Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 15

WINNING WARS (Photo from BBC News, courtesy of Wikipedia) The BBC posted this photo on its website 25 August 2015 with the caption, “Islamic State (IS) has published images of what appears to be the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin at the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria.” BBC noted that IS had announced “the complete destruction of the pagan Baalshamin temple.” The destruction of the second century BCE temple was consonant with an IS policy of systematically destroying all vestiges of non-Sunni Islamic history and culture as it expands control over territory, including ancient pre-Islamic archeological sites, Shia Muslim shrines, Christian churches and monasteries, and libraries. world today; such are normal for conflicts involving irregular fighters and terrorists. However, what is new is the traction IS has with vast numbers of potential recruits from among disaffected elements around the globe, and the speed at which IS is able to recruit and organize such recruits, primarily through the Internet. This means that IS has the realistic potential to eventually swell its ranks of fighters and supporters to hundreds of thousands in both the western and eastern hemispheres, especially if the West allows what appears to be the creation of a physical and radicalized Islamic state that would serve as an IS staging base of operations and focal point for further expansion and sanctuary. Consequently, to win this war, we must defeat IS not only by direct action against its claimed land space and physical assets, but also by attacking the value system and moral code it uses to recruit through an information war. In doing so, we must refute the excuses the radical Islamists use to justify their actions, and we must make clear to all people the unacceptability to us of the justifications IS uses to wage war against us. MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 At the same time, we must promote an unambiguous alternative value system that stands in stark contrast to the primitive and barbaric dogma the grotesque and radical IS espouses. It should be made clear in disciplined information war that IS doctrines are anathema to modern peoples of any race, nationality, ethnic, or religious group, since they are counter to what civilized peoples everywhere have been trying to establish for generations in terms of universal agreement on basic human rights, values, and morals. Such a conflict between competing values systems will be challenging because, too often, IS effectively appeals to the deep resentment many Islamic populations have for the West in general and in particular the United States, justifying their war against the West on philosophical grounds derived from radical Islamic scholars who use seventh-century moral codes to justify their actions. In this respect, IS enjoys a great advantage due to its intimate understanding of the mentality of the young Muslims it is attempting to lure by enticing them to join a cause that appears to offer 13