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Boardman writes: "Hysteria is not always so easy to perceive as it happens or, in this case, as it is happening right now with ISIS-centric Islamophobia running rampant around the nation's terror-drenched reptilian brain."

In little more than a month, ISIS (aka ISIL, or IS, or Islamic State, or Islamic Caliphate) has changed little on the ground, while its image in American minds has morphed into a ginormous, imaginary monster capable of throwing a terrifying shadow of fear across the American continent thousands of miles away. (photo: AFP)
In little more than a month, ISIS (aka ISIL, or IS, or Islamic State, or Islamic Caliphate) has changed little on the ground, while its image in American minds has morphed into a ginormous, imaginary monster capable of throwing a terrifying shadow of fear across the American continent thousands of miles away. (photo: AFP)

Stupid Stuff on Steroids - Syria and Comic Book Thinking

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

19 September 14


“This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed”

merican hysteria is a wondrous thing to behold.

Our hysteria is usually obvious in retrospect, whether the freak-out is over witches, labor unions, or communists. Hysteria is not always so easy to perceive as it happens or, in this case, as it is happening right now with ISIS-centric Islamophobia running rampant around the nation’s terror-drenched reptilian brain.

The collective rush to do “stupid stuff” kicked in with the mass-Pavlovian response to cleverly marketed, ISIS-produced infomercials featuring the beheading of two Americans (earlier beheadings of non-Americans failed to have the same effect). But killing Americans in the collective mind’s imaginary Islamistan hits those who are reflexively violent smack in the patriot-plexus, and has them screaming for blood vengeance over a horrific but strategically meaningless bit of savagery. (Funny how the equally savage killing of other Americans with a chokehold in New York or a hail of bullets in Ferguson has so much less impact on rampant public moral outrage.)

That psychic selectivity over what savagery is objectionable and what is tolerable has a long American history, as illustrated by natives receiving blankets full of smallpox and all the other gifts of manifest destiny. Given the American predisposition for morally selective high dudgeon, the media manipulation of the mindset of the United States by slick snuff films begins to look savvy, strategic, and morbidly effective. From the perspective of ISIS, this bit of theatrical propaganda has succeeded beyond reasonable expectation: it has inflated the threatening image of ISIS from the reality of a relatively small, regionally contained, regional band of pathological fundamentalists and their more numerous allies of convenience (which, from time to time, have included the U.S. and other NATO members).

In little more than a month, ISIS (aka ISIL, or IS, or Islamic State, or Islamic Caliphate) has changed little on the ground, while its image in American minds has morphed into a ginormous, imaginary monster capable of throwing a terrifying shadow of fear across the American continent thousands of miles away. This is not a rational perception, even though the president feeds into it (even if he knows better). This is panic, deeply rooted in comic book thinking.

Comic book thinking: never hard to find, but not always dominant

The governor of Texas and other fear mongers, like Judicial Watch and Fox News, would have you believe there are agents of ISIS, the Islamic Caliphate, crossing the Rio Grande and making themselves at home in the American homeland undetected – except by these fearless watchdogs. They also cite a right-wing provocateur who crossed the Texas border in terrorist costume and may have gone undetected. Republican senator John McCain fulminated in comic book style about this imaginary security breach. The Homeland Security people say they detected him and knew he was a buffoon.

In an article about ISIS, the National Review published some articles of faith with headings like: “The growth of the Islamic State,” “The Success of the Islamic State,” and “The ascendancy of the Islamic State.” The writer made an intellectually dishonest anti-Obama/pro-Bush argument rooted in unreality in which he characterized President Obama as an Islamist apologist and an unreliable war maker. That may be just as well in a world where “the success of the Islamic State” and, even more so, “the ascendancy of the Islamic State” are hobgoblin projections of comic book fear with no objective reality.

The success of Fox News is built on comic book thinking. For example, on September 17, Fox touted an “intelligence bulletin from the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange” warning, somewhat incoherently:

… that Islamic State fighters have increased calls for “lone wolves” to attack U.S. soldiers in America in recent months, citing one tweet that called for jihadists to find service members’ addresses online and then “show up and slaughter them.”

