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22 May 2015


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FB Ali

IS doesn't claim it is a "state". It claims that it is a Caliphate. The Caliphate's claim of suzerainty is over the whole Muslim 'ummah' (which they interpret to be Sunnis throughout the world).

I'm afraid your thesis, and its proposed solution, needs to be drastically revised!



I agree whole-heartedly. This is a much needed debate that will never be held.

The goal of western leaders is to end the power of sovereign states; lower taxes, no regulation and adjudication by transnational institutions. Ideologically our rulers can never recognize the Islamic State as such because the only way to counter it is to rebuild strong borders, moderation, modernization and economic development. All require money out of the pockets of the rich. Instead; peoples will be exploited, more weapons sold, and wars continued until one day the House of Saud falls and the Sunni Shiite Jihad stops the Middle East oil flow.


Though the concept of the majesty of the Caliphate over the whole Ummah is part of their view, each of the historic caliphates acted like a state in the western sense for all practical purposes.

To name IS a state is an act that creates certain realities that derail IS from its goal of a borderless and worldwide jurisdiction. Naming it a state crystalizes its finite territorial and non-religious writ from the whole world into the area where its writ is supreme. The naming as a state gives the other states the intellectual tool as treating it as a single entity rather than some indefinable,amorphous glob of whatchamacallit full of victims against which no real actions can be applied to the entity itself because the inhabitants are not-IS. The naming is, in and of itself, a limitation of IS freedom much like observation of a quantum particle limits the freedom of the particle to be a wave. Those who would use its brand abroad would more clearly be branded as traitors within their own realm.


This article came out a day or two ago saying that Saddam's nephew was killed fighting in IS ranks outside Baiji. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/saddam-husseins-nephew-ibrahim-sabawi-ibrahim-al-hassan-dies-reports-n361816



One fundamental problem is that Western leaders have ceased to think about even actual states as "states" some years ago: Obama and the gang insistently call the government of Syria as the "Assad regime." Heck, they seem to be unwilling to believe that the government of Russia represents something more than the will of one man, Vladimir Putin. The idea that the IS represents anything other than a criminal entity will never occur to them.

I am guessing that, by "recognizing" IS as a "state," what you mean is that we should accept that they have established themselves as legitimate authority among the inhabitants of the regions that they control, not necessarily that we should give them diplomatic recognition or anything of that sort. That would require facing up to the fact that "victory" will be a hard slog, requiring defeat of an entire nation of millions, not by silver tongued sophistry about freedom and democracy, but by the cold steel and serious fighting at a considerable sacrifice. I don't see the so-called leaders in Washington and other Western capitals willing to recognize that this sort of sacrifice is at all necessary or, at least, own up to it. No, they will insist that it can be on the cheap, if only we try "hard" enough paradoxically. Everyone will be too busy blaming each other and nobody will try to figure things out, and unless IS really does become the new Soviet Union, the cost of this absurd charade, at least to the American and other Western publics, will be cheap enough that it can be maintained indefinitely.

Yet another problem is that, as FB Ali observed, IS does not claim to be a state. It claims to be a rival worldview, the realm of God, so to speak, that stands apart from the "Western civilization." This is an even more serious business than a mere state. A state can be defeated. The mechanisms of its operation dismantled, even if it takes enormous effort. A civilization will be vastly harder to stamp out, especially one built on sincere religious faith. I don't see us stamping out this entity, any more than Vespasian and Hadrian's legions could stamp out those troublesome people in roughly same region so many centuries ago.


"Why not give IS the status of statehood it claims and see what happens?"

Because this wretched child must be strangled in the cradle.


k_h_c you wrote, "I am guessing that, by "recognizing" IS as a "state," what you mean is that we should accept that they have established themselves as legitimate authority among the inhabitants of the regions that they control, not necessarily that we should give them diplomatic recognition or anything of that sort." Yes, but what I say goes further in that the establishment of IS as the legitimate authority is a consent of the governed and thereby, the governed may be treated the same way as the state.

From what I discern, F.B Ali's view that IS is a rival world view is quite accurate. Recognizing the rival world view as a reality is important to do in order tor form a response. As long as the West thinks of the IS state and citizens as having a similar world view or that they can be molded or reformed to be like us, no progress can be made to deal with the threat that world view poses to our peace and happiness.

