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Twenty-four hours after an attack by Da'esh (the organization formerly known as ISIS [1]) on Paris left 129 dead and 352 wounded, the Internet and the airwaves alike have been filled with profound waves of self-serving nonsense and stupidity from left and right alike. Everyone seems to have found a way in which this situation justifies their position – protect the refugees! Exile the refugees! Bomb someone! Stop all bombing of anyone! – and magically, it seems that one of the most complex political situations of our time can be reduced to simple slogans.

Well, I've run out of patience with this, so let me seriously discuss what just happened here, and what it tells us. I'm going to talk about three things which have combined to lead to yesterday's massacre: the refugee crisis, Europe's Muslim population, and Da'esh. I'll then talk about a few things which I think have little or nothing to do with what we're seeing – most importantly, religion and oil – and a few things which do – such as food and water. And finally, we'll talk about what it's going to take to fix this, both in the short term and the long term.

Being entirely out of patience right now, forgive me for being particularly blunt. I suspect that, by the end of this, you will be thoroughly offended by my opinions, whether you are American, European, or Middle Eastern, left or right: nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this.

The first thing to realize about the refugees streaming into Europe from Syria and its environs is that not only are they not, by and large, terrorists – they're people fleeing these exact terrorists. France was just hit by Da'esh, with over five hundred casualties; in Syria, people are surrounded by Da'esh on one side, and a bloodthirsty army on the other side, and have been seeing death on the scale of yesterday's attack every single day for the past four and a half years. [2] If you were living there, you would very likely be fleeing, too.

But the second thing to realize about the refugees is that there are, in fact, Da'esh members among them. It's clear that at least one of the attackers came in from Syria as part of October's refugee flood, and there's no reason at all not to believe that quite a few more are among them, working both at short- and long-term goals. (More on which in a moment)

Everyone seems to have simplistic solutions, here: kick out all the Muslims (as America's Ann Coulter and Donald Trump suggest), settle the refugees more permanently, build giant prison camps. These solutions tend to miss a few very basic points:

(1) When you have hundreds of thousands of people who are quite literally willing to risk not only their deaths, but the deaths of their families, in order to escape, your odds of being able to keep them out aren't actually great, unless your plan is to mobilize a giant army and start attacking inward until they're fleeing in the opposite direction.

(2) You do not have enough prison camp capacity to handle this many people, nor could you build it. Nor do you have enough housing and residential infrastructure capacity to easily settle this many people, because the flux you're seeing out of Syria is very far from the end of it. 

This is why large regional disasters quickly tend to spread into adjacent regions. This is why it's important not to let regional disasters get out of hand, no matter how politically appealing isolationism may appear.

The second thing to be aware of is that this didn't happen in a vacuum: Europe has a very large Muslim population, and it seems that most of the attackers were French or Belgian citizens. This started out with Europe's colonial ambitions, back in the day: France, for example, ruled over Algeria with a mind-bogglingly bloodthirsty approach [3] for decades, but now has a large population of people with a right to French residence who have been moving in to the country in search of a better economic situation. (Hardly surprising, when you leave behind a colony wracked by a horrifying civil war for decades) And France is far from alone in this.

Europe's Muslim population is both profoundly European and profoundly not European. They are European in that they have been living there, often for more than a generation; they work there, they pay taxes, they have become as assimilated as they can. They are not European in that Europe has been profoundly unwilling to allow them to assimilate. This is far from a historical anomaly: Europe has historically defined itself in terms of villages or cities and their local populations, which one can't really join very easily. Groups marked as outsiders – be they Jews, Romany, or Muslims – have been considered only marginally European. At times, there has been a high degree of apparent assimilation: for example, Jews were thoroughly integrated into European culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, intermarrying, forming friendships and professional associations across the board. As you may notice, "thorough integration" can be an awfully chancy business. 

Muslims in today's Europe, on the other hand, don't have anything close to this superficial level of integration; France has been routinely passing laws banning Muslims from dressing the way they did in their home countries in the past few years, which should tell you a great deal about local opinions of that population.

So you have a large population who finds it systematically hard to find work, impossible to be accepted, the regular target of police, and told every day that they should probably be kicked out of the country. I'm sure you will find it shocking that, if you do this to a few tens of millions of people for a few decades at a stretch, you will end up with a disillusioned and disenfranchised youth, some of which will combine this with the general hot-headedness and stupidity of being a young adult to become easy fodder for people who have shown up to recruit.

Lots of people seem to have half-assed solutions here, and they tend to be even more foolish than the solutions to the refugee crisis. "Send them back," the European right frequently cries: back to where? Most of the Muslim population is no longer fresh immigrants; they are second and third generation Europeans. They don't have homes anywhere else. The European left, on the other hand, preaches a mealymouthed combination of urging assimilation and unmistakeable racism. 

For some context, go back to the Charlie Hebdo attacks several months ago. There was a large outcry, saying that what the magazine (a notable left-wing satirical organ) had been doing was entirely in the bounds of proper satire, that the satire of religion was a hallowed European tradition. What this explanation glosses over is that nobody on the receiving end of the satire saw it as satire of religion, for the simple reason that religious affiliation, in Europe as in the Middle East, has little to do with what you believe and much to do with who you are. Charlie Hebdo's targets weren't simply religious extremists preaching from Saudi mosques; they were a portrayal of the French Muslim population as violent extremists, the dangerous other. And that's precisely the European left-wing line: Muslims are fine, so long as they become completely European, to the extent that we can forget that they were ever from someone else. Which, realistically, might mean they have to intermarry for a few generations and acquire blue eyes and blond hair, but that's OK, we welcome them!

The honest fact is this: neither the European left nor the right have ever made the large Muslim community into a full part of society. One side has covered it in nice words, while the other side has blared its xenophobia from the rooftops, but nobody on the receiving end of either of these has been fooled.

You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. What did you expect was going to happen?

And then we come over to our friends in the Middle East, the psychotically bloodthirsty bastards of Da'esh itself. It's a bit off to even refer to them as Islamist extremists in the mold of al-Qaeda; they've gone so far off the rails of Islam that the only clear ideology that often seems left is power and murder. Exhortations from theologians of any stripe aren't really going to have an effect on them.

But they seem to have realized that they are on an upswing of power, nobody having the resources or will to stop them, and have come up with the idea of spreading this worldwide, with attacks spreading to places like Russia and France – and, as soon as they can, everywhere else. Because as far as anyone can tell, they want to take over the world.

(Yes, this is a kind of screwy plan, and they barely even control chunks of land in the ass end of Syria and Iraq. But they've had enough luck with killing people that they seem to have convinced themselves that if they engage in even more killing people, it'll continue to work just as well. [4])

They seem to have one fairly simple strategic objective with these new attacks: drive a hard wedge between Muslim and infidel populations around the world, so that the Muslims will have no choice but to join them and become their army, overthrowing the local governments and establishing a world-wide Caliphate.

Unfortunately, political stupidity seems likely to help them. If the response to these attacks is to further isolate Muslim populations – both settled and refugee – then they will certainly have a far easier time recruiting among them. It's not actually going to lead to them taking over the world, but it will lead to bloodshed.

This recruitment tends to take a few forms. One is to recruit fighters to come and help in the bloodshed in existing battlefields; the second is to recruit suicide bombers and the like in other countries. These are somewhat disjoint processes, since the process of recruiting someone to commit suicide is rather different and targets different sorts of people, but there is also overlap: one strategy which al-Qaeda long favored was to recruit people to come to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya to fight, and later export trained fighters elsewhere.

One important thing about these tactics is that they seem to be realizing that surprisingly little training and planning is required. Yesterday's attack required some coordination among teams, but nothing spectacular; it did require practice in gunplay. But even this was fairly complex compared to the bare minimum required; consider the amount of chaos caused by the D.C. Sniper back in 2002.

Da'esh poses a particular danger because they seem to have latched onto the idea of exporting their violence to the rest of the world, but they're hardly the first or the last group to do this. If they were to be wiped out, I wouldn't bet any money that someone else wouldn't get the same idea soon after, much like al-Qaeda did before them. It's not even a particularly regional idea; the notion that if we kill enough people we can restructure the world to be perfectly {Aryan, Muslim, Democratic, Christian, Communist, etc.}, or to be the economic vassal states of the {X} empire, is frankly a cliché by now on pretty much every square kilometer of the planet.

So let's review where we are, for a moment. There's a large European Muslim population which is disillusioned, disenfranchised, underemployed, and generally treated as outsiders and fair political punching bags by the society as a whole. There's a giant stream of refugees pouring in to Europe, combining huge numbers of people running for their lives from bloodthirsty maniacs with small numbers of bloodthirsty maniacs looking to recruit. There's a factory of particularly bloodthirsty maniacs with a vision of taking over the world through (a) killing people and (b) convincing the rest of the world to treat Muslims even more like outsiders, who are actively trying to both create refugee streams and send out recruiters, to this end.

At this point, I expect to hear a chorus of voices blaming two things for this: religion (specifically, Islam), and oil (specifically, the West's insatiable need for it). To which my main response to both is "hogwash."

The reason I reject Islam as an explanation for this is that there's nothing particularly Muslim about any of it. The European Muslims which are being treated as second-class citizens aren't being treated that way because they pray on rugs facing Mecca, rather than in pews facing an altar; they're being treated this way because they're "dirty foreigners." (I'll spare you the actual terms used to describe them) Da'esh's plan to take over the world isn't rooted in a theological destiny of Muslims; it's rooted in an explicitly political vision of conquest. And quite frankly, the people being shot at the most are Muslims, too; remember who the refugees were running from?

More profoundly, people in the Middle East aren't systematically any more religious than people are in America. You have the same spectrum from the wholly secular to the crazed fundamentalist, with the former predominating in cities and the latter in the countryside. There's a tendency to assume (for example) that any woman wearing a headscarf must be extremely devout, or subject to domination and terror by some devout man; you have to back away and look at it in its local context, where sometimes it's a sign of devotion or a political statement, but it's also just what people wear; for many people, walking around with one's hair exposed is not done in much the same way people don't walk around in most of the US or Europe with their asses hanging out.

Oil is generally used as a proxy for "if only the Americans|Europeans never intervened in the Middle East, it would be peaceful there!" This bespeaks a rather curious innocence as to the history of the Middle East, combined with a reversed vision of (generally American) exceptionalism, that somehow our surpassing evil can corrupt otherwise noble savages. It's certainly true that without oil, most of the Middle East would be desperately poor – but as it happens, most of it is desperately poor anyway. Oil is not uniformly distributed, and Syria doesn't have that much of it to begin with.

There is one sense in which this is true, which is that the 2003 invasion of Iraq created a spectacular disaster. George W. Bush's belief that if we just created enough of a power vacuum, democracy would magically rush in to fill the void – the precise belief which his father didn't have, mind you, which is why GHWB made the explicit and deliberate decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power – proved to be exactly as unwise as it sounds when written so plainly. The result was a giant area of anarchy and civil war smack in the center of the Middle East, into which would-be fighters from all over the region (as well as other regions) swarmed: veterans of Chechnya and Bosnia found new employment in Iraq, as Sunnis and Shi'ites alike slaughtered one another. This anarchy, never resolved, has been the perfect factory of chaos which quite easily spilled over elsewhere.

But there's one profound factor which has driven the violence in the Middle East far more than oil ever could: water.

The entire Middle East has been in a water, and thus food, crisis for decades. In Egypt, for example, the Nile Valley has been drying out ever since the Aswan Dam was completed in 1970; as this once-fertile soil turned to desert, people have streamed into Cairo, doubling and tripling its population by forming tremendous shantytowns. Unemployment was extreme, as it's not like the cities suddenly had tens of millions of new jobs in them; the government kept order as well as it could by importing grain in tremendous quantities (the government's by-far largest annual expense) and selling bread cheaply. Unfortunately, a drought in Russia and Ukraine, Egypt's primary suppliers, caused those countries to cut off wheat exports in 2011 – and the government collapsed soon after.

Syria is a similar story: the lead-in to the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship was steady droughts in the Syrian countryside driving people into the cities by the hundreds of thousands, leading to mass unemployment and unrest. People's livelihoods had simply disappeared. Stories like this repeat across the entire Middle East.

When we talk about the ultimate causes of the situation, this is the fact we tend to ignore: at the root of it, there isn't enough water, and there isn't enough food, and droughts have been hitting the area harder and harder for a decade. When there isn't enough food, people move from the countryside to the cities; and now you have giant groups of people who still don't have jobs or food, and that's a recipe for the collapse of governments as surely today as it was in Europe in the 1840's.

If you've ever wondered why I have often said that we need to be very actively worried about climate change, this is it. Changing climate breaks agriculture in various areas; the people who were farming there don't magically turn into factory workers or teleport to places which are (slowly) becoming more fertile; they become desperate former farmers, generally flooding into cities. 

So given all of this, what can we actually conclude? I think the most important thing is that you can't bury your head in the sand, and assume that problems in some other part of the world aren't your own. A drought or a civil war somewhere else can easily start to spill over in unexpected ways.

If you want to avoid terrible consequences, what you have to do is plan, and in particular never let kindling build up. For example:

(1) If you have a large, disenfranchised, population, this is trouble waiting to start. The only way to fix this problem is to enfranchise them: give them a full stake in your society. Yes, that means treating people who are very different from you like full equals. Yes, it also means that your society – that is, the set of people that you're responsible for – now includes a bunch of people who are a lot poorer than you are, and this is going to be expensive to fix. You're not going to like it. But you're going to like the alternative a whole lot less.

(2) If there's political instability, or worst of all, food supply instability somewhere else in the world, it doesn't matter how far away it seems: you need to get together with everyone else and have a serious plan to deal with it. Once masses of hundreds of thousands of people start streaming across the countryside, chaos will follow in their wake. 

(3) Climate change isn't an abstract fear for the future; it's a major political problem right now. You can't punt it away and talk about what to do about carbon emissions or its effect on the economy; you have to sit down and come up with serious strategic plans for what to do when agricultural productivity in critical breadbaskets drops sharply, or watersheds dry up. Contingency planning for any government needs to include anything from hurricanes to long-term droughts, and not just as one-offs, but what to do if these start happening a lot. The reason you need to plan for this is that it's not a goddamned hypothetical, you idiot.

What do we do in the short term? This is harder, because right now Da'esh has been sending agents across the planet to cause as much trouble as they can. One obvious prong of the solution is ordinary police work; that's proven far more effective than complex intelligence solutions at catching terrorists. Another prong is stopping their support system at the root. Because Da'esh's plans are so focused on actual conquest, a collapse of their regime back home is likely to have more of an effect on their satellite agents than the collapse of a more ideologically-oriented organization like al-Qaeda.

A third prong is to stabilize the situation in Syria: here the key isn't so much blowing anyone up as giving people a way to stop fighting. There are three key obstacles to this. One is Da'esh, which seems to be pretty committed to fighting for its own sake; this is unlikely fixable by any means short of straightforward military defeat. One is the underlying lack of food availability. The third is that quite a lot of people have reason to believe that they will be killed either if al-Assad regains power, or if he loses power. They need a serious guarantee of personal safety in any peace.

What this probably means is that a peace agreement will require very heavy international support: aid to rebuild the country, neutral military forces to guarantee cease-fires, and some way to deal with the underlying economic issues. That's going to require heavy international coordination of the profoundly unsexy sort: not deploying giant militaries to bomb targets and wave banners, or propping up regimes and helping them "suppress insurgencies," but working on the long-term realities of helping locals build a government that they're invested in – even when said government is unlikely to be either similar to Western norms, or friendly to Western aims. Military force to crush Da'esh is almost certainly needed as a precondition to this, but it's by far the smaller part of the game.

The short version is: if you want to fix problems, you're going to have to deal with some very serious, expensive, and unsexy solutions. Because life isn't simple, and you can't just bomb your way out of trouble.

[1] See this recent editorial for the argument for switching to the term Da'esh more broadly: [Thanks to +Lisa Straanger for finding this more in-depth discussion than the Boston Globe op-ed which I had earlier cited]

[2] cf, for example, this infographic:

[3] cf, for example, this obituary of a proud French torturer:

[4] cf
Edward Morbius's profile photoYonatan Zunger's profile photoCathy Ann Hill's profile photoJulian Bond's profile photo
Not a false flag operation then like 911, Sandy Hook, the Boston Bombing, Charlie Hebdo, etc, etc?
I think you are underselling the role of oil. Not because it somehow makes us export evil, but because it encourage terrible short term planning on the part of the US. I find it hard to imagine a situation, other than rich oil reserves, that results in the alliances we have, especially Saudi Arabia. We're basically granting unconditional support to a country that serves as a generator for problems.
+David Steinmuller It does lead to some dubious alliances, but I don't think that our alliance with the Saudis really had much to do with the present situation. It had quite a bit more to do with our involvement in the first Gulf War, but by the time of the second, it was already drowning in other kinds of politics.
To your 2nd point about stabilizing Syria: it would be great if the U.N., or USA, could supply an abundance of food to that region. Prongs 1 and 3 are tough ones
My favorite "cause" that is very popular among Mexican apparently: United States created all the terrorists organization to have an excuse to invade and "control" of the middle east.. 
+Mark Barrus I don't think supplying food at those scales is particularly easy, to be honest. It's a lot of food that's needed, and Syria isn't the only place that needs it. I suspect that defeating Da'esh militarily would actually be relatively straightforward compared to building a lasting peace.
<= somewhat disappointed not to be offended.  4-year election cycles in the US do little to help either.
Thanks +Yonatan Zunger - good to know that I rate :) But yes, thanks for a well written article. The fundamental issue of water and environment cannot be ignored.
Well, I didn't find this offensive at all. It's the clearest overview of this issue I've seen. It's also the hardest to implement, because it requires a lot of people (all around) to give up on assorted key issues.

So in the end, I'm left with the grim feeling that many of us can only watch this unfold the way it will when we don't sit down and hammer something sensible out :-/
A gezint oif deine keppele, I have to say. (Sorry I'm not there to give you the traditional forehead kiss that goes with it.) It is in fact obvious to me that the refugees are running away from these fuckers, and why nobody has suggest the refugees help root out the serpents in their midst because I can't think of a more vicious end for these scum than to be stomped to death by the men and women they are hiding behind.

And water. And get over the climate change denial, just because it isn't impacting North America quite the same as it is already marginal zones.

I'm sorry, you are much nicer about it all than I. I've gotten to the point of "fuck you, guys, I know what's happening and have fun when the cards come tumbling down."
I'm glad you emphasized the drought and food shortage problems, because the very thought I had this morning was that this is just a prelude of things to come in the next few decades as populations start shifting en mass in response to climate change. It's going to be brutal.
+Yonatan Zunger
It is the Saudis and Wahhabism that are the financial and spiritual foundations of ISIS.

The leaders of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam.

The group circulates images of Wahhabi religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia in the schools it controls. Videos from the group's territory have shown Wahhabi texts plastered on the sides of an official missionary van.

According to scholar Bernard Haykel, "for Al Qaeda, violence is a means to an ends; for ISIS, it is an end in itself." Wahhabism is the Islamic State's "closest religious cognate."

How can the US and Britain justify supplying these people with weaponry?
Yet again, EXCELLENT analysis and commentary. But I just want to take two jabs.

Jab 1) The United States bills itself as a melting pot. It says one does not need to give up all the cultural attributes of the place from where one came to be "American". Now that is what is on the brochure but that is not exactly the product that is delivered as any non-white US resident will tell you. But it is the ideal to which society says it is aapiring.

France makes and has made the absolute opposite claim. Their claim is "We have a superior culture. You can be a part of it. Just drop everything about the culture from which you came and take on everything about our superior culture and you will be one of us." When I was an exchange student in France I swear on everything I experienced no racism as a Black woman. French people did not care. I was speaking proper French and trying to be as French as possible. So I got no micro aggressions or anything. Now at that time I had drank the kool-aid and really did believe the French had a superior culture.

But whether or not that is true, that is what the French are putting out there. They make no claims of accepting immigrants "as they are". It is when in Gaul, do as the Gaulics do or be called a dirty foreigner. So my sympathy for the Muslim population in France is strong but conflicted.

You can be a star athlete here in the United States and still get the shit beat out of you by New York cops here in the U.S. just because you are Black. There is a daily reminder that no matter how successfully one tries to live up to the American ideal, if one has high melanin skin one will be viewed in U.S. society as other.

Whereas if a Muslim person in Paris or Leon tried to be as mainstream French as possible, they would, IMO, be accepted as French. Is it a large price to ask someone to pay to shrug off their entire culture and take on one the majority population says is superior? Absolutely. But the immigrants who came to France were not sold a bill of goods about this. They knew that was the deal when they immigrated. They just chose not to take the deal and as a consequence they are being treated poorly.

France makes some potent arguments about this deal, by the way. They claim it promotes national unity and is a deterrent to balkanization. Before anyone can dismiss the deal they would have to effectively counter these claims. At this moment those claims are looking kinda strong to me.

JAB 2 - Religion and water. I believe in a supernatural deity myself and I completely own that irrational belief.

I do not believe the Earth lacks fresh drinking water. I believe the number of humans on Earth and their projected growth exceeds the amount of fresh drinking water the Earth can supply.

Social science shows that when female education in a society goes up, births per child baring age woman go down. To the degree that religion has played a part in discouraging families from prioritizing the schooling of their daughters, it is indeed the cause of the water crisis you describe. Because had there been fewer births per woman in that region all these decades, the population would be smaller and the water crisis would not have such violent consequences.

Educating girls is the cheapest, most low tech way of bringing down the expected rate of population growth so that technology has time to develop solutions to the environmental problems you describe. Conservative Islam (I am not talking crazy ass off the rails zealotry. I am talking what the Mustafas who live their everyday lives without bothering anybody practice.) is an impediment to women having the kind of agency over reproductive choices that a population growth slow down would demand.
I found this pretty common-sensical, actually. Maybe it's because it's 97% the same as my own position. :P
The measures to stabilize the country might actually work in Palestine as well. The only problem is that in both Syria and Palestine there are strong regional and global forces working by default with destructive force. International institutions don't have enough influence (and I'm afraid they're not qualified as well) to push through the rule of common sense.
+Yonatan Zunger
Not joking no. I merely asked the question because (mainstream media aside) , there are a lot of suspicions being raised. Still, you're probably right, time will tell
+Jonathan Brown The Saudis and Wahabbism were the financial and religious foundations of al-Qaeda, but I don't think that's equally the case with Da'esh. While Da'esh talks about Islam a lot, they don't have nearly the same connection to religious leaders that al-Qaeda did; religious imprecations which they didn't themselves manufacture seem to largely bounce off of them. And the Saudis seem to have realized that these aren't the sort of people you want to fund.

I'd say that your quote of Haykel is quite on-point: they're heavily into violence, and not much else.
Nixon attached us to the Saudis when he essentially traded the gold standard for the oil standard.  If the petrodollar goes, we're in deep kimchi.

Also, I'm still looking for the offensive part!
It's definitely time for the level headed and empathetic among us to be more politically active. It's "not a goddamned hypothetical, you idiot" sums it up nicely. If you agree with the OP but sit on your hands on election day, or generally decline to participate in the processes by which we decide our course as a nation (and in collaboration with other nations) then, well 'complicit' is too nice a word.
Good summary of the complexities involved here. I read this with frustration at the frankly childish level of discussion in the media. There are people in government who understand these issues, but the loudest voices are people with some ideological ax to grind and no interest in subtlety. I hope that the analysts who understand the connection between climate change and political/economic instability will make the case strongly in Paris in a few weeks while world leaders are paying attention.

(As a very small footnote, I'm glad that Canada will no longer be obstructing progress in the effort to deal with climate change.)
It's a Religious War. Just When EUR understand that they can win. It's the Islam against the world.

