Tags: Al-Qaida | Exclusive Interviews | Homeland Security | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | Syria | War on Terrorism

'Shock and Awe' Doctrine Author: ISIS Political, Not Religious

By    |   Friday, 13 Mar 2015 10:25 PM

It's wrong to view the Islamic State (ISIS) as a religious organization, because its aims and its leadership are overwhelmingly political and religion is just its cover, says the military theorist behind the "shock and awe" combat doctrine associated with the second Iraq war.

"It is a political organization with political objectives that has covered itself with a religious ideology that is a perversion of Islam," Harlan Ullman said of the Islamic State in an interview on Newsmax TV Friday with "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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"And as long as we think this thing is really dominated by some kind of crazy notion of Allah, we're never going to get to the root causes, which are political," said Ullman.

Joined on-air by an Iraq war veteran, retired Army Lt. Col. John J. Loughlin II, Ullman said to study the ranks of ISIS.

"You've got a lot of former Sunni officers, former Ba'athists," he said, meaning members of the ruling party when Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq."Yes, you have a hardcore people who are extremist, but when you take a look at the bulk of the foreign fighters and so forth, they are there for largely political and other reasons."

ISIS has committed atrocities in Iraq and Syria in the name of Islam, and declared itself a religiously pure nation-state — a caliphate. Ullman said ISIS is nevertheless a revolutionary political movement, first, but one using "the perversion of Islam as its philosophy."

"If we just focus on this as a rapid religious movement," he said, "we're not going to be able to deal with the political causes underwriting it — and it's a fundamental error our government is making right now."

Loughlin, a former Rhode Island state lawmaker and past candidate for the U.S. House, sharply disagreed with Ullman's portrait of ISIS.

"If, in fact, it were a political organization, an alliance with al-Qaida would make perfect sense," said Loughlin. "Yet, al-Qaida and ISIS are bitterly opposed, and they're bitterly opposed based along religious doctrine.

"These people believe they are fulfilling a prophecy," he said of ISIS, adding, "to ignore that and to just treat this as a political organization is a huge miscalculation."

ISIS is also a product of bad governance going back 50 years in the Middle East, said Ullman, author most recently of "A Handful of Bullets: How the Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Still Menaces the Peace."

Ullman said it's not enough to beat ISIS militarily. "We're trying to kill our way to victory," he said, "That doesn't work." There's a bigger project required — undoing a half century of political malpractice in the Middle East and the mutual Sunni-Shia hatred that resulted, he said.

"We have to start there," he said. "Second, we have to have a counter-narrative that destroys the legitimacy of the Islamic State."

Third, he said, "we need to have some kind of a Sunni ground force that can take over the territory in Iraq once it is reoccupied, because we cannot have Shia going into Sunni-controlled lands."

Ullman recommended a Gulf-based military alliance to fight ISIS and help keep the peace afterward. He and Loughlin agreed that any shock-and-awe-style offensive against ISIS would have to be carried out by Arab states.

A huge American military presence would play into the ISIS narrative of Islam under attack by the West, said Loughlin.

"And once you get the other 2.2 billion Muslims around the world starting to see each prophecy that ISIS predicts coming true, your problem grows exponentially," he said.

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It's wrong to view the Islamic State as a religious organization, because its aims and its leadership are overwhelmingly political and religion is just its cover, says the military theorist behind the "shock and awe" combat doctrine associated with the second Iraq war.
ISIS is political, not religious, Harlan Ullman, shock and awe, John J. Loughlin, al-Qaida
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2015-25-13
Friday, 13 Mar 2015 10:25 PM
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