Reportedly Fox News coverage of the ISIS crisis has achieved ratings higher than CNN and MSNBC combined, where comic book thinking can sometimes be more nuanced. CNN resorts to unprovable fearmongering to characterize ISIS as “the terror group that is striking fear into the hearts of leaders around the world,” which if true would say more about world leaders than about ISIS. In contrast, the BBC accurately describes ISIS as “the small but fanatical jihadist army now controlling large tracts of Syria and Iraq” ­– and then wonders, quite rationally, whether ISIS has the capability of governing an area roughly the size of Pennsylvania.

Peak hysteria so far comes from the senator from South Carolina

“This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home,” Republican Lindsey Graham claimed on September 14 on Fox News Sunday. This raw, politically pointed hysteria was not new for Graham, who said more than a month earlier on the same Fox program: “If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL, whatever you guys want to call it, they are coming here…. This is just not about Baghdad. This is just not about Syria. And if we do get attacked, then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.”

In the interim, the president announced from the Oval Office on September 10 that the country was going against ISIS [ISIL] with a limited offensive, as well as unlimited and contradictory rhetoric:

While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies…. Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy…. We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action…. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven…. We will send an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq … [but] we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq…. [emphasis added]

Extreme as it is in parts, the president’s declaration is nowhere near enough for Graham and his fellow warriors, whose goal seems to include a large American occupation of uncertain duration in the Middle East. Graham said that ISIS [ISIL] is:

… intending to come here…. There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL without a substantial American component. And to destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing and destroy their capability to regenerate. This is a war we’re fighting…. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.

Both the president and the senator offer up comic book thinking. Hunting down terrorists wherever they are is a Bush-like boast detached from reality. Imaging an enemy powerful enough to kill 320 million Americans is silly even in a Hollywood apocalypse movie.

Delusional thinking isn’t really a good basis to build a war on

One of the benefits of delusional thinking is that it relieves the mind of the stress of contemplating an unpleasant and intractable reality. One of the drawbacks of delusional thinking is that it’s not likely to make that reality any better, and may well make it worse.

Take for example the truly comical bi-partisan vote in the House in favor of arming and training Syrian rebels, and its equally bi-partisan opposition. The 273 votes in favor included 114 Democrats, while the 156 in opposition included 71 Republicans (with three Republicans not voting). Only five states voted unanimously, all in favor (Alaska, Montana, Arkansas, and both Dakotas). This vote was to add an amendment of six micro-managing pages to the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015, that would allow, but provide no funding for, the buildup of a Syrian opposition army from “appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals.”

The amendment ends with this admonition:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to constitute a specific statutory authorization for the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situations wherein hostilities are clearly indicated by the circumstances. [emphasis added]

On September 17, President Obama told a military audience:

The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq. [emphasis added]

That Congressional admonition, like the presidential assertion, is delusional to the extent that the United States is already at war in Iraq, where U.S. pilots are flying combat missions and an unknown number of special forces are engaged in hostilities, and another 1,500 or so soldiers are guarding the embassy and carrying out other missions “wherein hostilities are clearly indicated by circumstances.” Iraq is a war zone, and has been for more than eleven years. The ground war that started with the U.S. invasion of 2003 has not ended. “Another ground war in Iraq” is delusional or dishonest. Even though the U.S. has mostly withdrawn its military forces, the war in Iraq never ended in any meaningful sense.

By Congressional logic, the president has no statutory authority to send armed forces there, even though they are already there. The president has said he has all the authority he needs under the AUMFs, the Authorizations for the Use of Military Force passed in 2001 and 2002, open-ended war-making authority Congress has chosen not to review. “We’re traveling on vapors,” said Illinois senator Dick Durbin of the aging AUMFs on September 18. Then, like all his colleagues, he made no effort to change the situation.

Senator Manchin notices the empire’s lack of a wardrobe

Nothing the collective leadership of the United States – or its harshest critics – propose to do will likely change the political situation. Their comic book thinking based on false perceptions of reality makes the likelihood of a sensible course of action virtually nil.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was reportedly prepared to shut down the government to prevent adoption of the House plan to arm Syrian rebels. In the end, he caved and the Senate supported the amendment to the continuing resolution 78-22, with bi-partisan votes for and against. Despite his opposition, even Manchin did not challenge the core perception dominating government and media. On the Senate floor, he solemnly affirmed that “we must defeat and destroy ISIS…. ISIS are barbaric terrorists with no respect for humanity and they deserve to die.”

