Climate Change and ISIS

Peggy Noonan, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, had this to say on “Face the Nation” about Bernie Sanders’ comments on ISIS at the debate last Saturday:

“…Bernie Sanders essentially said a major problem with all of this ISIS stuff and terrorism and what’s going at the west is climate change and global warming which makes him to many people look slightly daffy like someone who doesn’t understand what the real subject is, and is leaning outside to sort of leftist, or Progressive nostrims [sic] that he can talk about. This is about terrorism. It isn’t about climate change and deserts and people migrating because it’s hot.”[1]

It isn’t about climate change and deserts and people migrating because it’s hot.”

This really does show a basic lack of understanding about what is happening in the Middle East that is shared by a great many others.

Senator Sanders has said on any number of occasions that the war against ISIS is “a war for the soul of Islam.”  And that’s exactly what it is.

What too many people don’t understand is that terrorism is not an end in itself.  Terrorism is a tool that desperate people use to accomplish ends that they cannot accomplish otherwise.  In almost every case, those we call terrorists set out to accomplish what they see as noble aims.  One of the reasons that the Taliban could not be eliminated in Afghanistan was that they helped the people there survive when the government wouldn’t or couldn’t.

There are 1.57 billion Muslims in the world.  They are the majority religion in 50 countries.  There are numerous schools of belief and sects within the overall mantle if Islam.

ISIS embraces the Salafist form of Islam that is often referred to as Wahhabism.  Actually, they have taken Wahhabism to an extreme.  Their goal isn’t to terrorize the world.  Their goal is to eliminate all other interpretations of Islam from the world and to establish a single mosque under a single belief, under a single leader.   And in order to do that they will kill anyone who gets in their way – regardless of religion, regardless of country.

They want to eliminate national borders in the Islamic world and establish a caliphate – an autonomous empire led by one man, a successor to the prophet Mohammed.

The ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has declared that new Caliphate now exists and the plan is to expand it until it encircles the Mediterranean, from western Africa, through the Middle East, and as far as Spain.  This is the goal.

To reach that goal, the new Caliph, al-Baghdadi, needs men.  He needs money.  As ISIS gains territory their Islamic beliefs demand that they care for the people in those lands.  They need resources.  They need food.  They need water.

The drought that has crippled Syria has been made worse by climate change and has driven many to migrate to the west.  It has driven others to join ISIS in expanding the caliphate.  As climate change continues to decimate the Middle East, as deserts form where food was once grown, others will be driven away, but many will be driven to join ISIS.  Devastation breeds terrorism.  When there is no food, when there is no water, people will turn to whoever can provide those things.  If al-Baghdadi is successful, that will be ISIS.

Expect climate change to cause an increase in terrorism across the world in the coming years.  The US military has said exactly that and is making plans to cope with the dangers.  Peggy Noonan may think Bernie Sanders sounds “daffy,” but he is the one who understands the larger picture.  Climate change will create more terrorism.  He understands exactly what the subject is.

And if those who have been driven away already by the drought in Syria are rejected by the western countries they have fled to, they too will have to turn to someone.  ISIS wants that to be ISIS.  They would like nothing better than for the US to refuse Syrian refugees.  They want Muslims to have no reason to think well of the west.  They want Muslims to have nowhere to go.  When that happens, those who have been turned away by fear and hatred here and abroad will convert to the caliphate’s brand of Islam and return to swell the ranks of the caliphate.

As Senator Sanders points out, the war with ISIS is a war for the heart of Islam because ISIS wants to conquer all Islamic nations.  They want to eliminate Islamic nations.  They want to eliminate national governments.  From their point of view, there can be only one.

While the Republicans beat the drums of war and try to keep peaceful Muslims out of the country, Bernie Sanders has the wisdom to see that we need to offer aid where we can – both to refugees here and to Muslim countries abroad when they mobilize to face the very real threat to their existence.  But this is not a war where our young men need be put in harm’s way to satisfy the profit needs of our military-industrial complex or the campaign needs of struggling Republicans.

Bernie Sanders also understands that we cannot turn our backs on other races or any religion.

“Our job is to build a nation in which we all stand together as one people.”

“…if you stand for anything we have got to stand together and end all forms of racism, and I will lead that effort as president of the United States.”  Bernie Sanders at George Mason University

Syrian desert


Roger A. Shipley - The Willowbrook Curmudgeon

Roger Shipley, AKA The Willowbrook Curmudgeon, spent forty years teaching in the American educational system and emerged a grumpy old man. Ensconced in the Pacific Northwest, he writes, carves, and chides people for bad grammar. You can also find his grumblings at The Curmudgeon's Lair or follow his nonsense on Twitter or Face Book

2 thoughts on “Climate Change and ISIS

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    November 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Thanks Willowbrook, nice read, easy to grasp but alas, I believe still a little too complicated for Republicans.

  • Avatar
    November 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Well, most Republicans aren’t stupid, just misguided. We have to keep trying to educate everyone.

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