+Jim Douglas I haven't even looked at the news coverage of the attack except to get the basic facts in order to avoid exactly what you mention.
A thoughtful and well articulate position +Yonatan Zunger, however, as you aptly pointed out the French history with Algeria, as I think this has greater significance than many in the west give credit to.  If we look back to that period of time or say Iran 1953, Afghanistan 1977, Iraq 1991-2002, each of these events solidify in the minds of those directly effected an 'Us verses them' bunker like mentality that unlike the west, is not washed into the memory hole. 

We are witnessing one of the largest population migrations in human history (NY Times states 60 million worldwide) and with those people displaced comes the fresh memories of why, and when added to populations like Europe are like stacking kindling high. 

I would agree that it is a complex issue requiring complex solutions and in generational fashion, in fact a paradigm level of change in view.  There is only so much that can be accomplished by using military means to drive policy or results, as issues like global warming, resources and a break from the notion that doing more of what has led to the crisis can possibly solve it.
+Noah Friedman​ I was also pondering the newly nomadic population seeking food and water.... <sigh/>
Wow great read start to finish, and I can honestly say nobody sound be offended by the truth. The problem with our modern world is exactly what you say: people are ignorant and like to continue to be that way. Sometimes I hate even trying to wrap my head around things, not for whether or not I could understand so much as how few are even willing to have an intelligent conversation about it.

That said, in all seriousness +Yonatan Zunger​, have you ever thought about actually taking these riveting commentaries to another media platform? Hell I don't care if it's a YouTube channel, I'd love to see some actual sophisticated media coverage of modern issues. Not that I mind the very well written version, but I know that people who actually like to read are in the minority. We really could use something targeted at those who prefer video to text, cause there are an awful lot of them out there.

I'd just like to see the ball rolling for actual understanding instead of political posturing...and if ever you needed proof that we truly need such a thing, just look at our current US presidential candidates. I don't care what party you side with, if anybody can do anything besides roll our eyes at just how out of touch with reality the candidates are, then those uninformed voters clearly need someone like you to point out all the real reasons everyone else seems all too eager to conveniently forget. 
Y'know, +Yonatan Zunger - my "Open and honest" imperialistic stance actually seems more attractive after reading that. HArd solution to a hard problem. 

And I'm not sure we won't do what we did with Iraq. After starting a fledgling democracy where- heck, women could even vote! _ we abandoned it in the name of sme whinging political correctness because everyone wanted a do over on whether the war was "right" before we won.
The challenge, of course, is to sum that up in a 10 second soundbyte using words of one syllable.
A challenge!
"Bad men go boom in main France place, and make dead."
You forgot the vexing problem of war profiteering as one of the drivers behind Wahhabist terrorism. I'm getting the impression that it has taken a front seat to inflating petroleum spot prices.
So, in a sense, the problem is oil, though not the one still in the ground in the Middle East, but rather the one we've already burned into the air.
Why do you think that the end game isn't going to be the creation of dictators strong enough to keep the populace in place and quiet, and weak enough to understand that their power and privilege (and lives) will end if they fail to do so? Food aid would provide them patronage, and it could be removed as a leash. Given the sour attitudes you describe, which are likely to curdle further, why would you assume that the there would be any will to make mammoth long term investments in creating societies alien to western norms and hostile to western aims?   Europe can't even summon the will to deal with their own economic issues. Surely following  Putin's lead will seem a lot less onerous than "serious, unsexy, expensive solutions".   What you are proposing has the advantage of being thoughtful and moral, it just doesn't seem likely.
According to Arabic translator Alice Guthrie, "D.A.E.SH is a transliteration of the Arabic acronym formed of the same words that make up I.S.I.S in English: 'Islamic State in Iraq and Syria', or 'al-dowla al-islaamiyya fii-il-i'raaq wa-ash-shaam'." Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, the word can mean "to trample down and crush." But it can also mean "a bigot." ISIS has reportedly threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone it hears using the term.

It was Sayyid Qutb, In 1966, who was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging.

Qutb had influence on Islamic insurgent/terror groups in Egypt and elsewhere. His influence on al-Qaeda was felt through his writing, his followers and especially through his brother, Muhammad Qutb, who moved to Saudi Arabia following his release from prison in Egypt and became a professor of Islamic Studies and edited, published and promoted his brother Sayyid's work.

Osama bin Laden was also acquainted with Sayyid's brother, Muhammad Qutb. A close college friend of bin Laden's, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, confirmed that bin Laden regularly attended weekly public lectures by Muhammad Qutb, at King Abdulaziz University, and that he and bin Laden both "read Sayyid Qutb. Osama bin Laden was the one who was most affected of our generation."

Al Qaeda, in the main, follow Sayyid Qutb rather than Wahhabism. Qutbism is a movement which has, at times, been described both as a strain of Salafism and an opposing movement, providing the foil to Madkhalism in that the movement is typically found in radical opposition to the ruling regimes of the Middle East. Qutbism has, at times, been associated with the above-mentioned Salafist Jihadist trend. Wahhabism supports the ruling regime in Saudi Arabia and has done for 150 plus years.

Although Saudi donors and other private contributors were believed to be the most significant funding source for the original forerunner to ISIS, the importance of such donations has been marginalized by the group's independent sources of income.
+Jim Douglas We can also hope that Canada will stop supporting bombing campaigns and start doing peace-keeping missions again. Canada might even be a bit of a rôle-model for how to be a multi-cultural society.
Europe is in war already. Merkel and the incredible leftist losers in the German government and media are one hundred percent responsible for the thousands of ISIS fighters that are now among us. 
Eyal Dor
ממשלת ישראל קוראת לעם הצרפתי לנהוג באיפוק ולהגיע להסדר מדיני שבסיסו חלוקת פריז לשתי מדינות. 
+Yonatan Zunger​ one of the clearest examples of climate change (drought) affecting and destabilising a region without the influence of much oil is the horn of Africa. Ethiopia split into two nations, Somalia split into two stable but unrecognised authoritarian regimes and a hodge podge of clan controlled areas, Yemen is in chaos. None of these nations have much oil, and religion was not one of the main instigators of their internecine strife. It has become an instigator, but it didn't start that way.
I'm glad the Russian bombers and American bombers have managed to avoid each other. And I'm not sure American or Russian bombers are the best approach to the military component of that solution. But at least the insanity of those two superpowers flying over the same territory has forced some level of effort towards avoiding collision, if not upping the ante towards broader dialogue. 
You've convinced me of the need for rolling hydroponics arcologies, growing mounds of food, and explained why it was so destructive to the House Atreides when they moved from Caladan to Arrakis.

Well done, sir. +Yonatan Zunger​
+Christof Harper I don't think we were nearly as successful in Iraq as you argue. In particular, I don't think there ever was a fledgling democracy – people voting does not a democracy make. Rather, there were a bunch of people who had no reason to believe that other tribes wouldn't slaughter them if they got into power, and a rapid descent into civil war. Once we detonated Saddam's regime, I don't think there was any way to avoid that.
+Mark Sabalauskas Did I say that it wasn't? NB what I said at the end of the article: we will need to build governments that have deep local investment, "even when said government[s are] unlikely to be either similar to Western norms, or friendly to Western aims."
+Yonatan Zunger I think we were, at the same time, closer than you might think. I wouldn't go so far as fledgling. Hatchling. We had managed to get the idea across to enough people that in a generation, possibly 2, it would take root well. And defensibly. 

Back to this idea of cultural change...... Because without it, the story you see today just repeats. One Caliphate, ottoman empire, or daesh at a time. 
+Aaron Gilliland Their hokey superstitions and local politics are insignificant compared to the power of the Dehydrating Force.
To me, the pople who propose to kick out all the Muslims sound really really close to that #notallrattlesnakes thing being discussed here just the other day:

There are many [members of the group I'm about to bash] who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn't want to bite me, I knew they were good... Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?
So... a big portion of the issue is water shortage. Exactly how far along that road are we in California?
Excellent article from the Zeus of Google +Yonatan Zunger​ when u strike you strike hard

The things you said are all true but people still don't believe that global warming is a serious matter.

In the race to the US elections warming is on the 18th position of what public was worried about.

Also the solutions you gave are perfectly right but when it comes to bureaucracy they will be hard to implement

Only due to the laziness of people will terrorists flourish more and as a name poster they will keep blaming Islam and oil...

Very few are interested to actually go and strike the roots and make conditions stable there

I hope people realize the situation is serious and start acting proactively from now 
+Andrés Santiago Pérez-Bergquist I'm convinced that Yonatan's underestimated oil's rôle here, though it's complicated. CO2 is part of it, but also peak oil, export lands model, prices (now well off their peak), and history. Possibly others.

As others have noted, excellent analysis and worth spreading around.
Spot on about the impact of climate on food chain instability as a driving factor. 

Any solution has to address not only shortage of food but also shortage of employment and economic opportunity (not happening without more social justice).

On some levels quitting fighting is like quitting smoking, you really need to think about what else your are going to fill that time with.

A suitable antonym for disenfranchisement is empowerment. Empowerment isn't a handout it's an opportunity to provide for yourself and those you love or otherwise do something of some meaning. To enjoy the pride and peace of mind that provides in addition to a meal on the table. It will take handouts to get there, but that's not a long term solution by itself. 

The NP problem is how can we empower a reeling dispersed population politically, economically, socially, and personally. As epic as the challenges of providing food and water are in an increasingly fickle and hostile climate, I think the social challenges are tougher. Unfortunately they are also the greatest roadblock to providing for base sustenance needs. 

Programs that can address both needs would be wonderful. 
As a person of partially Irish Catholic ancestry, I am familiar with this longterm equation, and its ultimate product, which ends up being death, though the iteration I have personal experience of (my mother and I lived in Eire for a year or so when I was a toddler, during the Troubles, and we met with a bit of them firsthand- apparently 3 year old girls are dangerous enough to hold at riflepoint) was on a smaller scale.

Nobody wins at death.

I don't disagree with any of what you have to say. 
+B. Maura Townsend - The truth of "nobody wins at death" is something that our "leadership" in all countries, throughout the ages, has singularly failed to recognize.
Good article +Yonatan Zunger but you step over facts of the us and its western allies being all so eager to destabilize countries where they don't like the leadership a little too easy. Not to mention the us actually paying and supplying terrorists with weapons. Would the world be a perfect place with Saddam, Khadaffi and Assad still in firm control? Not a chance. But the local populations still would have a better prospect, and its problems would most likely not have spilled over out of the region.

The rise of and actually the very existence of groups like Al Quaeda, ISIS and a few more can be directly and conclusively be related to the actions of the American government in the Middle East from the 1970's to date.

And lastly, going in and bombing the crap out of sovereign countries just because you don't like its leaders or certain specific individuals with bombers or drones and killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process is not going to win you the daddy of the year award. it's going to create resistance and make people rise against you. Poor and disenfranchised people will fight in the only way they can: guerilla warfare and terrorism. And in today's world where travel has never been so easy and so cheap, they will bring the fight back to us.

You reap what you sow and basically we have been sowing terrorism for decades. 

Well Yonatan Zunger you said quit a lot ,I personally am tired of all the talk,options on why it happened or the reason's. Evil is evil murder is murder and those responsible should be hunted down and killed for the slaughter of unsuspecting innocent people.
Per Siden
I generally agree with +Yonatan Zunger​​​​​'s description of the problems.

Numbers are however often exaggerated when we talk about these problems. Even Yonatan makes this mistake. For example, I wouldn't describe a mere 3% as that "Europe has a large population of Muslims". Even if every single one from Syria moved here, all 22 million of them, Europe would still have a small Muslim population; some 4%.

Europe doesn't have a "refugee crisis", Europe has a responsibility crisis. It's an important difference.

Syria has a refugee crisis. Turkey has a refugee crisis. Jordan has a refugee crisis. Europe doesn't. The number of refugees are small for a region the size of Europe. It's not a "flood" of refugees. The "crisis" consists of a lack of solidarity, for the refugees, and between European countries. Politics at its worst.
Meg L
Thank you, as always, for your incisive thinking and brilliant writing, +Yonatan Zunger​. 
+Yonatan Zunger
Thank you, to use your talent and your time to sum up complex problems in the public space!

It may be offtopic, but if you don't mind, how much time did it take you to write it?

And like others here, I'm mildly offended that it didn't offend me like you promised. I had hope when you mentioned the "oil" thing, but you immediately crushed them by explaining the Iraq mess. I fear you will agree the same is true for Libya. 
+Yonatan Zunger​ very thoughtful and highly accurate analysis but massively underplays the role of religion and underlying motivation. Religion has always been and will continue to be a political movement. 
+Eyal Dor: That's disingenuous.

Luckily for us all, the real diplomats working for Israel are more sensible than that.
+Yonatan Zunger  Would it be alright if I reposted this excellent write-up, with a link to the original post, on Facebook? 
As a European and an immigrant I guess I should be offended by something in +Yonatan Zunger​​'s essay. But I'm not. Most of what he says is correct but some of the emphasis is wrong.

Yonatan, you're staring at the segregation of immigrants in Europe, which certainly is a bad problem, and downplaying the degree of assimilation, adaptation and acceptance. We aren't nearly as bad at this as you believe and some of our accomplishments are striking. You are looking backwards into history, which is important and necessary, but doing so too much. It's causing you to miss too much of what's going on today.

I live in a village of just under 4000 people. We currently have about 350 refugees living here with us. Mostly Syrians.

Of course some people are pissed off and complaining, but they're idiots and have no, as in zero, concrete problems or incidents to complain about. They just don't like the idea of people speaking any language besides Swedish, English or German. They're fools and losers, always have been, and are, thank goodness, very few in number. Big mouths, but small numbers.

These losers are totally outnumbered by those of us who want to help the refugees in any way we can. We want to hasten the day when these people are integrated into our society. We are, of course, acting in our own self-interest. There are too few young Europeans, far too few.

And we're doing a much better job of changing and adapting than you imagine. Of course it's far more difficult in France than in the Swedish countryside. But the pattern is familiar.

When the schoolgirls walk down the street in 5s and 6s there is very often one girl in hijab with them. And she can barely speak a word of Swedish. You can clearly see how the other girls are looking out for her and encouraging her. This is how we will solve our part of your dilemma. I wish the other components were as easy to address. 
+Yonatan Zunger Parts of that are nonsense, sorry to say so. e.g. about European Muslims. There absolutely are European Muslims that are really European in every sense of the word: e.g. Bosnian Muslims, the Muslims in countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Greece. They are European through and through. They are about as "Muslim" as the rest of us is "Christian" = not very much at all, only on paper. In countries such as e.g. Bosnia quite many Muslims even drink alcohol and eat pork; they have the same "relationship" with the Quran (and whatever it says about anything) the rest of us has with the Bible: e.g. it's just a stupid old book full of fairy tales and superstition, not something you'd follow to the letter.

Then there are Muslims that came from the Middle East, countries such as Turkey, Algeria, Marocco, etc.

Most of them actually integrate quite well. But I wouldn't call them "European Muslims" since they clearly are not.

Then there are are a few very very stubborn ones who insist that whatever the local laws say about anything (e.g. equal rights of men and women) is "irrelevant" to them, that only Islamic Sharia law should apply to them ....

That's the people a few laws were made for, e.g. the ones that ban them from forcing their women to wear the burka; or the ones that forces them to send their children (boy + girls) to the same public schools (no exemption on religious grounds!) like everyone else.

The idea that Muslims (or anyone else) is being systematically being marginalised and blocked from assimilating ... simply isn't correct IMO.

And that's the problem I have with above text: large portions of it sound like Europe (and France in particular) is to blame because it somehow is the fault of us Europeans that some of those Middle Eastern Muslims flat out refuse to integrate / assimilate / adjust to the rest of us ...?

Simply not true.

If they want to suppress their women, force them to wear full-body veils such as the burka, and the only law system they care about is the Sharia, then those people are welcome to leave us alone and move back to whatever Middle Eastern place they came from.

If you want to live in Europe then you have to adjust to European laws and standards and clearly NOT the other way around.
Amon RA
+Yonatan Zunger​ This has to be the biggest bullshit nonsense I've read to date... so many things are just pulled out of your arse it's unbelievable. You really have no idea what's going on, and you're making your employer look really bad by doing this. 
+Yonatan Zunger I agree with most of what you wrote, but I think your dismissal of the ideology of the religion having nothing to do with it, is too strong a dismissal.  There are lots of other populations who have been disenfranchised in Europe, but the Jews nor Romany never mounted large scale terrorist attacks, and goodness, African Americans and Native Americans certainly had good reasons to mount terrorist attacks here, but even the most radical groups never did more than blow up a few cop cars and take Alcatraz temporarily.

Non-religious radicalized groups have committed attacks, right wing groups, left wing groups. It's not just that your youth are disenfranchised, you need a unifying ideology to radicalize them and an organized community to do it. The ability of Islamic extremists to filter and cherry pick the most vile, militaristic passages and preach a form of liberation using those passages must be a factor. If your sacred texts had no such passages to cherry pick, or if it had a strict, historical policy of non-expansion or conquest, it would much harder to pull off.

I think all the factors cited in your original post ring true, but I don't think you can subtract out the theological content as a factor, anymore than you can remove Christianity from the Crusades.  Whatever the real reasons for the conflicts (economic, political, etc), religion is has long been a tool to stoke up tribalism and dehumanize others.

(BTW, I am not trying to single out Islam as singularly bad, I find the old Testament to be a pretty horrid, immoral, dastardly book, and would in general, prefer religious monotonically decrease all over the world, until it becomes merely a bunch of secularized holidays, much how we go through the motions with Christmas and Easter,  and participate in religious rituals purely for the community aspect of it, denuded totally of the theology or supernatural, except in good fun, like Santa Clause)
Well said. The Arab Spring in Tunisia and elsewhere was an uprising due to resource taking by people in power and the poor not having enough with which to survive; the European ghettoification of Arabs, Algierians, etc. is a continuation of the continent's long standing racist/classist/elitist resistance to social integration. It's easier to see how disenfranchisement leads people to think that an external cause has more value than gaining equal treatment where the disenfranchised live (Europe, now). From the first Gulf war (Bush 41), the coalition forces (locals and the west) have stopped short of local rebuilding: it's only been pushing on or over dictators, and bailing on longer term stabilization plans, whether that's due to pressures or fatigue at home or other political reasons. That continual pulse of cheerleading to support military action but abandoning nation building (or pretending that local neighbors have the political will to encourage and attain stability) has been the fuel to the fire of the varying cynically-Islamic retroactive movements.

The "daesh" vs "ISIL/ISIS" newness thing is a matter of perspective - they were never not known as Daesh (i.e. they've always been known as "daesh"), unless one's in the US/west, where ISIL is the closest literal English translation, which was then dumbed down by media to ISIS, since the media can't be bothered to translate "sh'am" into "Levant," like the USG. It's the same with UBL vs OBL or the variety of spellings of Khadaffi.

As Ms. Guthrie explicates, the acronym and its usage has many layers. Calling them "ISIS" is easy for the media because it sounds like a word we in the US are familiar (the Egyptian god Isis); literalists in the USG translate it to ISIL, but "daesh" can't be said without implied sarcasm by anyone with even a bit of Arabic in their background.
Meg L
+Amon RA Bullshit how? Explain.

Whether they agree with him or not, I think everyone reading this knows this is Yonatan's personal point of view and not his employer's.
radi v
+Yonatan Zunger -- Overall I find your observations about Europe accurate, but incomplete. So here are a few of my thoughts:

1. Europe used to be (and possibly still is) largely agricultural, which makes land ownership important for some parts of the population. In prior decades it was the land that fed the people (in Bulgaria there used to be a saying that a village never fears hunger) and so the people have strong connections with the land. Now, assume you're a land owner. A stranger passes by your land a few times and you may start asking yourself questions about who that stranger is. That stranger passes by your land every day, and you will probably start feeling threatened. This is true for parts of Europe (think the Balkans, where we've seen an Ottoman rule for a couple of centuries).

2. People are skeptical of things they don't know. If I communicate with you in a language that you don't understand, chances are that you won't understand me nor my culture except for the fact that I speak a language that you don't understand. There are two interesting patterns of this in the religious/cultural sense. In the Christian world, the religious leaders speak in languages that the common population can understand. That way people are able to understand their message and choose whether to accept it or not. My impressions of the Muslim world are quite the contrary (I could be mistaken, so please correct me if I'm wrong): the majority of the cermons in the areas where I have lived are held in either Arabic or Turkish, which, combined with the element of big closed societies, makes the local population feel like outsiders. This goes back to point #1.
France is now paying the price for his arrogance, his stupidity and blindness, and it's only going to escalate: France is already a dangerous place. They still can not say Islamic terrorism. now they realize they will en masse and the French thought that if the urges and incite against Israel, the Muslim will not attacks. EUR have to realise the ISIS, Hamas, patah, Hizballa and more are the same. It's a war between the world and Muslims. Good luck to us.
+Brad Thompson​ As someone who actually lives in Sweden, I'm glad to inform you that our country is still the right side out and that the only people I ever encounter who could be even remotely described as living in fear are the newly arrived refugees I sometimes see at the train station on my way to work.
 Nordlund, Forty years after the Swedish parliament unanimously decided to change the formerly homogenous Sweden into a multicultural country, violent crime has increased by 300% and rapes by 1,472%. Sweden is now number two on the list of rape countries, surpassed only by Lesotho in Southern Africa. So....Gustav, I recommend you to wake up couse Sweden is next.
Regarding Iraq, it just came to my mind that it took 4 years, from the end of WWII in 1945 to the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1945.
And Germany already had had experience with democracy, albeit not a particular good one.
How could we expect democracy to emerge even quicker in a region that has rarely any democratic tradition?
+Eyal Dor you don't have the faintest idea what you are talking about. All your "facts" are distorted nonsense without even the most superficial resemblance to our reality. I don't have the time or the patience right now to disabuse you of all your foolishness and bad sources. Suffice it to say you are 1,472% confused. 
Joseph, Do you know who said that a 5-10 years ago???? ....mmmm, Ahhh the people of France. Call me in 5 years from now and tell me that I'm wrong.
+Joseph Moosman A quick googling gave me these links:

So... this seems to be +Eyal Dor's source??

There are multiple problems with this, obviously.

And someone from Sweden correct me, but "rape" is a very very broad term according to Swedish laws. There are many things that count as "rape" in Sweden that would not necessarily be counted as rape in other countries. Just look at e.g. Julian Assange and why he has to hide in that embassy in London.

I am not saying that e.g. what Julian Assange did was "right" in any way or trying to dismiss the alleged victim's claims. No. Not at all. All I am saying is that it's a fact that different countries seem to have different ideas about what they consider "rape"; and this can very much mess with the numbers and thus render statistics meaningless, IMO.
Without the time to read all the comments that came up so far (but having read your post): Thank you +Yonatan Zunger for this analysis. You think I should be offended? In fact I am not; I think you got it all right. In fact, I would have liked to see an analysis of this sort in any kind of media. If there were any, I must have missed them. Individualy aspects of this, yes, but never in this manner. For this, I am grateful. Of course, there is no short-term solution to this problem and any kind of long-term solution will cause trouble, and work, and expenses, but if anybody thought that peace could come all by itself and without any cost, they were wrong all along. We were lucky in Germany so far, but I don't think this is something that will last forever - some day we will get our share as well. I know what the "answers" to this will be already. Some of the stuff our government has been doing lately was "for the sake of fighting terrorism" but amounted to involving everybody's personal rights. Still, we mustn't fall for the old scheme. Facing terrorism is a challenge, but I see this as being pretty detached from religion or anything. Bloodthursty idiots, that's what they are. And you can have those anywhere. There were enough white christian terrorists already. You only strenghten those if you present yourself as being vulnerable.
+Lucas Appelmann "...  I see this as being pretty detached from religion ..."

How can you say that when this kind of terrorism has everything to do with the radical members of one particular religion and the most litteral interpretation of their "holy book" ...!?