He expressed support for airstrikes in Iraq, for humanitarian aid, for cutting off funding to ISIS, adding somewhat preposterously: “Doing these things has already helped prevent genocide.”

And then he questioned the conventional wisdom that it was up to the U.S. to take on ISIS and save the world: “This should be an Arab ground war and a U.S. air war…. Important as it is to know your enemy, it is equally important to know our allies. And I am not confident that we know who are allies are…. As of today, we have only hints of military support from Arab countries, who themselves face a greater threat from ISIS than anyone else.”

This semi-dissent is important, but it only begins to explore the absurdity of the present American impulse to defend itself against an imaginary threat by saving countries unwilling to save themselves. Or maybe they don’t feel the need to be “saved.” The coalition’s main partners now are the U.S., Australia, Germany, and those old colonial favorites in the Middle East, France and the United Kingdom. That’s one reality.

Consider the host of other realities our comic book thinkers avoid for the sake of a simplistic solution to a problem they’re unable to explain realistically:

  • IRAQ has a weak government that is unable to choose a defense minister or an internal security minister. Iraq has been in a multifaceted state of civil war for about a decade, primarily Shia/Sunni. As a result, Sunni Iraq has allied with ISIS to hold about a third of the country. Kurdistan is a quasi-independent state in another third of Iraq. And this fragmented Iraq is the base of American operations.

  • KURDS in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran comprise a wild card that has the potential for coalescing into its own disruptive state.

  • SYRIA’s multifaceted civil war has divided the country into a minimum of three mutually hostile, ill-defined areas: the government territory is the most stable, followed by the ISIS sector. Rebel territory is scattered, and no one knows just how many militia-governments are in control of or disputing different areas. These represent the “Syrian rebels” the U.S. thinks will fight ISIS even though their rebellion is against the Assad government.

  • SYRIAN REBELS, appropriately vetted, may turn out to be as rare as unicorns. So far, Syrian rebels have been a reliable source of arms for ISIS. And Syrian rebels reportedly sold one of the beheaded American reporters to ISIS for cash. Like ISIS, Syrian rebels are predominantly Sunni.

  • TURKEY is supposed to be part of the burgeoning U.S. coalition, but so far Turkish commitment is limited to allowing the use of a NATO air base. Turkey has contributed to the rise of ISIS. Turkey doesn’t want to fight ISIS on the same side as the Kurds, who want a piece of Turkey. Turkey doesn’t want to disrupt its economic ties to the ISIS region. Predominantly Sunni Turkey doesn’t want to fight the predominantly Sunni ISIS coalition, nor does it want to fight on the side of predominantly Shia Iraq or its predominantly Shia ally, Iran.

  • SAUDI ARABIA’s commitment to the coalition is a promise to offer bases for training. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are widely credited with years of sponsoring and building up ISIS. Both countries are predominantly Wahhabi, a stricter-than-Sunni version of Islam. Saudi Arabia has little incentive to contribute significantly to any anti-ISIS coalition.

  • JORDAN is predominantly Sunni and is an advanced, humane nation, especially in comparison to most of its neighbors. Presently it is home for millions of refugees: from Palestine since 1948; from Iraq since the U.S. war of 2003; and from Syria, since the civil war began. Jordan provides some 50,000 peacekeeping troops to the United Nations. It has trained Iraqi security forces.

  • GULF COUNTRIES such as Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Oman have offered the use of their air bases and air spaces, but little more. These Islamic states are all predominantly Sunni except Oman, which is Ibadi (predating Sunni and Shia).

The first step on the road to doing stupid stuff is framing the question in a way that allows for only one possible answer. For example, “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed.” If we’re all going to get killed if we don’t do something, how can we not do something?

But “before we all get killed” is entry level stupid stuff. And who is going to kill us? The standard estimate for ISIS strengths is 10,000 fighters or so, an unknown portion of whom are Iraqi Sunnis more interested in their homes in Iraq than some invented Islamic caliphate. For ISIS to approach being even a slightly credible threat, one needs to apply serious threat-inflation. Threat inflation happened recently when the Pentagon tripled the size of ISIS from maybe 10,000 fighters to maybe 30,000 fighters, with no basis offered for any estimate. Even at 30,000, ISIS would be only a tenth the size of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, which some see as a greater threat.

