More seriously, you really want to defeat ISIS, like for reals? Are you sure? Because here's the thing -- while our so-called foreign policy geniuses want to focus on "enemy" (translation: states that don't want to be compliant clients) nations like Iran and Syria, they're not really the problem. The countries that are exacerbating the situation in various ways are our closest "allies" in the region: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey.
One thing Obama's critics have right is that his foreign policy is a sheer clusterfuck, especially in the Middle East. It is at best ineffective in some areas of the region (the air-bombing campaign in ISIS territory), and is actually worsening the problem in other areas of the region (Yemen).
But the main paradigm of fanatic fundamentalism in the region is pretty easy to recognize: the corrupt, pelf-bloated petrocrats of Saudi supply the funds to radical imams around the world, who then motivate the local cells; the madrassas, tactical support, and training are in Pakistan (again funded by Saudi money); and Turkey has exacerbated the problems in the region by damming all the rivers that flow into Mesopotamia (remember, the Syrian civil war began as a five-year drought), as well as allowing ISIS cells back and forth across the Syrian border.
Turkey is also the way station for the ongoing refugee crisis, mostly from Syria but also from Iraq and Afghanistan. While all of those countries are Muslim, obviously at least some of the refugees are non-Muslim. But the majority of them are estimated to be Muslim. Turkey has reluctantly taken in almost two million refugees, after being paid by the EU to do so, but has been more than happy to pass as many of them on to Europe as possible, especially to Greece, which is already going through its own economic devastation, and is not equipped to handle hundreds of thousands of desperate people.
Aside from Jordan, I have yet to read of any Arab or Muslim country in the region willing to help out their fellow Arab Muslims. Then again, they seem to be content to not offer help or refuge to the Palestinians stuck in Gaza, the better to have an ongoing propaganda point.
Funny how the Saudis never manage to spend any of their fucking money on helping fellow Muslims in dire need. They'd rather rent a high-end rape-pad in London or Beverly Hills. Put it this way -- where there's a Saudi prince or diplomat, there's probably a few local women who have been sodomized against their will. I don't care about any "religious" or "cultural" excuses, the way women are treated in Islamic countries, and by their emissaries abroad, is despicable.
As the Iran nuclear agreement was being hammered out and finalized last summer, some of the more conventional wisdom centered around the notion that a nuclear powered Iran would be a threat to Israel. This would be true if Israel weren't entirely capable of defending itself, as it has an efficient missile defense system and an estimated 400 nuclear warheads of its own. Israel might be the mouse in the region, size-wise, but all its neighbors know it can definitely roar. That whole "drive them into the sea" schtick? Yeah, there's a motivational tool for them.
What's becoming more clear is that the country that should really be worried about a nuclear Iran is Saudi Arabia. The Butcher Kingdom seems to have overplayed their hand a few days ago; not content with beheading bloggers and adulteresses, they decided to take out some Shi'a leaders under the guise of fighting "terrorism" in a mass execution.
After all, when you're the chair of the United Nation Human Rights Commission, you have an example to set, amirite? It's almost as if this organization of effete Nordics goes out of their way to prove how useless and ineffective they really are? Why not dig up Mobutu Sese Seko and make him Secretary-General while you're at it?
To say that the region presents a host of complex, interlocking challenges with no clear solutions is a tremendous understatement. On one level, the seeds planted a hundred years ago by Gertrude Bell and T.E. Lawrence, by the Balfour Declaration and Sykes-Picot, are bearing tragic, toxic fruit. We have frequently not acted as friends, nor has Israel. On a more recent level, we refuse to learn lessons about blundering into countries that we know nothing about. We get played by "exile" groups who have their own agendas, and then wonder why shit goes sideways.
It seems to be a mostly American/European/Western mode of thinking, that every problem has a solution, you just need to figure out what that solution is. There are many scenarios where that is simply untrue, and it would be difficult to point to a better example than the entire MENA region. From Libya to Pakistan lie a swath of countries bearing our fingerprints and footprints. Aside from the tiny Gulf despotates, who pay protection money to the fanatics, not one of those countries is better off for our interference. (And in their own way, Qatar and Dubai and the rest of them are every bit as awful as the rest of them.)
But one solution lies in realizing who our friends really are -- and more importantly, who our enemies really are. Charles Pierce is 100% correct in the above link: it starts with the Saudis, period. Freeze their assets, seize their real estate, stop selling them planes and armaments, arrest their rapey princes and diplomats. Fuck every last one of them. Without their blood money, the ticks and leeches starve, they wither, they die. It won't cost a single American military life, no boots have to touch the sand.
If we needed any clearer rationale to support and encourage -- by gubmint subsidies if need be -- efforts at renewable energy systems, there you go. If there's any good to be found in our current efforts at "energy independence" via fracking and tar sands and such like, it's that it can be used as a bridge to transition to renewable energy relatively painlessly. But of course, no political candidate from either party has brought any of that up.
Everyone wants to rant and rave about the very real, identifiable evil of Islamic radicalism, but no one seems to want to do anything about it besides bomb and invade. We just did a decade of that in two countries. How's that working out?
It's tempting to look at the region and bloviate about turning the place into a parking lot and smothering it in bacon grease. I get it. I'm tired of sharing the planet with these fucktards too. Every country has its flaws, including the USA, but a sense of proportion is useful. We have a lot of blowhards, but none of them are throwing gays off of rooftops with official sanction. I'd like to take every one of these ISIS motherfuckers, force-feed them a ham-and-bacon sandwich, drown them in a vat of bacon fat, and bury them face-down in a mass grave of dogs.
But that's not going to work. All that does is inflame the martyrs and refresh the cause. You'd think Americans could take a look at their own southern states and get that simple principle. A short-lived confederation of slavers who took up arms against their own country and got their asses kicked 150 years ago lives on in repurposed symbolism and yahoo groupthink. Common sense doesn't even sink in for the average redneck asshole with a confederate flag, what makes anyone think that further war and death in the Middle East will do anything but reinforce the notion among the inhabitants that all we bring are war and death?
Most of these countries do not produce anything significant beyond oil. If we find a way to cut the Saudis out of the big picture once and for all, they are well and truly fucked. They're not going to recoup the shortfall by exporting more dates. If renewable sources are deployed, Europe and China can get the oil they need from Russia, and North America can self-produce. And there's simply not a large enough scale beyond the industrialized nations to keep those assholes going along at the same rate. They won't be able to fund Boko Haram and Al Shabaab to spread terror in Africa anymore; they won't be able to fund the madrasas where children are routinely beaten and raped while they're being indoctrinated into terrorism.
It shouldn't need to be said (but it does) that we're talking specifically about radical Islam, not about Islam in general. It sucks that the only Muslims we hear about are fanatics, engaged in ancient grudges, either against each other or against outsiders. We don't get to hear about Sufis or other peaceful, rational branches of Islam. But the problem is there all the same; right now the fanatics, propelled by oil money, are driving the bus. You want to shut them down once and for all? Stop giving them money. They'll change their tune with a quickness.