopolitical conditions that have and will mold violent men and dispatch them out of the Sunni regions of Syria and Iraq to attack and kill Westerners are difficult to escape and may be, in fact, nearly impossible to "solve" in the short or medium term.
What's rather pathetic is the complete unwillingness of so many people to accept that. Some, obviously, because they are simply stupid and have no real idea of how the region has and is working. But others because they seem to be good people who don't want to believe that this problem is insoluble.
Here's a good example: an article from The Nation discussing how to "destroy" the Islamic State:
"The only option here is a difficult one: restoring the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq by ending the Syrian civil war and the broader, regional Saudi-Iranian contest that feeds it."Certainly a wonderful goal, with only one teensy-weensy little problem; who the fuck is going to rule those restored Iraqi and Syrian "states"?
Both are not really "states" in the European sense or, at best, are "states" in the sense that Yugoslavia was a "state". Both were created by European imperialist cartographers based loosely on the divisions imposed on the region by Ottoman cartographers that largely ignored the tribal and sectarian divisions either inherent in the regions or which developed over time.
Provided that 1) the respective strongmen in Baghdad or Damascus were propped up (and, just as importantly, not kicked around) by external Powers, and 2) the principle of secular Westphalian statehood remained supreme in the minds of the residents, these pseudostates could survive.
But over the past forty years both of these pillars were badly damaged.
Between them the European powers, the United States, and Israel, made the weakness and venality of the secular Arab Muslim regimes painfully clear to Abu and Maryam Lunchpail. Those they weren't incompetent and beaten in war were corrupt and purchased in peace. The only Muslims who seemed both unbribeable and unrelentingly hostile to the Western powers and their Israeli pal were the religious or those who claimed to be religious. The inconvenience of living in the 12th Century might seem a little less onerous if your medievalist rulers are at least willing to kill the occasional Brit, Yankee, or Frog, in revenge for all those French and American fighter-bombers blowing craters in your olive grove.
And the fall of the Middle Eastern strongmen unbound the tribal, clan, and confessional, divisions the tyrants had forced closed, much as the death of Tito released the internal tensions within Yugoslavia.
The idiot Bushite replacement of Sunni rule in Baghdad combined with the rebellion against Alawite rule in Damascus all but guaranteed the formation of some sort of "Sunnistan" in the desert between the Euphrates Valley and the Jordan.
Now, even assuming that you could reassemble the pieces of Iraq and Syria, again...who and how the hell would rule them?
The politics of the Middle East is a zero-sum game; a win for me is a loss for you. There is no way of assuring trust in a transfer of power, no way to feel confident that it will ever be transferred back.
I know I've said this before, but it's no less true today; regardless of who represents the Sunni Arabs of Iraq and Syria, be it the theocrats of Daesh or anyone else there is no way, now, but to win or be crushed. To live either as their own masters or as slaves of whoever else rules.
How the hell do you take a place like that and, once you do, how do you keep it? I can tell you the only way: you crush the Sunni, you drive them before you, and you hear the lamentations of their women.
That's right. I just quoted Conan the Barbarian as a "solution" to the Islamic State.
The point being, that there IS no solution to the Islamic State outside of a movie or a comic book...or...genocide on a Sri Lankan level.
Because you can "solve" the Islamic State in the same way that the government of Sri Lanka "solved" the Tamil insurgency; you kill and kill until the rebels are sickened with blood, until the bulk of their young men are dead and their women and children terrified. And then you rule them with a rod of iron.
If you are a local you can do that. Or if you are a foreign occupier willing to levy this sickening degree of violence.
The Western powers will not, can not, do that. If you are a fool, or a Republican (but I repeat myself) you might think they can, but you are wrong. We have lost the callous racism we had back in the days when we could butcher Filipinos or Zulus or Algerians cheerfully. And that's good, frankly; I wouldn't want to be that people again. They were savages little better than the Islamic State.
No. At best (or worst) the West can try and raise up some local brute, arm him, and send him out to exterminate the other brutes. But, remember, we tried that in Afghanistan only to find that the religious zealots were the deadliest and most effective brutes and they ended up coming back to kill us. We tried that in Iraq only to find that our brutes were less brutal than theirs. We've tried that in Syria, and...well, I have no idea what the hell we're doing in Syria but, then, Syria is a rolling clusterfuck inside a goatscrew wrapped around twelve monkeys fucking a football.
So unless and until there a local strongman is built or arises - obviously, stronger than the Assads or the Shia congeries in Baghdad currently unable to do the butchery needed - willing and able to employ that level of genocidal violence against the Islamic State it, and those organizations like it such as Boko Haram and the jihadis in Libya, or Yemen, or Afghanistan, will continue to survive and fight and - every so often - send out some of their ruthless fighters to hurt us in the West as best they can.
And they will.
And some of us will die.
And there really isn't much we can do other than accept that as the price of our civilization, and go on.