This article first appeared in Jewish Business News.
Far from being a fan of ISIS, who represent the very worst in Islamic culture, I nevertheless believe President Obama should leave them alone and not attempt to remove them from the face of the earth, as he has promised a few days ago.
ISIS serves a very important purpose, it is actually a source of stability in the region, and as such should be left to its own devices. Yes, the West must protect its assets in the region, and, yes, care must be taken to bolster innocent bystanders like the Kurds and the kingdom of Jordan against the onslaught of the Islamic ninjas. Other than that, to paraphrase a popular sentiment: don’t just do something, stand there.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Back in the 7th century, as the Roman Empire was losing its oomph in the Middle East, the Arab hordes, led by Muhammad, rushed out of the Arabian peninsula and grabbed all that nice, free property, never to let go of most of it again. This is precisely what ISIS, the new Muslim hordes in the very same region, have been doing.
Thirteen years ago, Barbara Bush’s less gifted son decided to remove the only man in the region who was able, using cruelty, paranoia and a voracious appetite for power, to stop the Iranian Shiite empire from expanding and gaining a hegemony in the region. That wondrous man was Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and when he fell, he left a vacuum that was quickly filled by Iran and its Shiite allies inside Iraq.
In essence, the United States spent trillions of dollars and countless lives, American and Arab, to give Iran the primacy it so desired in that part of the world. Yes, that was some idiotic move.
And as President Obama decided to cut America’s losses and pull out of the region en mass, he forced the Sunnis to get up and make a move before it was too late. So they did. Taking advantage of the vacuum left by Obama’s America, ISIS has been running through the region like knife through hot butter. And that’s a very good thing.
Because ISIS, despite their obvious religious fanaticism, are realists. They want money and land, which they’ve taken’ and they want a reliable and well equipped army, which they’ve also taken, from America’s Iraqi clients.
But they’ve been staying out of areas where they know they’d get a bloody nose. While attacking women and children wherever they could, ISIS soldiers have kept away from serious confrontations with the IDF and the Jordanian Legion. They’re not interested in fighting for the sake of fighting alone, they’re looking for rewards. So, like I said, that’s a good thing.
The big service ISIS is doing the West right now is checking Iranian power, just as the Sunni rebels inside Syria are keeping the Iranian agent Hezbollah in check, and just as the PLO is keeping Hamas in check, at least to some degree.
It’s a volatile region, where violent, crazed men will always make life terrible for their weaker, more productive, less sociopath neighbors. But now the crazies are balancing one another, like a circle of snakes, each keeping the tail of the next snake in its clenched jaws.
Israel and the West could do worse, by helping any of these brutes. Let them keep each other busy for decades, and let’s wish all of them much success in their bloody endeavors.
Oh, and if you’re a journalist looking to interview these guys – use Skype, for heaven’s sake.