If ISIS were any sort of genuine threat, or if our political and pontifical public figures were any sort of genuine leaders, wouldn’t someone have thought to make a point of it when ISIS took control of Fallujah, just 43 miles from Baghdad, in January 2014? Why did they wait till June to be surprised by ISIS taking Mosul from a fleeing Iraqi army?

No matter what perspective one takes considering ISIS, there’s none that escapes stupid stuff. And what stupid stuff could create millions more Islamic enemies of the United States? Plunging into the middle of the centuries-old, international Sunni/Shia religious civil war should work.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+6 # Yakpsyche 2014-09-19 13:17
Terror is not in the reptilian or "hind" brain. It is in the mid brain, sometimes called the "mammalian" brain.
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2014-09-19 21:21
'Fight/Flight' is limbic, alias reptilian.
+25 # beachboy 2014-09-19 13:47
Terror is the game of Washington and it's vassals. Terror by others came after Washington terrorized a bit too much for too long. Who needs Yale to see the obvious...Yanke e go home! You got enough problems there - a bit too much for too long! And thanks - but 'No Thanks!' for the
'leadership'. We'd like to cut the bullshit now! We'd like to see no more US bullshit! Thanks, ok ???
+8 # ritawalpoleague 2014-09-20 04:03
Yep, beachboy. Karlroving dirty trickery at its best this 'War on Isis' is, as was the lied into 'weapons of mass destruction' lied into war in Iraq.

ISIS is B.S.B.S. - TIME TO SAY NO, NO, NO TO ENDLESS (for $$$ and oil, oil, oil) WAR, WAR, WAR !!!
-12 # margpark 2014-09-19 13:58
Isis may come to the U.S. eventually in a commercial airplane with American Passports. After all the terrorists who started our panic did, minus American Passports but Passports that were accepted in the U.S. I am happy to report that I was a bit alarmed about ISIS before they made the videos that caused new terror in the U.S. I always like to get there first. They are bad guys seemingly led by a smart bad guy. Ben Laden was probably of above average intelligence himself.
-12 # arquebus 2014-09-19 14:23
Hmmm. ISIS is only local yet the Aussies just broke up an attempt by ISIS to kidnap one of their citizens randomly and behead Australia?
+22 # REDPILLED 2014-09-19 15:29
Copycat serial murderers have been known as a criminal phenomenon for a long time.

Should a band of violent psychopaths in any country be justification for war?

The U.S. supplied the Afghan mujahideen with training and sophisticated weapons to use against the Soviets there. Remember how well that turned out?

The real existential threats to the U.S. (and the planet) are nuclear weapons and catastrophic climate disaster. What is being done to decrease either or both of those genuine existential threats?
+6 # Nominae 2014-09-19 21:48
.....Should a band of violent psychopaths in any country be justification for war?

Absolutely sane, sensible and cogently argued. Thank you.

As tragic as is the death of two American War Correspondents, people in such a profession, like Soldiers themselves, are fully aware of the occupational risks before they go into these areas.

And war correspondents (unlike soldiers under orders) *choose* to go into these extremely dangerous conditions anyway.

This entire adolescent country needs to get off of Vampire and Zombie Movies and just grow the hell up.

If a handful of morons running around a North African desert in pickup trucks is any kind of match for the U.S. Military/Indust rial Complex, America needs to just shut off the lights, roll over, wet themselves and die.

We could take out the whole shebang with missiles from U.S. Ships in the Mediterranean if we did not find PR value in drumming up more faux military conflict to keep our "Perpetual War Economy" humming.

As REDPILLED observes, and as the article above clearly indicates, there *are* serious existential threats to the entire human race out there.

A bunch of theatrical boneheads in black clothing bouncing around in the back end of a Toyota pickup is simply not one amongst them.

Sack Up, America, you are embarrassing yourself and your entire pantheon of courageous forebearers by acting like Chicken Little on amphetamines.

ISIS *wants* your terror.
+4 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 09:40
arquebus is right about the Aussie story,
as far as the headlines go.

Read a little further in the coverage and discover
the fearsome scope of this terrifying plot:
arrested one man, seized one gun and one "sword."

