Cyreenik Says

March 2019 issues

With the end of the caliphate, what comes next for ISIS followers?

For ISIS followers creating the caliphate was supposed to be an end of the world event. It would be created, it would conquer, and then the winners would go to heaven as the world ended. This puts it in the same pattern as the Millerites of western New York in the 1840's -- they gathered there to experience the end of the world. In both cases the world didn't end, much to the disappointment of the enthusiasts.

So... what happens next?

In both cases the enthusiasts will move on. In the Millerite case some evolved into Seventh Day Adventists. What ISIS enthusiasts will evolve into we will now get to witness, but most will move into something much less extreme than ISIS. For these folks the party is over and, sadly, they must move on to doing something else in the real world that is still with us. What comes next for some will be distinctive, as Seventh Day Adventists are, but it will be distinctively different from ISIS as well.

"Blame Them" happening in March

"Blame Them" is a popular tactic in politics. It is an effective way for politicians to dodge taking responsibility for unpleasant local events. Us versus Them instinctive thinking gives it a lot of support.

This month we have two high profile examples: Maduro is blaming the US for his massive power failure in Venezuela, and Erdogan is claming the Christchurch shooter is a plot against him in Turkish politics. This latter claim I find innovative. How to claim that a lone-wolf shooter halfway around the world in remote New Zealand is threatening the Turkish president's election campaign takes a nice imaginative leap. I'll give Erdogan credit for some good imagination on this tactic. I also applaud New Zealand for pushing back. This is a ridiculous assertion.

This 20 Mar 19 WSJ article covers the details, New Zealand Pushes Back Against Erdogan’s Threats in Wake of Massacre by Rob Taylor in Canberra and David Gauthier-Villars in Istanbul.

The instinctive thinking behind grounding all the Boeing 737s

Yes, plane crashes that kill lots of people are terrible, but shutting down hundreds of planes and thousands of flights because of just two crashes months apart is a pretty extreme reaction.

Why do people support this extremeness?

It's because of instinctive thinking.

Some people love to fly, others are very afraid of doing so. In the good old days when commercial air travel was just getting started those who were scared had other options -- they could travel on trains, buses and cars, and they did so. But in the 1980's flying started becoming more necessary because there was more social pressure to get places quickly. This meant more and more people who were scared of flying found they needed to get brave and get on planes -- and they needed to do so over and over -- they needed to stay brave. The surprise consequence of this was people supporting more and more elaborate airport security over the years. The first oddity I noted, when I was an older child, was vending machines in airport lobbies offering flight insurance application forms. Year after year things got more elaborate, and then after 9-11 the neoreligion of TSA was born.

Given that evolution, today's huge reaction to the Boeing crashes is not so surprising, there are even more people flying these days who have to be brave to do so. This 20 Mar 19 WSJ article indicates that weeks later this safety issue is still a hot topic on flyers' minds, Inside U.S. Airlines’ Decisions to Keep Flying the 737 MAX by Scott McCartney.

Syria: The proxies are moving on

The fighting has been going on a long time now, eight years, but it seems to be winding down. It is winding down because the proxy players are moving on -- they are now bored in Syria and finding more interesting projects elsewhere to pay attention to.

This is how proxy wars end: they wind down as the external players move on. More good news is that this seems to be happening throughout the region, with Yemen and Afghanistan conflicts winding down too.

There are many unhappy losers, but all-in-all it is a good thing: proxy wars chew up a lot of resource and give very little in return.

This 6 Mar 19 WSJ article, ‘Assad or We Burn the Country’: How the Syrian Regime Prevailed With a harsh crackdown, Bashar al-Assad’s regime helped turn a protest movement into a civil war by Raja Abdulrahim, describes who is staying and gives a recap of this proxy war.

From the article, "Before the phrase was spray-painted on walls and stenciled on cars, Syrian military officers heard it in meetings to discuss how to quell an antigovernment uprising sweeping Syria in 2011.

“Assad or we burn the country.”

The stark words warned those who would defy President Bashar al-Assad. And when protests morphed into war, Mr. Assad, backed by hard-core members of his Alawite religious sect, made good on the threat, presiding over much of Syria’s destruction to maintain his grip on power."



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