Mondoweiss

ISIS wants us to come in and bomb Arabs (Rouhani and Matthews agree)

Last week the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said at the U.N. that ISIS wants the U.S. back in Iraq:

They also have a single goal: the destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region.

Last night Chris Matthews said the same thing:

Is it possible that ISIS wants us bombing it, knowing that the more we bomb, the more we maim and kill, the more the world sees what we’re doing, the more the Islamic world will choose sides against us?

Matthews also questioned how many of ISIS’s supposed 30,000 troops we have to kill. “Do we have to kill them all? Is that how we’re going to defeat them?”– pointed out that there would be lots of collateral damage, and many of those survivors will want ISIS to win, said that we are now being seen, once again, “bombing and killing Arabs.”

It was a great editorial. But when the beheadings began a few weeks ago, Matthews said that Obama had to do something and we’re at war with ISIS. He demagogued the hell out of it, and when others came on his show and temporized, he cut them off. Now he’s temporizing, wisely.

Matthews is also pointing out the Israel connection. Last night Republican Senator Ron Johnson was on and cited Charles Krauthammer’s column saying that we’ll be fighting in the Middle East for decades. Matthews jumped on this. He said it was a “Likud” strategy of “mowing the lawn” — that horrible phrase for Israel massacring Palestinians every few years. Matthews said that Netanyahu can get away with it because of his political coalition not wanting to make a deal, but why should the U.S. be caught up in this dismal vision of the future? Exactly. This is how Israelis think– managed conflict. From the Iron Wall on, they have believed that they have to keep committing violence against their neighbors till their neighbors accept them. And that woeful strategy is rationalized by settler-colonialist Islamophobic arguments like Krauthammer’s. Here is an excerpt of his Do it like the Israelis do column:

[T]his kind of long-term combination of rollback and containment is what has carried the Israelis successfully through seven decades of terrorism arising at different times from different places, proclaiming different ideologies. There is no one final stroke that ends it all. The Israelis engage, enjoy a respite, then re-engage.

With a bitter irony born of ceaseless attacks, the Israelis call it “mowing the lawn.” They know a finality may come, but, alas, not in their time. They accept it, and go on living.

Obama was right and candid to say this war he’s renewed will take years. This struggle is generational. This is not Sudan 1898. There is no Omdurman that defeats jihadism for much of a century.

Today, jihadism is global, its religious and financial institutions ubiquitous and its roots deeply sunk in a world religion of more than a billion people. We are on a path – long, difficult, sober, undoubtedly painful – of long-term, low-intensity rollback and containment.

Containment-plus. It’s the best of our available strategies. Obama must now demonstrate the steel to carry it through.

Successfully, Krauthammer says of the Israelis. Really, you call that success? And he says jihad is rooted deeply in Islam. That is an essentialist argument about Muslims seeking violent global reach. Imagine if someone said that wealth and media power and political influence are deeply rooted in Judaism, would that person keep his job?