What Draws People to Radical Islam?

Western analysts often seem at a loss to explain why volunteers are flocking to join the Islamic State (IS). The answer, writes Paul Berman, lies not in sociology but in ideology—an ideology that IS shares with al-Qaeda and Hamas:

Why do people who are not clinically crazy throw themselves into campaigns of murder and suicide? The sociological answer to this question assumes a pettiness in human nature, such that even the slightest of humiliations and misfortunes may be regarded as sufficiently devastating, under certain conditions, as to sweep aside the gravest of moral considerations. I prefer to invoke the history of ideas. People throw themselves into campaigns of murder and suicide because they have come under the influence of malign doctrinal systems, which appear to address the most profound and pressing of human problems—and do so by openly rebelling against the gravest of moral considerations. Doctrines of this sort render their adepts mad, not in a clinical sense but in an everyday sense. And the power to drive people mad comes precisely from the profundity, or the seeming profundity—which is what everyone else fails to see.

Berman also notes similarities between jihadism and other violent totalitarian ideologies:

The Islamist mania about diabolical Jewish conspiracies, as defined by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, represents merely one more influence from Europe. It is odd to observe that, in the Islamist literature, the Protocols figure just as prominently as they did among the Nazis, not just in the writings of semi-literates. [Martin] Heidegger took the Protocols seriously as an expression of the diabolical conspiracy, and so did [Muslim Brotherhood theoretician] Sayyid Qutb, who was the Heidegger of the Islamists. Sayyid Qutb’s brother Muhammad was the professor of [Osama] bin-Laden, who himself was the leader in Afghanistan of an Algerian jihadi named Djamel Beghal, who became the guru of Chérif Kouachi, one of the Paris jihadis just now, during Kouachi’s time in a French prison.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Al Qaeda, History & Ideas, ISIS, Martin Heidegger, Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islam


While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy