Inside the Islamic State

We’re looking inside the Islamic State: as a phenomenon and as America’s latest enemy in the endless war on terror. Do we know who they are, or how we plan to defeat them? President Obama says they aren’t Islamic and aren’t a state. It’s clear they’re a dangerous mad storm of Arab anger armed, in part, with hand-me-down American weapons. Could this be the coming Caliphate that Dick Cheney warned us against? What if it’s blowback that his Iraq War fired up? For a little perspective, let’s look back at the beginning of the Islamic State, known in 2004 as Al-Qaeda in Iraq:

Guest List
John Mearsheimer
historian and father of the realists at the University of Chicago, and author, most recently, of "How the West Caused the Ukraine Crisis" in Foreign Affairs.
As'ad AbuKhalil
Lebanese-American scholar, blogger at The Angry Arab News Service, and author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia.
Patrick Cockburn
journalist for the Independent and author of The Jihadis Return  
Hugh Roberts
historian of Algeria and the great explicator of Middle Eastern politics at Tufts University.  
Reading List

Our guest Patrick Cockburn has posted a typical excerpt of his new book, The Jihadis Return, on Vice (where you can also see the definitive news documentary on ISIS).

The myths regarding ISIS, brought to you by Vox. These include: “ISIS is irrational”, “ISIS’s extremism is popular”, and “the U.S. could destroy ISIS."

The FBI veteran, the moral hero of the torture moment in American policy, and now private analyst Ali Soufan gives America a reality check on Mideast strategy in The Guardian:
"...There can be no purely military solution, and it cannot be carried on by the West. When Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Turkey and, yes, even Iran, finally act as if the future stability of their region is at stake, only then will the tide turn. Only when the world – and specifically the region now plagued by bin Ladenism – is vested in the outcome will we prevent Isis from making bin Laden’s rhetoric more of a reality."

Iranians looking at the Islamic State see it as an American invention designed to drive a rift through the Mideast.

The ISIS strategy dates, according to several writers, from 2004 — to The Management of Savagery, something of a hit book among Sunni extremists. Our friend Steve Kinzer is praising Obama’s calm handling of ISIS in The Boston Globe, and recommending cooperation with Iran — provided the threat is great enough.

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