Allying with Assad would be worse than poor strategy; it would be morally unacceptable to anyone with an ounce of decency, and to anyone with the slightest stake in identifying and punishing his crimes.
An unfortunate but perhaps inevitable consequence of the growing numbers of young British men travelling to Syria or Iraq to join ISIS is that the communities from which they hail will at best be scrutinised for answers, and at worst be blamed for playing a part in their radicalisation.
A successful soccer player near the peak of his career, 22-year Nidhal Selmi died last week a foreign fighter for the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq.
To hear these "experts" pontificating about Islam or Arab culture is more than annoying. It's downright dangerous. Instead of elevating the discourse, they dumb it down. And instead of making us aware of the enormous complexities involved in these conflict zones, they reduce them to simple and easy clichés.
The key to untangling this mess and creating a series of tactical and strategic responses is to understand one basic truth: There are spirals of violence here that come from below, from the street, and spirals that come from above, from the state. Responses by citizens must undercut the violent spiral and address separately the state and the street.
This week, as Baghdad is under siege from within and Kobani is poised to fall to ISIS fighters, the question of "Who Lost Iraq?" is taking center stage. Many, including some former insiders, are quick to blame President Obama for pulling American troops out "too soon" -- despite the fact that the Iraq war wearily tested the sacrifice and patience of Americans longer than World War I and II combined. Obama was elected in the first place to end it all. The primary fault, more likely, lies with the blunt trauma to the region caused by the U.S. invasion and occupation in 2003, the unwise dismantling of the Iraqi army and the exclusion of Sunnis from post-Saddam power arrangements. A decade later, the counter-revolution is underway. In this contest, the reticent use of 21st century air power appears to be no match for the 17th century fervor of the Islamic State's boots on the ground. The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy calls for the expulsion of modern day Turkey from NATO because of Turkey's willful abandonment of the Kurds in Kobani. Writing from Beirut, legendary former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke traces the appeal of ISIS today to the yearning for Islamic authority after the early 20th century demise of the Ottoman Caliphate. (continued)
So many young Canadians are looking to make their mark on the world. Some pick up a shovel to build a school or a ladle in soup kitchens to serve the homeless. A small number choose a different way, traveling to Syria to pick up an AK-47. Where does the road diverge between the youth who choose the path of helping and those on the path of harm? And for those on the road toward extremism, are there points along their journey where they might be set on a positive path?
The Pentagon is planning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War by launching a $30 million program to rewrite and sanitize its history. Replete with a fancy interactive website, the effort is aimed at teaching schoolchildren a revisionist history of the war.
Obama's strange coalition of the willing isn't much good. It operates against international law and remains ineffective. This country isn't privileged, it is not a world power and it also has a different history.
U.S.-led airstrikes aimed at ISIS are being met with resistance in Syria. Some ask why it took the death of U.S. journalist James Foley for Washington to intervene.
According to Reuters (16 October) a senior U.S. official said some progress was made in high-level nuclear negotiations with Iran on Wednesday but much work remained to be done, adding the goal was still to reach a deal by a late November deadline.
How do you convince the globe's Islamic radicals, and ISIL in particular, that life -- for its fighters, supporters, and its persecuted victims -- is in fact far better than death?
But with the rise of ISIL and the American commitment to destroying it in mind, providing opportunities for university study to Syria's qualified young men is no longer just about higher education, its also about security and preventing the radicalization of a generation.
The greater we supported the corrupt government in Kabul and the more American troops we sent, the more the Taliban prospered. A similar dynamic is at play in Iraq. Consequently, without a change in American policy the cycle of violence in Iraq will continue its ghastly spiral.
The success or failure of the open-ended American military intervention in Iraq and Syria will not be apparent for years, yet there is one area where the US mission has already yielded improvements: humanitarian funding.
Whether ISIS is now actually deploying the weapons still needs to be proven but there can be no question that they now control them -- and some can be traced back home to the United States.