Most westerners only first heard of the Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL) - and its joyous psycho-sexual orgy of beheadings and crucifixions and burying children alive and the raping of young girls, and so forth - within the last few months.
If anyone doubts the depths unto which humanity is capable of sinking, there is nothing like the mass beheadings of Christians to really snap one out of one's vegetable torpor.
In any case, there is much confusion about who these people are and just what they want.
Thankfully, they seem perfectly content to tell us precisely who they are and what they want and are even publishing a glossy magazine called Dabiq which the Clarion Project has available in English:
It portrays the Islamic State as they see themselves: boasting of their victories and painting a romantic image of the restoration of an Islamic golden age and the heralding of a "glorious" new caliphate based on holy war.Dabiq # 1 declares the Caliphate!
Dabiq is a place in Syria that is supposed to be the location for one of the final battles according to certain Muslim myths about a final apocalypse. Choosing such a name for the magazine highlights the caliphate's goals.
That is very big news for very many people all around the world.
The first issue of Dabiq, "The Return of Khilafah" is focused on the declaration of the caliphate and what that means. Some of the ideology behind the group is explained in an attempt to persuade more Muslims to join. It also explains the name of the magazine, and boasts of ISIS' victories. It also talks about efforts made to build support among local tribal groups, reporting their pledges of loyalty to Abu Bakr al-Baghadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State.Listening to the Obama administration talk about ISIL, one can be forgiven for perhaps getting the impression that they are just a random group of maniacs who have come together in Iraq and Syria for the sole purpose of killing people and causing mayhem. The administration seems to think that if we can just somehow get them useful employment then they'll stop burning people alive in cages.
My suspicion is that Obama is indulging himself in a pipe-dream, but one thing that it is necessary to understand is how theologically-driven this movement really is. You cannot defeat them without understanding them and you cannot understand them without seeing them as they see themselves and the key to that is their religious ideology.
The Atlantic has an exceedingly important article by Graeme Wood entitled, What ISIS Really Wants that is a must-read for those concerned about the rise of this fun-filled organization. (Hat tip to the Elder.) Wood writes:
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.Wood, it should be noted, is skeptical that a military approach should be the primary approach in how the West deals with these people. He believes that given the groups ideological rigidity it contains the seeds of its own deterioration and demise, but that we need to understand the Islamic nature of the movement if we are to hasten that demise, rather than inadvertently encourage its growth.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Obama's desire to shield Muslims, in general, from the unjust consequences of being associated with Jihadism is perfectly understandable. But to deny the Koranically-based, apocalyptic sensibility of this heinous religious-political movement is to misunderstand it completely.
More importantly, to not understand and articulate to the American people that it controls a landmass greater than the size England, is something of a betrayal.
It is also akin to leaping into a boxing ring blindfolded.
In any case, I suspect that Dabiq is going to be a terrific source of information, entertainment, and humor going forward.
You should check it out. It's bright and shiny.