Note. This was intended to be one article but by the time I slowed down typing it I realised I was over 3,000 words. So I've split it into two parts or maybe three.
All the tub thumping and the jingoism from Cameron, the calls for patriotic British men and women to stand shoulder to shoulder with France in its moment of need, the constant mentions that we are in danger. Those who speak against bombing are called a threat to national security, those who oppose ever stronger state intrusion in our privacy are called friends of terrorists.
We are a few hasty words away from calling those who don’t want the RAF dropping more bombs or firing more missiles on an already war torn region cowards or traitors.
Anyone recognize a pattern in all of this, I’ve included the quote in the header picture to give you a big hint.
ISIL came about when a number of what were thought to be moderate or at least controllable groups were bought together, funded, armed and equipped for the purpose of fighting yet another of the west’s proxy wars against everyone else. They quickly went off to do their own thing and for the last few years have been named as THE greatest threat to the west. Countless billions of Dollars and Euros and Pounds have been spent blowing things up and killing people, often innocent bystanders and all with the publicly stated aim of destroying Islamic State.
The most powerful military forces in the world, the richest nations in the world, all claiming to seek the destruction of IS and all busy dropping bombs and firing missiles from aircraft and drones. Vast sums were spent training and equipping the Iraqi army, then vast sums were spent destroying the thousands of Hummvees, the hundreds of MBTs and the huge stockpiles of weapons and stores that IS captured when those trained Iraqi soldiers ran away.
Every day combat aircraft launch themselves skyward, bombs, missiles and fuel tanks hanging from their wings and bodies, to criss cross the sky over Iraq and Syria looking for something to blow up. Weekly we hear the names of IS celebrity figures who have been killed and of new celebrities rising up to replace them. For every Jihadi John there are plenty of replacements waiting in the wings to replace the last martyr.
Bombs, missiles, they don’t defeat a state. Carpet bombing entire cities and killing hundreds of thousands in firestorms failed to defeat the states who have suffered such attacks or have we forgotten out own history. All they have served to do is slow down, a little, the capacity of the enemy to wage war and created new hatred to inspire them with.
Over the course of this century, again and again the west has created groups to fight against other groups that the west doesn’t want to fight themselves, again and again these groups have turned into an enemy and yet more new groups are created and expanded to fight the last group who was armed and equipped to fight the group before that. In the whole of the century so how exactly how often has this worked, how many of these so called moderate groups have been trained and funded and armed and equipped and actually remained moderate and continued to fight the people the west wanted them to.
Well the Pentagon reckons four or five, that's not groups or wars, that’s individuals. The Pentagon spent half a billion dollars training and funding groups in one operation (out of many) and they think, that’s ‘THINK’, that four or five people may actually be fighting as opposed to having joined the enemy or sold their weapons and vanished.
A year of the US bombing, thousands of aircraft, thousands of bombs and missiles, how many dead and maimed. What exactly has that achieved?
Which is the basis of for my objection to bombing, not because I’m a pacifist or a coward or a traitor and I don’t think that anyone who is against the bombing should be accused of any of those. But because I have looked at the situation and thought about it rather than being led by the nose by propaganda, spin and the media.
The UK joining the bombing of ISIL in Syria will not defeat them nor will it achieve anything other than limited and symbolic victories. To my mind we need to defeat ISIL in detail and by destroying them as a state and as an idea, killing a few of them with bombs cannot and will not work. We have to kill the hydra in a way that will stop another head growing and then another after that. There is no point what so ever in fighting IS in a way that makes them stronger and guarantees that if they do fall they will be replaced within months by another group following the same path and doing the same thing.
What we need to do is aim for and achieve four main objectives:
Destroy their reputation.
Destroy their economy.
Destroy the religious creed that supports them.
Once these three are done the final one should be fairly easy.
Destroy their name.
Do this and we not just destroy ISIL but we don’t leave the seeds of the next ISIL and the one after that in the rubble of our bomb strikes.
Destroy their reputation.
ISIL or IS function in many ways as a fledgling state, they consider themselves to be a state and as much as our politicians and talking heads can try to deny the fact or mock it those who rush to join them and those who fight for them believe they are a state. Perception and belief is important, when people believe something strongly enough, when they see something they think to be true then they are prepared to fight for that thing and even die to support that thing. It doesn't matter that they are wrong, all that matters is they think they are right.