It's not "detached from religion" in any way whatsoever. Quite the opposite.
The way I see it pretty much aligns with what you're saying and I would summarise it in 2 points
1. Oil is an important factor not in our exploitation of it but in our burning it (along with coal, gas etc...) because as you said, Climate Change is the key factor that drives poverty in the Middle East. There was a report recently that suggested temperatures would eventually get so hot there it would basically become an uninhabitable dead zone.
2. Looking at France specifically, there is a political downward spiral leading to more and more people voting in favour of the Front National. A group of hate-filled, eurosceptic and anti-immigrant politicians are using events like this to further disenfranchise and point the finger at Muslim groups as someone to blame where in fact THEY ARE THE PROBLEM. They may not be the ones pulling the trigger but they are the last drop which pushes young people already socially excluded, living in poverty laden suburbs where violence and drugs are rampant. It's a difficult situation to tackle seeing as it tends to be human nature to blame others before blaming ourselves.

One word about your comment on banning Muslim dress in France. The law applies to all religions in order to enforce a secular state. I'm not saying it's a good law but it isn't written specifically against Muslims. For example Christian crosses are banned as well from public places and you can't wear one to school. It seems like it targets Muslims because they're the second largest religious group in France after catholics. 
+Drazenko Djuricic
only in a sense of "they claim to do it for religios reasons but in fact that is not true". They want to install chaos. They want to spread fear. They're not out to promote the virtues of their religion. And it it not "one particular" religion either. They claim to do it for the sake of Islam, but being islamistic has little to do with living after the values of Islam. Muslims aren't all terrorists. Any religion can have theirs. No holy scripture will endorse this and if you say yours does, you're probably doing religion wrong.
+Adreana Langston As a whole, the planet itself does not lack water, drinking or otherwise - the problem is that there are localised shortages, while other places have an over-abundance of the stuff.
If you can get water to areas that have a distinct lack of it, then making it into something suitable for humans to drink is fairly trivial, anything not needed for drinking (or by-products of drinking) can be used for crops - but you still have to get water there in the first place.
+Lucas Appelmann this is where the conversation gets somewhat difficult for me.

In order to protect other muslims, a shift in reality is being said to occur.

I am being given told in very certain terms here that Daesh, universally and unequivocally, is atheistically and cynically using islam, with no religious feelings themselves, to spread "chaos".


Look, I get that not all, not most, not even many, Muslims are Daesh, support a global dar, or want my death or taxes (I can safely leave the latter to the federal government for the nonce).

But WITHOUT impugning a non involved muslim, I think I might be just a wee bit important to think of Daesh as actual twisted death cultists rather than atheists.
Thank you. Great post, and much needed.
President Francois Hollande, declaring that the massacre in Paris over the weekend was by ISIS Army's. He describes it as an army of External Trade, which can be defeated, but unfortunately, this is just a distraction. It's not ISIS, but these Muslim French citizens. France as you know it dead. 
About the religiousness of Da'esh, there was this odd occurence I posted about some time back, of this woman from Israel, who has a Doctorate in Islamic Studies, who decided she wanted to go off and join Da'esh, because in her judgement they are the appropriate and correct Islamic regime that she should aspire to live under.

So, expert opinion or crazy kook?

(Past post:
+Drazenko Djuricic I don't want to derail Yonatan's thread but I'll just say this much. Yes, you're quite right to detect something rotten in the rape claim. The idea that women are relatively likely to be raped in Sweden is based on the following:

1) Deliberate disinformation from sleazy right wing liars. There must be money in this or these lowlifes wouldn't be involved. Scum.

2) Inability and laziness in translating Swedish. Echoed mistranslation and ignorance of languages.

3) Ignorance of what a sample is and ignorance of how different sampling methods can effect numerical outcomes.

4) Ignorance of basic day to day conditions in Swedish society and the role of women in it.

5) Wishful thinking by lascivious fools and racists. They actually prefer the idea of wholesale rape. It appeals to their otherwise failed masculinity. 
Thanks. The clarity of your arguments makes this complicated problem much easier to digest. 
Great "big picture" view. Short term it's about the collapse of ISIS thou... ISIS is getting there ass kicked big time mainly by the Kurds and Hezbollah. But ISIS have sucked up many radicals and while most of them will try to forget there mistakes some of them will respond to defeat with desperate acts.
"Water, not unlike religion and ideology, has the power to move millions of people. Since the very birth of human civilization, people have moved to settle close to water. People move when there is too little of it; people move when there is too much of it. People move on it. People write and sing and dance and dream about it. People fight over it. And everybody, everywhere and every day, needs it. We need water for drinking, for cooking, for washing, for food, for industry, for energy, for transport, for rituals, for fun, for life. And it is not only we humans who need it; all life is dependent upon water for its very survival."
Mikhail Gorbachev in 2003.
+Yonatan Zunger not offended :)
Not much else to add after reading all the comments. I'm thinking about hashtags, though.  After the latest event like this in Sydney, we ended up with the #I'llridewithyou tag - supporting the visible muslim community during a time when we thought there'd be backlash on the streets.
We didn't see that after Charlie Hebdo.  We didn't see it this time.
The portouverte tag is awesome at a time like this, but - we need to see that solidarity with muslim community if we want to short-circuit the exact affect the attackers are aiming for.
+radi v Here are the stats on EU agriculture: 8.3% of total employment and 4.4% of GDP. Not only is agriculture a minor component of the EU GDP, it produces roughly half the average direct economic output per worker.
Good post. Perhaps I am thick skinned because I tool absolutely no offense.
Just for an basic understanding of what's going on:
Harald Welzer - Climate Wars: What People Will Be Killed For in the 21st Century [1] (also available in German language [2])
Fred Pearce - When the Rivers run dry [3] (also available in German and many other languages [4]
After reading these books, you guys will probably develop a much deeper understanding about what's behind the obvious and what we have to expect in the near future. What is really important to care about.
I was hoping you would write something about this. Thank you.
+Joseph Moosman Similarly, I just saw some people touting a strange old Newsweek article citing a Russian poll that states 16% of French citizens are ISIS supporters. Note that only something like 10% of French citizens are even Muslim. I smell a rat...
+Drazenko Djuricic Yes, you are right that the Swedish statistics are "bloated" compared to other countries... and it is because the society has worked hard to make it possible for women to charge perpetrators. Most rapers are men who the woman know or are close to. Not strangers who follow them after a walk outside.
I don't know if someone have mentioned this... but Muslim terror attacks is pale compared to other groups. According to Europol data Muslim stands for about 1% of all terror attacks and have done so for many many years. The absolute majority is made by separatists. So Muslims are really not a threat according to this.
Thanks you +Yonatan Zunger for taking the time to eloquently speak on the multiple facets creating such a complex situation.  People would prefer drive-by commentary with fast food solutions so they don't have to spend time learning
radi v
+Eric Mintz​, sure, this is why I said possibly as things have evolved quite a bit in the past 1-2 centuries. Yet I still think that my point about ownership and protecting one's assets is still valid.
A true - and needed - Sunday sermon, +Yonatan Zunger, thanks. To hint at secondary points of disagreement, I didn't parade with #JeSuisCharlie  last winter, but I just do it here and now, because French background.
+Matt McIrvin​ I would think most Russians could count better than that but maybe not.

Joking aside there are a lot of deliberate lies flying around. My favorite recent example is widespread reporting in right wing American news services of "no go zones" in Sweden. These are the extensive urban areas in Sweden where there are no government services, the police, ambulance and fire departments don't dare enter, and Sharia law is in force. Of course, any Swedish six year old with normal intelligence knows this is perfect bullshit. But the idea got a lot of currency in the United States. If I recall correctly Fox News actually made a rare apology for this cock and bull story. Even they were embarrassed for repeating this crock and that's not an easy thing. 
+Yonatan Zunger​​, fantastic analysis. One edit: "from someone else" should be "from somewhere else"

My summary of your (and my) position on all this: Some people feel forced to choose between (a) a world where you kill everyone outside your group, and (b) a diverse world where your group is systematically disadvantaged. I have little patience or love for those who would choose (a), but the only reasonable response for the rest of us is to lessen the hardship associated with (b). Moreover, the world is too big for any country to totally control things, yet too small to ignore problems (be they droughts or political upheaval) happening elsewhere; neither pseudo-colonialism nor isolationism is an appropriate policy.
+Craig Froehle  "Moreover, the world is both too big for any country to totally control things, yet too small to ignore problems (be they droughts or political upheaval) happening elsewhere; neither pseudo-colonialism nor isolationism is an appropriate policy." - excellent points.
+Craig Froehle  "Moreover, the world is both too big for any country to totally control things, yet too small to ignore problems (be they droughts or political upheaval) happening elsewhere; neither pseudo-colonialism nor isolationism is an appropriate policy." Welcome to the European Union. We're just starting out and make many mistakes. But we're learning and we will succeed. 
+Anthony Barber " Sometimes I hate even trying to wrap my head around things, not for whether or not I could understand so much as how few are even willing to have an intelligent conversation about it. "  - I completely agree with this....whole heartedly.  People successfully deflect the conversation....disregard factual information....and throw around bigotry like it's their right.  In the end, it's difficult to discuss solutions with people who fail to see people as human beings and it's even more difficult to advance towards the goal of peace.
It's also hardly the first time that a society faced a flood of immigrant refugees, most of whom just wanted to survive but some of whom were probably violent political extremists, poisoning the well for acceptance of everyone. The whole discussion reminds me of the United States in the early 20th century, and the abundance of Irish and Italian names around my neighborhood is testimony.
What you are suggesting for Syria is the same thing you are calling a bad solution for Iraq: "Kill militants, bring troops and money to rebuild"

As for refugees willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families to escape the horros at home, I agree with that for the ones moving from Syria to Lebanon/Turkey. How are people moving from Romania to Germany fall under that category? 
+Adreana Langston​ in the main I agree with your premise in Jab-The-First, but wish to know; how long ago did you study in France?

I ask because the last 10 years (and most especially the last 5) have seen an appallingly sharp decline in social acceptance of well assimilated Muslims. Note: this is the treatment of the assimilated population. Resident aliens who are still noticeably ethnic fare far worse.

This change of social spirit does not receive much mainstream media coverage outside of France, sad to say.

+Yonatan Zunger​ I sincerely doubt you could, with the fiercest will in the world, offend me on this or related topics. Expose yourself to being argued into a coma, quite likely... but offend? Nah.
+Brad Thompson you write nonsense. We "poor people" are not afraid and our countries have not been "turned inside out". Your condescension alone shows you don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about.

We "poor people" are among the very wealthiest in the world, living in societies with strong protections for civil rights and for minorities, with excellent, single payer health care systems, world class free education and secure streets. So spare us your pity.

We also feel a real responsibility to refugees and the overwhelming majority of us will do our best to look after them. And we're succeeding.

Your fear mongering and old wives tales about "world war 3" are childish baloney. Wake up and educate yourself. 
+Andrey Klinger To some extent, but in the case of Iraq the ill-conceived invasion wasn't the half of it.

There initially was no plan worth mentioning to rebuild; the Bush administration deliberately didn't do a lot of planning for that because the position of Donald Rumsfeld was that the whole thing could be done on the cheap, and Iraq's oil riches and love of democracy would do the hard part automatically. And what the US did do was a monstrous grift for the politically well-connected and some strange people trying to run experiments in libertarianism or Christian proselytism. And the occupation authority made the terrible mistake of "de-Baathifying" the armed forces, providing some of the manpower for what became ISIS and a bunch of other groups.

By the time the thinking even got as far as "kill militants, bring troops and money to rebuild" a lot of the damage had been done.
Brilliant analysis... And regarding the refugees situation, because a very tiny percent of refugees are terrorist therfore we should turn away all refugees? Well a small percentage of gun owners are crazy killers, take away everyone's guns? doing nothing for the refugees makes the problem worse and only a simplistic and twisted logic mind would think it helps keep us safer. 
You missed a salient point: I have already seen one report that one of the terrorists was a petty criminal, known to have radical views. The same applies to several recent incidents, here in Australia, and notably with the Boston bombers. With the massive effort already being expended by intelligence agencies, they are still failing to prevent these attacks EVEN WHEN they've identified the potential perpetrators. So we have to expect that governments will be demanding and implementing even greater powers, and that means more erosion of civil liberties, resulting in even greater disaffection from certain sections of society. I wish I could be optimistic about this, and have hope that governments will retain a sense of proportion and do the right thing. But the evidence of the past is against that. And the response so far to the refugee crisis in Europe suggests that leaders are just as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to knowing how best to tackle the issues.
+Lucas Appelmann The idea that extremists are 'doing religion wrong' seems strange to me. Do I think that extremists are bad people for what they do, yes. Still I'm not sure how they're anymore right or wrong about religion than people with more palatable interpretations of such texts.

I understand to an extent where you're coming from, many people would like to use the fact that some Muslims // Christians // Whatever use their religion to justify terrible acts as an excuse to treat all Muslims // Christians // Whatever as horrible people. Still, please don't deny the religious backing of some of these groups just to make it easier for you to oppose bigots of another sort.
+Korinne M Jackman Part of it is that poverty and hunger have actually been dramatically declining globally for the past century, so they're perhaps not as visible as they used to be.

The question is whether climate change will reverse that trend. It has the potential.

Meanwhile, communication technology makes the whole world inherently more visible to people in the most-developed nations than it used to be.
+Samuel Sandeen The fact (data from Europol) say that religion actually are very minimal when it comes to terror crimes in Europe. As I mentioned above... about 1% of all terror attacks. Most comes from separatists/nationalists.
Yes religion has a place here, though religion is not is people.  Scripture can be changed (i.e. King James Bible)  Part of the problem is that alternative perspectives on the Koran in many circles seems to be discouraged violently.  Alternative viewpoints of scripture in Christianity gave rise to over 30,000 denominations and actually generated new versions of scripture.   Just a thought.
+Yonatan Zunger, I think you are incredibly brave to have written this post clearly and thoughtfully stating details, your observations and opinions on Paris.
It covers topics I have thought about but could not bring myself to comment, as it would inevitably degenerate to name calling and insults, instead honest conversation.
This topic is a many headed hydra of issues which have all converged.
Don't have any solutions but a starting point is having honest and open conversation.
Let me start by saying excellent piece, +Yonatan Zunger​​! In the main I agree with you.

Where I disagree is quite simple: we're not going to bomb the world into peace, but we're also not going to beat ISIS by proxy. The will of the people will not tolerate many more Paris's before even some of the most committed noninterventionist are going to recognize them for what they are: rabid dogs who cannot be coexisted with and have to be put down.

We're not the ones who said coexistence was impossible, they did, and pretending like we're not already on the front lines of this war is intellectually and morally dishonest. ISIS is not fighting a war of uniforms against uniforms, they can and will kill people of all walks of life, anywhere, without batting an eye.

And as long as we keep pretending we can degrade them gradually, their prophecy keeps fulfilling itself: the rise of a Caliphate, which controls the very land Islamic prophecy says the final battle at the End of Days will be fought. Trying to kill a Hydra by cutting off this head or that doesn't work, because the body survives and is the source the vital force that feeds the heads. We celebrate killing some dude named John, whom they've got a dozen replacements for at least guaranteed... they celebrate killing hundreds of people whose names they never ask.

Reality: millions are going to sleep in the world terrified that because of ISIS they won't live through the coming days. ISIS is not going to sleep terrified that they'll wake up and people will be calling them Daesh instead... they're laughing at us for thinking that is actually some sort of strategy.

But we don't have the will to do what we have to do: kill these guys so fast and so aggressively, and take their Caliphate from them (piece by piece if necessary), that any illusion their prophecy is coming true vanishes as their inevitable defeat becomes clear.

The people of the world are not going to suffer a state of Global Siege as we exist in now for much longer. No one but the most passive peaceniks will accept every place in this world and every mundane activity now carries the risk of being a victim of massive terrorism.

But... Bush lied, and in doing so did something I didn't think was even possible anymore: drove us right back into Post World Wae 1-style isolationism. I'm a Democrat, but the way the candidates last night were falling over themselves to ensure us that this isn't our fight and we will stay largely out of it... scares me, and leaves me unsurprised that increasingly people are turning to the worst examples of the political right, people who literally fancy themselves Nazis in some cases, because although their solutions are nonsense, at least they're not telling people, "Well, global terrorist siege is the new normal and you just have to accept that."

I guarantee, max, the world will tolerate a few dozen more massive acts of terrorism by ISIS, if that much... there will simply not be the unrealistically-expected patience the public is supposed to have about living this way.

DoD recognizes the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to U.S. interests globally. The National Security Strategy, issued in February 2015, is clear that climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water. These impacts are already occurring, and the scope, scale, and intensity of these impacts are projected to increase over time.
Because I'm seeing you're hungry about analysis, I can give you some hand by giving some information (perhaps hard to find in google when outside from France) about what's going on in our country (you have to understand french thought...) :

This is just one of many available to understand what really happens.

Because it's always easy to speak about what we don't know, to tell people to be "calm" and "peaceful" when you don't know what they have to handle...
I need to do some looking.

IIRC, Turkey had started choking off the water in some rivers and depriving Iraq, and maybe others, from a thousands year old water source.

It seems that water is often a source of conflict.

One reason Mexicans resent the USA has been the US habit of using large amounts of water and not letting the rivers empty into the Rio Grande. 
Most is a good analysis. He is having his wrong or totally partial views with Charlie Hebdo (i can bet he never read not heard about it before February 2015). His analysis of the Islam in France and Europe is also pretty wrong: a lot of the psychopaths are not actually from muslim parents but freshly converted Europeans. On the other side, the descendants from muslim families are very often as secular/atheist/agnostic as the European descendant French.
It's a tiny minority who is the source of trouble. France having the largest muslim descendant population of Europe, mechanically, it has good probability to be hit.
Finally I disagree when he said oil has nothing to do. The source of recent instability in middle east is the invasion of Iraq. This invasion was done not to secure oil production but to secure oil reserves. Presently, 75% of oil reserves are in the hands of states while private operators are producing 45%. Consequently, the strategy for operators and nations without national oil companies is to increase its operators shares in these 75% of reserves. There were 3 soft bellies: Iraq, Iran and Libya. Syria is just a proxy conflict to bleed Iran.
The food crisis in middle east was not due to water crisis. It was due to price of oil. Middle east and Africa saw riots at the same time, due to increase cost of imported flour, corn etc. Why ? Because mechanized agriculture costs are depending on oil price. In addition, large surface of farms devoted to food were converted in soya or sugar cane for biofuels.
The conclusion is however correct: this is a complex problem with not a single root cause but multiple.
It won't be solved in few days, with demagogic bombs or laws.
For someone who is out of patience, your clearheaded and logical discussion of the issues at hand is pretty damned amazing. Thank you for posting this, +Yonatan Zunger.

I keep wondering why I'm so frustrated with family and friends posting so much Islamic and Muslim hate, especially when I have friends and have met Muslims who were just like anyone else I met in life. So they dressed differently, hold different beliefs and eat different things than me. You can say the same about some vegans, goths, etc. For most people, belief in something can and often does seriously change the way they live their lives. That doesn't always make them dangerous or hateful against others, so why should we be hateful and ostracizing to them? 

+Lauchlin MacGregor, you bring up a good point. But I would like to counter it with the thought that there was actually a lot of persecution and even murder centuries ago for all of the various denominations that sprung up and separated from the Roman church. And while Americans may not go around mass bombing and killing people from other denominations, there are still groups I've met that can be resentful and even hateful to the other denominations. But we have the added advantage that for the most part Americans don't struggle with food and water shortages, don't have armed groups roaming the streets and attacking whomever they wish (yes, we have the crazed loners, but that's something else entirely). We're just so civilized about our hate and separatism, but we have the ability to do so. I don't think the countries in the Middle East have those same advantages. If there were no state/federal repercussions to people hurting others because they could (might makes right), I wonder how civilized we would be?
+Korinne M Jackman​ The rest of the NATO nations are deciding if it was indeed an act of war, because NATO's purpose of mutual protection demands all NATO members respond vigorously to Acts of War against any member state.

So yeah, potential foreshadowing. 
A relevant article, supporting Yonatan's point about religion to a degree that surprised me:

These are guys who built car bombs to blow up civilians, and they're more pissed off about the lack of security in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion than they are into the apocalypse or the Caliphate. To some extent they're trying to tell the interviewers what they want to hear, but I think the complaints are telling.
+Matt McIrvin I'm not sure why it surprised you.  It makes sense that when people are beaten down, they lash out.  Religion is a means to an end of understanding the world.   It merely allows them to believe what they are doing is righteous and rests their moral compass from striking back.
Israel is located in the Mid East. Is it the only place that doesn't suffer from drought and shortage of food for its citizens? Something else is very wrong with the Mid East, think about it for a second. Funny that Israel has the same weather but not the same issues as far as having supplies of food for its people.
+Eli Fennell The fact are against you so far... Muslim terror attacks accounts for only about 1% of the total every year in Europe accordingly to Europol. That has been true for more than a decade. So there aren't a massive threat like you try to portray.

ISIS/Da'esh is real and it has to be dealt with... but we shouldn't become reckless. Bulding up the region is the only way to prevent recruiting. Bombs will not.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Eh, I guess I've just been hearing so much Dawkinsian "these guys are different, apocalyptic religious memes have turned them into implacable killbots".
The underlying problem - climate change - is a great boon for the military industrial complex. So I doubt if anything will be fixed. Nothing is better than lots of wars all over the place for ones bottom line.
+Yonatan Zunger​ thanks for this. Some common sense and reasoned discourse is so desperately needed. 
+Matt McIrvin I hear you there.   I always think of putting myself in a situation where I have to fight for my life every single day.   I may look to religion for answers, but I'll be more apt to look to striking out at those I would believe responsible...and would hold onto those who help me do so.  And having someone tell me that this is a means to bring everyone out of poverty...a larger cause.....
Delighted to read this entire essay and also the majority of the many comments.  I missed it last night when I went to bed early, but a h/t to +Mari Thomas for her share of it this morning.  A refreshing and pointed look at all of the elements that go into how people think about such a horrifying set of events, and IMHO these sentiments apply to other recent tragedies that are not getting media time.
The Islamic State is not only about terrorism. They have killed entire villages, including women and children, even toddlers and babies, burying some alive, save for those girls they have made their sex slaves. The only solution that can work with that kind of savages is full scale military escalation. The ISIS must be eliminated by military force and long term occupation of every area they used to control.
+Korinne M Jackman Yes, though from the numbers I've been able to find, increasing hunger and food insecurity in the US is a recent phenomenon (dating from around 2000 with a big jump up in 2008, though the seeds were probably planted with the decimation of welfare programs in the 1980s and 1990s). Relative to, say, the 1930s the situation has dramatically improved.
+Sakari Maaranen your suggestion is quite ambitious, not to mention nearly impossible.   Which Army will occupy those areas?  And would you support indefinite occupation of sovereign nations?  Do you consider the citizens of those countries and their individual rights? (and let's just talk about the peaceful ones for a starter)   And what military strategy would you support to eliminate them, when they do not have any specific base region?

Overall, I'm saying your approach is impractical and quite illogical.
Whenever I hear talk of "building a wall", or otherwise "stopping" unwanted peoples from crossing any boarder, I think about this... 

The strongest closed border constructed in modern times was arguably the Berlin wall. It featured a double wall with a no-man's land, guard towers, floodlights, barbed wire, trenches, mine fields and was guarded by men with automatic weapons and shoot to kill orders. Yet about 15 people a month got though.

There is no brute force way to control immigration.
+Daniel Sandman If you think the success of terrorism is defined by the total number, or percentage of the population, that those terrorists kill, then you really do not get the point of terrorism.  ISIS, Daesh, or whatever the hell we want to call them, just two days ago, put one of the largest cities on Earth is a Siege State... the fact that the ~130 or however many people they killed represents a bare fraction of the population didn't change that one little bit.  Terrorism doesn't win by killing the most people, it wins by evoking terror, and anyone who thinks ISIS is not succeeding in breeding sufficient terror is simply not paying attention.
+Sakari Maaranen You and I are Cassandras on this issue... a war weary population is going to continue to refuse to do what it has to do to win this fight for the soul of civilization as we know it right up until it comes home in a big enough way.  We'll end up in a war we literally have no choice in (because it was declared on us, whether we like that or not) only we'll do it after hundreds, thousands more people die.
Bite your tongue +Anthony Barber ;-)
I'm in that minority who strongly prefer to read text over watching a dang video.  Don't discourage one of the few sources of substantive content remaining in the written media.

