first, #Syria and #ISIS, then a better regional cooperation?

On November 22nd 2012, while in Berlin, as part of my #BerlinDiaries writing, I posted a short article with the title “Turkey and NATO, or: pre-empting a proxy war”- with a laundry list (yes, this week is a common theme in my postings :D) of news converging toward a war in Syria.

The post was on, while the final version published within the #BerlinDiaries book was slightly different; see it on Amazon/Kindle, or wait until I will announce the next book and, therefore, release for free for one week access to the full #BerlinDiaries, with Amazon’s blessings!

But as I kept writing few times, one of the lessons that we learned from Vietnam first and then Afghanistan (the latter unfortunately “spreading the lesson” on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and few countries in Europe) is that any fight against insurgents that are “called to a fighting cause” generates then what was called a “disposal problem”.

I will re-read the book “Dining With Terrorists, Meetings With The World’s Most Wanted Militants by Phil Rees”, and I haven’t yet listened to President Obama’s speech on ISIS, but from what I saw on yesterday’s newspapers, I found more than a hint that, this time, the issue will be considered in planning, not after.

I know that many of my European online friends will disagree with me: but those stating that we should embrace without any “security quarantine” those who went to fight with ISIS and then changed their minds are, in my view, naive.

ISIS became an “attractor”, a kind of honeypot calling on those who were at least sympathetic with assorted terrorist groups in the Middle East, but paying just lip service will laying low within the European Union and few other areas.

Now that they joined the party, it cannot be excluded that ISIS, knowing that it could lose the military battle, could ship back some of its loyalists, to simply, as they said “spread it back” in the countries where they lived until they sailed for ISIS- as it was done after Afghanistan.

Essentially, they would be people who know how to live in those countries, able to wait, and maybe proselytize.

As I wrote yesterday:

A sunny day, data collection n collation in the library n clearing to do faster than expected, so… picked a book worth a couple of entertaining reading hours in a park, had a salad n fruit salad, and… now scouting for my next Chinese language coursebook on my way to the park: a speed-walking bookworm 🙂

The book was “Madagascar, la musique dans l’histoire by Mireille Mialy Rakotomalala”- and you have have a look at my review on LibraryThing:

Why it is relevant here? Because, as a book by Lucien Levy-Bruhl that I bought and read when I was at the beginning of high school to present a paper on the meaning of afterlife in other cultures (“Le surnaturel et la nature dans la mentalité primitive”- but I own it in Italian), it contains a common lesson, that is more easy to understand if you just watch a 1940s movie that I quoted once in a while in my scribblings online and published, “49th Parallel” (see it here

If you want to identify a misfit not belonging to the community, in the case of the movie members of the crew of a U-Boot stranded between Canada and USA (which, at the time, was still neutral), you need… the community.

The scene that has been recycled in many movies and books is when one of the “hunters” says to the crowd to look at the people next to them, and spot those that do not belong.

My online and offline friends alike know that I dislike the concept and are more than skeptical about the usefulness of a “paranoid State” (read “Il Ministero della Paranoia- Storia della Stasi by Gianluca Falanga” again, a movie makes a more appropriate summary (“Das Leben der Anderen – HGW XX/7”

If you want to monitor those returning (or identify those embedded), you need their own community to cooperate, not to put those who share their ancestry or religion under surveillance from the outside, as the risks and consequences of misunderstanding customs and starting on the road of ethnic cleansing (i.e. guilt by birth) is something that at least we Europeans should remember quite well- from centuries of our shared history, obviously WWII, and the more recent Balkan Wars.

As I wrote above, creating the ISIS (I know, there are many variants of the acronym) was both a strategic choice and, probably, a strategic blunder akin to the attempted use by the insurgents (against the British) in Northern America of “traditional” fighting while they had no structure, no training, and where fighting against a large structured army and large semi- or fully-professional elements (including the mercenaries from the German States).

At the time, despite all the bravado and chest-beating on biased history books, what saved the skin was the choice by London to consider the “Colonies across the Pond” as a marginal issue, not worth wasting more resources on.

The ISIS has been on a Huns-like rampage, fighting against demoralized and fractured armies, or (as in the case of the Kurdish forces), armies that weren’t yet structured for the role that they were assuming.

Obviously, as I wrote above, I am not the only one making these considerations: and “live to fight another day” could be an option for ISIS, by melting down against the Allied forces, and simply spreading back, as it was done after the “Jihad” against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan ended.

Only, this time it wouldn’t be in Algeria and other countries, but in Continental Europe: and we cannot copy the approach used by others, e.g. against the GIA in Algeria ( and, but find a way that is consistent with what the European Union stands for.

Which implies involving local immigrants (and 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants) and their organizations in defending the benefits of the societies that they decided to join when they moved- maybe also a chance for improving understanding and streamline some bureaucratic hurdles that act as a barrier to cooperation.

Meanwhile, will we eventually see bombing from Allied forces above, and Turkish, Kurdish (and maybe others) troops on the ground? Probably.

Hoping that, this time, planning will consider military planning as one of the elements of the solution, not the only tool available to deliver a solution.

Maybe, just maybe, this jointly managed crisis, could be a catalyst for further integration within the region.

As if there is something that human history has showed often, nothing is better than a shared crisis, a shared enemy, to foster cooperation and remove from the table old habits.


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