This article first appeared in The Havok Journal on 19FEB15. Is it still relevant today?
Is anyone else at a loss about this ISIS thing? We have the best equipped, best trained, most motivated military on the planet and still ISIS has the upper hand. WHY?
Did someone say… “Well if we had a leader with a brain we would’ve already smoked ISIS”. Ok, I’ll give you that one. I tend to agree but a brain has proven to be optional equipment in the presidency over the last 15 years; advisors are what make a good president and are what the last two office holders have lacked but that is another article.
So why are we losing ground against ISIS?
First let’s identify the enemy. Who is this uncircumcised Philistine called ISIS and what in the hell is a CALIPHATE? I think I might have heard that word twice in my entire life, probably in a lecture on Islamic history a couple decades ago so let’s start with that concept.
The caliphate is a political unit based on the kalipha (خليفة) or successor to the prophet Muhammad. The word was transliterated to caliph. The first caliphs (caliphate leaders) were relatives and followers of Muhammad himself. The caliphates emerged and took power shortly after the death of Mohammad and under them the political, social, and religious institutions of Islam were solidified, including the definitive edition of the Quran.
Because of their foundational status and the fact that they were direct followers of Muhammad, these first caliphs are considered the patriarchs of Islam. They are the Muslim equivalent of the founding fathers to an American.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, fancies himself as a modern day caliph. Baghdadi believes that he speaks for his god. Unfortunately so do his followers.
In the sixth and seventh centuries the caliphates waged tactically brilliant wars of conquest and the Islamic empire stretched from Libya east including the eastern portions of the Persian Empire. They retained power until the spontaneous murder of the last caliph ‘Uthman after a riot in 656AD; an interesting point about the end of the caliphates and ‘Uthman’s death is the fact that he was the first Islamic leader to be killed by fellow Muslims.
So how is a caliphate different than a regular terrorist? I mean they’re all just Muslims with AK’s right? Well… not really and this is the key point about which our political leaders appear to have no clue whatsoever.
Your average run of the mill terrorist has an endgame in mind. They have a specific purpose; a goal, maybe even just a message they are trying to propagate. It might be the release of prisoners or the return of disputed territories in the settlements or some other demand but they all have some injustice; some perceived wrong they hope to right.
The modern Islamic caliphate has no such earthly objective. Their entire purpose is to provoke Armageddon. Islamic teaching about the end times has been molded to fit Baghdadi’s purposes. There are even reports in that ISIS Imams are teaching followers that in the end there will be 5000 select warriors cornered in Jerusalem to make a last stand.
They believe that, just before annihilation, Jesus (yes, I did say Jesus) will return to earth with a host of martyred Islamic warriors to slaughter all enemies of Islam. Baghdadi and ISIS believe they will be the Eternal Caliphate and rule Allah’s kingdom as the legitimate successors to Mohammad. Caliphates like ISIS are void of reasoning capacity; they have no connection to common decency or any ability to compromise.
I have been unable to secure a copy of any founding document for ISIS but there is another caliphate in the region; HAMAS and I have studied the HAMAS charter. I would expect it to contain many of the same provisions that Baghdadi holds to.
In regard to Peace, ceasefires and negotiation of peace, Article 13 of the HAMAS charter states:
“Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences: [Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement…” and “…There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.”
Holy Crap… I think this sums up what we can expect from any caliphate. The Islamic Republic of Iran and HAMAS are good examples of less radical caliphates but they all have the same objective. What Charles Manson called HELTER SKELTER!
So now that we know who and what ISIS is, why don’t we just send in Team 3 and some guys from 1st Bat. with a flight of Little Birds as cover? Kick ass and take names; right? (At least 3 of you just said Hooah! under your breath and tipped your beer didn’t you? – Sua Sponte!) That is exactly what ISIS wants. They have identified our weakness and intend to exploit it. We might win such a fight but the cost will be unbearable to our republic and our humanity.
I once had the privilege of sitting-in while my commander had dinner with a retiring Israeli officer with whom we worked with on occasion. I spent most of the evening just listening and learning. I was way out of my league as far as intellectual conversation goes so I just listened.
At one point General Harari (יהי זכרו ברוך) looked at me and said: “Asche… do you know what is wrong with you damn Amis?” I was used to being the only American around and the abuse was standard so I took it as a sign of affection. I just grinned like an idiot and answered “No Sir; why don’t you tell me…”
Instead of the joke I expected, he got serious. “You Americans are way too civilized; it’s your weakness; it’s ours too.” He said, “Boy; you write this down and when it comes to pass you remember who told it to you.”
“Terrorists will figure us out… find our weakness and use it against us… And if they ever unite… I promise you… if they ever decide to work together… we are F***ed. We will have no choice but to become as they are… or we lose” I did write it down, probably because of who was speaking but he was right. They found our weakness.
We are too civilized to fight their war. We do not kill innocent children; we do not burn prisoners publicly. We hold a universal standard of common decency; a measure of mercy resides in each of us. If an enemy fighter emerges from a firing position holding an infant in front of him; we hesitate… He fires!
I was taught that this hesitation is what separates us from them. We do not intentionally kill the innocent – EVER. I will hold to that belief until my last breath so what I am about to express is hard for me. I am one who has made a decision to never kill again unless there is no choice but I actually believe there is no choice in this matter.
ISIS is like a cancer that must be excised from the region before it spreads. Like excising any cancer there will be some healthy flesh removed and destroyed. There is no way to avoid it.
ISIS has no earthly goal therefore; no earthly action or reaction will have any effect on them. Their only endgame is to force an end conflict and they know that to do that they must force the US to engage them on the ground.
Armageddon is a universal concept amongst the main religions and this is the goal of the modern Islamic caliphate: to force Armageddon. We must not let them draw us into a ground conflict unless there is no other choice.
This is a battle we cannot win on the ground; we are too civilized at our core. No American Soldier is willing engage in the heinous acts required to defeat ISIS sword to sword; so we must deal with them in a less surgical manner.
A scorched earth policy; a Sodom and Gomorrah style campaign is the only solution I see. The innocent casualties will be in the hundreds of thousands; more than Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. You might think a lesser, more limited campaign would be effective but if even a seed of the caliphate is left to grow; it will grow and the cancer will return stronger than before.
Sometimes procrastination passes by the only acceptable solution. This is where political correctness and a complete lack of leadership at the national level have left us.
I know the resolve of the American fighting man and I have no doubt we will overcome ISIS… but at what cost? We should have dealt with Baghdadi and ISIS long ago. Now we must do it at risk of our own humanity.
Tell me brother… how do we explain this to our grandchildren?