My friends in Islam are wrestling with what to do with ISIS, and the talk is not about joining.
Some are trying to find their way between persecution as Shiites and cooperation with Sunni Kurdish Peshmerga, for example. We don’t appreciate the crevasses in multiple self-concepts (x religion x sect x nation x locality x external relationships) involved in making what are both political and personal military decisions.
By way of mistaken aggregation, simple prejudice may misguide our perception of true states of affairs.
On the Sunni side in the middle east, every stable regime plus every peaceful human subscribed by legacy now finds status divided according to the word of Baghdadi: either accept his authority as caliph to rule over all Islam or prepare for battle with his forces. The irony of that possession has a cosmic ghastliness to it: who among theocratic or clerically authorized autocrats would not claim the same favor and infallibility?
The President’s lank position, so far, is to leave the matter of becoming resolved up to Muslims involved de facto in these wars, albeit with the exception of either protecting patently American assets, as in Iraq, or encouraging the moderate among the revolutionary forces assailing Assad in Syria. If boundaries are broached, as has happened some in Israel’s Golan, then additional measures have to be taken to maintain the geographical parameter of the heavy fighting (associated terrorism in foreign lands then becomes the province of established government agencies developed to address domestic threats).
I think Obama’s play between personal engagement and insouciant disengagement is a part of his stage management: why shouldn’t the rest of the world, and as it yearns to be free, police and defend itself?
People make up their minds about the world and themselves as they go along. Culture, experience, and information both lead and push all of us down or chosen or programmed paths, but left alone in mind, the mind has its own life and, predominantly, survival mission: it faces quandaries posed by the malignant, and often it fails and becomes the patsy or tool of the vicious; sometimes too, it rises to the occasion and takes a giant step forward from where it has been pinned by history, circumstance, and time.
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