ISIS versus ISIL, There Is A Difference And It Is Critical

I noted over the last several weeks that various politicians and commentators have been using the terms ISIS and ISIL in what seemed to be an interchangeable way. An investigation of the origins and meaning of the two terms, however,  proved to be enlightening as there is a considerable difference as  ISIL involves anti-Israeli sentiments.

When the Islamic State first emerged, in say, 2012, it was in Iraq and when it expanded later into Syria, it added the letters to reflect that it was the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS, if you will. The organization’s military operations remain in Iraq and Syria today, but its aspirations are much broader.
The thought that this organization noted for its cruelty and genocidal tendencies that include murdering Christians and Shiite Muslims, beheading enemies and having children watch the beheadings, the mass murder of Syrian soldiers, and killing those suspected of being non-Sunni or resisting forced conversion to Islam, has a broader view that  is frightening.

This world view is the creation of the Caliphate, or region controlled by Sharia law, over Iraq, Syria, and the Levant. This leads to the term ISIL, or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant, a term Churchill used, refers to the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, and includes Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, and by implication the Saudi Peninsula. The Islamic view of the Levant, however, includes Palestine and not Israel.

We must be careful when we use ISIS or ISIL as the distinction is clear between ISIS, or the limited view of the Caliphate, or of ISIL, which refers to the  geographically and politically expansive Islamist view of the Levant. The definition of Levant I gave earlier is the modern, European, post-1948, version. The ISIL version omits Israel for Palestine and that indicates the speaker’s mind set as being anti-Israeli.  That is something to think about!!

Belmont Club » The Day Obama’s Presidency Died

This article contains the best analysis of the Benghazi fiasco and places it in historical perspective. It also links contemporary events to Benghazi and describes the impact on the Obama administration. This is a must read article.

The Real Effect of the Syrian Matter

The recent threat of military action against Assad’s Syrian forces because of the use of chemical weapons to kill 1,429 Syrian civilians raises more questions. The questions are why at this time, what was the result sought, how was that to be accomplished, and what is the effect on the US?

The first question is the one I find most disturbing. In the Syrian civil war, over 110,000 deaths have occured.  Prior to the use of chemical weapons, there was a lot of talk, but no threats of military action, so  why is the death of the 1,429 due to gas the trigger for Tomahawk missles? 

My first thought is that Obama realy did think differently over the use of gas. His “redline” reflected this feeling. He finds this particularly horrific, but how about the dead 110,000, isn’t this also horrific? (A friend suggested to me that if Obama thought killings by gun fire were horrific, he would bomb Chicago, but that’s a separate issue.)  I have a dislike for gas, as you can’t avoid it and the death is particularly painful. The President’s “redline” comment may have been a reaction to this same fear. So the answer to the question, Why at this time?, is that the President reacted visceraly to the use of gas and the photos of dead children. He shouldn’t have done so, but he did.

That raises the next question, What was the result sought?  It seems this was never figrured out at the White House or Foggy Bottom (State Department).  Launching cruise missles from destroyers does not change nations as the impact is, as John Kerry pointed out and Bill Clinton found out, incredibly small.   A Predator drone strike on Assad’s home would have sent a different, but more precise message. Furthermore, Obama said his goal was not regime change. So what was it? Was he trying to degrade the Syrian military so that the al Queda led opposition could prevail? I guess not as that is regime change. 

What has been the effect of this event? First, we have alllowed the clever Vladimir Putin to emerge as the alpha male in the Mid East and that is a major change. We want the US President to be the alpha, but American influence there and in the world, is vastly diminished. If the
President can threaten Assad cver his use of chemical weapons, be faced down by the Russians, and have his action rejected by the Congress, he has no power anywhere. This is a major threat to US influence and our world position. Obama said he would fundamentaly change the US, and he has done so.
Does this now mean that any leader, say in Venezuela, can use chemical weapons, and fear naught from the US? I think that is the outcome of this matter. The President conducts foreigh policy, but now that is subject to Russian approval and congressional agreement. A significant degrading of his regime.

What is the danger from this degraded position? A President will attempt to restore his luster and to do so, he must take action somewhere. His instinct ante is to not do anything that’s why he did not send aircraft to protect our Ambassador in Benghazi. His visceral reaction to the gassed kids in Syria put him in an image protection mode that was dashed on the rocks. He will think of something and that is problematic. He has already threatened the Iranian government, for example. There is also the domestic consideration that rattling sabers in the Middle East distracts from the real domestic problems we have to deal with.  That may be the major focus for Obama, who is first a domestic politician facing a congressional election in just over a year.

The Syrian threat is now over and Assad has prevailed and has empowered his Russian ally.  This story will end with the end of the Syrian Civll War but the effect on our Presidency will linger for a long time. Even our al Queda allies in Syria have voiced displeasure with Obama, and that is  something I never thought I would write.