Since the middle of the last century, that alien worldview has impinged upon us in the form of all sorts of lifestyle and governmental changes. We are forced to be searched, surveilled and made fearful and been brought into costly wars because a few holding that world view have attacked and threatened us. Those threats have substantially changed western society for the worse.

That world view is a civilization that really cannot be stamped out. Instead, by recognizing it is some sort of state, we gain some tools to fight or adjust to it we do not have when it is just an ideological world view. Making it a state makes it concrete, something that can be resisted or influenced.

The ideas and living styles supporting IS are civilization alien to us. It really cannot be stamped out because its adherents will survive any military destruction. Likewise, Wahhabi Islam will never be able to extinguish western democratic ideas and values.

We can use the act of identifying IS as a state to create a reasoned response to it by enabling state to state relationships that cannot be had between a state and an amorphous world view.

The only way that peace can be restored is to reach a compromise at best or a balance of power at the least. The State Naming tool will help us get there.

especially one built on sincere religious faith.

Babak Makkinejad

ISIS is an illegitimate state and its claims to Caliphate are also illegitimate since it does not represent legitimate spiritual authority - absent since the death of Imam Ali.

It is more like the beginnings of Moghul rule in India,



Yes, like the Moghul Empire which acted as a state almost from the beginning, but unlike Akbar and the other Moghul leaders, IS leadership is not interested in harmony or consideration for existing cultures and institutions as a formula for establishing power.

The fact that IS is not a legitimate Caliphate is all the more reason to treat IS as a temporal state. Paradoxically, the more IS operates as a temporal state, the less legitimate is its spiritual authority. IS's repressive ideology can never result in a flourishing polity. Temporal states suffer corruption, internal dissent, economic failures, unjust repression, and strategic weaknesses, none of which represent legitimate spiritual authority. Once established as a temporal state, unless it can invert itself to embrace some moderation and humaneness, IS will quickly lose its shine as a Mecca for Jihadis as it ages because of its vicousness. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

ex-PFC Chuck

Babak: "It is more like the beginnings of Moghul rule in India.'
Or perhaps more like the beginnings of the USSR in 1917. Unlike the USSR, which took over the rump of the former Russian Empire, IS is standing itself up by carving out pieces of two troubled but ongoing (for now?) states. But like the USSR it is proselytic in nature and sees itself as commissioned by Allah or history, as the case may be, to infuse its world view and governance principles upon the rest of the world.


FB Ali

It is true that IS claims khilafa over all Muslims in the umma, but their signs at the borders and the writing on their vehicle license plates say "dawla islamiya" ( Islamic State). pl



Some ideological gang declares kills tons of people, creates million of refugees, captures a few tons and lots of empty desert and declares itself a state. If we recognize it that sets a precedence nobody should want.

Besides - I seriously doubt the claim that "The Anbar tribes are now voting for IS with their means and men." What is this based on? A few tribal want-to-be-leaders paid by the Saudis?

Two days ago the leaders of the Anbar tribes have publicly voted to allow Hashd militia to retake Ramadi. They are certainly not with ISIS. Millions have fled from Mosul, Ramadi and in Syrian areas.

The claim that the Sunnis of Anbar and the tribes are with IS is simply false. The suicide bombers who's name are announced are foreigners.

IS is an illegitimate entity in the eyes of most of the original inhabitants of the areas it currently rules over. To recognize it would be treason towards those people (Yezidi as well as Kurd and Arab Sunni.)


Col. so discounting a major geographic breakthrough for IS, what would you think IS will look like as a government and economic entity a few years from now? I realize its speculative.

Do the Baathists take control? Or leaders of foreign fighters? Do the constituent parts start fighting each other? Does a leader emerge from anonymity and live in a fixed residence?

Does IS work out a trade deal with its neighbors since it has no other outlets but does have direct interior land routes? Its interesting that Turkey has asked to open consulates in Kirkuk and Basra.

Does it build a viable economy and if so with what? Agricultural products and small teapot refineries? Drug smuggling? Toll collection? Shakedowns and slave trade?

Perhaps a new thread around scenarios: Scenario 1. IS is geographically contained. Scenario 2. IS breaks loose.


And in a related development, the Iraqi Government is now finding that it is very difficult to control the militias that they have urged to fight ISIS. Another consequence of our adventure in that country.



