The New Barbarians

BERLIN (Own report) – Within the German establishment, individual criticism of the expansion of military and police operations in the fight against the “Islamic State” (IS) is being raised. Last Friday, following the intensification of French airstrikes against IS positions and the French government’s imposition of a state of emergency, the EU interior ministers initiated new domestic repressive measures. In fighting IS, it should not be forgotten that in the primarily military and police-led post-9/11 “war on terror,” the “number of violence-prone Islamists, who have joined terrorist groups” has not diminished but rather “multiplied dangerously,” warns a renowned Middle East expert. Referring to the fact that the majority of the Paris attackers were citizens of France or Belgium, Hamburg’s Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy (IFSH) asks, “what is the purpose of war rhetoric, when a large portion of the problem is homemade?” This “talk about ‘defending our values’,” will only “steady the stirrups” for a police/military buildup, according to a longtime expert of German/European think tanks. There is a “sorely felt discrepancy between the values we proclaim and reality,” which is a “breeding ground for IS.” “We are certainly the rich, but since quite some time, no longer the ‘good guys,’ in the eyes of many. And some even view us as the barbarians.”

Dangerously Multiplied

Last week, individual criticism of the expanding military and police operations was raised even within the German political and media establishment. The Middle East expert of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Rainer Hermann, for example, recalled that “most Western military interventions in the Middle East … have failed,” in light of their “long term consequences.” This is particularly true for the so-called war on terror. Since this war was declared “in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks,” the “number of violence-prone Islamists, who have joined terrorist groups” has not decreased but “multiplied dangerously.”[1] The war on Iraq, in particular, has played a major role in this development, as well as, in a direct way, the West’s incitement of the war in Syria, because the region’s closest western allies have encouraged Salafist-jihadist militias in Syria, including al Qaida’s offshoot, Al Nusra, as well as, the IS. ( reported [2]). Both have also played an indirect role, because they have created the preconditions for a certain acceptance of IS in Iraq and Syria – still today.

Attractive Calm of the Cemetary

Rainer Hermann described this last week. In spite of its brutal repression, the IS is “attractive to many people living in regions under its control,” because it provides “everyone” for example with “services” that had been previously available “only to a privileged elite” or missing entirely because of the destruction of the war. “These range from electricity and free access to hospitals, to consumer protection from faulty goods.” The “draconian punishments” were also supposed to prevent “corruption and inefficiency.” At least “until the French bombed Raqqa, many inhabitants seemed to have preferred the leaden calm of the cemetery within the IS realm, to that of the chaos of war in other regions of Syria,” according to Hermann.[3] The IS, therefore, reproduces in Iraq and Syria, what the Taliban had done in the first half of 1990s in Afghanistan: in a country that had been destroyed in the 1980s with western support. The Taliban had achieved a certain amount of approval within the population because, with brutal repression, they had guaranteed a modicum of social “stability.”

Breeding Ground for IS

According to the political scientist Ulrike Guérot at the European Democracy Lab, the West’s double standards contribute ultimately even to the reinforcement of IS. “The talk of ‘defending our values'” in the “war on terror,” merely steadies “the stirrups, for, first, an exorbitant buildup of police and security measures throughout Europe,” and “second, for an exorbitant military buildup, for which more finances can be mobilized at the bat of an eyelash, than we would have been ready to spend on the refugees.” “The sorely felt discrepancy between our proclaimed values and reality is a breeding ground for IS,” explains Guérot. “We are certainly the rich, but, since quite some time, no longer the “good guys,” in the eyes of many. Some even see us as the barbarians.” “With each drone that fires a missile and bombards IS bases, IS will blow up our European cities and we will be even more terrified,” warns this former employee of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). “As long as we do not understand that each person’s life is just as precious, we will have lost the fight against IS already, even before it has really begun.”[6]

Full article: The New Barbarians (German Foreign Policy)

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