The Islamic State and Islam
In a fascinating and important article in The Atlantic, Graeme Wood instructs us on on What ISIS Really Wants. The importance of this article rests both in its venue of publication and in its content: it is perhaps the first MSM (main stream media) publication to assert unequivocally what ISIS (Islamic State in Syria; also IS, The Islamic State) is: “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic” (the italics are original).
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationary, and coins, “the prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Of course, this acknowledgement stands in distinct contrast to the public declarations of President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. And Obama’s attempts to rhetorically demean ISIS have come across to many as willfully childish, perhaps even betrays his ignorance of the nature and potential of ISIS. And Wood makes the case that this is so, that Obama has misunderstood ISIS (especially by conflating it with Al Qaeda), and thus has offered only ineffective actions.