In his speech to the US Congress on February 28, Donald Trump, with a streak of unrepentant ire, pronounced: “I have directed the Department of Defence to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS – a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
Yet, ISIS did not come from nothing. Like all ideologies, “Radical Islamic Terror” arose from the material conditions of war; in this instance, from Turkey across the Middle East into North Africa and Mali; and into parts of Eastern Europe (the Caucasus, Chechnya). It arose to combat large global standing armies in the form of NATO and the Russian/former Soviet army.
That is, to put it graphically, IED’s (improvised explosive devices) and suicide bombers, on the one hand, versus large tank, mortar, artillery and aircraft formations; legally allowed bombs of mass destruction; long range cruise missiles; and drone attacks. Jihad ingenuity and terror versus large-scale conventional military terror. David versus Goliath. There was no way that David could confront Goliath’s formations frontally and win.
Radical Islamic Terror arose in response to global systems of mass surveillance, the CIA and the Russian intelligence services. (Such mass surveillance, which Snowden, Assange and Manning, in their own ways, have brought to light; not by supposition and declaration but by hard data. And therefore, now exiled, holed up, or in jail.) And, additionally, to combat the routine work of CIA and Russian espionage: lies, disinformation, electronic warfare; opportunistic intervention and fomenting of civil war; the coercion, or assassination of national and international leaders by disease, fungi, bombings, poisoning and so on.
Radical Islamic Terror also arose to combat the scourge of private mercenary contractor armies, which run thousands of programmes in the theatre of NATO wars. Mercenary and contractor armies are dedicated to both electronic warfare and para-military ground operations; and often act with impunity. It arose to combat its totalitarian global chain of command: from the cheerleaders and gospellers of war, demonizing ‘enemies’, subverting facts, suppressing information, CNN, BBC, FOX, MSNBC, to the contractors in charge of prisons, arms exchange and sale, covert instruction and supply of arms to ‘moderate’ terrorists, logistical support to standing armies, and drone assassination. It has christened this totalizing force, Christian, Western.
The US and NATO created mayhem, terror and havoc in the Middle East; from Turkey to Egypt to Mali, up beyond the Caucasus. This barbarianism precipitated backlash: Radical Islamic Terror, the refugee crisis in Europe, the instability of the European Union. The point is that Radical Islamic Terror is effect; and not cause. And President Donald Trump knows this. He says, if the NATO leaders, Bush, Clinton, Obama etcetera had gone on a holiday, gone to the beach or something, done nothing, the Middle East would have been in a better position today. He has vowed to “bomb the hell outa ISIS.”
However, ISIS is just the latest incarnation of Jihadism, a movement of fragments which morphs and confounds by its scale, intentions, capacities, complexity and difference. As long as there is an invasive NATO or Russian neo-colonial or imperialist standing army, there will be an ISIS. The genie has been let out of the bottle. You cannot wage interminable war against a civilization, culture, a people without expecting sudden impact, the ingenuity of terror to take hold and resist. So, the status quo is terror versus terror; the terror of NATO and Russia versus Jihad terror; terror does not have a party, a race, a culture, a civilization, a face. Terror is an ideology: it is shared. Radioactive.
Trump has been called a Hitler, reckless, a demagogue. However, he has called the Middle East a “disaster”. He has vowed to end US “nation-building”, a euphemism for US terror. He has said what no other US president has dared say. Responding to a question calling Putin a “killer’, he responded: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?” On Syria, he had said: “I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria. My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.” He has said, “I will give it one hell of a shot”; referring to his intention to vie for a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. He has pledged to be “neutral” in this “deal”.
Both Putin and Trump are cool and savoir faire practitioners. They must make an authentic anti-terror pact. They must first sit with the Israelis, Palestinians, and their Middle Eastern counterparts, and make peace. Peace between the Israelites and Palestinians will precipitate more peace; and will set the mood, tone, template, high moral impetus, for peace globally. This is a rare opportunity for global détente on terror. Let us hope the CNN, the CIA and the Clinton and McCain crooks, do not put a spanner in their spokes.
(Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is a Trinidadian who has worn many hats, including university professor, writer, activist, social commentator and tireless crusader for authentic economic development.)