A lot of Iranian foreign policy is driven by the history of the various Persian empires that have existed in a continuous arc for three thousand years. Iranian civilization today is the direct descendant of Persian civilization three millennia ago. Persian civilization never disappeared, was never destroyed and reborn, it’s perhaps the oldest continuous civilization in the world. Persia has been playing this game in Iraq and Syria for thousands of years and are very aware they have been doing so.
We are not. We will never. We can’t even begin to fathom what is going on. Iraq is a lattice of grudges going back to the very dawn of civilization, grudges that last for centuries, for eons, grudges so old people’s don’t even know why they hate other peoples except that their ancestors did, and those ancestors never questioned why either. Civilization doesn’t mean everyone gets along. Put a few thousand years of lots of civilizations in one relatively small area and you get quite a beautiful mess. Humanity thrives on conflict. Otherwise we’d be like the Neanderthals, scarcely changing in a hundred thousand years, peacefully using the same flint tools for 5,000 generations. But look what Homo sapiens have achieved in a mere 500 generations of civilization in the Middle East. A lot of rich history, a lot of extraordinary cultures, a lot of endless fighting. But with drones now, no stone tools.
In the long sweep of the history of the Middle East, our Iraqi intervention will scarcely be noted. We we there and then we were gone a couple decades later, and we made no difference whatsoever.
Not sure if any of you have ever looked at Dabiq, the ISIS online magazine. It is gorgeous, as beautiful a lay out as you will see. It’s very impressive. And it is scary nuts. Fanatical stuff. Murderous. Anyway, this is how ISIS gets its message across to lone wolf terrorists as well as its remote terrorist cells like those in Paris. There is really no need to have any contact with ISIS in any way, all you need to is keep reading Dabiq. That is the beauty of the ISIS business model, that they can create mass murderers like the killer in Orlando without having to spend a moment on the guy. Dabiq is like a jihadi correspondence course. Unless you have actually thumbed through its digital pages, you can’t quite see its power. It is an impressive looking journal. It gives a sense of seriousness and truth to the ISIS ideology that those hand held Al Qaeda videos never could. You have to already be in a jihadist mindset to believe those Al Qaeda videos. But you could be some messed up self hating racist fuckup with a mean streak in Florida and become an ISIS jihadi after reading an issue of Dabiq. Much like Mein Kampf did with Germans in its time, Dabiq can take believing if not especially religious Moslems and turn them into cold blooded spree killers. That happens very rarely (at its most ISIS has had maybe thirty thousand members out of a billion Moslems worldwide, while at its peak the Nazi party had eight million members out of maybe eighty million German Aryans worldwide*), but unlike Al Qaeda, which seeks to create a global Caliphate (by the year 2020, they are behind schedule), the goals of ISIS require much less to achieve much more.
ISIS is an Islamic organization, yes, but it is millenarian, a millenarian cult. All of this, all the war and slaughter, is part of the coming end of days. There was a terrific and surreal article in The Atlantic last year, What ISIS Really Wants, subtitled “The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.” Apparently few read it which is a damn shame because the article points out with ample quotes how ISIS has stated its goals and belief system and ideology in every single issue of Dabiq…there is absolutely nothing secret about ISIS. Surprisingly, the death of Christians is not important in itself. We are killed only as a means of sparking the rest of Christianity (aka Rum, as they call us, as in the Roman Empire) to go into all out war against ISIS which will lead to an enormous battle on the Plain of Dabiq (a battlefield ISIS made pains to seize, actually). ISIS will lose that battle, it is written. Eventually the last battle will be fought at Rum itself (actually Istanbul, which at the time of the original prophecies was Constantinople and capital of the Roman Empire, hence Rum). That ISIS will win, just barely, and at last the Day of Judgment will be at hand. And that is pretty much it in a nutshell. That is what ISIS is trying to do. That is what this whole mess is all about. Trying to bring about the Day of Judgment and resulting Paradise. You can read all about it in Dabiq.