The WorldPost: “Islamic State’s Soothing System”

Pell Center Adjunct Fellow Robert Whitcomb discusses Islamic militant group ISIS in his article published on Monday on The WorldPost, a partnership between The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance.

The Islamic State being set up in parts of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) challenges the idea of the nation-state as we in the West know it. The mostly young men who are the ISIS shock troops want to help swiftly impose the will of the ISIS on a swath of territory from Morocco to Pakistan in an extra-national empire that would justify its dictatorship by religion. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS chief, would be its “caliph” — supreme leader.

In such utopian (or dystopian) schemes, ideology and theology are used to excuse what mostly ends up as just a power drive, often married to sadism and greed. The ISIS version of Islam promotes a totalitarian view of society in which all human activities are said to come under 7th century Koranic rules. It’s particularly attractive to frustrated and often psychopathic young men seeking the opportunity to dominate others while finding clarity amidst the unsettling ambiguities of life. One thinks of the Nazis and Bolsheviks. (If only the World Health Organization could address the problem of crazy people seizing power. Unfortunately, however, psychopaths run some U.N. member nations.)

To read the full article, please visit The WorldPost website.

Robert Whitcomb is a Providence-based editor and writer and a former editor of The Providence Journal’s editorial pages. He is also a former editor at The Wall Street Journal and International Herald Tribune. He writes for the Cambridge Management Group and on his personal blog, New England Diary

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