I’ve finished reading “ISIS: Inside The Army of Terror” by Weiss and Hassan and I must say it was an educational, if dense, bit of reading.
For those who do not understand “tribalism”, and this obviously included many people in different U.S. administrations, it can be a daunting read to understand the various combinations and options.
Think of it as a single, extremely simple spider web. Now put three more webs of the same size and simplicity together to form a square of spider webs – with no top and no bottom.
Each location on a web where two silk strands meet is a tribe. Join every one of these tribal joints to every other one of the tribal joints on the other three sides.
Every tribe has a relationship with every other tribe and in some spaces the strands between tribes are untouched and in other strands, there are multiple strands touching.
Each strand is a relationship.
Now figure out the relationships of who’s talking to whom, who trusts, fights, ignores, or historically hates the other. Who might be brought together and who has been apart for centuries and prefers it that way.
You have the Middle East and the milieu that ISIS inhabits.
You don’t step into the middle with impunity.
The U.S. during the Bush administrations didn’t step into the middle. They drove their army through the middle to tear strands and force new strands. Obama inherited the mess and didn’t improve it. Not that it would be improved by then as centuries of hate had risen and old scores paid back and rejuvenated.
The vacillations of the U.S. didn’t help as this month’s program A was in full force and next month program B was implemented. (I exaggerate for effect here. But the tribes soon understood the U.S,. would say and do one thing but could and would change their policies without understanding the forces in play in the region.)
Bottom line: I’m Glad I Read It.
This book is a must-read for anyone trying to understand Middle Eastern politics and what created and drove ISIS. It’s also a must read if you’re trying to understand why it will be difficult to effectively combat the group over the long term.
It’s not an “easy” read; it’s both a dense subject and one they authors have covered at far more than a shallow level. But read this book and you’ll understand – perhaps for the first time – what forces are at play in the Middle East.
The Biggest Thing I Learned
The group put out a 12-point publication (How To Control A Civilian Population) that included such things as:
- The provision of food and medecine
- Installing Sharia jurisprudence
- A pious and combat-efficient youth movement
- Deterring hypocrites (dissuading dissidents)
and eight others.
My .02 after reading this book?
ISIS may “lose” the current fight (Dec 2016) but they’ll remain a potent and deadly force for years to come. If history is an accurate measurement, you don’t defeat a religious movement with guns. But at least I now have a glimmer of what’s really going on in that region of the world.
Written by two experts, it’s worth the time and effort to read and understand. Excellent book.