On the EDge: ISIS: Unfettered fundamentalism

OPINION – Spirits in The City of Light remain darkened in the aftermath of a bloody siege that left more than 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

The terrorist attack by ISIS, a pack of killers that makes al-Qaeda look like a bunch of choirboys, was vicious, horrific, an insult to humanity and further evidence that we have lost our dignity and grace as a species.

What we are left with is anger, fear and — most of all — confusion.

We’re angry for the senseless loss of life, fearful that the violence could — and most likely will — spread to other places on the globe and confusion over why this occurred, how it occurred and what it all means.

There were knee-jerk responses from those who squealed that none of this would have happened if those Parisians had been packing heat. This, of course, is ludicrous. A handgun does little to quell rapid-fire rounds exploding from snipers with AK-47 weapons and suicide bombers wearing explosive vests.

There were also knee-jerk responses from those who demanded immediate retaliation by bombing ISIS “into submission.” The only problem is, ISIS is really not a nation, just as al-Qaeda is not, so where do you strike without killing innocent civilians? It is an alliance of radical fundamentalist terrorists for whom home is wherever they hang their weapons of death.

Terrorists scatter like cockroaches when a light is flipped on, scurrying far and wide for shelter. They don’t congregate in large groups, are not a unified nation and are as likely — as we have learned — to be living in the French countryside as they are in a remote corner of an arid desert.

There isn’t a better-trained or more technologically advanced military in the world than that assembled by the United States.

Our sailors, soldiers, airmen and women are the best and they have, at their fingertips, the most efficient, accurate, advanced tools of war available, capable of winning any conventional engagement against any foe.

But this battlefield is not level and what our troops are experiencing now is anything but conventional warfare.

No matter how well-trained or well-armed, our military is at a disadvantage when faced with suicide bombers and guerilla fighters.

We were powerful and decisive during World Wars I and II. We started having difficulty in Korea, then Vietnam, when suddenly our military was facing an unknown enemy. The two excursions into the Persian Gulf, in 1990 and 2003, amplified the problem.

It’s difficult to engage the enemy when you don’t know who or where the enemy is. To simply go in and kill vast numbers of humans — as we did in Korea, Vietnam and twice in the Persian Gulf — is immoral. We cannot stomp out terrorism by taking out chunks of an innocent civilian population. We also cannot excise the guerillas from the general population because there is no way to determine friend from foe, which is why these conflicts in the Middle East will see no end.

Besides, ISIS is more of a thing than a place, even though it has seized a stretch of land that crosses from Syria to Iraq and has taken control of enough oil fields to earn itself about $3 million a day on the black market.

If it were a nation, it would be a different matter. It is difficult to defeat a movement such as ISIS which is rooted in archaic fundamentalism that is, in some ways, strikingly similar to that of fundamentalists the world over who share ISIS’ opposition to LGBT rights, demand that women should be subservient to men and believe in theocracy over democracy, including aligning the educational system with religious beliefs rather than science.

There’s also the nasty bit about a woman’s reproductive rights, the oppression of freedoms for every religion but the one they espouse, and that it is acceptable to overthrow governments if they do not follow the tenets of fundamentalism. It comes together in an effort to accelerate the apocalypse, which they believe will preserve the righteous and deliver torment to nonbelievers. It’s the heart of fundamentalism, a dangerous, merciless, unforgiving principle that is unyielding because it is the only reality these practitioners of such beliefs know.

So what we are left with is the dismal reality of trying to fight a cultural war that has been raging without rest for thousands of years against an enemy who would rather die than surrender.

What this means, sadly, is that we can count on the United States, Great Britain, and other allies to up the ante and spend a fortune in lives and treasure by sending more and more troops into harm’s way for the continuation of a war that will have no resolution.

We will never get a handle on the Middle East.

You cannot cajole them.

You cannot control them, even if you bomb them back into the Stone Age.

We have fought this so-called War on Terror for too long now, applying a strategy that, obviously, does not work.

All we have done is give birth to a bigger, more forceful, and more dangerous enemy by trying to force Western principles onto a culture that rejects them unilaterally.

The Middle East has never known peace, and will never approach it, not as long as the brand of fanatic fundamentalism imprinted there overrides decency and humanity.

So instead of trying to change the unchangeable, which does nothing other than place a target on our own backs, we should pack up the tent, go home and let the chips fall where they may.

For centuries now, nations have tried to conquer and divide the Middle East for reasons varying from religious beliefs to control of the vast oil reserves.

None have been successful.

All that has been accomplished is to exacerbate the hatred that has grown in the region for the Western world.

It’s time to turn our attention elsewhere, like within our own borders.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.


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  • BIG GUY November 17, 2015 at 8:53 am

    Pearls of wisdom here and there but sprinkled with half truths. Ed’s progressive politics shine through as he compares ISIS to those he sees as domestic villains, but they have little to do with ISIS or foreign policy, so why are they included? Ed’s solution to ISIS: ignore it and just focus on ourselves here at home. How well did that work on 9/11? Stick to domestic policy, Ed, where you’ve got expertise.