+Yonatan Zunger I don't suppose there's any chance Youtube might incorporate transcripts someday?
I think the western powers need to stop bombing there fucking countries since the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and over 2 million dead
Its all gone fucking mad in the middle east

And the USA government is funding training and arming the moderate rebels to overthrow Assad

And why is it a act of terror when this happens on western countries
But its totally OK if it happens by the bombs of these same western powers in Syria and Iraq

+Lauchlin MacGregor​​​ allied forces of countries that join the war. Clear and hold strategy with massive international forces, including as many armies of local men as possible, trained and led by international command. Yes, I support indefinite occupation of the areas in question, with the intention to keep it at least for a few generations or long enough to establish and solidify otherwise local rule, except for international security force to provide defense and police. Initially there would be more intervention and control, especially to weed out Daesh by killing them, which would be gradually released over several decades or even a hundred years. The Islamic State is impractical and illogical, which does not stop them from mass murdering civilians, if we do not stop them. We did not let Nazis continue murdering Jews without declaring war, so why should we let Daesh murder their innocent civilian victims?
+Marc Schnau Also Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats by Gwynne Dyer:

And a three hour discussion of the ideas from the book, broadcast on CBC Radio in early 2009:

Some reviews of the book:

"Gwynne Dyer is one of the few who are both courageous enough to tell the unvarnished truth, and have the background to understand, not misrepresent the inputs. This book does a superb job of detailing the emerging realities of Climate/Energy. These realities are not pretty." --Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist at NASA

"This is a truly important and timely book. Gwynne Dyer has made the best and most plausible set of guesses I have yet seen about the human consequences of climate change, of how drought and heat may ignite wars, even nuclear wars, around the globe." --James Lovelock, award-winning scientist, inventor, and originator of the "Gaia" hypothesis 
As you suggest, the end-game against Da'esh may be the hardest since you have to do much more than simply defeat the organization militarily; if only outside/Western efforts to help solve local Mid East problems could be effected with the same cooperation, urgency and sense of shared futures as was West Africa's Ebola challenge of last year.
Unfortunately, these incidents will continue to occur in France until the French government finds solutions to some of the issues pointed out in this post. The French government knows what the root causes of those issues are, but French officials are being totally disingenuous about issues involving the muslim community in France. They need to address the fact that young French muslims are too easily radicalized. If you want to know how the Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and Senegalese muslim communities feel about France, you just have to listen to what they have to say.
+Sakari Maaranen specifically because ISIS is not a country.   What you're saying is that foreign forces should occupy several areas of sovereign nations for an indeterminate amount of time (and possibly indefinite).   If I suspect that your house/yard is an ISIS stronghold, can I just walk in and occupy your yard?  Maybe put a tank in your driveway and barbed wire with checkpoints in front of your door?  I'm sure you'd let me do that because ISIS needs to be stopped, right?
+Lauchlin MacGregor If ISIS controlled part of my house, I will welcome anyone who drives them out and keeps them out.  What would my alternative be?  Let them stay?  Drive them out today only to have them come back tomorrow because no one stuck around to offer security?
+Lauchlin MacGregor​ yes, you heard me right. If I am mass murdering people in my house/yard, then yes, you MUST run in and occupy my yard and kill me as quickly and effectively as you can.
+Samuel Collier Numerous ways... contributions from supporters, plunders of war such as artwork, precious metals, oil... a for-profit sex-slavery industry... basically, there isn't one single source but many.
+Samuel Collier .USA Saudi Israeli alliance funds and arms these groups
Isis is against the Assad regime
Just like USA Israel and Saudi

+Sakari Maaranen you misunderstood me.  I never said anything about you.   It's someone in your house..or town.

+Eli Fennell ok then...we'll send someone right over there to occupy indefinitely.   Hope you don't mind the inconvenience of your entire life.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Since ISIS isn't occupying my house, that's a silly attempt at a 'gotcha'.  Right now you'd just be seizing my property and not stopping ISIS at all.
+Eli Fennell it's not a gotcha.  It's a simple observation that sovereign nations have rights as well as citizens within those countries.  And you're basically saying that their rights are forfeited because of other people's actions.  And somehow you believe you'd be ok with it if someone else did it to you, as long as it was to stop ISIS....sure.
On oil, now that my two neurons are rubbing together and not twitching in the wind:

1. Virtually the entire history of the Middle East post 1900 has been dominated by oil (with some hangover of concern for England's sea routes to India). See Robert Newman's History of Oil (YouTube), or much of Daniel Yergin's The Prize. Sykes-Picot. Bitter Lake.

2. Water and food shortages are strongly impacted by ongoing global warming and climate changes, due in large part to oil-derived CO2 emissions.

3. Much of the present round of disruption in the middle east, the "Arab Spring", can be attributed to three causes. Yonatan mentions two: water and consequent shortage of food. The third which he missed was peaking of oil production in both Egypt and Syria. Neither state was a major producer, but in the shift from being able to export some oil to having to import it, the entire national economy is affected. Note that Saudi Arabia similarly has extreme shortages of water and domestically-produced food, _but with oil exports funds it can pay for food imports, and with gross amounts of oil and gas, fuel water desalination.

So, no, it's not direct interest in oil, as was the case with Mosaddegh in 1952, Indonesia, Kuwait, or Iraq in 1992 and 2003. But oil's there, scheming in the background.
+Lauchlin MacGregor No, I'm saying in the same way if a vicious gang of murderers took over your property, and it was necessary for authorities to seize control until such time as they could be reasonably confident the bad guys won't return or aren't still hiding there somewhere, that would be not only right but necessary until such time as you could safely return, if the only way to return sovereign control of the lands seized by ISIS is for a foreign force to drive out and occupy those lands until the original sovereign control can safely be returned, then that is the right thing to do... which it may not be, to be fair, but we shouldn't take that option off the table.

This is no different than a Siege Situation like Boston... if the authorities thought the bad guys were hiding in your home, they made you leave your home until they were confident it was safe for you to return.  And while a few folks interpreted this as Big Brotherish, the reality that this is how a siege situation is and has to be handled.  If the property owner can't drive out and secure the people who drove them out in the first place, and someone else can, then that someone else SHOULD.
This is a lot to read and absorb. Thanks for summarizing at the end.

I come from a military background, and I have a healthy respect for the kill-people-and-break-things approach to problems. I'm also smart enough to realize that it's not always the best solution, that sometimes you have to think beyond the simple answers if you want to fix a problem.

 The problem is that thinking beyond the simple answers isn't popular these days...
+Lauchlin MacGregor​ same difference. If a barbarian horde is raping and murdering in my yard, my town, or my country, and our people were incapable of stopping them, then anyone who can must intervene. This situation is called power vacuum being exploited by barbarians, savages raiding helpless civilians. If we do not intervene, we are literally turning our backs to the people and leaving them to the wolves. We are also allowing these wolves to establish power and grow even worse and even bigger. We must find them and kill them before it is too late.
+Eli Fennell I completely disagree, though you may have a job writing laws like the Patriot Act in your future.
+Lauchlin MacGregor I suggest you join the Libertarian Party, sir.  They too believe their 'Rights' trump the basic responsibility decent human beings have to defeat the monsters of the world.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Oh, and re: Patriot ACT... that happened because we failed to take a terrorist threat seriously enough until it came home hard and panicky people were willing to sign everything away for security.  So, if we wait for ISIS to pull off a Paris in the USA, get ready for some Patriot Act on steroids to be in popular demand.  My way... we stop them now by taking the fight to them, we avoid the panic of the fight being brought to us.
Thank you +Yonatan Zunger​ for this thorough, insightful piece. Thank you to G+ for being built in a way that allows and supports such thorough dialogue. 
+Eli Fennell having tunnel vision is great.  Thinking there is only one solution to a problem and then accusing someone else of "trumping" your solution.   I never said anything about not finding a way to defeat the terror that exists.....or even that I would be opposed to some rights being taken away in order to accomplish it.  

Stomping over someone's country has been tried before and has failed miserably..on many occasions including the current one.  And on many occasions it has made the situation worse.  But since you have an indefinite amount of money, soldiers and time along with the lack of caring about other countries.....then I guess you're cool with that.
+Yonatan Zunger still waiting to be offended..:P

Also, wondered if you would mind if I re-posted this to my friends-only stream on the other social media place?  If not that's ok though.
Thanks for the level headed analysis. More people need to read this and understand what it means, for current situations, but also for the growth of humanity into a bright future.
+Eli Fennell I disagree in many ways with your statement on the Patriot act.  But it's not worth arguing, since you have only one approach that you'd even consider.  
+Lauchlin MacGregor Untrue.  I'm willing to consider lots of ideas.  I've been watching us try a myriad of ideas for a long time now... and it's not working, it's getting worse.  Sometimes, there is only one solution; you don't cure or contain rabid dogs, you put them down.
1) Most of the middle east countries are rich in Oil and Gas: saudi arabia, qatar, Emirates, Irak and Iran. Few of them are not oman, bahrein and yemen.
2) what about the billion $$$ deals on weapons between USA, France and UK with Saudi arabia their best ally in this region....
3) from where ISIS get their weapons? As far as i know there are few countries in this world that can produce and sell weapons.
3) all is about money dude. I bet my life if middle east region was poor, it will be with NO interest to US, France and UK....
+Lauchlin MacGregor Uh... no it wasn't.  We have never really taken the fight to ISIS, we've waged a proxy war.

I'm assuming you mean Iraq... Iraq was not ISIS.  And 'Bush Lied' does not become an excuse to bury our heads in the sand.
As much as internationalist idealist would like to fix this, there is the old saying: you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

But don't you think that the US has the exact same problem with Mexico +Yonatan Zunger​? And if you don't think it's a war zone down there you haven't been paying attention... Look up the autodeficias (probably sp)
Thanks for this eye-opening comment in the current situation! 
+Lauchlin MacGregor Again... 'Bush Lied' does not become an excuse to bury our heads in the sand.  Yes, our leaders jerked our friggin' chains with the Phony Boogeymen of yesteryear... the Saddams, the Gaddafis, guys we mostly disliked for corporate reasons.  Or Vietnam, because we caricateured commies as demonic beasts rather than recognizing them as diverse people, the vast majority of whom were good people who wanted to live in peace.

Those were phony boogeyman... ISIS is the ACTUAL boogeymen.  You don't have to take our word for it, just listen to what they themselves say, and what they themselves BOAST about doing and wanting to do.

They are your every nightmare on steroids.  They are the outlandish blackhat villains of comic lore made flesh.  Their humanity ends at being a biological fact.  Everything you value, they despise, and everything you despise, they cherish.  For real... again, they'll tell you all about it, they're proud of it.
+tanny bash What? Whoa..we indirectly fund this group? can you clarify and tell me more? You've got to be kidding me!!
+Eli Fennell where did I mention "bush lied" as anything?

And your opinion of them or their opinion of themselves notwithstanding, "us" taking the right to "them" has rarely been successful 
I agree just crushing ISIS would create a vacuum that would be filled by other extremist groups just like crushing Hussein contributed to the rise of ISIS in Iraq. There needs to be an internationally supported plan for filling the vacuum after ISIS is defeated.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Incorrect.  Us waging halfhearted and proxy ways with phony enemies has never worked.  When we have taken the fight to a real enemy with all our determination, we have won every single time.
This is a very long comment thread and I apologize for not reading all of it. For me, any solution to integration starts with language, and in a broader sense, education. If a country is to accept a person on legal terms, it should provide, no, enforce the necessary education needed for that person to be accepted by society. And that starts with language. In Belgium, I can tell you that is already a big problem. Parents don't speak the language well. Hence, kids don't speak the language well. Hence, kids lag behind at school. And a lot more bad things derive from that. Give people an education, and you give them a future (and you keep them safe from extremism)
+Eli Fennell I've always thought if you make a list of those who support them and take them would make a war easier. What would you do?
Je vais proie pour tout le...😕👼😇
+Johan Van den Neste here in the States, language seems to work exactly the opposite with immigrants -- the kids speak it well, and end up translating for the parents.
+Samuel Collier At this point... absolutely, if you are supporting ISIS in any way, you need to be on a Kill List, and we need to execute that kill list with Terminator-like precision.  No one at this point can pretend to be well-meaning but misguided in their support.
+Lauchlin MacGregor I said no such thing.  I'm all for making sure we get that list right, but once we've got it, we need to execute it.
+Ray Cromwell ...your dismissal of the ideology of the religion having nothing to do with it, is too strong a dismissal.  There are lots of other populations who have been disenfranchised in Europe, but the Jews nor Romany never mounted large scale terrorist attacks, and goodness, African Americans and Native Americans certainly had good reasons to mount terrorist attacks here, but even the most radical groups never did more than blow up a few cop cars and take Alcatraz...

That's a really interesting point, and I'd love to see someone (possibly you, myself, or +Yonatan Zunger​) expand on various oppressed minorities who have and haven't resorted to violence.

Among those who have: Shining Path in South America, Philippine insurgents of various stripes since the late 1800s, religious and Communist groups in Japan, but not AFAIA the indigenous populations of Japan and Taiwan. Little outward directed violence in Tibet (though self-immolation is fairly common). The IRA in Ireland, and Basque in France & Spain. Particularly little among native American populations.

Commonalities and differences would be interesting to trace.
+Samuel Sandeen in fact, I like to oppose bigots of any sort. Terrorists can follow any religion they want to; they can even be atheists if they like. It's just not OK to kill people. (And then justify it with "belief").
+Eli Fennell
So, the war against ISIL is in even more dire straits than WW2? Because aren't you essentially saying - kill anyone without going through the courts? When the constitution explicitly stated that only the courts can decide who is guilty and who is not.
+Irreverent Monk Vietnam was a phony enemy.  Like Americans, most Vietnamese were good people who wanted to live in peace, and their supposed allegiance to some Pan Communist movement was... and we knew this very well... overstated.  That was all about our capitalists fearing the economics of communism and socialism.

ISIS needs no propaganda from us to be recognized as pure evil: they're not even trying to pretend they're anything else.
+Irreverent Monk You are not required to get court authorization to kill enemies who have openly declared and committed acts of war against you.
I.e. Vietnam doesn't count because he doesn't consider that a time
+Lauchlin MacGregor Count for what?  As a bad idea?  Yeah, it was.  As a war we shouldn't have fought?  Yeah, hell yeah.  What are we specifying as 'counting'?
I'm curious what international treaties US has signed up to and what does it say about assassinations. 
+Irreverent Monk Yes, indeed it was a halfhearted war against a phony enemy fought without our full determination... the power of the antiwar movement alone proved our hearts weren't in it.  There was no comparable 'Anti Nazi Killing' movement in WW2.
+Lauchlin MacGregor We didn't, though.  We tried to fight a humane war amidst a massive cultural opposition to it.  If we'd really wanted to win, we could have nuked them into oblivion if nothing else.  But... and our leaders knew this... they WEREN'T 'The Devil'.  They were just people, like us, most good, some bad.  ISIS is all bad... there is no redeeming value in them whatsoever.  They exist, by their own statements and philosophy, only to tear down civilization and bring about the end of days.
Correct Francois Hollande, Israel has designated France as a target after voting to recognize a Palestinian State. How will you respond to these acts of war is the question.
+Eli Fennell im sorry, did we have soldiers in Vietnam? Or now do we have to define what qualifies as "bringing the fight to them" ?
+Lauchlin MacGregor We had soldiers who didn't want to be there.  Soldiers who often spent more of their time terrorizing our allies than fighting the enemy.  And we fought it on THEIR terms... which is not what you do when you want to win, as every great military mind at least as far back as Sun Tzu has observed.
+Eli Fennell what do you think the United States and the European Union should do about Daesh? Specifically.
+Eli Fennell so yes. We need you to give us the rundown on what qualifies as "bringing the war to them" because if you don't agree that it qualifies then it doesn't or something.

Whatever man. I dont have time to learn your rules of conversation and definition of terms. Apparently, ISIS is more like Germany than Vietnam or Korea, so we should just accept that as fact and move on
+Joseph Moosman 1) Be honest about what it will take to win... because they're not being honest, they're telling a war weary population what they want to hear.  Somewhere, our best military minds have a plan that could beat ISIS, but isn't considered 'politically feasible'.  Well, time to put lives above politics.  2) Hit them so hard, so fast, with such overwhelming force on every front at once that they have nowhere safe to fall back to, nowhere to retreat.  3) Kill the $h*t out of them so fast that only the most utterly deluded of them can still think this is the fulfillment of Islamic Prophecy.  4) Make sure this shit never happens again... no more war for oil or other phony reasons that end up creating power vacuums, no more arming the hell out of the Middle East and then being surprised when it blows up in our face, etc...
+Eli Fennell​ That would have been the first thing I would've done as covertly as I could. Anyone correctly identified on the list would be paid a visit by a drone...with a present attached. I love my commander in chief, but w/each passing day I believe he's getting horrible advice AND dancing around the situation. Stop taking punches and start throwing some. We are America. We run the show. I'm just an average guy- not a monday morning qb, but even I can see the boys in Washington are dancing around the situation, which is getting worse NOT better.
+Lauchlin MacGregor And that makes them even more terrifying.  Because we can't beat them just by taking this land or that land... as long as the Caliphate exists anywhere, ISIS exists.
So your solution is impossible to not only roll out, but to manage. Plus, you piss a shotload of people off
+Lauchlin MacGregor No, my solution is perfectly possible... we hit them everywhere at once, so that the Caliphate DOESN'T exist anymore, anywhere.  And you know what?  I frankly don't give a fig if our massacring ISIS pisses someone off, whoever gets pissed off at that can take their indignation and shove it up their Nazi loving tailpipes.
+Eli Fennell Exactly... so making exaggerations  is not really what we need here. Doing so means the terrorists have won. Especially when the real terror acts are primarily done by other groups.

And no, the numbers are not percentage of the population. It is from actual terror attacks and are made every year by Europol. You probably remember Breivik and the 77 people he killed in Norway? Or the acts of IRA and ETA? These are the most common acts of terrorism. Muslims stands for 1% of them.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Everywhere is defined as everywhere the Caliphate claims any territory worth mentioning.

And WHAT innocent civilians?  The ones ISIS is terrifying, murdering, and hiding behind like human shields?  Yeah, we're doing those folks a real favor by letting them continue to live under that, let me tell you.
+Eli Fennell ok, thank you, now I understand what you're proposing. How do you answer the objection that the "hit them hard hit them fast" option is exactly what Daesh wants? That the enormous collateral casualties (Mosul comes to mind) will be a huge boost for them. And that they will gladly be relieved of the burden of holding and administration. That they will resurrect as a far more effective, clandestine terror force? 
+Eli Fennell .so will we bomb Isis and kill those so called human shields like we do in Iraq and Afghanistan and Israel

Do you think by going in to invade and bomb is not going to kill civilians
Over 1 million dead in Iraq by bombs of democracy and freedom

Since the USA invasions in the middle east you had non of this carnage what we have today 
+Eli Fennell That indeed makes it hard.  

Best parallel far as unkillability I can find would be pre-WWII Judaism, whose survivability strength has been owning no actual material place to have as a center.  Having Place is strength, but also weakness if Place is the root and power source of the culture.  Judaism has a land as a goal, but was willing to not be an army seeking victory, but wait for their god to give it to them.  

Having a sacred land as the sacred center means all anyone has to do to hurt you and your culture is to hurt that land.

Daesh has as their strength, no land - but, as far as I've read, land itself isn't their goal but, to steal a phrase from "Illuminatus!", "Immanentizing the Eschaton."  They want to bring about their end days, their prophet or whoever, and if circumstance won't make their end days holy war happen, by gum they'll bring it on themselves.

I'm just a middle aged lady on a farm with no more political power than my US vote gives me, so my opinion counts for very little.  But having had to deal with animals who decide that the rest of the world must adapt to their desires on their terms (+Christof Harper I'm thinking of Stinky Cheesehead, for example) and fuck everyone else, the safest way to deal with an animal like that is quickly, cut losses and eliminate potential for further harm.  As one previous commenter noted, their humanity is strictly a biological fact.  I have found more warmth and awareness in some livestock I needed to use to feed the family than the leadership of this vile gang, and I would have little regret - only for the fact that once upon a time, they were someone's infants, smiling their first smile, taking their first steps, and running to hug a beloved grownup with joy.
+Joseph Moosman If a man came up to you, backed you into a corner, and started beating the hell out of you, because he WANTED you to fight back... would you keep letting him beat the crap out of you based on the idea that fighting back would 'give them exactly what they wanted'?

Germany and Japan also wanted a war with us when they attacked us, I don't recall any serious voices having suggested that because they WANTED us to go to war, we shouldn't.
+tanny bash Civilians are already dying and will continue to die.  Sorry, but civilians die in wars.  War is not humane.
Pissing people off for for taking out ISIS???? listen to how that sounds...sorry I see people(thousands) running from ISIS..time to take out the bully.What are we waiting on? keep playing and they will be here in Chicago..L.A. NYC.. ( if they aren't already) in my opinion these attacks are simply test runs for the big prize...fuck that!
+Samuel Collier Yep... and when that attack comes, the Patriot Acts and hastily considered wars and all those things my fellow liberals worry so much about WILL happen.
+Eli Fennell .yes civilians die when there countries are invaded by powerful western forces
Based on lies
Is USA and allies putting boots on ground in Syria to fight a Isis or b Russia and Assad
+tanny bash sigh

BUSH LIED does not make every other war a lie.

Civilians are already dying in massive numbers at the hands of ISIS, deal with that reality.
+Eli Fennell Yeah, I get that it is impossible for you to understand it that way. As it totally disproves everything you say.... but facts are a bitch.
+Eli Fennell your whole argument is overwrought. It sounds like you're proposing Operation Iraqi Freedom Part 2. For starters, Daesh is not beating the hell out of anyone outside of Iraq and Syria. You're buying into their explanations and giving them credit for things they are completely incapable of. The wrong answer is worse than no answer in this case. 
+Lauchlin MacGregor​​ Russia,Paris, Boston, the resort the British were staying
..soon to come: Dallas, Philly,D.C. oh yea remember everyone loves NYC....:-). Make room we have 65,000 visitors coming to stay for awhile and what an expensive nightmare it's going to be. It would have been cheaper sniping Assad and droning all other pieces of shit that spread hate n terror.

Wow, after attacking everyone for jumping in with an opinion, he jumps in with a super long opinion.
+Eli Fennell .more civilians died at the hands of the USA police in the last year then Isis get your facts right

Covert snipers are cheap...relatively????? 
+Eli Fennell I hate to recognize the insanity, but you would BE on lists created by NDU, NI, DIA and NSA as an enemy of the USA, and as a supporter of da'esh as an agent provocateur .

Such a massive attack on so many countries would guarantee USA to be sanctioned as a pariah state.

From your posts, it appears you have no idea how the various agencies and departments of US Government create and game war scenarios. And you are not favorably impressing anybody who does work in the business of war.

Everyone, in some way or another, has friendly relations with people who support da'esh.
And your idea of total global domination, if attempted to be implemented, would create massive numbers of new enemies. Billions of people would say that da'esh was justified to stand up to the big bully USA and join the war against them.

This ain't the orcs, and you seriously ignore large parts of the Art of War.

South Florida? Go visit FIU Cultural Anthro, and see if they might tell you how the world works. Because you really come across as a naif.

