Inviting ISIS into Yemen

Invasion creates chaos, inviting the rise of extremism.

With the West continuing its barbaric campaign to control the Yemeni civil war, Yemen moves inevitably towards the predicted outcome: destruction of Yemeni society, chaos, and the rise of extremism. ISIS, under attack in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, is accepting the clear Western-Saudi invitation for it to move to Yemen, as its most recent “counter-terrorist” attack shows. In the Mideast, it seems, terrorism is not countered by what Americans call “counter-terrorism,” i.e., actions to eliminate terrorists, but by literal “counter-terrorism,” i.e., a wave of terrorism by Side B that copies (“counters”) the terrorism of Side A…and thus spreads the virus of extremism. ISIS is the canary in the mine of Mideast politics: where justice does not exist, the virus of extremism spreads.

The enemy is not ISIS; ISIS is the symptom. The enemy is extremism: the extremism of Western or Russian military interference in a domestic Mideastern political conflict, the extremism of regional powers building empire, the extremism of global oil corporations putting pipelines ahead of people, the extremism of all actors relying on violence to get their way.

Trying to choose among conservative Saudi petro-billionaires building empire, the extremism of Israeli military domination of its neighbors, Iranian military expansion, and Turkish military expansion is a fool’s game. The alternatives lie not between one form of repression and another; the alternative lies between politics based on force and politics based on justice. When global leaders choose to reward those working to improve local conditions, those willing to implement the rule of just* law, the resulting social empowerment will inoculate against the virus of extremism.

The sneering response of self-styled “realists” that the above is naive leads directly and immediately to the downward cycle of chaos, the political hurricane that has been tearing apart the Mideast. Yes, making deals with the Devil is “realistic;” so is living in caves. Yet humans have, over these past million years, managed to develop better housing and so can we, if we try, develop a better method of governance.

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*Most leaders welcome the rule of law, as long as the first law is “obey me.” The American usage of “the rule of law” in principle implies that such law should be “just.” An oppressive law–e.g., a law permitting the police to brutalize Native Americans protesting violation of their treaty rights or a law permitting billionaire financial criminals to escape trial by allowing “the corporation” to take the blame for their personal behavior—would violate the assumption of justice underlying the notion that liberty is protected by “the rule of law.” A dictator’s law is no law.

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