    • Curtis November 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      9/11 was not the result of the US ignoring the middle east. Quite the contrary; one of the primary objectives of the attack was to drive the US out of the middle east and in particular Saudi Arabia.

  • NotSoFast November 17, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Give Ed a break Big Guy. He knows he doesn’t have the answer to the current problem. He’s just doing his job of putting out there distractions to help change the subject. He should apply for a job with the current White House Press Secretary office.

  • Brian November 17, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Unfortunately Europe can expect far, far more of this. It is a direct consequence of really stupid policies based on the flawed myth of multiculturalism. There are islamic strongholds all over Europe where the police don’t dare to go at all and where there is no rule of law (other than sharia). Rapes and beatings are common and justice or peace for the infidels is nowhere to be found. The current US administration has done everything wrong, following down the same path. Obama and his “folks” own the mess in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and indeed the whole region. I have to say its ironic this article ends by saying we should focus on our problems “within our own borders” when the liberals don’t recognize or enforce those borders, and anyone who wants to enforce our borders or our immigration laws is labeled a racist. If we don’t become a nation of laws and common sense again our fate will be worse than Europe’s.

    • Rainbow Dash November 17, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Brian, Here here. for once I agree with you. Granting illegal immigrants amnesty as all administrations have done since Reagan is wrong. If they want citizenship, they should have to work for it, pay for it or serve for it. If they don’t they should be booted out the way they came. Same goes for any kids they had while they were here. They should also speak English or some form of Native American. They can speak whatever they way they want in the privacy of their own homes or families but in a public setting when talking to a store clerk for example, they should speak English or Native American. My great grandparents are Chzech and German, when they immigrated here they did it LEGALLY and spoke ENGLISH in public as quick as they could (they spoke almost no english when they first arrived). They taught their kids (My Grandparents) english. They did that because they wanted to be accepted in AMERICA! When I worked retail I got so tired of Mexicans who came up to me and asked if I spoke spanish.

  • Real Life November 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Europe’s open door policy has failed. And now they are about to pay a hefty price. It’s going to end badly there, it always does. We should take note, because our porous border is going to cost us dearly, if it already hasn’t.

  • anybody home November 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    This mess came about because of the stupidity and arrogance and desire for war of the Bush/Cheney mob. None of that mob understood or wanted to understand the cultures of the middle East. Nor did they understand what it means to go to war. As I recall, Bush bragged that we’d just go in and bomb them and get out in a month or two. We all know how that worked out. Now we have politicians inflaming the public with fear-mongering predictions of what’s to come. And the upshot is that we become inhumane people ourselves blocking refuge for those who are fleeing the terror with their families. Anybody wearing their What Would Jesus Do bracelets ought to really give this some thought.

    For what it’s worth, the Mormon church has long had similar positions about women but we’ve tolerated them for over 150 years in this country. They even conducted their own massacre killing hundreds and they’ve had their own terrorists planting bombs. Let’s boot the Mormons out of America!

    There, how does that sound to all you high and mighty pitchfork waving hypocrites?

    • Brian November 18, 2015 at 10:06 am

      Thank you for removing all doubt that you actually are as bigoted and dishonest as we thought. Muslim women are forced to cover their faces in public or they’re beaten, they can be killed in “honor killings” for any reason the husband or father deems necessary, they can be raped with impunity as long as there aren’t 4 men to testify on their behalf, in many nations they can’t read or drive, in many nations they can’t go out in public without their husband / father. Not a single one of those applies to Mormons today or at any point in their history. The Relief Society (the Mormon organization for women) is the largest and oldest women’s organization on earth and does massive amounts of service while focusing on the growth and development of its members.

      • Rainbow Dash November 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm

        For those specific things? No. They’re not. lets not forget though that Mormons are responsible for the largest mass murder in U.S History, the rape of THOUSANDS of children, countless lies and openly discriminatory practices against, blacks, gays, women and everyone else who isn’t conservative, white, male, rich and old.

        Now lets think a minute who else in the last century preferred the company of white men, told a bunch of lies and killed a bunch of people? Oh that’s right, it was Hitler.

        • Brian November 19, 2015 at 1:43 pm

          The Mountain Meadows massacre was an isolated incident where a group of Mormon settlers snapped after a wagon train came through openly taunting them about all of the Mormons they had killed and raped, creating very rational fear and panic that the same persecution that the Mormons faced in the east was now starting in the west. That fear was made worse by a number of deaths (likely from anthrax poisoning, which we now know can occur naturally in cattle) that was falsely believed to have been the wagon train poisoning a local well as they passed through. The Mountain Meadows massacre was a tragedy, and was murder, but it is a single event that is in now way representative of Mormons then or now (as opposed to radical islam, a phrase liberals can’t even bring themselves to utter and instead attribute to “workplace violence”, and which is actually representative of a very large group of people the president is bringing into this country by the thousands right now). To try to say that Mormons are like Hitler is very intellectually dishonest, as is almost your entire post.

  • .... November 17, 2015 at 5:50 pm


  • ladybugavenger November 17, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    Trump for President!

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