LAWRENCE WITTNER – After thousands of years of bloody wars among contending tribes, regions, and nations, is it finally possible to dispense with the chauvinist ideas of the past? To judge by President Barack Obamaâ€™s televised address on the evening of September 10, it is not. Discussing his plan to â€œtake outâ€ ISIS, the extremist group that has seized control of portions of Syria and Iraq, the president slathered on the high-flying, nationalist rhetoric.
MICHAEL T. KLARE – In a fossil-fuel world, control over oil and gas reserves is an essential component of national power. â€œOil fuels more than automobiles and airplanes,â€ Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told a State Department audience in 2002. â€œOil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics.â€ Far more than an ordinary trade commodity, â€œit is a determinant of well being, of national security, and international power for those who possess this vital resource, and the converse for those who do not.â€
ERIN NIEMELA – A relatively new group engaging in non-state political violence, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, recently called for the creation of an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria and a continuation and strengthening of jihad during Ramadan, according to a video that emerged through social media. ISIS, born of Al Qaeda members in Iraq and matured in the Syrian civil war power vacuum, is so radical that Al Qaeda â€œdisownedâ€ it. As if its goals of coerced dominance arenâ€™t bad enough, Al Qaeda criticized ISIS for its brutality against civilians and Muslims. Repeat: Al Qaeda criticized ISIS. For brutality.
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ – Events in Iraq are headline news everywhere, and once again, there is no mention of the issue that underlies much of the violence: control of Iraqi oil. Instead, the media is flooded with debate about, horror over, and extensive analysis of a not-exactly-brand-new terrorist threat, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There are, in addition, elaborate discussions about the possibility of a civil war that threatens both a new round of ethnic cleansing and the collapse of the embattled government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
ANDY PIASCIK – Summer approaches and the stench of war is all around. Or, as the great Bob Marley put it, Everywhere is War. Start with the commemorations over a five-week span of Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day, all presented varyingly as celebrations of our war dead, symbols of our greatness, the freedoms we love so dearly and seek to export to every corner of the world and, perhaps most important, the unquestioned rightness of our cause.