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Some Thoughts on How to Compete with ISIS

2015-02-17

We do have a superior, and brand new, cultural system over that of the Islamic State: our Constitution requires strict separation of church and state, and demands freedom of speech, of the press, and the freedom to worship (or not) the G-d of our choice.  Islamists, in theory at least, demand the opposite: a theocracy, church and state combined, and literal submission to the rules laid down by those who claim to interpret “the will of Allah.”

However, we are in danger of being over-run by the Islamists because we are not using our resources to best advantage.  Here are a few things we should do in order to strengthen our defenses against those who think they have the right to take over the world for Allah by whatever means necessary.

First, we should pull back from an aggressive military posture into a strictly defensive one.  We need not station troops in any country controlled by Muslim governments.   We need not ensure that any one faction is able to keep any particular plot of land in the Middle East.  For example, we can and should denounce al-Assad of Syria as a murderous dictator.   But we don’t need to spend precious resources trying to overturn him.   Humanitarian aid to the refugees would be enough.  At times, when our intelligence indicates that one group is on the verge of massacring another, the Libyan treatment would be about all that we should apply.

We have all the land we need to live on now.   All we really need to do is effectively defend our own territory.  The territory that ISIS currently controls is some of the worst in the world: mostly barren desert.  It’s not worth fighting over.  However, when the Islamists threaten to massacre the Yazidis, we should send our B-1 bombers (it’s really a lovely plane, a true beauty, unlike the B-2, which is just butt-ugly.)

Second, we should change our prisons so that they  are not breeding grounds for extremists of all kinds.   Prison should be a place where people are reformed; they should come out reconciled to living in society, with a job that pays a living wage.  It should not be a place where criminals learn how to perfect their craft and teach each other to hate society more.  This is a difficult proposition, but it would be extremely profitable, especially in the United States, which has the largest per capita prison population in the world.

Third, we should beef up our social welfare system.   As I mentioned in my last post, ISIS claims to be obligated to provide free housing, food, clothing, and medical care to everyone who submits to its caliph.  How can we compete with an offer like that, with our dog eat dog system of capitalism?  Let everyone be protected from want, suffering, hunger, and disease, and let those who wish to work enrich themselves to whatever extent they want.   Income inequality is not  a problem because it is unequal: it is a problem because the people at the bottom are plagued by inability to pay their bills and just live like a normal human being.

As an aside, we should really try to avoid committing human rights violations such as those that occurred at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.  These violations are not only disgusting to anyone who observes them, they are stimulants for extremists.  Those who are subjected to this kind of treatment, and then eventually released, inevitably become radicalized and have good reason to hold a grudge against their oppressors.  The new caliph is a good example: he is said to have been imprisoned in Iraq by American troops for a time.

A final note is that we would be well advised to stop buying oil from these countries.  Some of their profits go towards supporting the very people who want to destroy us.  We must become energy independent by the most advanced means we have available.

With a realignment of our priorities, we should be able to adequately defend ourselves from those Islamists who want to take over the world by whatever means necessary.  We have a superior cultural rule system and we need to defend it with maximum strength and minimum collateral damage.

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