by Richard Fernandez
….ISIS, despite its name, does not live to become a Westphalian state. On the contrary, it lives by breaking downWestphalian states. It gets its energy from the throes of a dying country; from ransoms, looting, extortion, smuggling, people trafficking, rape and pillage. Thus Obama’s decision to dismantle American hegemony in the Middle East, whatever its merits, had the unfortunate side effect of increasing entropy. That, plus the wayward consequences of the Arab Spring supercharged the rise of ISIS-like organizations.
It fed the beast with a huge input of chaos and quick, give it another burst. Send Saudi Arabia after it with its corrupt, incompetent army. What could go wrong?
The jihadis are so fat on fuel they can hardly masticate the feast. One can only imagine what will happen when the Jihad ingests a major regional country, the oil-rich Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia. It will look like Libya, only much bigger. When the jihad eats Saudi Arabia it will glow like a nova on the nutrients of a collapsing House of Saud. And then it will be on to Europe. It’s in the cards. Journalists are becoming gradually aware that the flood of migrants to Europe is yet another money making branch of the jihad.
Extremist groups like the Islamic State group reap millions of dollars by smuggling people from the Middle East and Africa into Europe, a fresh report reveals, adding that some 170,000 refugees traveled by sea to Europe in 2014. Frontex, the border-surveillance organization of the European Union, predicts the number will be higher this year.
Officials from Africa and the European Union have been trying to find ways to prevent illegal migration. The Guardian reported that Europe has plans to smash Libyan smuggling networks using military power.
It’s in the cards because Europe is where the loot will be after MENA is sucked dry. The key to understanding Islamic extremism’s invulnerability to ordinary Westphalian bullets is to grasp that it is something like a living life form, which exists not at the level of the state, but in small groups and clans. It is self-organizing, “triggered by random fluctuations that are amplified by positive feedback. The resulting organization is wholly decentralized or distributed over all the components of the system. As such it is typically very robust and able to survive and self-repair substantial damage or perturbations.”
To survive it needs a constant source of outside energy to keep it going and that insight is perhaps why Ashton Carter and the US military tried to take out its “oil minister — in the hope that the loss would power it down, like anangiogenesis inhibitor. However it is unlikely that killing or capturing Abu Sayyaf will of itself, hurt ISIS by much. We need another kind of ray to put the crimp on it, but that is for another post.