+Lewis Young LOL i appreciate your high estimate of how much my government wants me dead... but I'm just not that important.
Sorry Mr. Zunger you lost me right when you claimed, that there is enough evidence to support the hypothesis of one of the attackers rushing in through to increased stream of refugees during the last months. At this stage nobody can support this argument as certain. 

BTW If you would have been following the expert conversation you would have known, that IS was a term never used by Middle East Experts or people of Muslim backround.
+tanny bash Yes, and we can ALSO address the issue with police killings.  We don't have to ignore ISIS because 'there are bad cops'.  That's a silly argument and you know it.
+Eli Fennell​ I never said they want you dead. I said if the USA adopted your proposals, you would be on the list of enemies to America and friends to ISIS.

Nixon's enemies list was orders of magnitude smaller than what you propose, and he was NIXON! 
+Lewis Young Again... I appreciate the high opinion you have of my importance, but I'm nowhere near important enough for my government to want to kill me.
Lots of words +Yonatan Zunger , and in my opinion largely accurate words. And every one of them is wasted. Because all of this reality-speak is of no interest to politicians in the East, West or any other compass direction. They will react to the Paris attacks in the predictable way, with the predictable -- politically expedient -- collateral damage. Already, politicians are using these attacks to vilify social media in general and strong encryption without backdoors in particular. I anticipated this would occur at the next significant terror attack in the West, but had hoped it wouldn't come too soon. And while I'm no friend of Edward Snowden, I see that he is high on the political hit list as well since Friday with disingenuous (and in some cases obscene -- even from public figures!) attacks against him for "promoting" encryption. The privacy/encryption war of which we've often spoken is about to go ballistic, and proactive pushback will be required ASAP. As for the refugees -- we've already had big brains like Jeb Bush proclaim since Friday that only Christian refugees should be accepted (is he planning circumcision inspections at the border? That won't work either, Jeb.) In general, we can anticipate politicians playing directly into ISIL's hands, almost as if they were on the ISIL payroll. The one thing we can depend on is that our leaders will dependably do the wrong things in these situations. And unfortunately, all the thoughtful essays in the world won't change those trajectories by a single iota. 
+Eli Fennell you don't seem to appreciate how haphazardly a large government can act when it comes to placing people on... Lists.
+Ronald Stepp Oh I'm probably on several lists... but either I'd need to become far important to be bumped up to a kill list, or my government would have to become far more despotic than it is now.  Whatever problems America may have, we're not the Soviet Union.
+Samuel Collier Oh it's inevitable... when America gets attacked, we do two things: 1) Pass horrible legislation that robs us of some our civil liberties for a generation or more, 2) Lash out violently, hastily, and sometimes at the wrong target (see: Iraq; yes, Bush lied, but most people were afraid enough to believe those lies).
+Eli Fennell​ You were the one who advocated crushing everybody who supported da'esh.

At the moment, about 7,000,000,000 people have some sort of support or sympathy for the supporters of da'esh. Da'esh may be small, but they have a lot of people who understand why the little people of the world feel used, abused and with little hope.

Advocating killing even 200,000,000 people, with your lack of concern for innocents, is consonant with the work of an agent provocateur, or possibly what was once known as a fifth columnist. And yes, under your scenario, that would cause you to be identified as a possible da'esh, or any of the competing franchises, supporter.

The US Government uses and stores a mind-boggling amount of data on everyone.

Not only is everything knowable about you, but models have long existed to create a very good analysis of what could motivate you to do what you currently see as unthinkable.

It is all a game.

Perhaps you would consider everything the USA has done in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia all the way to Afghanistan as a trade show for weapons sales.

If that was the intent, it worked.
+Lewis Young Yes, I advocate crushing every Nazi loving ISIS supporter.  Since I'm not one, I fail to see your point about 'you'll be on that list, too'.  It's pretty painfully obvious I DON'T support ISIS.
+Eli Fennell ah, but a Nazi loving ISIS supporter would claim to not be one.

Your government knows you far better than you know yourself.

+Lewis Young A murderer usually also claims not to be one, but when you find man covered in blood holding a bloody knife over someone he threatened to murder, you can safely dismiss their denials as self-serving.
+Lewis Young And frankly... your conspiracy theories don't worry me as much as folks who just brutally murdered ~130 innocent people the other day and have every intention of repeating or exceeding this ASAP.
+Eli Fennell Why on earth would we wait for that much proof. We can make anticipatory strikes against all of da'esh, their supporters, their suppliers, and whatever innocent bystanders who get in the way. It is too much to ask to allow agents provocateur to continue to foment actions which might someday result in retaliation against the USA.

I am starting to think you are trolling.

Oh, and if da'esh gets wiped out? There are at least forty or fifty farm league terror clubs out there who will compete for the space vacated by da'esh.

Taliban is still active and making progress. Muslim Brotherhood is still out there, as are several al_qaeda in the whatever province, peninsula or state that are training to step into the big leagues of the nation capturing game.

+Yonatan Zunger , you need to appeal to speak before the UN, EU and US Congress. These words need to be heard more than Social Media can help with.
+Eli Fennell What conspiracy theories? I worked in Washington doing this sort of analysis, gaming and modelling.

I know this field because I worked this field.

You wanna know what Lt Colonel North was doing and who was pulling his strings? There was a General who had actually done all the things North was praised for doing, and much more. And that General not only set up the US movement into Cambodia and Laos, but also helped start wars in Central America and arranged the deal of arms for hostages with Iran that North fulfilled.

Iran was odd, because my job at one time included looking at weapons sales to our allies. Giving Iran weapons for hostages resulted in his enemy Hussein needing to purchase more weapons from us and our friends. So publicly we were supporting Iraq and Hussein, we were also supplying the other side with weapons on the down low. This is just routine business for the arms industry.

Oh yeah, and trading arms for hostages did get some released, but it got new hostages taken.

I find your lack of faith... disturbing.

Brilliant Analysis! Thanks for taking the time to write up your thoughts. Living abroad in Beirut for more than 20 years certainly has given me an opportunity to see things from a different perspective. I appreciate that there is someone else who is able to see through the media drivel and the distortions of mass media.. great read! 
+D Lurie​ I was an exchange student in the early 1980's. I am sorry to hear about the decline of which you speak. I wonder how much of it had to do with tightening economic opportunity?
+Lauchlin MacGregor Well, I realize that what we're doing right now is so obviously working... being as we haven't had any recent massive terror attacks lay siege to a major first world metropolis (cough)... but we'll have to agree to disagree until such time as an attack hits close enough to home for you, at which point I'm confident you'll come around to my views on this.
You hit a lot of stuff on the head in this. The one point you do not address is that the motive of Da'esh (ISIS) is to squeeze Muslim peoples throughout the world by these attacks. Driving refugees into Europe, and then launching attacks in Europe generates heightened suspicion, racism and discrimination against both recent refugees and Muslim citizens.They are not creating something new in Europe, but they are taking advantage of what is already in place and primed. Adding that attack lights the fuse and creates a perfect breeding ground for 'radicalization.' Multiply that all over the continent (world?) and you have set the conditions for a global confrontation. If Muslims are not 'us' then they are the enemy. If we buy into that and treat them as the enemy, then we should not be shocked if they begin to act like the enemy.
+Eli Fennell well, I've already mentioned that we've tried your approach before and you disqualified it as not within your narrative, so we can agree to disagree based on the scope you somehow have required.
+Lauren Weinstein​ - In general, we can anticipate politicians playing directly into ISIL's hands, almost as if they were on the ISIL payroll.

You mean they aren't on the Daesh/ISIS/ISIL/Softcard payroll??
+Lauchlin MacGregor I'm sorry that the fact that not all wars are fought with equivalent determination is confusing you.  I know that simple, safe, uniform answers are more comforting.
It just now dawned on me -- your suggestions regarding assimilation are also a reminder that we adapt or die.  Americans see no irony in our historical dislocation and extermination of American Indians (the term "native Americans" intentionally not used because it is troll bait), but are herpy-derpy about the influx of Hispanics that is changing our nation.  We seemed to go through similar angst about Italians, Irish, Germans, ad nauseam.

Humans migrate.  Borders change.  What is within borders changes.  Get used to it!
+Eli Fennell​ Are you Derek Black? Because you sound just like him, or maybe like Don
+Eli Fennell now you're just being an ass. I've tried to understand your perspective and you are condescending to mine. So enjoy just being an ass for whatever reason.
+Lauchlin MacGregor 

"innocent civilians are just not your concern" - you in a previous comment.  Don't condescend if you can't take it.
<== wants to read this when he has more time.
+Eli Fennell​ The Blacks operate the Stormfront in your neighborhood. Stormfront is a group with strong nationalist feelings, unreasonable assessments of the force projection capacities of the USA, and a belief they knew best how to run the country.

Stormfront has a pretty big following.

Don's son Derek claims to have quit, but he just set up a competing organization. And your avatar resembles Derek with facial hair.

I thought everybody in South Florida knew who the Blacks are.
+Lewis Young In the Tri County area where I live, there are 8mn people.  We don't all know each other.  ;-)
+Eli Fennell cf at the end of the post – I agree that the only real solution to Da'esh is military. There's no real negotiating with them, and their goals are basically incompatible with the existence of everyone else. Alas, blowing them up is the simplest of the things that needs to be done to fix the problem.
+Eli Fennell how is that condescending? You actually stated "taking out" highly populated areas. Is it condescending to believe that you're not caring about innocent civilians (especially with your follow up)??
I agree with a lot of your points, but I think you are wrong about the influence of religion.  ISIS and its supporters explicitly say that it is about religion, and by saying it's not you are making a judgement about valid vs. invalid forms of Islam.  Even the fault lines of the conflict -- Shia vs Sunni, Muslim vs. non-Muslim--  are religious ones.  They don't even coincide with racial or linguistic fault-lines, for the most part.  How do you explain that as anything other than a religious conflict?
+Jacques Dupuis Israel has all sorts of complicated problems. It's been involved in an incredibly aggressive irrigation and agriculture program for the past six decades, which has reclaimed huge swaths of desert and turned them into farmland; that's been a key aspect of why these problems haven't hit there as hard. But I can't really hold up Israel as a good example of "things going well" with a straight face.
+Lauchlin MacGregor Now you're just making stuff up.  I never said 'Screw Every Innocent Person' or anything remotely to that effect.  Innocent civilians, as I said, are already being killed and I simply don't agree that we'd be doing more harm to innocent civilians by taking ISIS out than is being done by ISIS existing.

You're being condescending and dishonest about what I've said.  As that is no basis for continued to discussion, I'm done.
+Yonatan Zunger Perhaps the misunderstanding was merely emphasis.  I noted your mention of military power, but it felt... tacked on.  And I view that as precisely the problem: our military solution has been tacked on to an ineffective PR and marketing campaign.

If I misunderstood, I apologize.
+Eli Fennell​ what you're saying is that you bomb ISIS and that you do it wherever they are, which is the equivalent of "sorry people in the way unrelated "
+Eli Fennell It really was somewhat tacked on, because I see it as one item in a checklist of ten, and really one of the smallest items in terms of amount of work and complexity required, and in terms of long-term impact. It's one of the more time-sensitive items, but urgency and importance aren't the same things.
+Yonatan Zunger Great article; I have shared. Vastly more to agree with than to criticize. The one big issue I see in this analysis is that you seem to be overlooking how self-consciously 7th century Islamic Daesh sees themselves as attempting to be. Their theology is central to everything they do. I'm not saying for a second that typical mainstream Muslims support Daesh or agree with what they're doing, but you can't understand Daesh without understanding how their actions are attempts to consciously emulate what they see as the behavior of early Muslims and what they believe Islamic scriptures require. You've probably seen this article:

What ISIS Really Wants

In addition, +Eli Fennell​, just because you view your perspective as the correct one, doesn't mean that I need to agree with it before arguing any point
+Yonatan Zunger​​ Why (edit: do you feel /edit:) military force would work this time? When military force has been a spectacular failure by the USA, at least since Afghanistan.

Application of military force created all these little groups with delusions of grandeur.
How do you explain the fact that although in the US the muslim population who lives here for one or more generation is fully embraced/ integrated/fairly treated and have the absolute same rights as any  American there is still a high probability of terrorists attacks and for members of the Muslim population to be recruited by terrorist groups?
And one more thing. I was reading with interest until I got to GW Bush and Global Warming, the two big evils to be blamed for everything that goes wrong in the world. You lost me there.
Thank you for one of the clearest analyses I've seen of what is rapidly becoming a global clusterf*ck.
+Lewis Young Military force is a tool; what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan is an illustration of how not to use it. The theory of "if we just create a big enough power vacuum, good things will rush in" is just as idiotic in practice as it sounds when you say it bluntly.

However, that doesn't mean that all applications of military force are inappropriate. You just have to see it as a component in a larger picture. For the reasons I argued above, stabilizing Syria (and Iraq, and really that entire region) is crucial to stabilizing much of the broader world. There are three major obstacles which I see to doing this: the economic one (both the underlying drought and the much more serious one created by the entire region's infrastructure having been blown up), the safety one (where people need trust that they won't be killed if they try to make peace), and the presence of one group (Da'esh) which sees peacemaking itself as antithetical to their interests.

I don't think there's any meaningful peacemaking that can go on when one group has an active interest in war and killing for its own sake. And this is one of the few problems that actually can be solved most effectively by the judicious application of kinetic energy.

However, if we were to just go in, shoot people, and then leave, it wouldn't achieve anything; someone else would just show up in their place. (And if the past decade is any indication, that someone else would be even worse) Similarly, if we go in and shoot people and then try to maintain a long-term occupation – to impose a government which doesn't have broad-based popular support – that would be a disaster as well.

(And note that by "broad-based," I don't mean "majority:" picking a government by election does not make a democracy, because absent that deep guarantee of safety and that one's interests will be meaningfully represented, you would have to be insane to accept losing an election. Democracy is much more than having elections. What you need is a system with enough support that even relatively small minority groups feel that they would be safer under it than they would going to war against the polity)

So we shouldn't confuse the failures of particular uses of military force with failures of military force in general. But we should be very aware of the political pressures which led to the stupid application of military force, because repeating the same mistakes is quite likely to lead to the same results.
+Anca Mistorica I'd say three things:

(1) The Muslim population in the US is not nearly as embraced as you think. They're the perpetual targets of profiling and discrimination, and "get rid of the Muslims" is a popular political platform in the US. Several major presidential candidates have argued in the past few weeks alone that they should never be allowed to hold government office.

(2) And despite that, they're not nearly as radicalizeable as they are in Europe, largely (I suspect) because they're much more economically integrated in the US than they are there.

(3) And GWB – sorry, he was an idiot. He made terrible decisions and we're paying the price for them. And if the mention of those decisions being bad, or the mention of climate being a major factor in human politics, is enough to scare you off... well, then you're probably not ready to deal in real politics, yet.
+Yonatan Zunger The analyze is well articulated, but let me disagree with some of your arguments.

First, I don't understand the tie you make between the refugee crisis and the terror act. I totally agree with the first part (these people are fleeing a state using terror at a large scale), but you then mention a terrorist hidden among the flow of the migrants, and I don't see any. As far as I know, all the terrorists are born in Europa, in France or Belgium. Some have been in Syria, but they don't use the migrations routes. It's a minor point. If you have a source, it will be welcomed.
If you were thinking about the Syrian passport found in the Bataclan, it has been proven false (source : Ministry of Justice).

Then, if I understand you well, the recruitment of terrorists in France and its targeting would mostly be the results of socio-economic inequalities - the glass ceiling - and discriminations. I won't deny their existence, but I have some objections to raise.

The socio-economic argument fails as it doesn't exactly fit the profile of the known terrorists :

The murderers of Charlie Hebdo redaction, the Kouachi brothers, were born in the very center of Paris, in the 10th arrondissement, a cosmopolite place where the colour of the skin and the religion don't really matter. They also lived in Gennevilliers, a middle-class outskirt, right next to Paris. Coulibaly, the murderer of the Hypercasher, was born in Juvisy s/ Orge. It is also a middle class, even upper middle-class city, not a ghetto at all.
Ismaël Omar Mostefaï, one the kamikaze of the 13/11, was born in Courcouronnes, near Paris. The French space program is led there.

None of these cities have been involved in the 2005 riot, which occurred after the death of teenagers fleeing the police in Clichy s/ Bois.
None of these terrorists had a grandfather or grandmother in the FLN (The National Front of Liberation, the main Algerian resistance movement) and/or tortured by the French army at this time (as for Coulibaly, his father was Malian), and they didn't even mention Algeria War in their mails or records (they mention Israel, the USA, the veil, the children of Iraq suffering from the blockade, the bombings killing civilians).

More globally, if the statement that Muslim people are underemployed is true, the criteria to consider can't be the sole religion, but the social composition of the migration does matter :
- The Malians and Algerians who came in France were illiterate and became workmen. Their descendants are underemployed.
- Many Libanese comes from french-speaking urban elites. They don't have any problem to access high qualified jobs and positions (I guess the Syrians won't have too).
- The Turks comes from heterogeneous social backgrounds. They are in the norms of employment.

I mean the religion is less discriminant than the social background. As most of French Muslims are descendants of workmen, Muslims are underemployed, but it doesn't imply that they are "second rank citizens" or condemned to poverty because of their religion.

Now, let's have a look the statistics of social mobility. Take a look at this map :

In Ile de France, near Paris, where Muslim believers are concentrated, this rate is 45%, the highest one. The explanation is simple : there are a lot of universities near Paris, they are very cheap (600-800 dollars per year), and they welcome everybody, even veiled women (yes, they do, the law forbids the religious signs at school, not at university). So, in fact, a lot of them access to better jobs than their parents, who were mostly workmen.
Judging by these statistics, a descendant of Algerian born near Paris has more chance than anybody born in Picardie, Muslim or not (there is only one university in Picardie, known to be overcrowded) to get a better job than his parents. And most of the children of the third generation try hard to do it: these students are very eager to success, and they have a real trust in the university. Therefore, they ascend, but not very high. As their parents don't know well the subtleties of the French scholar system, they rarely choose the path to the prep-schools where French political and economical elites are bred. Here is the real glass ceiling. It is strong, but it doesn't explain the terrorism.

As the social mobility does exist, as the terrorists come from an ascending middle-class, the social determinism can't explain their radicalization and departure to Syria, their choice of the jihad and their return in Europa with explosive belts. It's not the first time : the Red Brigades, who struggled in the name of the working class, came from vanilla middle-class families. In fact, terrorists are rarely poor. They could have lived a standard middle-class life, but they have chosen another way of life. Why ? For sure, they needed an ideal to fight for. But why did they choose this one ? This is a tough question.

You pointed out the discriminations Muslim people are suffering in France. It may be an explanation, and they do exist, but I would like to temper some of your arguments.

First, one of them is based on a partial mistake. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical journal but never attacks communities. It does attack authority, any kind of authority, and always heavily criticized the racist propaganda of the right extremists. Moreover, even when they published the Danish caricatures, they kept their distances with them, and Honoré (who was shot in january) wrote a very long article on the beauties of Islam as civilization. The cover (the Prophet crying "It's hard to be loved by suckers") may be hard to look at. Cabu took the time to explain on television they do not intend to hurt Muslims, but that the suckers were only fundamentalists, and that he couldn't believe that if the Prophet will be living today, he could agree with them.

In general, the publications of the left promote an open society. They are also very favorable to the building of a Palestine state and to the opening of the borders. The cleavage between right and left is deep on this question. To give you an idea, right extremists are even talking about a conspiracy of the leftists to "replace French by Muslims", and other colorful theories. I must admit it is almost refreshing to hear something very different, but it doesn't make it true. They also promote the integration, but it doesn't mean the migrants are obliged to forget their customs and tongue. The present minister of education, Najat Vallaud Belkacem (descendant of Algerian migrants, by the way), even currently promotes bilingualism and the alphabetization in the mother tongue as a solution to poor literacy.

As for French secularism, it is intended to protect all the religions - as American one does, yet it is more active. Sure, the veil is forbidden the schools, as the Christian crosses and kippas are. The law doesn't especially target the Muslim peoples. In fact, it first target was the influence of the Church on the school when it was struggling against the Republic. It has only been refreshed. The law is the same for all the citizens.

Nonetheless, many Muslims, in France and in the world, had an interpretation close to yours :

- They thought the caricatures of Charlie were insulting for all the Muslims. As for the terrorists, they thought the representation of the Prophet was itself an insult. It is quite different and may be tied to the destruction of Palmyre.

- They suffered from the law on visible religious signs. The minister of internal affairs emphasized the veil question and used it to prepare his elections. There were hard times, in France and abroad. I was working in an embassy at this time, and we organized conferences to explain the French model, but we felt we were becoming very unpopular.

The fundamentalists understand it as a restraint. In the hypercasher, Coulibaly said the French state was "forcing the women to unveil" and he was almost crying.

So, even if disagree with your statement, I can agree with the fact that the specificities of freedom of speech and secularism in France can be counted as reasons which led Daesh to make it a target.

You also mentioned the memory of the Algerian War. It could be, as it is very important for descendants of Algerians, but it is totally absent of the discourse of the terrorists, as of their profile. Don't forget these groups have been tied to the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (Koulibaly wanted to free the artificer of the RER bombing), which fought against the FLN because it was confiscating the power since the independence, in the name of its leading role during the war.

Terrorist groups usually don't refer to the struggles for independence. They prefer to condemn France as the "Keeper of Sykes Picot Agreement" (1916), which created the Lebanon and divided the Sunni State. It's one of their major grieves (see their websites, if you have an access to the dark net). They also refer to the French traditional and almost obsolete role of protection of the Eastern Christians.

You also pointed out that France was engaged in Syria. The victim of the terror strike would be in some way guilty. Please consider a few facts : France had only led three raids against Daesh positions until today. All other French raids were against Bashar positions. Its proposition to America of terrestrial intervention wasn't a proposition of intervention against Daesh, but against Bashar. Therefore, Daesh is designating France as a target for ideological reasons, not strategical ones.

The last choice of targets is also very significant : these streets are places of leisure. People of all origins meet there and drink outside the cafés. The Bataclan is a high place of rock culture. Then, it is since a long time considered a "sionist place of culture" by fundamentalists. It is not the first attack targeting it, only the most violent. Paris is depicted in fundamentalist publications as the capital of the western sins. And whatever the policy of the French State toward Muslism communities and countries would be, we, Parisians, will remain sinners to them.

And we will remain proud of it.
+Yonatan Zunger How do you feel about our current, nebulous timelines for victory militarily?  Because, as you said, military force is one of the most urgent if not the most urgent part of our response, whether or not the most important in the larger picture.

I'm convinced we cannot have a timeline for defeating ISIS militarily (to the extent of crushing the Caliphate, leaving any residual elements cut off from support of a parent organization) that exceeds 1-year from now, even if that means we need to basically wage a new world war.
+Anca Mistorica an there is still a high probability of terrorists attacks and for members of the Muslim population to be recruited by terrorist groups?

Hate to tell you this - but there's even more danger from white Christian guys whose families have been here for 5 and 6 generations..

Despite public anxiety about extremists inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, the number of violent plots by such individuals has remained very low. Since 9/11, an average of nine American Muslims per year have been involved in an average of six terrorism-related plots against targets in the United States. Most were disrupted, but the 20 plots that were carried out accounted for 50 fatalities over the past 13 and a half years.
In contrast, right-wing extremists averaged 337 attacks per year in the decade after 9/11, causing a total of 254 fatalities, according to a study by Arie Perliger, a professor at the United States Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center. The toll has increased since the study was released in 2012.

Now, do you wish to reconsider your comments in light of actual facts?
+Eli Fennell We have timelines?