Unknown at this point is whether this was another
authority-inspi red undercover agent
creating a plot where none previously existed,
as out FBI and other "security" agencies do so often.
+2 # Dion Giles 2014-09-21 04:40
This flap sounded genuine in Australia for a day or so but is looking like a furphy. The first and only act of terrorism in Australia remains the planting of a lethal bomb in Sydney in 1978 by the Australian secret political police, ASIO. ASIO began as a metastasis of the British secret police after the war when the fascist Axis, defeated in Germany and Japan, slimed its way over the borders to go global in a concerted Cold War pretending to be against its counterparts in Russia and China but in reality against every major gain for liberty made by the millions who gave their lives to defeat the Axis in Europe and Asia.

The role of ASIO in planting the bomb, intended to stem the tide of opinion against its police state powers, can be searched by Googling **australia asio planted bomb Hilton** and reading in particular

Expect further false flag terrorism in Australia any day now.
+23 # Buddha 2014-09-19 14:24
Every time I hear "...and the home of the brave" at the end of the national anthem, it gives me a chuckle. Look, who didn't see this coming? For months now, all we have been hearing is "ISIS terrorists", I always saw that as our corporate media priming the pump to get Americans behind another war. That "T-word" is the ultimate now in generating the Pavlovian response in this country. It doesn't matter how inappropriate it is in this case, ISIS being essentially an unrecognized Islamic State controlling an area the size of Maryland. Terrorists set bombs in shopping malls, they don't roll around in tanks conquering territory. that is what you call an army. Words matter, and move the sheep.
+27 # nogardflow 2014-09-19 15:31
Be afraid, be very afraid and while you're cowering amid the stacks of your bottled water and MRE's we'll use your fear to take even more of your rights. We'll use your fear to take more of your money, your children's money and your grandchildren's money and redistribute it among the wealthy. Of course we won't have the money to generate job growth (except for minimum wage service jobs,) and we'll definitely have to cut more social services, sorry if your bills don't get paid and your kids don't have healthy food to eat. But hey, quit being such a slacker anyway, get out there and find a third minimum wage job, there are 24hrs in a day you know.
+6 # riverhouse 2014-09-19 15:47
This is seriously stupid.
+18 # fredboy 2014-09-19 16:15
Fear, hysteria, and "stupid stuff" are now American industries. FDR has been erased from our nation's soul, despite Ken Burns' magnificent series.

Whether 9/11 was planned here, discovered and allowed, or simply unforeseen by our recent Dumb and Dumber administration, it was immediately used as fuel to permanently scratch the line "...home of the brave" from our national anthem.

And most Americans bought it.

And now there is fear. Of everything. And everyone. Lots of swagger. Bluster. And medals all around.

Hoo-Rahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (we say boldly, then tuck into a fearful cringe)...
+15 # bcwik 2014-09-19 16:55
And don’t forget the firearms industry. Their profit margins are in danger so as fearful Americans we need to arm ourselves to the teeth. Be afraid of those terrorists thousands of miles away. Be afraid of those scruffy children coming across our border. Be afraid of that black man walking down the street. Be afraid, be afraid and get your AR-15 while they are available!
+3 # jsluka 2014-09-20 02:11
And ammunition! Stockpile thousands of rounds of ammunition! (LOL)
+11 # lexorcista 2014-09-19 18:02
Excellent article, great analysis, and even humour.
Much appreciated -- will Americans listen, however?
or, better still, learn?
a quasi-haiku for you:

........if equipped with a hammer wonder wanting nail everyone

[or everything]

.................when equipped with a hammer

.........................................problems look like nails --

............... ............... ............... ............... ...........easy solution

and of course frighten everyone to convince them a hammer is needed, as Boardman asserts.

btw, you may wish to fix text to read: who OUR allies are

thank you again for your valuable service
-4 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-19 20:25
No doubt the worlds' biggest Western Democracy a country of 300 Million people deserves better news sources. The reporting of what goes on both at home and more importantly in the World at large is devoid of any real reporting of facts and information which should be it's stalwart. That being said it is also important once you know the facts on the ground to then make judgements based upon such. We have very little or none of that with sources left and right cherry picking the facts to suit their own ends. On this article on Boardman's topic statement to his closing paragragh paraphrases his complete disregard for actions against Isis as real here: "This semi-dissent is important, but it only begins to explore the absurdity of the present American impulse to defend itself against an imaginary threat ..." - tells me he is another subjectively opinionated Left Leaning bias . and disavows the fact that Isis was about to committ genocide on innocents before the USA struck Iraq as well as surround many towns and cities killing the innocents. Those are real facts folks!!!
+5 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 09:55
BKnowswhitt misses the closing paragraph by about 5.

