Pavel URINTSEV - Independent analyst and researcher
Recent events involving terrorist attacks in various countries carried out in the name of jihadists and the calls ringing out for a war against Islamic extremism are forcing a rethink about why the long-term battle with radical Muslim groups is bearing such meagre fruit.
Following the tragic events in France and Denmark in January and February, when inflammatory caricatures of the prophet Muhammad gave rise to a number of murders, European politicians almost unanimously declared that the Islamist attacks on European values are a threat to the entire global community. There is obviously no point comparing the scale of the events in Paris and Copenhagen with, say, the deaths of thousands of children in Africa from starvation, which are infinitely less worrying to the Western world. At the same time, the exceptionally high level of media support for displays of Islamic extremism, which the Western media presents as one of the greatest evils in the world, cannot but suggest that it is not only its proponents who have an interest in the existence of this evil, but also those who are waging such an uncompromising struggle against it.
In the 13-odd years since the US declared a «global war on terror» and invaded Afghanistan in its name, terrorism in the world has not diminished. It has grown. Terrorist organisations have started to appear, disappear, and then reappear with a never-before-seen regularity. Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who remained elusive for the next ten years, were declared to be mankind’s main enemy. Washington announced a crusade against this enemy, which was used to help strengthen the «sole superpower’s» position in the Near and Middle East. Over time, the world’s media gradually began to focus less attention on al-Qaeda, the report came of bin Laden’s murder in 2011, but none of this was evidence of the effectiveness of the West’s war against terror. The crusade declared by the West was also not brought to an end. The terrorists were simply replaced by others who are even more bloodthirsty, and who are now already threatening to create a «global caliphate». Al-Qaeda was replaced by the Islamic State (IS), the international community was quickly presented with a new enemy of global significance, and America once again hurried to present itself as the saviour of mankind: on 11 September 2014, Barack Obama declared war on the Islamic State.
Islamic extremism and the United States’ much-touted war against it are a unified instrument to influence the modern-day system of international relations. This influence is brought about both by consolidating the US’s position in the geopolitically sensitive regions of the world where this war is unfolding, and by destabilising governments whose policies do not meet Washington’s expectations. The fuelling of religious animosity in Europe, the rapid rise of the unknown terrorist organisation the Islamic State, the professionally filmed executions to show to the world, and the appearance of jihadists in many of the world’s hot spots, including Russia’s borders, are part of a much bigger picture that is not only being drawn by the Islamists.
What can we see in this picture? The continual showing of executions of people named as enemies of the Islamic State by every television channel around the world, which has been an abhorrent tradition for quite some time now. The mass executions taking place somewhere in the Near East do not spark anywhere near the same kind of outcry in Europe and the US as, say, the murder of a few people in France and Denmark. But then these televised executions support and strengthen the commitment of today’s battle against a universal evil, which, having replaced al-Qaeda, is a role currently occupied by the Islamic State. In Europe, meanwhile, Muslims are still being provoked by caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, anti-Muslim statements, proposals to introduce the death penalty and so on. And all this combined increases tensions and creates the appearance of a global threat on the one hand, and enhances the notorious controlled chaos on the other. As yet, there is no other visible result of the West’s war on terror emerging under the flag of Islam.
It is therefore also not surprising that the war against the IS, which has now been going on for more than six months and in which Washington has officially involved 60 states, is seemingly not being carried out that seriously. What has the operation Inherent Resolve, which began in Iraq in August 2014 and was transferred to Syria in September, produced? More than 2000 airstrikes and the support of the Kurds fighting against IS has reportedly destroyed 7,000 militants and conquered 700 square kilometres, just slightly more than 1 per cent of the territory seized by the Islamic State. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has declared himself the caliph, has become just as elusive as bin Laden once was. Inherent Resolve is costing the US $8.3 million a day, which also seems frivolous when compared to the costs associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which averaged $800 million a day.
Efforts «to undermine and ultimately destroy» IS have failed, and we can venture to assume that they will never succeed. This is because as an instrument of influence on the system of international relations, the Islamic State is essential to those directing the policy of the global elite. In particular, radical Islam is essential to the main outpost of Western civilisation in the East – Israel. One can therefore suppose that Islamism will continue to hold its black flag aloft, video images depicting the exemplary executions of «enemies of Islam» will continue to be repeated and will become even more horrific, the war against the Islamic State will spread to increasingly vast areas, and the United States will call on others to join it in waging war against this threat to mankind under its leadership. How many people have wondered whether this path stretching away into dark infinity could become the means for Western civilisation’s self-destruction?