More seriously: I think we need to define objectives a little more carefully. We don't need to (for example) wipe out every single member of Da'esh, or even break their control over every patch of land on the planet, to achieve our strategic goals. We need to break their capacity to wage war in Syria and Iraq, and their central fund-raising and organizational capability, so that they can't effectively act as a single organization. I suspect that this would be sufficient for the purposes of regional stabilization (if, as I mentioned before, it were just a step in other things), and this is something which could reasonably be achieved in a fairly short timespan. (I don't think I'm qualified to make a more detailed timeline analysis; that's a job for generals) 

As far as urgency, I would say that the most urgent matter is dealing with the refugee efflux; that's higher-priority than Da'esh, although it requires largely different tools so they mostly aren't competing for resources. That's going to involve figuring out ways to bring them in and at least temporarily settle them, while starting a serious enough peace effort (based on the principles above) that fighting in non-Da'esh regions can calm down and people's need to flee is reduced. Helping to blow up Da'esh may prove useful in those negotiations as well, so there's a useful synergy available. 
+Yonatan Zunger we need to start smaller than that. Why do people join their ranks?

That's the million dollar question. Why did people join the Khmer Rouge? Why did so many obey the murderous orders of Hitler and Stalin? Why do we have so many children fighting in wars? 
Ok what is Isis terrorism or a country try to make the work a bad place to live with fear !
+Yonatan Zunger​​​​​ I am not convinced Iraq did not turn out exactly as planned. Create three competing groups, two of which are supported to some degree by Iran: the Shi'a in Iraq and the Kurds.

Iran only gives minor support to the Kurds. Kurdistan ran like a boomerang shape (hockey stick? No) from Syria, straddling Iraq and Turkey, then turning south to straddle Iran and Iraq, but that is not the best terrain.

The three state plan in Iraq would create tensions for just about everyone. Persian proxies have been installed in every almost conflict area in MENA. And Yemen and Arabian peninsula

Right now the Saudi-Sunni groups are the dominant force in the region, but Iran is a big, strong and intelligent potential counterweight to Saudi hegemony.

There are two major factions in Saudi Arabia: The secular Saud family and the religious Saud family aligned with clerics. Until 9/11 it was easy for Arabia to appease clerics and underemployed troublemakers: Give the clerics money and send the disenfranchised youth out of country for foreign missions work. Or something.

After 9/11 the Sauds had to find other ways to channel the energy of the underemployed, and even pull back from some foreign missions.

With all the changes in MENA precipitated by USA, Turkey too needed to be strong. (Edit: And they feared ascension by the Kurds /edit:)

There are three important historical empires looking at regional dominance. Although the Saudis are the youngest empire, they have money and influence, especially with the USA. Turks and Persians remember the glory days, and do not appreciate being a client of other states(Turkey is dependent largely on the kindness of others), or of being subordinate to the Saudis (Iran).

+Drazenko Djuricic +
This dude just don't know a single thing about how it is really. He just write because he can, because he has an audience, because of his position. In short, he uses his power to impose his opinions. Most of which are wrong in that they are mislead by wrong facts.

You are spot on with the comparison to christian, this is the first thing I thought. If this guy had lived even only for a year in France he would know that what he calls Muslim are really not (or you would need to call the population that goes to church once in a year Christians) but on the other hand you have the extremist that are quite dangerous and not willing to integrate at any cost.

But as always, its easy to speak as an american. Go create problems somewhere in the world, and don't need to deal with it at all. They never have to deal with the immigration from these countries, so sure, they can speak, a lot, the thing is : they are almost always wrong (they created the problem in the first place) yet they want to impose their way of thinking.

I have only one advice to the writer : just go back to your job and keep your thought to yourself, you will do us Europeans a great service by not implanting false ideas to your fellows Americans. 

I don't really care to comment on any of the post because most of it is wrong, and it would be a waste of time to explain to a non resident how it is really.

So, to the author, just like I wouldn't tel you how to run G+, don't try to tell us how to run France or EU. We will do fine without your uneducated comments, thank you.
+Yonatan Zunger P.S. - I believe most people in the western world have never really seen the evils of Religious Extremism, except suitably filtered through one lense or another to conform to their own expectations.  Indeed, this is part of why our PR strategy ain't working: we're trying sell Secular Post-Judeo-Christian Rationalism to an audience raised (and radicalized) on a Theocratic Islamic Prophetic Tradition.  We keep thinking they're like us, and failing to appreciate the unique cultural factors and histories involved.  Example: when western media reported Osama bin Laden hiding in caves, to western ears this is meant to sound like, "He's a coward hiding in a cave."  But... if you're Muslim... the resonance is more likely to be, "Oh, he is hiding from his enemies in a cave, just as the Prophet Mohammed did."  I'm not saying all Muslims heard it that way, but I'm saying we were wrong to assume they'd hear it our way.

I've seen terrifying extremism up close.  Mostly this did not involve guns, but it certainly involved beliefs and ideas with the potential to be just as deadly as any gun.  I've seen people spout the 10 Commandments right before praising an abortion clinic bomber.  I've seen religious men get away with the virtual sexual enslavement of women and children under their power.  I even had a very interesting experience, in one Church, of being accused of being possessed by demon and prescribed an exorcism in all seriousness (luckily my folks weren't fruit loops and immediately got me away from there after that).

And I suspect you'll agree, once you've really truly seen that evil, you realize, some people have chosen not to be able to coexist on this planet with civilized human beings.
I thought this post was amazingly informative, thanks!
+Clément Collier​​ +Drazenko Djuricic​​​ But what if +Yonatan Zunger​​​ 's job is to stimulate discussion? Not to indoctrinate, but to open discussion?

He said in his original post people would disagree with him, and some would be angry.

He seems like a smart guy whose background may be physics, law, and now, maybe behavioral studies, or some form of programming. And he has travelled. But not even I know the full aspects of the problems that created and provide a space for da'esh to flourish.

I see this thread as an opportunity for everyone who has information or knowledge or experience, to contribute.

The post below yours mentions economic challenges, and I have been hearing for years that non-native young people are largely frozen out of the job market in France. I don't know if that is true, but would welcome hearing information from people who have knowledge from being on the ground.

with climate change and regime change refugees an increasing part of our population, these ad hoc throwing of people into camps or on the mercy of hostile hosts the ills and violence of chaos is to be expected
if we were truly intelligent beings, we would devise fora for serious consideration of how and where to relocate large groups in such a way that they would be able to self-rule and prosper (and while we are at it we could discover and encourage prosperity and self-rule for the rest of us)
Are these homegrown terrorists? It seems most of them were either born in France or Belgium. If they were shut out of their home job markets in Europe, perhaps some crazy person could feed them, stroke their egos, and radicalize them.

That would make most of these terrorists, not immigrants , but Europeans.

Still looking for a better source than the two I have found.
+laurie corzett​​​​​​​ welcome to the forum,
( edit )where we can discuss alternatives to the tired pair of dimes paradigms. Now what are your ideas, or questions for ideas?
Wow...can I be super simplistic and say "if" there is a God, and I believe there is...your solution would reflect more of such said "Gods" heart. Whomever that God may be...Christian, Jew, Muslim, and In my case Mormon. Why do people have to be so selfish and greedy because that and power are at the root of the other solutions the world is offering. Thank you...I am posting this! 
+Adreana Langston I take your jabs to heart and say you have excellent points! The second one can be integrated into the pronged approach, but then we get to another kettle of fish...
Very interesting read. You seem to put the brunt of the blame for this mess mostly on disenfranchisment of Muslims in Europe and water resource issues. So why did this whole thing seem to start with an attack on the US in 2001?
+Lewis Young As a native, I can tell you with certainty that right now the job market is frozen not only to non native but pretty much to everyone. And what I do not like about this writing is the condescending american tone when its very clear he lacks a lots of factual data and actual onsite experience to make a valid point. I mean, there is pretty much a factual mistake (or great exaggeration) every two line or so. By this standard it is really hard to take this as a serious discussion opener (especially when you realize that Americans actions are the root of the problem in the first place).
Its always easy to give lessons when you don't have to deal with the trouble in the first place.

And if you really want to know, the job market is pretty much dead for youngs in France, no matter what their religion or culture or origins are.
+Yonatan Zunger . at first when i started reading your articles or comments I thought Zionist big headed prick
But I liked some of the stuff you said some times I was angry and some times you got me thinking but as I gradually started to understand what you are doing your simply opening ppls minds up to other ideas or solutions or other way around to problems we face
I kind of like reading what you have to say man
And with most of the stuff your on the ball and it makes sense
Just carry on man

+Andres Soolo​: I'm not looking for blame. I'm just trying to understand. And none of the points he makes can explain 9/11 and I think that's a problem. 
So much to chew on, but this, "Yes, that means treating people who are very different from you like full equals, " means the world. Thank you.
+Casper Budtz-Jørgensen  It didn't. The attack on the US in 2001 was simply what got the average American to be aware of it; the problem had been going on for decades prior. 
+Yonatan Zunger i would think it is still rather crucial to try and understand why 9/11 happened, also in the current context. Surely it wasn't because of European fobia or water scarcity? 
+Anthony Barber Senator Bernie Sanders did address the issue of climate change and its correlation to terrorism. The talking heads on the mainstream media scoffed at him and the idea that climate change and the problems in the middle east are related. The rest of the presidential candidates are going to follow the narrative that the issues are religious based, in keeping with popular opinion.
Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders 
 said on Saturday that climate change is directly related to terrorism.

“In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism,” said Sanders.

“And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see counties all over the world…they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.”

Sanders said at the second Democratic debate in Iowa that climate change poses the biggest threat to America’s national security and to security of the world.

Sanders also argued that the growth of national terrorism and instability in the Middle East was caused by the invasion of Iraq.

“I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of Al Qaeda and to ISIS,” Sanders said.

When Sanders was asked his thoughts about Hillary Clinton’s vote for the Iraq war he added: ” I don’t think any sensible person would disagree that the invasion of Iraq led to the massive level of instability we are seeing right now.”

“I think that was one of the worst foreign policy blunders in the more than history of the United States,” hr claimed.

+Yonatan Zunger That was a very well written and insightful piece, thank you. :) 
Impressive summary, though some minor extra info;

Da'esh have only recently switched to exporting their violence. They inherited the Sunni officer class from Iraq who all lost their jobs as soon as the Shiite majority took over after Sadam (Sunni) was gone. Their main motive is to recapture Bagdad, but it's not that easy so they've settled for all the Sunni parts of Iraq and Syria they can hold to start building their Caliphate from.

They do have world dominance vaguely in their long term plan, but the original Islamic plan they are following (designed to build an empire to take on the Romans) includes pretty detailed instructions around conquering and holding land incrementally to expand an empire. Remote terrorist style bombings are not in the plan. This was one of the main differences and disagreements between ISIS and Al-Qaeda (Sunni, now fighting as Al-Nusra Front in Syria against Assad, mostly helping Da'esh, except when pretending to fight against them gets them more weapons from the west).

The switch to exporting violence is I think mostly an angry backlash against all the bombs lobbed on them recently. The only major airforce in the world not bombing Syria is China, and it's starting to hurt. Hence these attacks against the Russian (helping Shiite Assad by bombing Sunni Da'esh and mostly Sunni Al-Nusra) airliner, Lebanon (Shiite Hezbolla helping Assad fighting Da'esh and Al-Nusra) bombings, and now France (part of the western coalition mostly bombing Da'esh).

Note the bombing in Turkey blamed against Da'esh is a bit different. I don't think Da'esh have claimed responsibility for that one (highly uncharacteristic). If they really did, it was probably partly revenge against the Kurds (mostly also Sunni, but not Arab, fighting against Da'esh), but mostly a favor to Erdogan (Sunni), wiping out his Kurdish political opposition to ensure his continued covert support. Note Turkey have been bombing the Kurds whenever their push against Da'esh has been too successful.

You are right that the other reason for exporting their violence is they thrive on publicity and Muslim resentment for recruiting foreign troops. But I think they mostly want those recruits to end up as more cannon fodder in Syria, not just more exported violence.

IMHO the best possible solution for Syria is to break it into 3 parts; Kurdish North, Alawite/Shiite West, and Sunni East. Unfortunately the only people in the world likely to agree to that plan would be the Kurds, though I think Assad and the Russians might also be ready for that compromise (Russian air support seems to be focused on carving out a viable eastern Shiite state). Assad might even be willing to step down provided he got guarantee's the Alawite's would be protected (because otherwise they will be massacred).

Turkey will never agree to this (It is practically a part of their constitution to never allow the Kurds their own state). And neither will Saudi (who are arming Da'esh and Al-Nusra) or Israel (who were bombing Assad) who would rather see all of Syria burn than allow a Shiite state to exist there. Al-Nusra and Da'esh are unlikely to be satisfied with any compromise and will almost certainly need to be forcefully contained.
+Casper Budtz-Jørgensen Let me offer a slightly heretical counter-question: is it crucial to understand that? We can talk a lot about the specific events which led up to it, but I'm not actually convinced that 9/11 is really crucial for broader understanding. It's a big deal for the US, because it was most Americans' first direct exposure to these broader currents in the world, but for the rest of the world it's just another part of a long sequence. 

It is important to understand its aftermath, since the American reaction to 9/11 very much reshaped things in the Middle East – especially via the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But ultimately, I don't know if studying 9/11 itself will tell us all that much about larger currents.
I was in Kuwait for 9/11 and while we were sympathetic, the way Americans kept going on and on about it got old quick. We didn't see it as that different from events in Lebanon, Iraq, etc. It was a thing, a bad thing, but it wasn't suis generis.

However, understanding that Americans understood to be so was worth remaining aware of.
This is probably the most brilliant summary of what is happening that I have read to date.  +Yonatan Zunger is exactly right. I have one small quibble. Assimilation takes place on both sides. If Muslims were assimilating in Europe/France, they wouldn't still be wearing Muslim garb.

In addition, the UK has the same issue. People from India/Nigeria, etc. come with their Hindu or Shaman values and then they aren't assimilated/accepted into society. Same problems result for much the same reasons.
"even when said government is unlikely to be either similar to Western norms, or friendly to Western aims. Military force to crush Da'esh is almost certainly needed as a precondition to this, "  Da'esh is a government unlike western norms not friendly to western aims.  In one sentence you advocate for making a new ISIS, while in the next saying we have to destroy the one we have now.  
+Christopher Guest Unhappily, this is a case of the lesser of the two evils. It is, however, a short term solution. I have firmly believed for some time that the answer is for the west to invest in a massive education program in Africa and other affected areas for at least a generation. In addition, they have to invest in terms of engineering projects and infrastructure to help with the effects of climate change, etc. 
Greater acceptance of individual voluntary population control methods also seems a sensible long term strategy to combat global warming and other impacts of too damn many seeking not enough available.
You have many great points but I think it's critical to dive deeper into the battle for theheart and soul of Sunni's worldwide and the rise of wahabiism that the house of Saud and thus allies have allowed to go unchecked
+Yonatan Zunger generally I think your analysis is pretty good, and certainly more complete than the narrative that most people are discussing.  It just falls flat on the prescription side.  You are absolutely right the environmental dimension of the conflict (and others around the world), but how do we reverse a century of irresponsible damming and wasteful utilization of water by industry?  Lots of water and other vital resources go into producing the oil that you don't feel are central to the conflict.  How do we get governments to put more resources into alternative agriculture and innovative water management than the acquisition if guns, bombs and jets?  The world is full of water, the hard part is finding the will to get it from places drowning in yearly floods to places strangled by drought.  

I don't have any real answer either, but consider this.  As a species we have no problem moving hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and billions of rounds of ammunition, all round the world each day, but we can't get flood waters from the Mississippi river over the California.   
+Christopher Guest
the world is full of water - but it is not full of drinkable (potable) water.

We are actually pretty good at moving food around the world, as well - but it's still too expensive for the people who really need it, unless supported by wealthier economies.
+Rugger Ducky Doesn't work otherwise. Human beings evolved to be weary of differences because differences spelt danger. That's not going to change overnight. We have to work with who we are as a species. 
Nope, +Craig Froehle​. Assimilation is from both side: I give, you give.
Take the example of food and you will discover how assimilation has worked in french culture. It went from spaghetti and pizza to paella, couscous, vietnamese nems and now mafe and yassa.
+Tessa Schlesinger bullshit. We are taught that those differences are much more important than the millions of commonalities. It isn't evolution, its arrogance of the worst sort to assume yours is the right way for people to live.
+Olivier Malinur I would argue that that's NOT assimilation, which is "the process by which a person or a group's language and/or culture come to resemble those of another group." If you want to talk about lots of cultures/identities coexisting and contributing parts of themselves to the whole, that does happen (here in the US, too), but I don't see that as "assimilation."
I wonder what is in your dictionary under the word assimilation...
Nope. Cultures mixed up like people. I dislike the community model of UK and USA. After 150 years, you still have a "black community" ! Shocking !
I strongly prefer the model in Caribbean or Brazil, this is assimilation. France was based on such model until people started to talk about community model from UK or USA in the early 90s...
+Rugger Ducky Let me give you an example. I've currently relocated back to South Africa. In South Africa, we have the highest number of baby rape in the world. Babies are raped by men with AIDS because shamans teach their people that the way to cure AIDS is to sleep with a virgin. Because sexual activity starts very young amongst some of the African tribes, the only way that these men feel that they can assure that the female is definitely a virgin is when they are a baby, so they rape babies in order to cure themselves of AIDS.

I fail to see how the many different commonalities (we all have to eat and drink) compensate for these vast differences in cultures.

Let me give you another example. Many Hindus from India immigrate to the UK. There, their daughters meet British men and begin to assimilate with the society. Their Hindu family don't like the fact that their daughter marry or sleep with British men, so they murder them. There are dozens of stories in the press about this each year.

I think you have a lack of life experience as to the many different kinds of values and cultures in the world out there. You live in America. You have no idea of the vast differences in culture and how much conflict they cause. I do.

When immigrating to a developed country from worlds that still have values either from the stone age or the middle ages, these people commit  'crimes.' The aren't considered crimes in their own culture only in the developed world.

You say, " its arrogance of the worst sort to assume yours is the right way for people to live." Really? Next time your baby is raped or your daughter/sister/mother murdered because they didn't fit in with the culture of a third world country, tell me that.
Food is an example. Multi-culturalism is a big failure: see the example of black in the USA. +Tessa Schlesinger​ is also giving valid examples.
Assimilation should rather be called fusion, after all, isn't it the original melting pot idea ?
+Kristin Milton I don't buy that argument.  If we can change oil into gasoline on an industrial scale we can certainly turn salt and polluted water into water suitable for agriculture.  The technology isn't missing, its the will that is missing.  
+Tessa Schlesinger you also live in a country with a huge "corrective rape" problem.

The next time a lesbian is raped to "make her straight", tell me how your adapted culture is so wonderful. 
Also I love how outliers become many. And your "many" are held up as examples of how terrible anyone is that isn't you.

Afrikaans did a great job assimilating South Africa. Rhodesia too. 
+Anthony Barber​ hit the nail on the head. Points such as these need more visibility, at least to start the discussion, because as far as I'm aware this is the only place the discussion is happening. +Yonatan Zunger​ you should (and you may have already) try to bring these points to light in a more broad media channel. 
+Rugger Ducky ??? What has the country where I currently live got to do with the fact that assimilation between cultures that have values from the middle ages got to do with 'a country with a 'huge corrective rape' problem. And WTF is a 'corrective rape' problem. The point is that people with that sort of cultural understanding don't fit well into a country where that culture isn't accepted.

You said, "The next time a lesbian is raped to "make her straight", tell me how your adapted culture is so wonderful."

And that is what drives your viewpoint that people shouldn't have to assimilate. You have a misunderstanding of what assimilation means, thinking it has something to do with what you biologically are. Assimilation has to do with the process of where one culture absorbs another. It has nothing to do with gay rights.
+Olivier Malinur that's not a reason not to do it if that is what is needed.  There are other technologies that could be employed.  Water can be taken right out of the air, but again, that's not the issue.  
I am glad that you have noted the change...As you and the rest of the team know, this has been noted in the Middle East ever since these lowlifes reared their ugly head.    We can all disagree with some of the "Nuissances"..but the reality is stark...and we have to face it up to it here and now..something my team @ #Outsiders works we all have to deal with the "noise" that is Donald Trump, Ann Coulter and the rest of the right wing in Europe that will now have a field day instead of realizing the true nature of the challenge...... 
..I again wanted to simply say thanks for this "matter of fact" commentary on the true reality--if only the folks running for POTUS currently understood the true realities.......
..and one last thought:  "The Fierce Urgency of now" is ever so evident....
You can be sure the CIA and the France gov't knew what was going to happen,  now that France is unarmed and they are working un disarming Americans to have the evil kingdom of the devil have power over the land of the once free Americans.  and God is behind this also allowing the devil to cover more of the earth to killing the wicked ,  the wicked killing the wicked and the evil secret combinations that now have control of the US government and also the UK the globalist are using ISIS as a tool to do their dirty word,  we know ISIS is supported by Obama and the CIA and everything this ass whole Obama does is to bring down Americans who our pro constitutional and pro liberty,  and has long as  Americans have arms the New World Government can fulfill their worldly agenda and the Devil is doing all he can with his demons to have mass murders and bombs going off and so on and these lying government  that keep on pushing on the people that cans kills and people don't kill,  the truth is ISIS is allow to survive because of the UN and those who our members of a secret combinations and who are servants of the devil.  Hillary Clinton is a very wicked greedy ungodly woman and she will lie even to God face to face,  the same for the Bush's and Obama, these puppets who have been made very rich for ever will one day born in hell for their wicked deeds.   Americans better hid their guns and ammo until the revolution starts because they are coming after your guns.....    Death to the new world Order and the UN......
I guarantee you the thirst for water or hunger for food was on their minds when they killed 120+ people. 
This is the beginning of what's coming to all the nations,  but there are millions of Americans that are not going to stand there and watch their follow man being allow to be murdered buy these of ISIS who are working for the CIA to bring the government of France to their knees and people from Syria are pussies and will not fight for their country but they are allowing these evil criminals to enter France,  Ass whole Obama going to allow 10.000 of these dogs into our country the US and half of them are ISIS ,  It's the end of the US government the revolution will kick start soon Armed Americans will start the cleansing of America with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ ....
+Tessa Schlesinger never mind, I guess you are the Borg. Forget I mentioned rights of women in any context at all, especially after you'd clearly claimed that.