The sentence he cites is a direct reference to Joe Manchin.

The ISIS threat to the U.S. remains a fear-ridden projection
based on imaginary superpowers of the "enemy."

BK describes nothing like a real threat to the US.

Saving the Yazidis was a good thing, as I've written before,
and the lion's share of the credit for that should go
to the Kurds. The US started bombing after most
Yazidis were already safe, but just in time to claim
bragging rights for Uncle Sam.

BK's ad hominem animadversions are not arguments.
-4 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:18
O.K. i misquoted the source. However I disagree with you wholeheartedly in your regard to: "The ISIS threat to the U.S. remains a fear-ridden projection
based on imaginary superpowers of the "enemy." - we are the West and the biggest power. This group would come into your living room and mine kill us all based on their sick ideology. Also 9/11 was a wake up call. It could happen again if we are not watching. ISLe is very much like Al Queda same thing. People in this country move around the world many on vacations and business. We are protecting the West and what is right though the Chicken of Terrorism that this group evokes is from the Egg laid by Bush Cheney - regardless they want to kill us - those are proven facts.
+1 # Buddha 2014-09-22 16:25
Except 9-11 wasn't a proper wake up call, since you are using it as a rationale for further action in the region. OBL himself stated the rationale for Al Qaeda's jihad against us was our occupation of his "holy land" (Saudi Arabia) by US basing there to fight Gulf War I. We will continue basing there to fight ISIS. How about we try for once not sticking our fingers into their falafel, and seeing if perhaps it gives better results than continuing to bomb and occupy their lands, hmmmm???
0 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:23
I appreciate your response by the way. Our media is f'd and our political system too .. americans need other sources .. and how would the average american know anything about how Isis formed what it came out of . who supported them in Iraq (Sunnis) etc .. because our news media is a joke .. only when things come to crisis mode do we hear about it all .. and often it is gamed to favor one sided reporting .. you are a smart man who i do respect though i may respectfully disagree .. a freedom we have here .. but not in other parts of a very f'd up world .. Peace Brother!
+4 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 11:41
BKonwswhitt appears quite fear-drenched.

This condition can be appropriate or not,
depending on the reality causing the fear.

But generally, fear is not a useful emotion,
even when the threat is serious.
Fear is too easily the gateway to panic and stupid stuff,
which is the BIG lesson of 9/11.

Then there's the question of WHO wants you to be afraid?
For different reasons, both ISIS and the US government
want Americans to be afraid to the point of
irrational obedience.

Fear is, by definition, "stupid stuff" –
because fear disrupts calm, rational thought.

Perhaps the most radical act any of us can take these days
is to refuse to be driven by fear,
refuse to be afraid,
to look past/through the fear
to a clearer perception of the real.
-3 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:56
I fear as a useful term of description and not the experience of having real fearful emotion exhibited as some sort of pathology. Therefore 'I fear that' in that context - you disregard many realities in your enthusiasm to state your point ...
-1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 12:00
I mean your exhuberance to state your point which is well taken and not without merit .. you disregard the realities that I bring to the discussion .. which you dismiss as FEAR ... later ... BK
+3 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 12:58
BK, I don't dismiss your personal fears at all.
But I do question whether they're disproportionat e.
The spectrum of fear is long and of varied intensity.
At one end it is spontaneous, potentially rational, and fleeting.
At the other end it is, indeed, pathological and disabling.
Personal fear derives from a host of factors,
as do its analysis and control.

But the point that may be getting lost here
is that while the personal fear of millions of people
may enable governments to do that they want,
fear is not a sound basis for public policy.

Threat assessment should be a rational, defensible process.
"They're coming here to kill us all"
is not threat analysis, it is the equivalent of
shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre.

More scary than ISIS is US government fear-mongering.
-1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 20:50
Again you dismiss my view as 'Fear based' .. not so. Now does the american media thrive on that .. yes because inflammatory emotionally ridden issues creates viewer which drives up advertising revenues based on the old Neilson Rating system. To that extent is true. To me personally no i am informed. You minimize what is going on with regard to this group .. and i believe you are WAy Way WAy off the mark again .. see you on your next article ..
0 # Buddha 2014-09-22 16:30
...except ISIS formed out of the "de-ba'athifica tion" of Iraq's military (the removal of everyone of Sunni Ba'ath party affiliation), the tacit "Shiite-ificati on" of Iraq's government and military into an Iranian puppet-state.
+7 # RMDC 2014-09-19 20:30
Thanks for this good analysis of the stupid moves Obama has been making. The american people must be the stupidest people on earth. The videos of beheaddings were so obviously faked that they were quickly pulled off the internet. But still Americans believed them. And good point about the outrage over faked videos but little outrage over the real strangulation of a guy in NY by a cop.

