Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Why Trump and Clinton are wrong on ISIS

I want to endorse Donald Trump for President. Really I do. But I am yet to be convinced that he has the answers -- good answers -- to America's problems at home and abroad. Yesterday he made an important speech on foreign policy, on his vision for the US role in the world. His answer to the threat posed by Islamist terrorism seems to be to "crush" ISIS.

To destroy ISIS.... That's clearer and stronger than la Clinton's non-answer, which seems to be to continue the Obama policy of merely "degrading ISIL", which has failed in the Middle East and has actually made matters worse in Europe and North America, where "homegrown, radicalized Islamists" have mounted attack after attack on whatever hapless "infidels" happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What both Ms Clinton and Mr Trump either don't understand or deliberately ignore is the reason given by the "lone wolves" for blowing themselves up or driving trucks into crowds of merrymakers. What they say in their videos is that they're protesting against American meddling in the Muslim civil war being fought out in the Arab world. (Note that there's no Islamic terrorism in such large Muslim countries as Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia -- only in the Arab states.)

The solution seems simple enough. Get out of the Middle East, leave the Arabs to duke it out amongst themselves, and they'll leave us and US alone!

Ron Paul has been saying that for years. So have I. And so has Gwynne Dyer, whose book After Iraq (St. Martin's Press, New York, 2007) I've mentioned before. See "Who really 'founded' ISIS?", WWW 14/8/16. Here are some wise words from the chapter headed "The Terrorist Bandwagon".

The United States has never been more disliked in the Arab world, and Arab regimes associated with it have a grave public relations problem at home, but there is no sign of a popular revolution brewing against even the most vulnerable regimes.

Terrorist attacks in Western countries will doubtless continue in a minor key, probably carried out for the most part by young Muslims already living in those countries who have been radicalized by the invasion of Iraq.... The invasion of Afghanistan had less effect on Muslim opinion in Western countries, since there seemed some logical justification for it, whereas the lack of such a justification for invading Iraq left many in the Muslim diaspora convinced that there really was a concerted Western assault on Islam itself.

The withdrawal of Western troops from both Iraq and Afghanistan would remove the main cause of this radicalization in Muslim communities in Western countries...and the likelihood of further attacks would then tend to diminish over time.

As for genuinely international Islamist terrorism against Western countries that is planned and controlled from within the Muslim world, apart from 9/11 it has never been a significant phenomenon, and 9/11 increasingly looks like a one-off. Not only would it be much harder to carry out such an operation today in the face of much-improved security measures, but the strategic motive for doing so has dwindled drastically, since it would be very difficult to sucker the United States or other Western countries into invading Muslim countries again once the troops are out.

Mr Dyer wrote that in 2007. And in that last sentence is the essence of what's wrong with Mr Trump's just-proclaimed policy. To respond to the jihadist wannabe outrages in Europe and the USA by sending the Marines into the Middle East sandpit is would be to do exactly what ISIS wants, in order to destabilize and overthrow the governments (horrible though they may be) of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon etc. Walt's advice to The Donald (and Hellery): don't get suckered in again!

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