ISIS transforming into functioning state that uses terror as tool – The missing angle

By Zaher Mahruqi

Tim Arango courageously states what few would dare do and that is that the Islamic State has a real chance of becoming a successful “Caliphate”.  That credit of telling it as it is also is due to the people he quotes in his article including John E. McLaughlin who said in relation to the threat of the Islamic State.

“It suddenly just occurred to me, if you add everything up, that these guys could win,” he said. It is a controversial notion, he explained, because the group’s graphic brutality, which it showcases to the world in gory videos released through social media, has fed a sense that its demise is inevitable because it is so evil.

“Evil isn’t always defeated,” he said.”

The basic message of the article is that brutality of the Islamic State is not unique and that historically many extremely brutal regimes have rose up by employing brutality as a tool and later drifted into moderation successfully.  Many of the examples given in the article relate to Europe’s past.  “the group’s violence can be seen in a different light. The guillotine of the French Revolution and the atrocities of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Communist one in China”

Mr. Arango quotes a citizen of the Islamic State who asked not to be identified not out of fearing ISIS but other players as what he had to say was mostly complimentary to the Islamic State.  Law and order which the government of Syria and Iraq have failed to come by and corruption which the two governments are embroiled in are not problems in areas controlled by the Islamic State, he said.  In fact, the witness who was dubbed Bilal in the article says that “You can travel from Raqqa to Mosul, and no one will dare to stop you even if you carry $1 million. No one would dare to take even one dollar.””

Mr. Arango argues that this hyped sense of safety cannot be found in areas controlled by neither Baghdad nor Damascus’ governments.  But I dare say that that kind of safety cannot be found anywhere else in the world, certainly not in New York or London.  Arango’s is an honest article that unfortunately fell short of telling the story in full and which I shall attempt to complete.

If ISIS has managed to bring about law and order by moving between harshness and utter brutality then by necessity the opposite is also true. Impunity has had a devastating impact on the world and anarchy is the natural eventuality.  What is being dealt as democracy is indeed anarchy in disguise.

In the name of avoiding “cruel and unusual” punishments under “advanced” democracies, mass murderers from Jeffrey Dahmer to Milosovich receive life jail-terms at worst. What is the message being sent to would-be mass killers!! Indeed what actions should we expect from victims of such acts of brutality when they see such evil being granted such leniency!!

The financial meltdown perpetrated by the Bernie Madoff’s of this world that definitely and irreparably ruined the lives of millions in some very serious ways including death and family raptures just to name a few would not have happened if those criminals were envisaging  harsher punishments if found out.

The number of pedophiles, rapists, murderers, sadists and even war criminals has been on the increase exactly because of impunity.  Likewise, hunger, orphans, poverty, and widespread sadness and gloom have also been on the increase.  As the world wants to appear more civilized, suffering continues to mount.

Thus in contemplating the fact that ISIS and past regimes managed to bring about law and order only through brutality we must not forget that leniency could have even more dire implications for humanity. In fact, I would argue that ISIS’s brutality have arisen from the ashes of lawlessness in the world that was brought about by too much leniency rendering almost anything and everything permissible. Utter anarchy.

ISIS is not likely to reduce its acts of brutality soon as its chosen doctrine demands it. Beheadings, chopping of hands off and stoning are integral parts in that doctrine.  What Al-Baghdadi is counting on is that within his territories, those acts of vengeful brutality will make them unnecessary at some point because history has proven that the relationship between harsh punishment and crime is inverse.  People will eventually refrain from acts leading to those punishments, as Arango’s article puts it:

 We in the West have bought into this idea that insurgency and counterinsurgency is a battle for hearts and minds,” he said. “We forget how many states have been established through brutality.”

The eternal debate then becomes what is bad for humanity and what isn’t? Is adultery bad for humanity? Is Theft bad for humanity? Is alcohol bad for humanity? Is rape bad for humanity? Is speculation on stock markets bad for humanity? Is CORRUPTION bad for humanity? ……..

A good warm-up for such a debate is looking at the contrast between kings and politicians.  On the one hand, kings initially inherit power by force and implement self-ordained laws by brutality if necessary.  They know what is acceptable to them and what is not. If you adhere you are safe and if you challenge they brutalize you.

On the other hand, elected politicians are driven by votes and are almost certainly not driven by moral codes and thus they would stand by almost anything or any movement as long as it guarantees them votes. Worse yet, politicians ought to come across as cool as yet another tool to secure those votes and as such someone like Mr. Obama cannot be possibly associated to such barbaric acts as capital punishment. To politicians, who are the majority governing style today, long-term humanity gains are not important. Whoever has doubts need only compare between our world and that of the near past.

What the world needs to pay attention to is that as the world’s moral code disintegrates further and the associated pain becomes more real, ISIS type’s governance will win more support. This must not only be associated with Islam as other major religions (Christianity) have their own “hardliners” who even though have not yet taken action need not mean they are happy with what goes on.

The world, especially the Muslim world, must turn around with the serious intention of securing middle ground. Essentially doing the opposite and instead of starting from harshness and brutality towards moderation as ISIS is clearly doing, the reverse needs to be done and that is from too much looseness towards moderation.

Facts on the ground strongly suggest that ISIS is not only in Iraq and Syria but ideologically everywhere and gaining momentum. ISIS is also physically in every continent if not every country.  The US, Europe, North Africa, Arabia and Russia just to name a few.  In a short time ISIS has become the NEWS and intuitively one question begs itself, WHY?

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Zaher Mahruqi

Zaher Mahruqi follows world events, and seeks to shed light on the Arab and Muslim perspectives on regional and world events.

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