What ISIS Really Wants

What ISIS Really Wants February 25, 2015

An intelligent, Know Your Enemy, look at how ISIS thinks:

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.

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  • Andy

    Mark you asking American politicians to move away from their favorite pattern of ready, fire, aim, then bitch when it doesn’t work and blame someone else. This type of thinking has dominated our foreign policy an d foreign policy debates for at least the past about 15-18 years, with little to show for it. We are quick to label others as different and enemies of our way of like instead of examining what they want.

    We as a country would do well to remember Orwell as quoted in this article:
    Fascism, Orwell continued, is “psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”

    ISIS is an apocalyptic sect. They do not view their demise as being an end, the view it as the beginning. This is similar to how most apocalyptic groups view the world. They view the world through the lens of it is ending, and we can bring its end, which means we are on the side of right. This ending is indeed a loss, a sacrifice, but since it is shared it is worth it. Our political calculus is so tied to the immediate future that we cannot conceive of this path as being use. The “kill them all or we are lost” theories so frequently espoused only play into those beliefs.

    The appeal of mass sacrifice, the appeal of shared burdens is motivating in so many ways. It removes the stance we in this country have adopted that shared sacrifice does not have to involve me. We as a country assume that everyone wants to be like us, that golden city on the hill. Except each group has its view of what the golden city might look like and for many the US isn’t it.

  • SteveP

    Nonsense Mark. The article is a Starbucks-sipping panderer standing forth in bombast to other well-off latte sippers. You credentialed post-modern idiots really have no clue: ISIS does not want anything. They like fighting.

    • Newp Ort

      Mark post-modern lol

    • chezami

      Credentialed? Post-modern?

    • orual’s kindred

      I’m not sure how it would be better for him to be a non-credentialed idiot, post-modern or otherwise. And I find the suggestion that ISIS does not want anything to be odd, especially with the last sentence. If they like fighting then I would think they want more fighting.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      You do understand ‘Stupidest Blog Comment’ isn’t an actual competition, with prizes and everything, right?

      • SteveP

        IDGAF. Much like the ISIS.

        • Hezekiah Garrett

          Well, yes, we all gathered you assume they are nihilists because you yourself are a nihilist. That fits rather neatly with the thesis advanced in the linked peice.

          I didn’t expect you to come right out admitting it though. It weakens your entire point, don’t you see?

          • SteveP

            Still at ZFG.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              Yes, precisely, ‘nihil’ is Latin for nothing, or zero, I guess you could say.

              It is refreshing, you’ll honesty! So often nihilists deny themselves, for a variety of reasons. I applaud that!

    • AquinasMan

      LOL wut?

    • Ah, could you map out the pander? I’m having trouble following.

  • Guest

    • Actually, this is part of the dispute. According to the article, they want to trigger armageddon and after Jesus comes down from heaven and reveals that the muslims were right about him, islam will be victorious. For the tl;dr among us:

      “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.”

      And later

      “An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.”

      These guys apparently count the current caliph (the guy who runs ISIS) as number 8 of 12. A whole bunch of caliphs are read out of the line as illegitimate otherwise the numbers already don’t work. So one of the ways we could win against ISIS is to kill 5 people, the current caliph and the 4 that follow to invalidate the prophecy. It’s probably the minimum blood solution that’s theoretically available without a miraculous world-wide conversion of the heart. Unfortunately the US military can’t actually do that.

      • D.T. McCameron

        Wouldn’t they just follow the precedent you mentioned in the line just before and declare the dead caliphs illegitimate postmortem?

        • They might but would not likely succeed to draw the critical mass of followers necessary to execute the strategy. If they dissolve ISIS and created a different group with slightly different beliefs to justify reading out the ISIS caliphs, that might work but we’d probably have a few decades while the mental gymnastics were worked out.

          In the meantime, hopefully President Sisi’s called for muslim revolution would make the whole exercise moot.

          • D.T. McCameron

            Makes them look unreliable/inconsistent. Neat.

    • chezami

      Lots of nuts want to dominate the world. So what? They won’t get their wish. Be not afraid.

      • petey

        “want to” was a rightwing trope developed after 9/11. they “want to” destroy our freedoms, inter multa alia, was the reason we “had to” invade iraq. i want to fly to the moon on a unicorn, but i won’t get my wish, and they won’t either.

  • Marthe Lépine

    From the little I know so far, this situation reminds me of the battle described in the Book of Revelation. It looks like some new development in the ongoing battle between good and evil. And we know, from the same book, that the battle has already been won. Jesus has promised that the forces of evil will not be able to defeat the Church. So I wonder what, or who, inspires those people who think Islam is going to destroy Jesus’ Church and finally be given the final victory by Jesus… If my understanding is correct (since I have not had the the time to read the entire article yet), that is blasphemy. But I, and probably most Christians, have a pretty good idea of where it could be coming from!

    • I would expect that Jesus coming down from Heaven and declaring himself a muslim would just about do it for Christianity as a religion separate from Islam. They would likely be right that such a declaration would lead to muslim victory.

  • PalaceGuard

    In the meantime, it would seem that the scheme is to Twitter them into extinction.

  • Lykex

    I’ve been called a creep, a pig, an idiot, and a host of other things when I talk of fantasies involving rape and violence in the post-apocalypse.

    So, uh, can any Catholic so kindly inform me how the genealogy of it all is even remotely ‘intellectual?’

    • Both the military and diplomatic professions are charged with dealing with ISIS. It is important to success in both professions for an accurate account of the motivation of ISIS to be developed in order to generate predictive models and to use those models to achieve victory. As we are a democratic republic, it is part of the responsibility of the general citizenry to oversee both the military and the diplomats engaging in this work so we too need to know.

      Unless you think that military science and political science are not intellectual pursuits, this is, in fact, intellectual.

      • Lykex

        Oh both military and political sciences are definitely intellectual. It’s just that when I read terms like “intellectual genealogy,” I was assuming they were talking about the origins of ISIS ‘ideology.’

        Y’see, I don’t really get how it fits that label (even in spite of the article).

        The writer seems to fall short by taking the religious premise of the terrorists actions as a given. Y’know, as opposed to outright calling it sick (as I have been).

        One can argue that the process of understanding their behavior as intellectual. But, just because you can intellectually analyze a madman doesn’t mean the madman himself is now suddenly a Socrates.

        • Soviet psychiatry is rarely helpful.

          • Lykex

            Ah, but is it intellectual? Hmm…