ISIS as a Proto-state
It is difficult for the majority of people in the United States to understand how ISIS could appeal to such a wide audience, drawing adherents from the West, from multiple countries in the Middle East, and Africa. Yesterday, October 1, at the Eight Bells Lecture held in Brett Hall and sponsored by the Naval War College Museum, Mr. Haider Mullick provided an overview of the topic and gave perspective to the mayhem and brutality of the entity known as ISIS.
Mr. Mullick is presently a PhD candidate at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. In addition, he is a senior lecturer at the Naval Post Graduate School and adjunct professor at the Naval War College where he teaches a course on ISIS/Modern terrorism. As president of Red Teaming Associates, he has worked with various think-tanks and also advised the Department of Defense on US-Middle East relations as a senior advisor.
Organizing his lecture around four key points, Mullick described: firstly the broad appeal of ISIS, as well as the weaknesses; secondly, understanding the many moving parts in the Middle East; thirdly, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his rise and ultimate death in 2006, and his legacy; and finally, how U.S. involvement has contributed to the present state of affairs in the region.
The genesis of ISIS began with Zarqawi. To follow his life is to see the blossoming of a radical philosophy that has continued to grow even after his death. He learned to fight with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Then, gaining funding, he exported his terror to his home country Jordan. His big opportunity to expand his influence came with the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and the exploitation of Arab-Kurdish and Sunni-Shiite tensions. The organizational structure, the infrastructure built upon captured wealth and territory, the use of social media promoting the ISIS agenda and recruiting, and establishment of municipal administrations providing basic services and food to the local population are all remnants of his vision for establishing a modern caliphate.
ISIS is an example of “crowd-sourcing” terrorism; but, above all, it is a military campaign that values action and victory over discussion. To defeat ISIS will require a coalition of seemingly unlikely partners and, although all wars end, the disenfranchised will continue to struggle and be a fertile field for continued strife.
The next Eight Bells Lecture will be held on October 22 with “The role of Los Alamos in the Atomic Age it Introduced to History” by Dr. Ron Barks. For more information, call 841-4052/2101.