A new report reveals chilling details of the violence carried out by the radical Sunni militant group ISIS.
In June, ISIS militants massacred hundreds of Iraqi Army recruits. Almost 800 were reportedly killed at Camp Speicher, an air base that was previously a U.S. military facility just north of Baghdad.
Only one man survived the brutal attack. The lone survivor, Ali Hussein Kadhim, told his story to Adam Ellick, senior video journalist and reporter for Takeaway partner The New York Times.
Many war weary Americans are wondering if we are slipping into another war in the Middle East. President Obama has promised no boots on the ground minus the ubiquitous advisers, air strikes and drones. Those with memories of Vietnam know such promises were not kept.
But Obama is not LBJ or Nixon. Neither is he George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. He seems committed to a policy of military restraint be it in the Middle East, The Ukraine or the South China Sea. Nevertheless the worry about mission creep will not go away...
This report on NPR's "Takeaway" program was broadcast this morning - Thusrday, September 4th.
It's a chilling account of how ISIS operates. The threat ISIS poses is historically familiar to how Hitler's SS rounded up Jews, Gypsies and Communists before the Final Solution was put into full force. Just round people up and kill them en mass.
We know how this ended.
You may rhetorically say what's the difference between being beheaded or shot? Either way you're dead. To the morally tone deaf or obtuse, there is no difference. I beg to differ. Beheadings via social media are a particularly grisly propaganda tool implying the risk of opposing ISIS is a certain and grisly death. It captures the psychological meaning of terrorism invented in the French Revolution in the period termed the Terror.
War brings out the worse in human beings. Acting like Hannibal Lector amps up the level of fear and hate. It's very Old Testament, an eye for an eye... The sins of the fathers visited on their sons and daughters?
But let's remind ourselves of a little US history from the Vietnam War. When we destroyed villages to save the people didn't that ultimately end with the grisly scenes of the My Lai Massacre? The point here is that in soldier to soldier combat - it's often kill or be killed. But in the My Lai case and now with ISIS, the strategy is a scorced earth strategy which makes no distinction between combatants and non-combatants.
Nobody is safe - war time correspondents, opposition forces, religious minorities or non-combatants. Beheadings or mass slayings speak to a level of savagery or barbarism that goes way beyond the conventions of war. It makes the American atrocities in My Lai or Abu Garib pale by comparison. That's hard to do but that's exactly what ISIS has accomplished as did Pol Pot in Cambodia, the mass murders in Rwanda et al.
And the world watched but did nothing!
ISIS has merely taken a leaf out of the page book of terrorism be it from the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution or German Nazism and applied it while trying to create its fantasy state of an Islamic Caliphate. But in putting its grisly actions on social media - it should unify formerly disparate groups in Iraq and the Middle East to realize they are next in line unless they act now.
Yes "CC" - no American or allied boots on the ground but sitting by while this grisly stuff goes on is also "no option." We have advisers, drones and planes and hopefully "locals" willing to step up and fight their own fight with a little help from their friends. If ISIS doesn't unite the factions in the Middle East, nothing will and they will suffer the consequences and down the road so will we.
And just for the record - this mess was begun under the aegis of British Colonialism not Pax Americana. It will take a long time to untangle this "tangled web we weaved."
Thomas Friedman - It's complicated...
To defeat ISIS you have to address the context out of which it emerged. And that is the three civil wars raging in the Arab world today: the civil war within Sunni Islam between radical jihadists and moderate mainstream Sunni Muslims and regimes; the civil war across the region between Sunnis funded by Saudi Arabia and Shiites funded by Iran; and the civil war between Sunni jihadists and all other minorities in the region — Yazidis, Turkmen, Kurds, Christians, Jews and Alawites.
When you have a region beset by that many civil wars at once, it means there is no center, only sides. And when you intervene in the middle of a region with no center, you very quickly become a side.
ISIS emerged as an extreme expression of resentment by one side: Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis who felt cut out of power and resources by the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Baghdad and the pro-Iranian Alawite/Shiite regime in Damascus. That is why Obama keeps insisting that America’s military intervention must be accompanied, for starters, by Iraqis producing a national unity government — of mainstream Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds — so our use of force supports pluralism and power-sharing, not just Shiite power.
But power-sharing doesn’t come easy in a region where kinship and sectarian loyalties overwhelm any sense of shared citizenship. Without it, though, the dominant philosophy is either: “I am strong, why should I compromise?” or “I am weak, how can I compromise?” So any onslaught we make on ISIS, absent national unity governments, will have Shiites saying the former and Sunnis saying the latter. That’s why this is complicated.