Michael Brown

The Paradise Wars and Clark Ransom Thrillers

How To Promote Goodwill, In Spite of Everything?

Active Goodwill

How can we use goodwill to promote unity, after Paris, after the accelerating rancor in the US elections, or after the dangerous game of chicken Russia and Nato are engaged in?

My first reaction to what ISIS did in Paris last month was to want to obliterate them. This also seems to be the world’s reaction, as we step up the bombing campaign. But what are our real assumptions about ISIS and how reliable are our souces of information?

Goodwill is an active energy we project when we will everyone the best. Sometimes projecting that energy is hard, very hard. Whether we are talking about a difficult relative, a self-absorbed friend who drives us crazy, or a group of kids who stand and slaughter 89 people at a concert.

However, how often has a new insight into our relative or friend improved how we deal with them in the future?

I have three articles to kick off this holiday, again from my favorite source The New York Review of Books, which challenge assumptions, about who, what and why ISIS.

  • Are most ISIS recruits Islamic?
  • Will improving economic conditions,remove the reasons ISIS exists?
  • Is there an idealism in ISIS’ extremes not altogether disimilar from the idealism of the 60s?

Believe me, I want ISIS gone, but feelings are not a solution. Until we begin to deal with questions like these, we’ll be pitted in a hopless war of bombings and doubling up on our security forces on every bus, plane, train and public gathering venue in the world. And how long is that tenable?

Who, What, Why ISIS?

This week take a look at (please click on blue links to get to the articles):

“For the greater the hostility toward Muslims in Europe and the deeper the West becomes involved in military action in the Middle East, the closer ISIS comes to its goal of creating and managing chaos.” This is a quote from Paris: The War ISIS Wants.

And for a look of how ISIS strategy differs from al-Qaeda: From Mumbai to Paris.

And the final suggested article on the origins of ISIS, opens with this revelation: “Ahmad Fadhil was eighteen when his father died in 1984. Photographs suggest that he was relatively short, chubby, and wore large glasses. He wasn’t a particularly poor student—he received a B grade in junior high—but he decided to leave school. There was work in the garment and leather factories in his home city of Zarqa, Jordan, but he chose instead to work in a video store, and earned enough money to pay for some tattoos. He also drank alcohol, took drugs, and got into trouble with the police. So his mother sent him to an Islamic self-help class. This sobered him up and put him on a different path. By the time Ahmad Fadhil died in 2006 he had laid the foundations of an independent Islamic state of eight million people that controlled a territory larger than Jordan itself.” The Mystery of ISIS.

All three of these articles expanded my notion of who, what and why ISIS, and made me wonder if the West’s strategy in combatting them is correct, or will it just pull us into a deeper quagmire, with all of even less safe?

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