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On bombing ISIS

201471662448507734_20 (1)War is politics by other, violent means. Proving the axiom right now is the arc of slaughter carving a great bloody crescent out of the Middle East. Start from the Mediterranean coast and move gradually in. The racist hysteria in Israel has found an outlet in the carefree pounding of the Gaza Strip. Civilians? Children? Collateral, Guv. Blame Hamas.

Scan eastwards and we find Assad’s regime just about clinging on. This secular but brutal monarchy has defended itself by any and all means at its disposal, be it torture, massacre and, arguably, chemical weapons. As despicable as Israel’s actions are, Assad’s crimes in the Syrian civil war are far, far worse.

Further east still there are the mediaevalists of ISIS, or the ‘Islamic State’ as they style themselves. With a little bit of help from Qatari and Saudi friends, its several thousand misfits and thugs have carved out a petty caliphate the size of Ireland. Except it’s not that petty if you’re on the receiving end of it. Many a fundamentalist has raised the cry “death to the infidels!” Only ISIS has a morality deficit large enough to operationalise it.

As we know, their lightning fast advance after the rout of the Iraqi army has put hundreds of thousands of people at risk. If you’re a Christian, a Shia Muslim, a Yazidi, or lead a secular existence then your life is in danger. If you live in Northern Iraq or North East Syria, you live in a land that could bear witness to another round of genocide and religiously-motivated murder.

Unfortunately, from the comfort of Britain some care to dismiss the clear and present threat ISIS poses the people of Syria and Iraq. While the account of the USA’s historic shenanigans is spot on, the official Stop the War article on Obama’s decision to start bombing ISIS positions is a complacent, tedious piece. It’s complacent because it sets up the persecution and massacre of the Yazidi as a lesser evil to the extension of US interests that a bombing campaign would entail. And it’s tedious as the hand of Israel and the US is seen everywhere behind the rise of ISIS. For example, the US “allowed” ISIS to run riot to frighten the Iraqi government off closer ties with Tehran. That worked out well.

Does the US have a base among the Kurdish proto-state centred on Arbil? Are they arming and using them to try and keep Baghdad out of Iran’s camp? Undoubtedly. After the Iraqi army melted away, are the Kurds working as the State Department’s proxy fighters against ISIS? Absolutely. It doesn’t matter that the US are bombing ISIS positions and airlifting supplies to stranded Yazidi to shore up the position of their regional clients. Faced with life under an American puppet or a short, dark future under genocidal zealots, I would have thought the “progressive choice” be obvious.

This isn’t to say there aren’t some extremely serious questions demanding answers. Why is it Qatar and Saudi Arabia, whose perverse, fundamentalist autocracy is every bit a staunch an ally of the US as Israel, have been funnelling cash to ISIS without so much as a murmur from Uncle Sam? We in the EU aren’t sitting pretty either. How much oil have we been buying from ISIS?

Last month writing about Iraq, I argued that the historic debt the UK and US owes the Iraqi people for smashing up their country and embroiling it in violence that has claimed the lives of almost 200,000 people rules out military action. After all, it ended so well in Afghanistan and Libya, to name two other unhappy countries. That was before the present crisis.

Very occasionally, good reasons and real reasons coincide. This is one of them. ISIS are a barrier to American plans for Iraq. They also pose an extinction threat to anyone falling into their clutches who does not meet their standards of religious hygiene. They need to be stopped. They need to be destroyed. And, at present, there is only one way of doing that.

This article first appeared at All that is Solid

Image credit: Al Jazeera

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