Unpacked take on the Islamic State phenomenon as a microcosm of the Protestant religious wars that ripped apart Europe for centuries:
The problem set that we face with ISIS has several components. Among the biggest is that this is a problem internal to Islam. As a result Muslims have to resolve it for themselves. In many ways what we are watching in real time is the Islamic equivalent of the Reformation, counter-Reformation, and then the splintering within the Reformation that led to hundreds of years of struggle, conflict, and warfare in Europe. A lot of it had to do with which version of Christian theology and dogma was supposed to be correct and followed, but a lot of it used that as a motivating factor so elites and notables could control resources. Ultimately they became so intertwined, that even into the 1990s in Northern Ireland or the Balkans they could not be easily teased apart. The other big one for me is that America and its Western allies cannot really resolve this problem set. Even if we were to go in with overwhelming force and just decimate ISIS it would not resolve this dispute, which is multifaceted and internal to Islam.
Read the whole thing, for sure. It’s a response to/critique of a long read in The Atlantic on the same subject. Are these in any way analogous? Even considering it outs the struggle into a different context.
Image: Pilgrimage to St. Isidore’s well, Francisco Goya, 1819-1823, Museo del Prado. Also known as The holy office. The holy office is another name for the inquisition.