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Learn From ISIS

Reader comment on item: ISIS' Imminent Demise

Submitted by Dave (United States), Dec 6, 2015 at 10:17

ISIS may be a loathsome pest, but Sun Tzu's advice to know one's enemy can be useful because ISIS, like other jihadist groups, has its strengths. For example, it provides a precise, comprehensive and utopian view of life, for this world and the next. It's vision is universal and supra-national, giving its adherents a sense of belonging to a wider community, the Umma. In the negative, there is the violent intolerance of any deviation from its dogmatic adherence to Sharia.

If the opponents of ISIS intend to offer opposition in addition to military force, then they need to come up with a competing ideological vision which is more compelling. This vision should also be universal, precise and utopian, but in a practical way. Instead of being based on slavish adherence to religious dogma, it should emphasize the enlightened values of the West that have proven to be so successful. It should be written out so that it can be referred to as a template for society and held up as an alternate ideal to Islamism. It can be used by leaders as a way to constructively criticize Islamism: for example, to denounce the imposition of Sharia, or to point out how religious intolerance has balkanized, rather than united, the region.

The ideological challenge to ISIS should be easy, given the vast store of Western wisdom, but it requires something that ISIS has in abundance, but that is in short supply in the West: self-confidence. Instead, we will probably muddle along with the same catch-as-catch-can tactics, mouthing tired pieties about Islam and the Palestinian issue that inspire nobody.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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