Submitted for analysis:




I guess you are not paying attention. I have given my opinion that the document in question is a DIA cable from the field reporting the opinion of a foreign intelligence service, probably Israeli. pl


A "Caliphate" is not a "State"--like the "state" of Israel, which claims to be the exclusive voice for all racially-defined Jews, it would claim to be the exclusive voice for all Muslims (also racially defined since anyone born of a Muslim parent is eternally a Muslim). The main difference is that Zionists slander any Jew who rejects their claim as a "self-hater" but Daesh goes further and beheads as an "apostate" any such muslim they get their filthy hands on.

Daesh must never be treated as a state. Their status in international law is that of pirates--hostis genera humanae (enemies of the human race). If there is any crime for which the death penalty is appropriate it is that of Daesh-type piracy.



An understandable sentiment but no very useful. pl


VV, I think the Western World projected its own frustration into matters of war and peace.

At least I think that was partially responsible for why I was glued to my screen and Al-Jazeera non-stop for 48 hours watching the Egypt "Arab Spring".

Declaring it a state based on Western models, while it explicitly rejects the Western model, at least to the extend I understand?

What Origin's statement triggers is
a) that extreme right parties occasionally lose voters once they have to access politically to the way things are done.
b) the other is vaguely to get rid of the barrier between state and non-state actors. In other words the idea it could be kept inside a fixed national realm. Maybe it could. I have no idea.


Did I miss ISIS putting up a map on the web showing where it expects the borders of its caliphate/state to run?
Practically speaking, Origin seems to envision the announcement of a truce rather than recognition of the self-declared ISIS-state.
What conditionalities would be attached to that? Who would be party to it?


Unfortunately, from most perspectives, the child (state) has been birthed and it is a fact as real as is the chill of a winter night.

From other perspectives such as from the view of the Sunnis who ruled Iraq and now to not, it represents an escape from the prospect of continuous Shia oppression. Others, such as Israel and KSA may see it as an useful tool to use as a balance of power against Iran.

It will not be strangled. It is too useful in the scheme of the great game.


Recognition and naming as a state are different things. States can exist for years without ever being recognized. Recognition is a diplomatic stamp of approval awarded for joining the international nation system as a participating national entity. Palestine, for example, is not recognized by a large segment of the countries in the world, but is recognized by many.

Naming a state is really the giving it a property that defines its character as a national organization that has an operating government with an effective writ within some territory.

There can be no negotiation between whatchamacallits and states with a People.

Until that state property is assigned to the whatchamacallit in Syria and Iraq that controls a huge swath of real estate, it is impossible to begin to move to some sort of state to state relations that can regulate relations between the IS government representing its People and the rest of the world.

In my opinion, just as in 1775-1775 in America, a new state has been formed and reality being reality, not accepting it is unhelpful. Diplomatic recognition is not the issue, the status on the ground is. Many sources indicate that IS has operating court systems, schools, and an army. Consider this, according to Col. Lang, IS even has a Department of Motor vehicles that issues license plates. Amorphous gangs of pirates and whatchamacallits do not have DMVs, only states do.


No, I am not talking about diplomatic recognition. I do think practically here. Some more questions:

In a new dispatch, Cockburn says that ISIS now holds half of the territory of Syria. A Kurdish official told him she sees ISIS attacking Aleppo next. And then there is the fact that while Iraq seems to fall into three parts, Syria is even more chaotic. Surely if ISIS is recognized, Kurdistan needs to be recognized. But how about Nusra country? What about enclaves? How does one protect them? Although a unilateral ceasefire would seem to be simple in concept, this might not be true in this case.



This has been done before, many times, with regards the Bolsheviks in Russia, the CCP in China, the Jacobins/Bonarpartists in France, and for that matter, pretty much any other "Revolutionary" regimes. The precedent was set in the Westphalian system: never mind if we think a "state" is "legitimate" or not, but if we can't do away with them (or if the cost/benefit of doing so is beyond what is acceptable), they have to be treated as "states" one way or another.


"And what about Nusra Country?"

Too early to tell. The question with Nusra Country is whether it, or IS will be able to unite the Jihadists or whether the two groups will eat each other up.

After reading about the support Israel is giving Al Nusra on the border at the Golan Heights and the other thread here at SST about the DIA reports, it seems Al Nusra (Al Quaeda) is tight with Israel. Can anyone here in this Committee of Correspondence address the status of Israel's support for Al Nusra in Syria?

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