Americans have been so propagandized that their critical faculties have become mush. They can't think anymore.

A mindless nation with the biggest nuclear arsenal in the world. Now that is terrifying.
0 # fdawei 2014-09-19 20:59
Why do reporters, journalists and others keep on referring that barbaric group as ISIS.
It's ISIL. "L" for The Levant.
-1 # Nominae 2014-09-19 21:56
Quoting fdawei:
Why do reporters, journalists and others keep on referring that barbaric group as ISIS.
It's ISIL. "L" for The Levant.

Yeah ..... this pack of boneheads suffer such an obvious inferiority complex that they themselves keep changing their "brand" every fifteen minutes.

They simply do not deserve the respect of chasing after their latest name change in what is obviously an adolescent identity crisis.
+3 # RMDC 2014-09-21 06:42
nominae -- why do you think "they" changed their name? All of this was done in America for american news watchers.

Al Qaeda was an American invention. Then the US regime came up with AQAP -- al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. These are names that help shape the American conception or imagination of what is going on in SW Asia.

Names matter. All departments of the US government have special office to name things. The CIA and Pentagon are the most active of all. Names are part of the psychological warfare against Americans. They seek to get all of us to use their names and thus unwittingly accept their typologies. Don't do it. Don't accept their names.
+2 # jsluka 2014-09-20 02:17
There is a "politics" of the use of these acronyms. It can be ISIS or ISIL; ISIS refers to Syria, ISIL refers to the Levant. The US government does not want to get involved in the conflict in Syria right now, so chooses to use ISIL. Most news agencies use ISIS. If you Google "ISIS or ISIL" you will find good information about this issue.
+2 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 10:33
The question of whether to use ISIS, ISIL, IS, Islamic State, Islamic Caliphate, or some other equally accurate label
is rooted, as NOMINAE notes, in ISIS-at-al's penchant
for renaming itself periodically, if that's what's really happening.

"ISIS" is my choice solely because I perceive it to be the most
widely recognizable, least confusing label.
(Labelling is a pretty absurd argument, since any English
acronym is, by definition, a distortion of the Arabic original.)

The answer for the French is to call these ISISlanders
"DAESH," which is derogatory, or so I'm told – translating
roughly as "trample" and thus associated with feet,
which is upsetting to the fundamentalist faithful –
or something like that.

So using Daesh has its appeal,
but the price appears to be greater initial confusion.

The much great confusion is
at the heart of American comic book thinking
that leads to doing stupid stuff
the most likely effect of which apparently
is to make everything worse.
+2 # RMDC 2014-09-21 06:41
No ISIS should read CIA-IS. Or maybe Saudi-IS.

ISIS is a CIA proxy army. The CIA gave it the name ISIS and then changed it to ISIL when it appeared that not enough people cared about Iraq and Syria. Using the "Levant" includes all the east Mediterranean starting at Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon.

"Levant" is an old "orientalist" term. See Edward Said's book "Orientalism." It is part of the way racists in Europe defined Arabs, Persians, Berbers, and many other ethic groups who lived in the lands of SW Asia that Europeans wanted to colonize. As in all colonization campaigns, European Orientalists were charged with "niggerizing" Arabs; that is, defining them as inferior races. This process make colonialism possible. Read Cesires's book called "Discourse on

The CIA still uses "Levant" because it is a white supremacist organization and continues the line of European colonials. People from SW Asia or the Arab world never use the term "Levant." Most Arabs have never even heard of the term. It was originally french but the current spelling is an anglicized version. The term was originally used as the area that Europeans wanted to colonize. It was their caliphate they wanted to establish. They did not use "caliphate." They used monarchy but its the same thing. Saudi has a monarchy/caliph ate.