I prefer flavor and culture in my country. People wearing turbans or southern lady hair. We don't have to all be the same to treat each other as equals. 
While you definitely have valid points and have articulated them well, I also think you're making excuses for Islamic Extremism. Like it or not, no matter who is to blame, who started it, or what it's all really about, we are in a war. And it is either us or them. And when it comes down to the 11th hour, I want to know that we are winning that war - whether that be through airstrikes, rounding up homegrown cells, thwarting possible future attacks, or Russian and US ground troops in Syria and Iraq, taking back ISIS controlled lands. But before we can even think about a peaceful transition of power with Assad, ISIS must be defeated. The ideology must also be defeated - and that itself is a near impossible task - especially when most Muslim leaders and Clerics refuse to speak out against ISIS for fear of reprisal. Where is the fatwa against ISIS? There's one against Jews and the western Kafirs. So yeah, I have no problem with absolutely battering them out of existence. Because I can guarantee, if we don't, they certainly will. Like it or not, we are at war with Islamic Extremists. So pick a side and hope for the best.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for voicing that responsibility does not fall on the Muslims, that it falls on all of us. 
+Yonatan Zunger  Well, Yonatan.  I can see how it is difficult for you to believe that there is a bunch of people who, lacking your capacity to grasp complexity,  fall for simple explanations, conspiracy theories being their favourite catch-all.
Mismatch of the number of degrees of freedom between the system and the observer.
A good read and wonderful analysis indeed +Yonatan Zunger. Your points on climate change, and nationalism were particularly astute. Climate change has been and continues to be a major source of human displacement throughout the history of the world. As for nationalism; it seems particularly silly to discriminate against someone based upon their place of birth. If only the world could become a little bit more open place. 
+Yonatan Zunger Apparently you care deeply about climate change but pointing at it as a root cause for what happened in Paris is just plain ridiculous. And putting religion outside of the equation is a grave omission. After all the attackers at Bataclan did not shout "Food and water!", did they? I am sure that the terrorists themselves will be scratching their heads in disbelief while reading this article.
French muslims are curiously completely exhonerated by the guy's piece.
Observant Muslims living in western worlds actually disapprove of the lifestyles and values of the host countries.
observant and militant muslims have been applying increasing pressure at every opportunity to force non-muslim countries to accommodate their needs.
It only takes a small percentage of militant muslims to manipulate the touchy-feely component of any western country's political minds to have a noticeable effect in society.
Militant islam has played our right wing parties against our left wing parties and left the regular joe muslim to hold the can.
Militant islam is incompatible with western social mores. You can not insist that all meat served in schools be halal. You can not insist that all medical examinations on muslim ladies be done by female staff. You can not insist that your women go around fully veiled with concealed faces.
We have to grow up and learnt to tell the militant assholes amongst us to kindly stop being assholes or to move to any of 73 islamic paradises around the world.
Very good cogent piece, excellent dissection and suggestions for a slow ordered structured reorganization for change.
+William Liu
You mean things like cherry picking the cream of the crop, picking up refugees who have degrees, etc and letting the other countries handle the rest? Yah, great strategy for US. For the poor refugees? Get fucked all over again. Why not? It's their lot in life to be fucked over. Someone's gotta be at the bottom of the food chain, right?
the best article I've seen on this isssue so far and that includes all the major western press
"..there's one profound factor which has driven the violence in the Middle East far more than oil ever could: water." This is spot-on. Climate change is here, right now, and we're reaping the result of decades of procrastination, and an unwillingness to look at the consequences or the serious measures required to minimise the effects thereof.
It's been said for years now that the next war(s) won't be about territory or oil, but water. I dread to think of the situation in the Middle East 2 generations down the road, where climate change has wreaked its devestating effects on the region, and the oil wells, if not already so, are running dry.
+Michael O'Shea I can see that it only takes a small percentage of militants to confuse the hell out of you. You don't have the slightest idea what you're talking about. 
Ronan C
i stopped reading after i realized (although you did have valid points), that you have no idea what Charlie Hebdo was about, an therefore assumed you'd be as poorly informed when making further points. Charlie Hebdo writers have a clear position on religion, all of them: they think religions are dangerous brainwashing machines. They have trashed Christianity over 10 times more (journalist literally counted all the drawings ever made) than islam, they are also not left wing: they claimed to bring of form "outside of your confort zone ackwardness" to all aspects of society. They did not claim to know answers, or propose a alternative solution: they meant to disturb the way we think so that we think more openly. Your interpretation of they approach to islam is totally incorrect: you either never read them, or you wanted to make a point and assumed that few reads them anyway, no one who contradict you.
+Ronan C On the contrary, I'm quite familiar with Charlie Hebdo, and I think their anticlerical position is only partly what you describe. On the one hand, they definitely are broadly anti-religious, and in this they are fairly within the mainstream of Europe. But on the other hand, they fail to recognize that their criticisms of Islam are not read as criticisms of religion by Muslims, but as criticisms of the people in question. That is, they conflate criticism of ideas with criticism of ethnic groups.

And while they have claimed to only be doing the former in the past, the number of times that they have been told that they are doing the latter tells me that their claim of ignorance of this effect is entirely disingenuous. That is, while their primary target is religion, they regard the Muslim population of Europe as being a bunch of savages, and so they don't particularly care if they get treated like animals.

The argument that they consider anyone religious to be a savage is true but irrelevant: European Christians are not being systematically isolated by society. It's the same punching-down versus punching-up problem that shows up when American newspapers claim to equally go after, say, blacks and whites, or the gay and straight communities. That one of those attacks happens to parallel and reinforce broad attacks on a generally disenfranchised group is an accident, they claim.

But it's BS when people say it in the US, and it's BS when they say it in France.

So no, I know exactly what they're saying – and I think they're being deliberately disingenuous, and are claiming equal-opportunity satire as a way of masking very unequal messages. And in doing so, I think that they're not outliers at all, but in fact are quite representative of behavior I've seen across Europe. 
+Bernhard Suter Huh: I had no idea people thought it was so high. I had guessed somewhere around 10% or a bit less, which seems about right. Of course, perception gets skewed by geographical clustering: the population isn't spread uniformly across the country.
Apart from Europe, Muslim population in countries like Australia and New Zealand, for example, is quite significant, too. In America they only cover two countries: Canada and the US. Apparently the rest of the continent hasn't been a place to go for Muslims over the years, who knows why
Great explaining but the point of the matter is, there are many religions and within each religion there are many sects. If one were to look at each of them there is some form of ill in all of them. But no other sect than one particular section within the Muslim population is so backward in thinking that it is almost impossible to talk sense to the larger majority among them.
Human by default are friendly, had that not been the case the race by itself would not have excelled as it has.
Neither the world could have been turned into a global village.
But if one particular group across the globe are hell bent in creating trouble because they read their religious book worng, then any wonder that they are themselves partially responsible for the isolation they suffer from.
Terrorism be it in Mumbai or Paris has the same ideology. They want others to follow what they believe is correct.
While the West in particular can't be absolve from the crimes of colonial rule and atrocious behavior, the present day trouble seeking sect within the Muslim are equally to blame.

Look at the T-shirt you are wearing.  Asaad mined the aquifers of Syria so you could have an affordable cotton shirt.  Then we fought wars just next door to Syria that sent huge amounts of carbon and chemicals into the atmosphere.  This is all on top of what we are doing to the climate elsewhere.  

WE need to do more than ween ourselves off of oil to become a sustainable economy.  We need to make sure that many developing economies also find ways to use wind and solar to become sustainable so they don't need anything Da'esh is selling to fund a war with.

2ndly, we need to shut down the arms dealers that Da'esh is buying arms from.  Starting with Europe and the West.
+Bernhard Suter good graphic. And, predictably, the prize for the highest level of exaggeration and misunderstanding goes to the Hungarians. They're off by a factor of 70 to 1. Well done! 
+Andolsa Arevalo Did you just state Mexico is a No-Go Zone for Muslims? I have heard something similar about other groups in Europe...

+Adreana Langston great post & thanks for pointing out the link between educating women and economics. I live in Turkey so I get it. The common denominator among fundamentalist of any type is keeping women unempowered (economically and otherwise), as far as I can tell.
+Yonatan Zunger  nice rethorical argument. But why so many inaccuracies or factually incorrect information ?

1) "So you have a large population who finds it systematically hard to find work, impossible to be accepted, the regular target of police, and told every day that they should probably be kicked out of the country."

This statement, although, relatively correct in some areas, doesn't really seem to be the accurate in lots of cases; e.g.: Scandinavia, where employement rates of muslims are far higher than those of locals in many European countries.

Several studies show that in Germany (for example) first generation immigrants, that have arrived as guest workers, tend to be highly integrated. Immigrants who can master the German language, also tend to integrate  more easilly.  e.g.:

Some immigrants are more likely to be targeted by the police in the EU. Others are less likely to be targeted (e.g.: chinese, koreans, japanese). The following link explains one of the reasons:

2) "They are not European in that Europe has been profoundly unwilling to allow them to assimilate"

Any proof? Any data to support this ??? "Assimilation" requires efforts on behalf of both the guest and the host.  Yet you arbitrarily only blame one side.

Assimilation of certain groups has failed even in countries like Germany where muslims immigrants have constantly received extremely generous support and benefits. Here is one documentary from ZDF, the German public tv station on this issue:

3) You focus on the Islamic State as if they are the only extremists and murderers among Muslims. Yet, they are only a small minority in the Salafist & Wahabist movements.

The Salafist movement numbers more than 50 million members wordwide, including:
- 1.6 million in Sudan, where the Janjaweed & other Salafist groups have caused the Darfour Genocide (one of the worst in modern times, with 300,000 people killed and 2.8-3 million displaced)

Saudi Arabia has about 5 million Wahhabists who support  Jihad, the extermination of Jews or whatever groups they brand as heretics, among other things.

Below is a report from Freedom House detailing the level of religious extremism that young Saudis are being indoctrinated with:

4) "More profoundly, people in the Middle East aren't systematically any more religious than people are in America."

This seems to be true. What is also true, is that people in the Middle East are also far less tolerant of people holding different beliefs (there are enough studies and surveys to prove it). Apostasy is punishable by death in almost all the Middle East countries and the vast majority of people approve of it. Minorities (religious, ethnic, etc) are sytematically discriminated and oppresed (e.g.: the Copts in Egypt; Shias in Saudi Arabia; Kurds, etc) and the  majority supports this or tacitly approves of it.

5) "the lead-in to the collapse of Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship was steady droughts in the Syrian countryside driving people into the cities by the hundreds of thousands, leading to mass unemployment and unrest. People's livelihoods had simply disappeared. Stories like this repeat across the entire Middle East."

The 2nd part of this statement is quite FALSE.
UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran are nothing like you're suggesting. Some of them (e.g.: Turkey) have experienced draught (eg in 2014), yet none of the consequences you've mentioned (mass unemployment, unrest, etc) have followed.
+Daniel Sandman   you claim that:
 "Yes, you are right that the Swedish statistics are bloated compared to other countries... and it is because the society has worked hard to make it possible for women to charge perpetrators. Most rapers are men who the woman know or are close to. Not strangers who follow them after a walk outside."

Yet, the DATA seems to tell a different story:

"Two reports from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ) are relevant to the rate of rape among immigrants to Sweden and their descendants. The latest published report that indicates the association between immigrants and rape was published in 2005 and revealed that foreign born individuals were 5.5 times more likely to be charged of rape than individuals born in Sweden to two Swedish parent. While the report does not break down the foreign born category by country of origin, it has been found to be predictive of crime rates in other Nordic countries. An earlier report published in 1996 by the BRÅ did break down rate of rape convictions by country of origin. It found that between 1985 and 1989 individuals with a foreign background made up 61% of all rape convictions. Ethnic groups with particularly high rates of rape included individuals born in Iraq, North Africa (Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia), and Africa (excluding Uganda and the North African countries) who were convicted of rape at rates 20, 23, and 17 greater than individuals born in Sweden respectively"
As a Muslim and academic at risk from Iraq, I agree with the writer's arguments. In Iraq, the climate change, the drought and ill-management of water resources, and we have great two rivers, made people flow to Baghdad while they have no skills or proper education to find employment in the urban society. They were also considered as second-rate citizens by urban Iraqis (because of the majority of these ex-farmers were Shia from the south, and most of the urban society Sunnis from the middle and north of Iraq, a sectarian flavor were added to the tension). When Saddam's regime fell, militias were formed from these people who were always considered as inferior, and the Baath treated them as such. The Militia terrorized people, not for religious reasons, and many people like me are living proof because I belong to the same sect, but they terrorize anyone who has the power they were deprived of: education and higher degrees. their terror was manifested in higher education institution, and usually they recruit underachieving students who prefer the way for using force over gaining their degrees. Imagine for 12 years now Iraqi universities give degrees for students most of them are basically illiterate. most of them are now in power trying to compensate for all the inferiority complexes they suffered during Saddam's regime, and this explains the depth of corruption they sink to once they are in power, as they accumulate wealth and empower their relatives. Most of these militia and the young people who joined them would speak of (we and them) referring to themselves as still the oppressed group (though most of the government is now Shia) and the Sunnis as their oppressors (though they are now mostly excluded from power). 
In a nutshell, this guy blames Frenchmen for opening up their doors to Muslims who repayed them by murdering them. This is not a complex thing to understand, it only becomes complex when you try to pussy foot around and not offend anyone. 
The discovered passports are ringing kinghell alarm bells for me
Rightist delight 
I couldn't agree more with the author in most of his analysis. This is a very good article indeed. Except for his take on the European left. I have lived in Scotland for about 10 years now. I have always had ideals and a non-active leniency to the left, but activism and politics are so alive in parts of Europe it is hard not to fall completely in love with it all and my life is pretty focused on social equality and supporting left of centre policy implementation these days. Grassroots are taking over political parties and in northern Europe every-day individuals have an enormous effect on their parliaments and local governments. Unfortunately for countries like France and the United Kingdom, the media is (pretty much as it is in the U.S.) owned and controlled by a very few, very powerful people who have very specific interests to protect, and in the case of the UK, the conservative, right wing government is no different. So I am not surprised and neither do I hold it against anyone who has been filled into believing what they get from our newspapers and broadcasters in the sense of political analysis, but you should know that it is not reality. Any "leftie" on this side of the Atlantic will tell you that. In Scotland we have created our own media, our own movements, our own ways to counter-weight the inhuman austerity measures those less fortunate are being subjected to, our own political parties and we live in constant battles with the elite-lead status quo who play on people's fear and ignorance in the most cynical ways, and yes, sadly, if you would go by the mass media to forge an opinion, you would think the political left and right merge murkily at the far right of the spectrum... it couldn't be more different from my own experience. Specially when it comes to cultural diversity and embracing people from a different ethnical heritage, as myself.
It's generally a good summary but you are still undermining the role that the west played in creating and spreading terrorism in the middle east. The destructive intervention of the west in the middle east dates back to the world war 2, not Iraq invasion. Please read about CIA coup against Iran, and US/Western allies support of Saddam Hossein during unprovoked invasion of Iran. Support of Taliban. Current military support of Saudi Arabia (by far the most radical Islamist regime in the middle east) in suppressing their Shia minority and their military operations in Bahrain and Yemen against Shia majority and minority respectively.

Unfortunately the west has consistently been allying with the most extreme groups and regimes in the middle east for short term interests, and have consistently been punishing the moderate and progressive governments such as Iran. They often justify this as necessary to maintain "balance of power" in the region.
Thank you for the analysis.   water, water. water.

I had a college professor who urged us to look at every regional conflict through that lens.  
This will be the dumbest thing I'll read all day.
I've been teaching these points in my classes for years. This is an exceedingly well written and supported white paper, but it's hardly news. The only reason this is news is because our culture teaches us to avoid anything in the world's activities that may be even lightly distressing to our sensitivities.

And this avoidance is hardly new. In a quote from 1917 ("Chambers's Journal", London): "Certainly the war is teaching geography to the world. The ignorance of the world's inhabitants regarding the earth on which we live is among the strangest phenomena of the human race."

This has morphed into: "War is God's way of teaching us geography."
I guess basically as always we forget who caused the destruction of the ME when many Europe nations illegally occupied it. America basically wiped out a whole ethnicity of Native Indians, largest genocide to this date.

Its easy for anyone to claim the human race as one sided when you don't want to admit the fault or want to clean up your mess.
Muslims in European countries would be much less disenfranchised as you claim if they would obey the laws of the country rather than trying to establish sharia law, if they would stop importing barbaric customs like female circumcision, honor killings of their own daughters, forced marriage and torture of animals through halal slaughter, and if they would take public stand against Islamic terrorism. You failed to even address those issues.
Excellent article, just wish Sam Harris would read this, because he seems to be leading a strong effort to turn North America into that exact same culture of faux tolerance ("sure I'll tolerate your culture, just don't practice it in my country, and stop looking so foreign and scary".)
A Ali
The only beneficiaries of these cold blooded murders are Israel and the USA. 
If you haven't seen this documentary, please watch it, Bitter Lake by Adam Curtis:

Oil (and other natural resources) definitely played a role in the current state of affairs.  Why was there military intervention in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, but not Syria? One reason could be that Syria is not a major exporter of oil.  How did wahhabism get such a strong footfold over the past 50 years? Perhaps because Saudi Arabia is a major exporter of oil and exported this vision of Islam, financed by the proceeds from the oil.
Great text.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts.   There is a necessity to analyse/explain the situation to a broader audience.  As many pointed out, I do believe oil/oil countries are more linked to the aggravation of the situation than what you have stated.   However I do agree that a world effort is needed on the ground in Syria to rebuild the country.   I tend to think of something on a similar scale as of post-WW2 in Germany although I am far from sure that the Assad government is ready to do whatever it takes to rebuild the country.   If the ISIS solution is to bring them down by military and political actions, I'm not sure how the international cooperation (including Russia and the neighbouring countries) is ready to tackle the Assan/Civil war issue.
I cannot agree more with Terri Brazier: Muslims who come to live in their adopted countries must do their part to integrate rather than try sbd impose "their way" on their hosts.
+Conrad Young Huh. Isn't the largest fresh water aquifer in the world under Libya, Chad, Sudan and Egypt? And didn't those countries have a great deal of "freedom" brought in from outside since the world became aware of that aquifer?
Joe X.
I think the solution is to give people options at home.

1st. Recognize that there is one option in terms of providing a stable country in the region we call Iraq.


Iraq, for med during British colonialism must be allowed to break along natural lines.

The US and Russia should bring in a large contingent of Kurdish leaders and the Turkish foreign minister along with a staff of his most capable diplomats. Sit them down and explain to them that the two groups will prepare an agreementioned where the Kurds will cede all claims to lands within Turkey, and end all at r acts against turkey. In exchange, the Turks will recognize a free and independent Kurdistan.

The 1st world will work to the benefit of the only country within Iraq that is capable of "saving" in order to provide an option to refugees. Here people can learn to farm the Israeli way, here hydrologists have a chance to get the most from available water. Etc. There is much more to say about developine the Kurds and Kurdistan.

But what about Syria and Iraq?

The 1st world must contain the unsustainable exodus. You do that by going to those regional countries, our "allies" and you make them enfranchise all people within their borders. You make them enfranchise Palestinians, and thereby move to dru up the endlessly deep pool of Hezbolla's recruits. In this way Iran will have to fight it's own battles instead of using disposable Palestinian males. 
+Brad Thompson The video is complete bullshit propaganda. I've volunteered at the hotspots along the West Balkans refugee route for four weeks. I've met desperate people taking incredible risks and enduring hardships to escape religious and ethnic persecution, terror and hunger to reach a place where they can start a new life in peace. Does that sound familiar? check up on the history of the United States.
I've met people that are immensely grateful for a bottle of water, a banana or a dry pair of socks. Most of all, they are immensely grateful for being treated as fellow human beings, with respect and without prejudice. Not once have I been attacked or felt unsafe among them. 
It is simply not true that the "poor people" of Germany now "live in fear". Yes, the situation is a big challenge, after all, it's one of the biggest humanitarian crises since WWII. Nevertheless, most Germans are welcoming and supportive of refugees - at least those who aren't ignorant, prejudiced, fearmongering assholes. How do I know? I'm actually from Germany, what are your sources?
It is simply not true that "ISIS is using migration as a weapon to smuggle mostly military aged males". Daesh actually tries hard to convince the people to NOT leave the Levant for Europe:
In fact, the humane response to the refugee situation by parts of Europe pisses them off because it undermines their narrative that the West is inherently hostile to Muslims, which is a central element of their propaganda. By contrast, your narrative of the "Muslim threat to the West" is complementary to their's and actually facilitates their cause.
Maybe Israel can open up a door in its wall on the Syrian border and let some refugees into the Golan Heights. Syrians might remember the area as it used to be their territory. Golan has food an water and is much closer than Europe which would save the refugees from a perilous journey.
I'd like to see more data on the Nile and general ME drought. Were are your sources for that? I had not heard of this. I'm involved in dry land farming, so very interested.
so continue the demographic replacement of Europeans with people who are not Europeans..... that my friends is genocide. time to fight back.
Some great perspectives offered and thanks for sharing. I am all for full support for any and all refugees that are merely fleeing a world of violence seeking shelter and a home free of violence. I also reject the notion that some or all refugees need to return to eliminate the possibility of a terrorist hiding among them. I am all for getting to the root of the problem. Yet, a few footnotes I'd like to add as I simply don't buy the argument that Europe has systemically worked against integration of the muslim population; it's too easy. France's more recent passing of laws banning selected clothing I remember is directly related to the need to be able to identify individuals after an increase in violence originating in the affected cultures. Furthermore to argue or suggest that Europe or France have systemically worked against integration of the population of former territories and "guest workers" is simply not true and just as much a blanket statement as stating all muslim are terrorists. One could offer the weak argument that that the Western European communities are partially responsible for the dependency of the populations originating from other countries (in Dutch language referred to as Allochtones) thereby slowing down integration by eliminating the need to read the language, as any and all documents to guide someone through life in the respective Western European nations are available in about any languages. Having lived on both sides of the pond for about half my life I can tell you that if I would have arrived in the US here on my Dutch clogs and wearing the traditional Dutch outfits, speaking broken English at best even after many years in the US, and maintaining a traditional Duck farm in the community pond I would have a hard time finding employment, acceptance and integration; if I'd be slaughtering farm animals to support my religious perspectives using  methods outlawed by the society in which I would like to integrate - shame on me for not being able to integrate. I would suggest that assimilation and integration is a two way street.
How many other drought-stricken areas in the world have produced such level of barbarism?
>> "When you have hundreds of thousands of people who are quite literally willing to risk not only their deaths, but the deaths of their families, in order to escape... "

Media are reporting that bulk of refugee deaths occur as they move from one safe country (Turkey) to another (Greece & Malta). The reason for that stretch of the journey is not because they are fleeing tyranny.
+Sip Johnson Failed state Somalia is looking pretty bad.  Those pirates are no joke.  It's just that they do not want world domination.
Adreana Langston originally shared:
Stop STOPPING Jihadists from going to Syria from Western Nations
A plan for attacking ISIS without any boots on the ground or military intervention whatsoever

When disenfranchised, disconnected, young men and women decide to follow the Jihadist path, they are less of a threat to me, or most Westerners, when they are in Syria rather than when they are in the Western country in which they were born or grew up.  Do not stop them from trying to go to Syria.  Buy them tickets for heaven's sake.

But take it one step further.  When M15 or CSA or any other secret police service, using privacy invading technology, find a young person looking to go to Syria to join ISIS, here is what they should do.

1) Keep monitoring the person 

2) Gather intelligence regarding what route the person is planning on taking to Syria and what people were suppose to be there to help the person get to Syria. Place spies along the route posing as Jihadist sympathizers.  Since recruitment of Jihadist to Syria is a months long process, these spies have time to get in good with the real sympathizers.  

3) When the person is truly ready to head to Syria.  Do not impede them until they get to the airport.

2) When they get to the airport detain them.

3) While they are being detained put them in a room with a water cooler filled with water tainted with a contagious disease.  I would suggest ebola because of its 21 day incubation period and because, now, agents can be vaccinated against it.

4) While the person is being detained, take the person's carry-on luggage away under the pretext of inspecting it.  While it is being inspected, unstitch the lining, put a tracking device in the lining, then restitch it.  It should not be to hard to hide one seamstress with an industrial style sewing machine in a place as large as an airport.

5) Leave the person in the detention room for an hour.  During that hour turn up the heat in the room and turn on a device that de-humidifies the room so that the air in the room dries out.  This will make the person drink water from the water cooler.  

6) After the person has imbibed the water cooler water, have an agent return to the detention room with the person's carry on luggage and tell the person he or she is free to go.

7) Track the person on his or her way to Syria using the tracking device imbeded in the luggage. If at any point along the route the person delays, activate the spies in order to assist the person in getting to Syria before the 21 day incubation period of the disease is over.

Do this with multiple people attempting to immigrate to Syria in order to join ISIS.  Then just wait.
+Benjamin Jefferson
Ok and are we to assume it will be an 'intelligent' contagious disease so it only affects 'baddies' and not the innocent?
lol, I don't know... I didn't write it you dork..... its supposed to be a joke (I hope).... obviously you have no sense of humor.
​​I ​find much of this article ​to be​ nonsense​:​ full of false equivalence, unsupported assertions, blame-the-victim reasoning, and similar problems. For example, here's a non-exhaustive list:

(1) False equivalence: "nobody has behaved well in the lead-up to this." As though Europe's reluctant approach to the migrant situation is somehow the moral equivalent of ISIS's behavior. It's not.

(2) "they [(European Muslims)] have become as assimilated as they can" ​you assert based on what exactly? ​Your intimate knowledge of all European Muslims?