IS believe themselves to be a state and act as if they are a state.
An IS fighter who is wounded on the front lines or by a bomb or missile is taken to an IS hospital, treated by IS doctors, looked after by IS nurses and if he is bored he can get a book or two out of an IS library.
Meanwhile IS tax collectors are out and about and IS people are providing other services. Sounds like a fledgling state to me and more importantly it sounds like a state to the many people who support it.
By mocking them in the media but treating them as a state in most other ways except when attacking them we actually support their rhetoric. Putting aside the stupidity of the never ending and highly nebulous war on Terror / Crime / Drugs, acts of war are committed by nations and states, declarations of war are issued between nations and states.
The nations of Europe declare war on each other, Russia declared war on Germany, Japan declared war on the US (eventually), declarations of war are things that are done between states. So when France, probably not thinking it through clearly due to their anger of the moment, declared war on IS it was an act between states, a recognition by a permanent member of the UN security council, member of the G7 and well known nation state that IS was a peer, another state.
Islamic State are currently at war with four of the top six military forces in the world, they are at war with three of the G7 nations and two of the other four are providing non combat support to the anti IS alliance. In fact they have been at war with the US for over a year now and are still fighting, a singular achievement for any state.
As religious fundamentalists what conclusion can they draw from the fact that they are at war with four of the permanent members of the UN security council, they fight to create what they believe is their gods kingdom and while doing so they are fighting such powerful enemies, but they are still here. It doesn’t take much to push the line that god is with them under those circumstances.
As long as the west treats IS as an enemy nation WE help to build their reputation, WE bring them new recruits and funds, WE help keep them alive and WE will ensure that if and when IS falls there will be plenty of people to replace them.
We need to destroy their reputation to destroy them and this is not a short term objective but it is far more certain than dropping a few more bombs.
IS are extremely active on social media, the western response is pitiful. Delete or block a few Facebook and Twitter accounts. Wow, that’ll teach them fanatics not to mess with us.
It’s the 21st century, cyber is a form of warfare these days and that doesn’t just mean hacking. If every time some IS supporter posts something on Twitter it is buried in responses pointing out just how wrong it is then yes IS get more traffic but if ten times as many posts opposing IS terror as supporting them are posted every time then we begin to undermine the reputation of IS. Where is the effort to get those millions of so called moderate muslims up and posting, where are the anti IS campaigns posting thousands of messages a day?
IS post large amounts of propaganda videos and articles, where is the response, where is the effort to undermine these. Where are the Youtube videos focusing on the harm that IS does, where are the Arabic articles and the videos of all the poor dead fools who went to join IS and died, not as martyrs but just as unidentifiable lumps of meat. IS have skilled editors and publishers producing propaganda for them, where is the western response, where are the many skilled producers and editors of the west producing the effective anti IS Youtube videos?
IS are a bunch of bandits and cowards who prey on the weak and the defenceless, why isn’t that in the news every day, where are the attacks directed against their reputation. IS rape little girls because children can’t fight back. IS have to take slaves because decent women don’t want them. Attack the machoismo, attack the reputation, attack the culture.
Bombing IS isn’t a war, it’s a half arsed police action, it’s helping a few middle eastern nations deal with bandits and savages. We should be using the power of the internet and social media and the old media and peer groups and word of mouth to destroy the reputation of IS and everyone who joins them, the digital world and the real world should be filled with those truths IS don’t want revealed, the painful and pointless deaths of the fools who go to join them, the corruption of the leadership, the real reasons why IS fights (US mercenaries and Saudi puppets to create more profit for Saudi princes).
Where is this in our news?
The harsh truth is that we, our security services, our media and our politicians are actively and deliberately enhancing the reputation of IS, WE are making them stronger, WE are bringing them more recruits and WE are, as what seems to be a matter of political agenda, NOT using the tools we have to tear away at and destroy the reputation of IS.
I could go on and on just with this subject but I hope I’ve made my point.
So my question is; will bombing help to destroy Islamic States reputation?
Part two to follow.