We need to stop participating in CIA racism. Don't use their vocabulary. Always expose their viciousness and their racism. Allow Arabs to define themselves,
0 # Khidr 2014-09-22 21:16
Monarchy and Caliphate are 2 diferrent ideas. Monarchy (oligarchy) is the rule by a royal family not selected by the people. Caliphate (democracy) is the rule by Caliph elected by the Shoura Council elected by the people.
+5 # Stevodevo 2014-09-19 21:32
ISIS is short-hand for Sunni Insurgency. Unless we replace our generals with trained chimps I predict we'll have the same results as we did under "W"... trillions of dollars spent, numerous atrocities committed by all sides and nothing decent to show for it all after ten years of fighting except a ballooned national debt.
+2 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-19 23:12
Correct in reaction to the US imposed and supported Maliki led government the Sunni's were not happy with their lack of representation. As a result they allowed a transmuted Islamic Extremist group to do their thing. Isis grew out of that. With Maliki gone and Sunni's sure to get more representation they will disavow themselves from ISSL many predict .. this 'chicken' hatched out of the egg of USA imposition and regime change in the region ..
0 # DaveM 2014-09-19 23:30
I can remember when the boogeyman was called "Al Qaeda". 19 members learned the rudiments of aviation, got on commercial flights, took over the controls, and flew three airplanes into buildings--the 21st Century's Pearl Harbor.

Funny thing is, with all of the airports and all of the buildings and all of the airplanes taking off and landing every hasn't happened again. Do not fool yourself into believing that it is because of increased airport security. Far more likely, it is because "the terrorists" are fewer in number and not nearly as well-funded as some would have us believe.

You may recall George Bush posturing with phrases like: "I don't want the next warning to be a mushroom cloud". Haven't seen it yet.

I have no doubt there are ISIS members who would happily fly aircraft into buildings or detonate an atomic bomb. Why haven't they? My guess is a lack of funding and materials.

And the same was true of Al-Qaeda and of Black September and of the PLO (when they were "the bad guys") many others? Terrorist groups seek to cause terror--that's how they get their name. We should not be helping them by acting as if they anything other than what they are: the latest group of zealots to get media attention. There are always many such out there. If we would not waste so much video tape on them, chances are they would fade away much faster than they do.
+2 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 10:39
What DOES ISIS want?

Based on their behavior to date, their game is NOT terrorism.

Their terrorism appears to be real and tactical,
but the most obvious goal is to create an Islamic State.

And that's what ISIS has done, de facto.
Precarious as it may be, the Islamic State exists
in contiguous parts of Syria and Iraq.

The extent to which folks are focussed on "terrorism,"
they're watching a sideshow, not the main event.
-3 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:41
They kill - have killed and continue to kill innocent people who pose no threat to them. By killing civilians to gain your political end . that is the definition of terrorism plain and simple .. the 'Islamic State' is a terrorist state .. it is not with , behind .. or any part of the teachings of Islam .. another mislead here by you sir .. by that mis-identificat ion we now discriminate against Muslims all over the world based upon these terrorist minority groups who use a religion to gain an ideology to recruit others into their evil methodology to gain their own ends ..
-1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:43
The Black Panthers were peace loving until radicals in the violent 60's took over using them to carry out terrorist killings here at home. Those willing to kill are usually at the fringe of a group. However Isis is we funded and formed over there acting like an army surrounding cities and towns in Iraq and taking over and doing so at the end of a gun ..
-1 # BKnowswhitt 2014-09-20 11:36
Correct and the media attention we disproportionat ely give them in this respect Boardman is correct. No immediate real threat at home here from them. After the withdrawal from Iraq this is what evolved. These are minority groups with a very bad ideology .. they kill women children and anyone who disagrees with their special brand of authoritarism - just a repeat of styles tried before. They want a quick trip to Allah? I say give them what they want ..
+3 # WBoardman 2014-09-20 13:09
Putting ISIS at the center of the region's problems
is fundamentally irrational.

In terms of sheer deliberate and indiscriminate killing,
ISIS probably has a long way to go to match the stats
of the Syrian government, other Syrian rebels, Israel,
Turkey (Kurds), Iraqis (each other), Egypt, Libya,
and lord knows who else.

Leaving the region to its own people makes more sense
than bringing in colonial powers and Americans
to provide new enemies to distract them
from killing each other.

And they've been doing that a lot longer than since
the US (mostly) withdrew from Iraq –
in fact, much longer than there's been a US.

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