(3) Blame the victim: "France has been routinely passing laws banning Muslims from dressing the way they did in their home countries in the past few years...." Suggesting that France somehow got what it deserved? With no consideration that the French should be allowed to decide democratically how they want their culture to look and feel.

(4) Blame the victim: "What this explanation glosses over is that nobody on the receiving end of the [Charlie Hebdo] satire saw it as satire of religion....". Blaming the Charlie Hebdo artists for their own massacre is just odious. And the logic here suggests that freedom of speech should be subject to idiosyncratic religious (over-)sensitivities.

(5) "You sow the wind, you reap the whirlwind. What did you expect was going to happen?" As though ISIS-like behavior is inevitable and universal. This ignores the role of individual agency and the fact that various different immigrant groups (including many Muslims) have managed to integrate in Europe, the US, and elsewhere despite initial resistance without resorting to ISIS-like behavior.

(6) "[ISIS has] gone so far off the rails of Islam that the only clear ideology that often seems left is power and murder." Wrong: ISIS is actually very well-grounded in Islamic texts and is academically quite rigorous about interpreting them. Read this: 

(7) "Because as far as anyone can tell, they [(ISIS]) want to take over the world." Nope, just a particular part of it. Again, read the article above.

(8) "The reason I reject Islam as an explanation for this is that there's nothing particularly Muslim about any of it." Pure wishful thinking. Islam undeniably plays a role here. And again, please read the article above.

(9) "people in the Middle East aren't systematically any more religious than people are in America." What?!? ​You seem to ​ignore the vigorous religious policing that occurs in Saudi Arabia​,​ Iran, and other Middle Eastern theocracies. They are, literally, more-systematically religious than the US.

(10) "ordinary police work [has] proven far more effective than complex intelligence solutions at catching terrorists." ​You know this how?

In summary, I like how ​you connect the current problems with resource shortages caused by climate change. But that's about it.
Now's that's a balanced piece! Good on you. 
+Lauren Weinstein yes, that is spot on. Reactionist ideology and out right political chicanery IMNSHO are at the heart of much of both our domestic and foreign policies. Lashing out in all directions is far too easy a solution for my liking, and "cloak and dager" games provide just the right amount of smoke and mirrors to distract the easily distracted.

The thing I find the most chilling about our ham handed and often clandestine policies is that they have far too many moving parts. A rube Goldberg may be interesting to look at, but it really serves no practical purpose. On a side note, at least our failing policies provide usmwith a rather accurate case study to test chaos theory. Though, I am not certain how comforting that logic is.
As long as we've all been alive OIL has been the strongest commodity on earth. That is beginning to go by t he way side, ask the Russian people. We are moving onto new technologies and yes people make this about religion but if you follow the revenue of cash all wars are about money.  As long as people are killing one another somewhere else and not on your own front lawn all is fine.  Especially all is fine when economies are benefiting from the killing and the people do not have to see it.  Now things are changing and even the people who are benefiting from the war are demanding things to stop.  We the people live in the animal kingdom it is sad but true.
Brad Thompson your link to video is just a propaganda. Viktor Orbán is a fascist, one question I have:  Have you ever meet these refugees? 
I very much agree with most of the above, save for downplaying the influence of religion and putting too much emphasis on water.  If, in fact, lack of water is a problem, one must consider the idea that a population is exceeding the environment's ability maintain a suitable living condition. In other words, there are too many people living in a area. So, what is the only known cure for overpopulation? It is the empowerment of women in the form of education and access to birth control including abortion. Please recognize that Islam does not advocate the empowerment of women and is hostile to any discussion of birth control.  
The most comprehensive analysis about this issue I've read so far. Thank you! 
+Alex de Richemont In search of an understanding of Islam in general and Islam perverted by the military or terror aspirations of Daesh or Al Qaeda or ^insert next group here^ more specifically, you should balance your link to Graeme Wood's article in The Atlantic with readings from Professor Juan Cole, a multi-lingual and noted expert on Middle Eastern affairs. 

In particular it would be good for followers of this discussion to read Cole's piece "How Islamic is the Islamic State" as he directly addresses Wood's piece:

Wood's article in The Atlantic starts out by suggesting that world political and military leaders didn't understand ISIS at the end of 2014 yet his article written in March 2015 purports to know all. Imagine that. Hubris? Or immaterial because the article is part yarn with some factual grounding to hold it together?

If you view the companion video for Wood's article you learn early on that Wood did his research by communicating with English speaking recruiters - notably one figure in Australia who is known to authorities there and watched closely - plus Twitter and other on-line sources. He didn't even sit face to face with his source but communicated via email.

In other words he put together his picture of "What ISIS really wants" by talking to recruiters, and when we speak of recruiting in this context what we really mean are propaganda promoters.  

There's a danger in developing opinions based on the promotional material of such a group in that your conclusions can easily be led astray.

Propaganda isn't aimed at thinkers but at weak minded souls who when facing some sort of desperation in their lives can be pulled into Daesh. It was easy to find such people in the sectarian violence wrecked Iraq - which we can thank GW Bush et al for creating - and sadly our modern societies also seem capable of emitting downtrodden who are easily influenced by the promise of foreign adventure and a cause.

Propaganda isn't just for recruiting though. It can be designed to mislead, obviously, and to install fear, clearly.

In your rebuttal you appear to be trying to make a case that ISIS=Islam. If that is true,  algebra tells us that Islam=ISIS but clearly that isn't the case even though many who seem incapable of doing simple math or thinking would love to believe otherwise. The Twitterverse is alive with such people these days.

But that's not the case. ISIS does not define Islam which is again being perverted by a few to achieve political and military objectives. But there is nothing new in that and using religion to back conquest or subjugation isn't restricted to Islam alone as we all know.

There is nothing particularly unique about Islam that makes it more suitable to the task of recruiting warriors other than it is the dominant religion in a particularly unstable region. You could, in another region, create a group that looked much like ISIS, based on literal interpretation of ancient religious texts, using the Torah. Or the Old Testament.  

Wood might spin a convincing yarn but he's going to have to do better than chatting with ISIS propagandists and recruiters, in English via email and Twitter, before I'd want to base my opinion off his conclusions.

Meanwhile, consider the following current article from Professor Cole:

France Should Stop Listening to Saudi Arabia on Syria
ISIS is the most urgent threat to the West stemming from the Syrian war and must be destroyed. Assad’s murderous dictatorship can be dealt with next.
+Yonatan Zunger ... or insane like those who are +1 'ing that notion. "False flag" being tossed on the fire is invariably a sure sign of a weak mind.
+Catya Belfer Your professor had a point though he undoubtedly took it too far. Most conflicts are over resources of some sort, or control. Take the Rwandan massacres of the 1990s. That wasn't water but land. Jared Diamon details that well.
+Edward Morbius - His point would have been that most issues of control of land are really about control of water.  I agree it's too simple, but it's a surprisingly insightful lens through which to look at things.
I just want to respond to one comment above that states " It is the empowerment of women in the form of education and access to birth control including abortion. Please recognize that Islam does not advocate the empowerment of women and is hostile to any discussion of birth control." - yes to women empowerment and birth control rights but the assumption that islam does not advocate womens rights is absolutely wrong. The most loved and respected wife (khadija) of the prophet was not only much older than him but a heavily successful business woman.   She was also the first person to accept Islam. It is she who show us how to function in terms of economy and commerce.

People throughout the world have removed context in their religeous interpretations. I am sorry but what applied to an age old society does not apply to the world today - I. E. Not literally. If it did then you will have to deny all the human progress made over rhe years - all the science and knowledge that we now have at our disposal. What was appropriate back then may not be appropriate anymore because we have a better understanding of our environment. E.g. women were allowed to have children as soon as they reached puberty because it was understood that her body is now ready for the development of a child ( this may be at age 11!) But guess what - science tells us it is unhealthy for a girl under 18 to have kids! So the practice changes but the philosophy remains: a girl should not have a child till she is mature enough.

The key is to intelligently decipher the msg and apply the philosophy to life (and this applies to all religeons and not just islam); not blindly follow  bunch of rituals and activities. Just fyi -  women are extremely respected and loved in Islam. I would strongly urge everyone to please do sufficient reading and analyzing before making such absolute statements.

That said I will leave here a link which may help to get started:

And this
The problem is the why +Dennis R Lecker​​​​. I do not believe anyone would disagree that religious fundamentalism is a problem. Empowering women and girls is always a great policy. Empowering women, however, can only accomplish so much and population control can not fully stem the tide of climate change; which is a considerable factor when considering growing water shortages in the middle East and elsewhere in the world.

Climate change is the driving force behind the extreme climate events that are happening throughout the world. Glaciers that have fed rivers which have sustained populations in the middle East, Asia, and Africa are melting at an alarming rate. Even if ISIL were not an issue, mass migration is inevitable. In a region with an increasingly shrinking amount of fresh water, population control is only as effective as it is in the context of the water supply. If the water supply becomes too depleted, the population would need to become ma zero sum.

So, what happens when the water supply reaches the point where it can no longer sustain human life? Do these people simply roll over and die because the world does not wish to allow them to migrate? Furthermore, one must examine religious extremism in the context of dwindling natural resources. Such movements do not gain traction without cause. Labeling the cause of the rise of religious fundamentalism in the middle East as entirely socioeconomic or ideological would grossly simplifying the problem.

Most people in this world have rather simple needs. Food, clean water, and shelter are at the heart of these needs. The family unit becomes a particularly significant part of one's day to day life in societies such as these. When that family's existence becomes compromised, limited options can lead people to resort to increasingly desperate actions. When a veritable power vacuum is added to the mix nothing good can come of it.

Mass migration, war, famine and many other very nasty things are an inevitable result of such conditions. This has been the way of the world for thousands of years. Technology has changed much in that time, but people are fundamentally the same as they have always been. The rise of religious fundamentalism as a!political force within these societies is symptom of a much larger problem. I agree that empowering women is a part of the overall solution; beyond population control, it is simply a matter of perspective.

If we are going to find a long term solution to this problem, natural resources will have to play heavily into the equation. What use imposing a piece if there is no longer term solution to ensure it? In order for any given region to remain stable, its people must have the means by which to support themselves. If the means do not exist, upheaval is an inevitable outcome of the situation.

The article has some good points but it shows how little the author know about the daily realities of Europe. I live in Germany and have Muslim colleagues and friends. They are living a normal life and no one treats them as outsiders. The Muslim population in Germany is not marginalized because they are Muslims. The German population (and UK if you follow the topic) has a problem with people coming from different countries/continents who use the system and do not work and want to integrate. Integration means speaking the language, working and paying taxes as any normal citizen. Unfortunately if you look at the statistics the majority of the population who abuse the system (which is a social system) are Muslims. In Germany you get free education, including university, you get state support to study. It is their choice not to do educate themselves and work. Germany is in need of workforce and trust me a simple worker in Germany is very protected by Workers Unions and has a lot of benefits.  It is very easy to use the religion card when you actually do not want to integrate and make something of yourself. Sorry, but your point of view might apply in France but not the rest of Europe. Here Muslims will find work, will get education, they just have to want it. One of their Muslim preachers (sorry for not remembering his name, there is a video with him) told them at one point that they simply do not want to work but point fingers at Europe for being so successful. The message to them was that if they want to have the prosperity from Europe they need to start working. Exactly what they do not want to do here. 
+Michael Watkins, thanks for the response. I can't tell exactly which of my numbered points you're disagreeing with, but it seems you disagree in general with the scholarship and methodology behind Wood's article. I thought he did a diligent job (and still do), but fair enough.

As for the Cole article, I had read that and was unconvinced. I find Cole goes through some tortuous linguistic gymnastics, but fails to disprove at least two key propositions: 

(1) certain texts form the foundation of Islam and 
(2) ISIS's core philosophy is based on those texts.

Do you disagree?

Now, one could argue all day about the extent to which ISIS's interpretation of those texts is or is not representative of the mainstream, and that's an important conversation to have. But that's not the point. The point is that any meaningful discussion of this topic can't pretend that there's "nothing particularly Islamic" about current events. I think Sam Harris does a great job of making that point here:

I assume this is rebuttal enough to your assertion that I'm somehow "trying to make a case that ISIS=Islam". I don't even know what that means but, no, I'm not. I'm making the case that ISIS involves Islam, whether we like to admit it or not.

Now, I really like your point that the foundational texts of other religions could also be used to justify violence. Yes, they could!! And they were typically used that way in the past. So this leads us to what I consider the real question: why aren't they typically used that way anymore?

Without the data in front of me, I suspect the answer involves some combination of the extent to which (1) societies value and promote logic and reason over religious belief, (2) religious communities marginalize violent fundamentalists and fundamentalist views, (3) religious communities accept the primacy of secular law over religion and (4) religion is kept separate from state affairs.

I think widespread discussion of these issues would help society progress past our current state. The problem is that Yonatan's post pretends that these issues can be ignored.
+Phite Onn +Benjamin Miller I did not mean for it to be a joke at all.  The reason I suggested Ebola is because there is now a vaccine and a treatment for it.

I was thinking that anyone who wanted the treatment should surrender to anti-ISIS forces in the region and get the treatment.

My idea is not to mass murder anyone.  My idea is to so severely weaken Daesh with Ebola that their attacks and wht not grind to a halt because they are so caught up in treating the ebola in the territory they control.

The U.S. would even drop packages of the vaccine all over Daesh controlled territory. Daesh would be so caught up in distributing the vaccine that their ability to fight would be greatly curtailed.  That would give anti-Assad forces a leg up.

Here is what I remember from the Iraq war. When the US bombed Fallujah because they were unable to overcome the rebel stronghold there using ground troops, 650K regular, everyday, non-rebels were killed, dead, gone.  This does not include the people who died even after surviving the bombing because the infrastruture in their city was so destroyed they could not get food, water or shelter.  They just dropped dead in the 130 degree heat.

Even if 650K innocent people in Syria were infected with Ebola at least some of them could get the treatment and have a chance at living.  Even if I am wrong and they all died at least the people who did not die of Ebola would not die because their village had been bombed to smithereens including the road the water truck used to bring water to their village.

There is a drop in homeless center at my church.  It feeds the homeless and food insecure most Sunday afternoons.  20 percent of the "clients" are veterans from Middle Eastern Wars.  Drug addiction, PTSD, whatever.  There are supposedly 500K Middle Eastern war vets suffering from PTSD in the U.S. right now.

Hollande declared war on ISIS.  I would not want 500K returning PTSD for France.  I would not want 650K innocent Syrians bombed to their graves.  

Like I said, the plan is totally illegal according to the Geneva convention.  But I personally do not think it is immoral.
"The honest fact is this: neither the European left nor the right have ever made the large Muslim community into a full part of society."

This is a 2 way street, with both sides just as responsible as the other for societal integration. The same issue is seen in America now, with the immigrant populations segregating themselves into enclaves and discouraging integration, as much as the citizens are not willing to integrate themselves. This is not seen in the groups  that have been in America for several generations, such as the Irish, Italian, etc. because the integration never happens immediately.

I agree that the French government has not done enough to break down the barriers, but the same can be said of the Muslim population. Both sides must work together to make the integration happen, and neither side is stepping away from their roots to do so, and this makes it a self-perpetuating issue.
The author is right about many things, but does understate the role of religion - both in it's use as an excuse and enabler of violence, and oppression, and how it divides us.

One rather dilutes one's message and other valid points, when one shies away from a key element.

It would be nice if religion was simply a personal choice people make in their private lives, and not pushed upon others as a method and excuse for control (in terms of seeking an illusion of control over their own lives in a random and indifferent universe, and in controlling others).

It would also be nice if places like the Middle East really did have the same ratio of secularists, moderates, conservatives, and fanatics, as Europe. But they don't.
In fact the MIddle East is a lot closer to the U.S. in terms of fanatics and those simply willing to let religious ideal overtake rationality. The difference is people in the U.S. have a lot more opportunity and hope. So the author gets that correct, but he still can't ignore the role religion plays.

All that said, if you give people food, water, a home, hopen and a future for themselves and their families, you will nullify the majority of the negative impact of fanatical religion. Which would turn the MIddle East into the U.S., not Europe - which for all it's problems, knows by and large not to make the mistake of mixing religion and politics - for the sake of both.
Thank you very much indeed for the excellent analysis of the situation.
I am an Art Therapist with speech and drama and actually I'm up to learn about the cultural heritage the middle East has given to the World some centuries ago, especially in its poetry. Today I heard from a colleague who is married to an Iraqi that relatives back home are trying to build up Iraqian culture again. I understood they believe that this could help to prevent young men (and some young women, too) to join any extremistic group in order to fulfill their need for identification to something superior. Respect for the "foreigner" and openness towards his culture and tradition, can be the simple contribution anybody can give. I live in Switzerland, and I can see hysterical reactions toward refugees, on the other hand quite a few square meters of Central Switzerland were sold to investors from Katar and Abu Dhabi to build gigantic resorts and shopping malls (swiss straw men in the front line, of course). It all seems to be a new form of class conflict, and I dare to suspect there are sorts of diversionary tactics going on, controlled by some people on these well-hydrated golf-courses… Concerning the self-opinionatedness of Intellectuals and the short-sighted pragmatism of Politicians facing the next elections I can't see yet the "we" to establish any of the plausible solutions you've proposed. I'd like to end with a quotation in German: "wo aber Gefahr ist wächst das Rettende auch", Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843)
+bob roberts​ what you'll find generally is that individuals may come for work or as refugees and be motivated to learn the language to get work. Their children will become much more integrated - sometimes to a degree that culturally dismays them (as many teenagers dismay their parents). But if they're able to bring their parents and support them, their parents (grandparents) will be less motivated. If the grandparents are around, it's polite to speak their language to include them in conversation, and if there's a critical mass, shops, television and radio emerge - but the children will always be more integrated. The youth always move the culture - hip hop has become mainstream and salsa sales have passed up ketchup. I'm more a fan of salsa than hip hop, but I'm not worried about ketchup (except for the increase in sugar content). 
You got the name Da'esh right, the rest is a steaming pile of PC nonsense.  I saw a picture of Da'esh throwing gay men off the roof of a tall building.  In the picture there are HUNDREDS of people surrounding the landing zone.  Were they all Da'esh?  No, they were the moderate muslims we always hear protesting their innocence after an atrocity.  The problem is not Da'esh, it is the crowd that tolerates it.  On the evening of September 11 2001 I was in Cleveland and almost out of gas.  I pulled into a gas station owned by a family of muslims but then left because they were still shouting and jumping up and down in celebration.  Don't believe me?  Check out public opinion polls conducted among American muslims.  Look at the approval numbers for violence and then tell me Jihad just means "internal struggle".
+Aaron Gilliland oh, and you can't even see that I'm differienciating between cultural muslims (or Joe Average Muslim if that's easier for you to comprehend), observant and militant muslims. Or is nuance too  hard for you to grasp? You're exactly the problem.
+Joseph Moosman again, straight to ad-hominem without zero argumentation. You are the problem. Not the peaceful muslim, you, who will not let us denounce militant islam.
+Michelle Cameron
- I'd like to learn more about de-stalization in the regions you speak of due to climate changes. Do you have links to some articles/research about this? Thank you.
"The first thing to realize about the refugees streaming into Europe from Syria and its environs is that not only are they not, by and large, terrorists – they're people fleeing these exact terrorists."

Sure, but fleeing ISIS hardly makes you a secular liberal with respect for human rights, as recent threats and assaults by refugees on gays and apostates in their midst demonstrates. Heck, even Al Qaeda disagrees with ISIS, so merely disagreeing with ISIS can mean that you are still a regressive asshole, but you are simply not quite as regressive an asshole as ISIS. Not saying they should not be granted asylum, but they should be kept away from the rest of the population of the host country until they have been culturally acclimatized/retrained away from the theocratic and illiberal attitudes that are widespread and taken for granted in the places form which nearly all of them have come.
+Yonatan Zunger I'm afraid you'll be tearing your hair out after the news of Hollande's proposition to the assembly in Versailles today. This gathering of both houses is only invoked when constitutional change is being proposed.
France is already under martial law (Etat d'urgence) Under present law a bill  has to be presented to parliament to prolong it beyond 2 weeks. Hollande proposes that no such constraints should be in place in future. He proposes the stripping of citizenship from people showing signs of "radicalisation" and special consideration for police violence (bavures) - which basically means they will have carte blanche...
+Adreana Langston
Thank you for addressing the importance of human population overshooting carrying capacity. What Yonatan calls a food shortage we may also view as a people longage. If indeed we are in overshoot, and many thoughtful ecologically informed people have found evidence that we are, moving food around in the absence of population reduction is a path into further collective impoverishment.

Thank you also for reminding us of the immense benefits we reap when women are able to learn, to choose when and how often to bear children, and to otherwise be free of domination by men.

David Schrom
Dear Yonatan, I'm curious why you haven't mentioned the UAE or Saudi Arabia in your article, as they are acting quiet poorly helping their brothers Muslims from Syria and for some reason nobody is pointing fingers at them.
I don't agree with some of this, and much of it isn't really new information. Local relationships are local issues, and require cooperation on both sides. I think a joint military effort that has so much participation, that the groups of extremists are dissolved and destroyed is still the right strategy. Return Syria to the Syrians after obliterating ISIS. You think disillusioned migrants are targets for recruitment, but displacing millions of Syrians and burdening other economies will likely lead to more of the same. Extremists are going to exist and kill people whether we engage them or not, so doing nothing just gives them momentum. Destroy their resources, darken their web presence, eliminate their lines of communication, and reduce their numbers to zero. Of course regular Muslim citizens should be treated with the same respect that any other human deserves, I would hope that goes without saying. I speak strictly of the extremists.
This was such a well-reasoned analysis of the situation. I feel everyone everywhere need to read it.

Is there a way I can get a copy of it?
+Catya Belfer Again: it's a useful lens, but it's got its limits.

A better concept might be built around Leibig's Law of the Minimum: there is one constraining resource which, if its constraint is lifted, would allow for growth. You want to be concerned first with it, not whatever it is you have in abundance.

The principle comes from agriculture and botany, but is generally applicable.

Given that life in general requires sunlight (delivered over land area), water, and nutrients, it's not surprising that land, water, and minerals, or things based upon them (timber, crops, fish, etc.) are often critical resources. Looking at 20th century wars, fuel energy was frequently a critical element -- Winston Churchill's conversion of the British navy to oil from coal, growth in use of mechanised transport throughout WWI, US dominance of oil supplies in WWII, and the obsession of both Japan and Germany with securing access to oilfields (Indonesia for Japan, Romania, Russia, and North Africa for Germany) a key interest for axis powers.

Much of the post-WWII posturing between the US and USSR can be understand through the lens of control over resources or access and trade routes to them (e.g., Suez and Panama canals).

Water does tend to loom large, but in regions where it's not a limiting factor, you'll want to identify other critical supplies. E.g., Japan, Philippines, Indonesia.
+Charles Johnson I'm not sure what you mean by a copy of it. I mean, you're commenting on it right here. :)

If you want to link this elsewhere, go right ahead. If you want to talk about republication of the content, contact me separately -- but generally that's something I only do under contract.
So we're converging on the comment cap, and while I haven't had a chance to respond to (nearly) everyone here, I really want to thank everyone who took the time to read and comment on this. The conversation here has been fantastically interesting, and really shows off the best of what the Internet can be: people having serious, informed, and respectful discussions about the most important issues of our time.

For those wondering how aggressively I had to moderate this thread to keep it that way: almost nothing. It turns out that people were just being generally good to one another.

So thank you, everyone who participated -- and if you want to keep going, feel free to reshare and continue the conversation there. :)
I quite enjoyed this piece by Yonatan Zunger. Food and Water I was told many years ago will be the nemisis of the next world wide major war. Shortage of water in other areas of the world has brought on desalination practices of our precious oceans.  It is a concern.
To quote the Hitchhiker's Guide:

Oh, Belgium!
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