War on a New Planet: Reimagining Conflict and Leadership in the Time of ISIS

by Ali Minai

Network1The terrible terrorist attacks by ISIS in Paris on November 13 have understandably generated a great surge of opinion and analysis – some of it insightful and some just opportunistic. It is precisely at times like these that the volume of immediate response threatens to obscure deeper issues, and for a problem as deep as the threat of jihadi extremism, this is truly dangerous. While people are still reeling from the actual attacks and decision-makers are reaching for the most obvious – and frequently bad – choices, it is critical that policy-makers move towards a more realistic understanding of the conflict they face, and not make things worse than they are. Of course, history suggests that this likely to be a vain hope – especially since the proper course is far from clear. This motivation behind this article is not to prescribe specific actions, but to provide a general perspective that may trigger further thinking.

Following the Paris attacks, President Hollande of France declared, “France is at war!” Similar pronouncements have been made by world leaders, analysts and pundits since 9/11. Some see the conflict with jihadi terrorists as a “clash of civilizations”; others as a “battle of ideas”, pitting modern liberal democracy against a regressive ideology. Yet others have declared it to be a “battle for the soul of Islam.” Those wedded to conventional geopolitics see it in terms of military engagements, covert operations and counterinsurgency. There is some element of truth to all these characterizations, but only in the sense that the five blind men of India had some part of the truth about the elephant. What has remained largely unacknowledged is the terrible truth that this is the first war of its kind – a brand new thing never before seen in history, and therefore one for which there is no prior wisdom. It is the first great conflict of the age of globalization, and its phenomenology reflects that of a complex, nonlinear, self-organizing networked world. To make an imperfect analogy, it is to ordinary warfare what quantum physics is to Newtonian physics. It is a war where things don't add up normally, where distant events can be strangely entangled, where common sense may be a liability, and where the very geometry of comprehension is distorted.

Read more »

If America And The West Got The Hell Out Of The Middle East, There’d Be No Terrorism. It’s That Simple.

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Unknown-1What to do about terrorism, now that Paris has suffered several coordinated attacks and over a hundred dead, with another hundred critically injured?

Redouble our efforts to fight ISIS?

No. How about the exact opposite?

Why not stop fighting ISIS? Why not let America and the West — the former colonial powers — get the hell out of the Middle East, and let those troglodytes fight their own battles among themselves?

Let me state the plain truth: if we got the hell out of the Middle East, the terrorists would get the hell out of our lives.

So, please, sil vous plait: let them have at one another in their horrorshow dance of damnable death without us helping anyone kill anyone else.

Let ISIS have their damn Caliphate.

Let Syria fight itself empty of people, where they cannot feed themselves because of a drought brought on by climate change anyway, with millions fleeing the country (from 22 million people, they're now down to 16.6 million, with millions in neighboring refugee camps, or on their way to Europe, or already there).

Let Saudi-Arabia clobber Yemen, and keep treating its women like shit, and keep publicly beheading people for blasphemy and witchcraft, and stone women to death for adultery, and continue being the worst state on planet Earth (naturally, we are their best friends, which probably makes us the second worst state on planet Earth).

Let the Taliban battle the corrupt leaders of Afghanistan.

Let the Iraqi Shiites continue giving their Sunnis hell, so ISIS keeps growing.

Let Israel do battle with Hezbollah and the Palestinians on their own till the day there are more Arabs than Jews in Israel, when the Israelis will finally have to give up and make a deal.

Read more »