Five Best Monday Columns
Jack Goldstone on a U.S. partnership with Iran, Jerry A. Coyne on ISIS, Jeffrey Goldberg on John McCain, Charles M. Blow on domestic abuse, and The Financial Times on Scottish independence.
Jack Goldstone in Politico on why the United States should consider partnering with Iran in order to defeat the Islamic State. According to Goldstone, ISIS depends on support from disaffected Sunnis, therefore removing Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria is crucial to defeating the terrorist group. "How could such a barbarous and brutal group as ISIL, as Obama described it Wednesday, earn the support of those millions? By promising to protect and avenge them against the Assad regime in Syria, which has slaughtered their children and gassed their relatives and fellow townspeople and tribesmen; and against the Shiite regime in Iraq, which has stolen their jobs and destroyed their livelihoods, contemptuously dashing the hopes and careers of Sunni Arabs in that country." Goldstone suggests that in the same way Iran supported the replacement of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, it may be persuaded to support the replacement of Assad in Syria. "As long as Assad is in power in Syria, however, ISIL will have an ideal recruiting environment to draw ever more fighters and supporters to its cause. Assad’s departure is thus not a later phase that can be dealt with after a military campaign; it is an essential part of the strategy to make any military campaign effective. And Iran’s cooperation is essential for forcing Assad to relinquish power."
Jerry Coyne in The New Republic on why the Islamic State does, in fact, represent a strain of Islam. Coyne contends that the Islamic State does represent a religion. "If ISIS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Catholic. The fact is that there are no defensible criteria for whether a faith is 'true,' since all faiths are man-made and accrete doctrine—said to come from God, but itself man-made—that becomes integral to those faiths. Whatever 'true faith' means, it doesn’t mean 'the right religion: the one whose God exists and whose doctrines are correct.' If that were so, we wouldn’t see Westerners trying to tell us what 'true Islam' is." In other words, while we may revile what ISIS represents and practices, it is still a brand of Islam. "By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a 'false religion.' ISIS, like all religious movements, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational."
Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View on why U.S. public opinion on foreign policy is finally on the side of John McCain. Goldberg, who recently interviewed McCain, writes that the threat of ISIS has shifted America's interventionist sentiments. "According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released this week, more than 60 percent of respondents believe that Islamic State poses a national security threat to the U.S. Three-quarters said action against Islamic State should consist of at least air strikes, and 34 percent said they would support the use of ground troops as well. This last number is particularly shocking, given the anti-interventionist mood that has settled over the country during the Barack Obama era." Ultimately, Goldberg concludes that McCain's desire to remove both Bashar al-Assad and the threat of ISIS is not a viable U.S. strategy. "The tragedy of this is that the outcome McCain seeks is the right one: The Syrian people, the main victims of both Islamic State and the Assad regime, will find peace and justice only when they are freed both from Assad oppression and jihadist terror. But it won’t be the U.S. that delivers them from these twin evils. I suspect that the new interventionist mood that has taken hold in the U.S. is fleeting, and I hope that McCain knows this as well."
It is a couple’s decision — individually and jointly — whether a union is salvageable and worth the effort to save it. But too often, victims of abuse feel that they have no choice. They can end up staying with an abuser for myriad complex reasons, many of which are regrettable. Often, they just feel trapped. Staying doesn’t excuse the abuse itself, and it can actually embolden the abuser... We must treat intimate partner violence for what it is: a societal scourge that must be constantly called out and constantly condemned." Blow argues that the NFL has created the wrong precedent by failing to condemn domestic abuse in the plainest terms. "We can push these numbers even lower, but first we need people like Rice, the Ravens and those in the N.F.L. to behave more honorably than they have in this case."
The Financial Times on why Scotland's businesses will suffer if they vote for independence. The editors warn that should Scotland vote for independence, they will struggle economically. "Scotland’s largest banks are reassuring their customers that – whatever the outcome – they will stay British, backed by the Bank of England, and if that means changing domicile, so be it. Supermarkets have warned of rising prices. A growing chorus of bosses is now urging the Scots to vote No. The future of Scottish business has become a battleground of the campaign." They continue, "The Yes campaign is riddled with economic uncertainties. No one knows what currency arrangements an independent state would adopt or whether it would be part of the EU [...] Mr Salmond claims independence will unleash the energy and self-confidence of entrepreneurs. Maybe so: but their first task will be to deal with the self-inflicted damage caused by replacing a highly-integrated single market with a looser relationship with Scotland’s biggest trading partner."