Tag Archives: adam shatz

Our magical thinking about ISIS, and shallow thinking about the Long War.

Summary: As we lurch in a second phase of our mindless Long War, we lack the excuse of ignorance that led to our failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 14 years of war, a host of voices — people with a wide range of relevant expertise — explain the folly of our actions. Here is an excerpt from an article well worth reading about the West’s shallow thinking — almost certain to end with our tears.


Excerpt from “Magical Thinking about Isis

Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, 3 December 2015

What most of the jihadis appear to have in common is a lack of any serious religious training: according to most studies, there is an inverse relationship between Muslim piety and attraction to jihad. As Olivier Roy, the author of several books on political Islam, recently said, ‘this is not so much the radicalisation of Islam as the Islamicisation of radicalism.’

By sending a group of French – and Belgian – citizens to massacre Parisians in their places of leisure, IS aims to provoke a wave of hostility that will end up intensifying disaffection among young Muslims.

… France has been using {its} weapons more frequently, more widely, and more aggressively in recent years. The shift towards a more interventionist posture in the Muslim world began under Sarkozy, and became even more pronounced under Hollande, who has revealed himself as an heir of Guy Mollet, the Socialist prime minister who presided over Suez and the war in Algeria.

It was France that first came to the aid of Libyan rebels, after Bernard-Henri Lévy’s expedition to Benghazi. That adventure, once the US got involved, freed Libya from Gaddafi, but then left it in the hands of militias – a number of them jihadist – and arms dealers whose clients include groups like IS. France has deepened its ties to Netanyahu – Hollande has made no secret of his ‘love’ for Israel – and criminalised expressions of support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.​

In one of his last interviews, Tony Judt said:

When Bush said that we are fighting terrorism ‘there’ so that we won’t have to fight them ‘here’, he was making a very distinctively American political move. It is certainly not a rhetorical trope that makes any sense in Europe, [where politicians recognise that] if we begin a war between Western values and Islamic fundamentalism, in the manner so familiar and self-evident to American commentators, it won’t stay conveniently in Baghdad. It is going to reproduce itself thirty kilometres from the Eiffel Tower as well. {From his book Thinking the Twentieth Century.}

Continue reading

Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza

Summary:  Yet another in the long series of wars between Israel and its neighbors.  The trend is not their friend.  Power is not enough, especially when outnumbered and surrounded. Our support for Israel might be enabling them to act boldly but suicidally. Here is a guest post by Adam Shatz explaining what happened in Gaza.



Excerpt to “Why Israel Didn’t Win
By Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books
24 November 2012
Reprinted for a limited time with their generous permission.
Go to the LRB website to read the full article.


The ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas in Cairo after 8 days of fighting is merely a pause in the Israel-Palestine conflict. It promises to ease movement at all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, but will not lift the blockade. It requires Israel to end its assault on the Strip, and Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets at southern Israel, but it leaves Gaza as miserable as ever: according to a recent UN report, the Strip will be ‘uninhabitable’ by 2020.

And this is to speak only of Gaza. How easily one is made to forget that Gaza is only a part – a very brutalised part – of the ‘future Palestinian state’ that once seemed inevitable, and which now seems to exist mainly in the lullabies of Western peace processors. None of the core issues of the Israel-Palestine conflict – the Occupation, borders, water rights, repatriation and compensation of refugees – is addressed by this agreement.

The fighting will erupt again, because Hamas will come under continued pressure from its members and from other militant factions, and because Israel has never needed much pretext to go to war.

Continue reading