In its strategy to position itself as the defender of Islam and the champion of the oppressed against Western Crusaders, ISIS has a willing stooge in Donald Trump. No better accomplice can be imagined. Trump has marshaled the hysterical and ignorant, largely for his own political advantage, no doubt to the extreme satisfaction of the so-called Caliphate. Trump’s spasmodic tirades and its echoes in Europe validate ISIS strategy. Identifying Islam as the enemy validates a program of brutality that has no political, theological, historical or social root without it, and sets a conflict that was never part of even George W. Bush’s agenda.
Like the emperor without clothes, Trump trumpets the magnificence of his competence, managerial skill, prudence and common sense. He sets off a stampede of elephants that elevates the ISIS mouse that caused it to demonic grandeur. To be candid, Trump is patently incompetent, stupid, bullying, reckless and apparently totally ignorant. That Islam should be cast as the enemy rather than the ally in this battle is beyond ridiculous. Muslims know that the so-called Jihadists of ISIS face a soul-rending shock in their appointment with the afterlife, when they discover not the promises of virgins and glory, but the just reward for their grisly actions. But on Earth, ISIS knows itself that far more will be radicalized by bombing of innocents than by reading its feeble doctrines.
None of this needs special knowledge, only a direct look at what is going on outside the circus tent. And I do not want to minimize the danger that Trump’s fever for short-term political gain, combined with the inability of our media- and money-based democracy to clarify things, will drive us over a precipice. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the tradition of religious freedom and fair play, the preference for truth and reason seem to be easily discarded when convenient lies and absurd stereotyping offer a road to power. Truly he is the Mussolini of America.
As I mentioned last time, ISIS terrorists will not be secreting themselves among desperate refugees when they can fly first class from Turkey or can just sit at home because they are already here. To build a wall against the victims because we are shocked by the gore of their victimizers is rational only in a bizarre video game, but it is the reality Trump and ISIS threaten to bring into the world.
The way to peace and stability in the region lies in the opposite direction, of course. Note in particular the formation of a political assembly in Northern Syria that builds on a democratic, inclusive movement with legitimacy among its population. Look for that to succeed. And congratulations to the enlightened faction within the American political establishment that broke with the Neoliberals to give the meager but essential support to this movement, perhaps realizing that effective boots on the ground are best filled by patriots. In the end, however, we must realize that whatever it looks like, political control must be theirs, not ours.
Meanwhile, look for ISIS and its chief stooge Donald Trump to push the world to chaos for their own political gain.
[R.T. Stone is a pseudonym for a long-time observer of the Middle East and American politics, from both inside and outside government. We are grateful for this contribution. Republication is encouraged.]