For more than six months this battle has raged, and as the Islamic State retreats, the stench rises from reclaimed land and mass graves left behind.
“They killed a lot of people there,” one Lt. Col. Alenky tells an American journalist near Sinjar, the scene of the humanitarian crisis which drew the United States back to Iraq. “I think we will find a lot more graves.”
These ones were filled with Yazidis – an ancient religious minority who existed on this scorched earth long before The Prophet ever blighted the land. They were put in the ground en masse for venerating birds and refusing to bow to Allah.
A villager recounts that “on an afternoon in early August…ISIS militants round up Yazidi men, women, and children…The women and children were eventually dragged away — possibly to be sold as slaves deeper in ISIS territory. The men were gunned down with assault rifles, then buried in shallow graves. The execution scene repeated with another group of men that night…”
New Zealand will be deploying a training force to Iraq, a very minor contribution in an immense effort to halt these atrocities. Large parts of the Left (who I will refer to as the ‘anti-war Left’) responded in their inimitable way: heckles of “warmonger”, “murderer”, and “imperialist”. They’ll be marching soon enough. But it is not the act of the New Zealand Government sending troops to Iraq that drives them to the streets, it is the very notion of ‘The West’ being in Iraq at all that enrages them.
“No war for oil” they’ll chant. “Stop bombing ISIS” read the headline of one pamphlet handed to me by a rotten old appeaser on the street. The arrogant and selfish “Not in my name” will be the most common maxim – as if only their opinion mattered.
That slogan is also the title of an online anti-war petition doing the rounds. For the all the talk of mass-mobilisation, it’s only garnered 15,000 signatories in a week.
If the Left are so opposed to another expedition in Mesopotamia (putting aside its legality and inherent justification), they will have to witness their new-found friends up close, their exceptional values compromised by a new alliance.
The Islamic State, in whatever form it takes, is not anti-capitalist. It may promise healthcare and education and infrastructure, but only if the citizen surrenders himself to become the property of that State – the very definition of totalitarianism. Their war chests are filled with smuggled oil money – about US$1 million a day according to the United States Department of Treasury. The ‘greener’ parts of the Left might have something to say about the parroting of already frowned-upon fossil fuels, but it isn’t being heard. An inherently unjust tax system has also been introduced, targeting the Christians and Shia who aren’t sent to the slaughterhouse.
The anti-war Left won’t find any common cause in culture – radical or otherwise. There’s no real art in that State (cartoons are out of the question). No innovative music or free-thinking poetry. The bestseller list only features one book in it – the very license for their crimes. Of architecture? Well, the dynamited ruins of the Prophet Younis and Imam Aoun Bin al-Hassan mosques, and St George’s Church should answer that question. The entirety of Mosul Museum will be dust before any member of the anti-war Left decides to do anything about it. An international coalition to halt the desecration, vandalism, and hacksawing of artefacts which far predate Islam? That would be too much to ask.
Of course, one of the greatest feats of the Left in the last few generations has been the empowerment and emancipation of women. But the fourth-wave feminists have nothing to say about their sisters held hostage by a patriarchal religion. Nor do they shout for the daughters of Syria and Iraq sold as sex-chattel. As an example, take the ruling of the Islamic State’s ‘Council for Research and Fatwa Issuing’ where it asks “Is it permissible for women to show their eyes and part of their face?” The answer follows: “No. Women showing their eyes, or part of their face, causes temptation, especially when make-up is used. It is necessary for women to cover their eyes, even if only with something thin.”
One is obliged to wonder how the committed anti-racist community feels about the vile propaganda which calls for the elimination of the Jews wherever they may be found. Better to blame Bibi Netanyahu than admit double-standards.
If there is nothing to tie the nihilism of the Islamic State to the acquiescence of the anti-war Left, what remains? The answer is simple: a commitment to hypocritical anti-Westernism. In this, we can find an unholy union between two ostensibly opposite groups.
Even the last-ditch approach has failed. For large parts of the Left – so debauched by moral relativism – it is no longer possible to oppose military intervention and still support their Iraqi socialist and communist comrades at the same time.
And what of the pacifists? Surely one can say that to oppose all war is to oppose the imperial desires of the Islamic State? This would be to ignore the very definition of pacifism that George Orwell provided us.
“Applied to foreign politics,” Orwell writes in Reflections on Ghandi, “pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement.” And here he is again, putting it as clear as day in Pacifism and War: “Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other.”
This is strong stuff. Though I’m hesitant in agreeing with the old master, it seems obvious. To lie down in the face of liberal society’s most nightmarish enemy is to wish for that dream never to end.
For all the chanting they’ll be doing, one of the most important slogans to emerge from a Left-wing movement long since forgotten will be this: “Fascism means war.”