The antics of those 10,000 Sunnis calling themselves ISIS or ISIL or ASSHAT has really done a number on all the Beltway insiders. These middling careerists are still trying to figure out how to maintain a unified Iraq - as if one ever existed - or looking for ways the Almighty American Presidency can respond. But all this kvetching is couched in the delusion that these 10,000 irregulars are rational actors.
Delusional, that's the view the pundits and the politicians have of everything outside America. They assume everyone wants to live the American Dream of 2.5 kids, a sensible car, and six figure consumer debt eating out their insides. Hell, there are plenty of people right here in America who don't want any of that - I'm one of 'em and I married another - but, like Anglo-American philosophy professors who go about their work like Nietzsche never happened, this same political class keeps trying to find some neat, American way to explain what is essentially Islam's Thirty Years War.
Like that unified Iraqi government. Kerry, the poor bastard, had to travel all the way to the sand pit and personally tsk-tsk Nouri al-Maliki for not accommodating the Sunnis. "How dare you not give your blood enemies a big ol' hug!" It's willfully ignorant, not just expecting Maliki to sit down to tea with people who wish him dead - and mean it - but in assuming anyone in Iraq wants that congenial, civics class crap.
No wait - a few people do. You'll see them mentioned by name in solemn Politico and New York Times articles, some harried nuclear family in a Baghdad apartment who are scared to go to the corner for hummus 'cause they might trip over a dead fella. That these are such cloistered, Westernized Iraqis should tip you off they ain't the norm - for starters, where's the dozens of other relatives? Sure, plenty have died in the turf wars since 2003 but only a million. The population has around 26 times more where that came from and Iraq, like most Third World nightmares, has a high birth rate.
When you don't see all the cousins and elders of the family in these little heartstring-tugging articles, it's telling you that these are the urban, modern sorts of Arabs that Western media love to talk to, love to celebrate whenever they have one of their little "Spring" moments, and never ever end up in power because they are a slim and marginalized minority. It's why so many of them live as expats in Europe and America.
If these Progressive Arabs were actually a player in the Iraq-Syria conflagration, the Beltway brainwave might make sense. These would be people with rational agendas - meaning business agendas. Peace and security and boredom are the favorite conditions of business, because it means money. These mellow, non-religious Arabs are conducive to that, since they've grown out of the belief in fighting and dying for a cause. Like their American fans.
Among the majority of Iraqis today, Sunni and Shia alike, fighting and dying is culturally normative. Religion is a matter of life or death for them, like it hasn't been for gringos since about the 17th Century (except for Ireland). For Wahhabized Sunni militias like ICECREAM, the entire point is to bring not just Iraq and Syria but the entire world of believers, the Ummah, under a single religious law. All other concerns are secondary. The Shi'ites, so far, have the slightly saner position of maintaining their own little tribal homesteads against these evangelist jihadis who think they're all kuffaar. And if that means war, bombings, and the forceful partition of every country west of Iran than so be it.
The talking heads in the American media and their muddling masters in American government could see this - it ain't exactly a secret - but it would conflict with the deep commitment to craven self-enrichment that is their true faith. The true faith of every American, even the hardest core Southern Baptists. And because not one of these fools can understand a position of "To the death!" they've blithely sat back while the Saudis set the world on fire.
There aren't any good guys here - except maybe the Kurds - but the House of Saud has got to be the worst guys of all. Already sitting on obscene oil wealth, already ruling a totalitarian state that makes North Korea look like New Hampshire, and they have to go and fund every Sunni whack-job with a grudge, from the Maghreb to Chechnya. And as though that weren't enough, they have to spread their toxic Wahhabi ideas too - where everything is forbidden and will get you stoned. Wahhab himself was expelled from every city he ever lived in by other Muslims because he was too stone-happy.
The Saudis have been infecting the brains of the faithful with their medieval madness for years, while filling up their bank accounts, all because of this "To the death!" religion stuff... and what do Americans do about it? The world's most powerful empire, and they argue over which president should have bombed the madrassa zombies, rather than attacked the root. But see, Saudis are also good for business because they got the oil. And rationally, you want business to run smoothly. So you look the other way while your business partner spends his billions on remaking the world into a crazier, meaner place.