If I Had a Hammer…

(Originally posted here)

In case you were unaware, there is currently a theocratic, fascistic, paramilitary force operating in North-West Iraq. In recent days the object of these gentlemen’s endeavours has been to capture, rape, convert, starve or murder an entire religious group. i.e. genocide. And by any proper definition of the word ‘genocide’.  Not like some Spanish actor opining about Israeli operations in Gaza. Actual, scary, nasty, full-blown, hairy-arsed genocide.  The sort we are supposed to have an international and internationalist obligation to prevent.

The group’s propaganda often consists of videos of hacking off heads followed by hi-def  stills of these heads imaginatively arrayed. Other highlights include videos of driving alongside cars and unloading AK 47s into the driver and passengers, pulling over and finishing up at close range. If these are unavailable then shootings of prone prisoners in mass graves often have to do.

They indoctrinate children with the desire to join the ‘jihad’ and ‘kill infidels’ and ‘apostates’. They do this in a clear state of religious exultation, with hearty songs and full cries available on the accompanying audio. Sometimes they can be reduced to tears by the sheer joy and passion of their work.

Last night Owen Jones, the Orwell of Our Generation™, explained why dropping a bomb on such people, in the course of their genocide, is a bad idea. It is a bad idea because it will “fuel them”.

I know, I know, how much more fuel could they require? How much more commitment could they possibly muster? Or even withstand?

But perhaps, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he means ‘fuel’ in the sense of recruitment. That their ranks would swell.

The recruits already come from all over, if they are not Syrian and other Middle Easterners they are from North Africa and the European, Antipodean and American Muslim Diasporas. There is little indication that they are relying on fresh Iraqi Sunnis to survive. So can this really be what ‘fuels’ means? I doubt it. I doubt he knows.

He also said, “the key issue with ISIS is Sunni resentment towards a sectarian government”. Although they currently fight several governments we can surely assume that the government in question, in the fight in Iraq, is the Iraqi one (this government’s existence is clearly the fault of the neoliberal US/West, if this helps understand the choice at all). If one cares to listen to these people they clearly state their aim is to resurrect the Caliphate. And they would now argue that they have achieved this. Such an ambition has previously been expressed by several groups, long before Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took office. So is it fair to attach such parochial motivation to this internationally recruited group especially when it contradicts their own proclamations? Could it simply be that this motivation would be the one for which the US are most culpable?

As said, this is a genocide going on right now. For the Yazidi the situation is utterly urgent. Hence emergency food and water being dropped on their desolate mountain hideaway as I write. I asked Jones what best case time-frame could be expected to achieve this soothing of Sunni resentment. I received no answer, but contrasting the urgency of the Yazidi situation with any possible answer, we surely arrive at the conclusion that to address ‘Sunni resentment with a sectarian government’ at the exclusion of confronting the combatants, we would be allowing genocide. Accepting genocide. Standing aside in the face of genocide.

This is a severe accusation to be sure. However, today when the US is about the only significant force that actually has a chance of stopping the onslaught, and the worst possible blowback is to ‘fuel’ the responsible group mid-genocide, are we not compelled to make the accusation?

The paucity of logic in the point of view Jones provides, combined with the implications of its outcomes, raises the following question: At what point is it fair to consider this merely the contortions of somebody who simply cannot, under any circumstances, accept the notion that the vast power of the US military can possibly be used in a positive way? That any action by the US is inherently bad. That any actions by local actors are merely the consequences of the only actor ascribed any agency. As David Aaronovitch said in his exchange with him, “it’s a view”. But it’s a view that is simply not morally serious.

This is ad hominem, but the argument under examination doesn’t hold up to any logical justification. When an intelligent person forwards such an argument what other avenue is left but the ad hominem?

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And unfortunately it seems Owen Jones merely has anti-Americanism as a basis for any thinking about international affairs. Surely a terrible vanity and conceit when so many are faced with such an urgent catastrophe.

Now to a large extent the above is a statement of the obvious. So perhaps not worth the effort. Except Owen Jones is a man of influence. An unserious voice seriously listened to by a great many. Particularly by the young, a young with voting power. His views are very far from an anomaly. If the arguments expressed last night are indeed from the Orwell of Our Generation™, well, then this is very bad. In the pretentious words of a snooty Chicago maître’d, I weep for the future.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s