I had a nice surprise a couple of days ago. After posting “So What’s In a Name?” I got a response from Walter Mondale Jr., who was Vice-President during the Carter Administration (1977-81). He liked the article. He also has a blog, with a number of articles on it relating to ISIS. (I should add that his blog contains language and images you won’t find here!)
Walter Mondale may be a figure from a dim and distant past but it should be noted that it was during the Carter Administration that we first confronted Islamic extremism.
Well, perhaps not the first time – General Gordon died in Khartoum in 1885 fighting Islamic fundamentalists and Winston Churchill fought against them a few years later.
But it was the first time in our lifetime.
The fall of the Shah of Iran early in 1979 brought the ayatollahs to power in Iran. Their descendants, 35 years later, are willing to cooperate with the US and its allies against ISIS. This reflects the fact that the Iranians are shi’ites and ISIS is an extreme form of Sunni Islam. They have been enemies since the seventh century, roughly seven times as long as the US has been a nation.
But it does add weight to David Cameron’s warning yesterday that we will still be dealing with this problem thirty or forty years from now, that the next generation will be dealing with it. (Cameron and President Obama were visiting a primary school in Wales when this was said.)
Perhaps Mr. Cameron is right . . . but maybe not – it could all be over a long time before those school children enter parliament, if they are so inclined.
Rumors abound about possible ISIS attacks on the UK and US. These include the possibility of bubonic plague (a laptop was found in Syria, left behind by a fleeing ISIS terrorist, which had on it a 19-page document on how to spread bubonic plague); there’s also talk about the capability of ISIS to use a nuclear device against a western country.
Either would send us back to the Dark Ages. In the Middle Ages, England fell victim to the Black Death, the bubonic plague, in 1348. One year later, 49% of the population was dead.
Looking back to 1979, the problem of Islamic extremism is much greater now than it was back then. Then, the extremists were all shi-ites. In 2001 we learned that there are also Sunni extremists. Al-Qaeda was made up of Wahhabis from Saudi Arabia, an extreme sect of Islam, which is the dominant religion in the desert kingdom, an ally of the US.
Now, we’ve learned that ISIS is an Al-Qaeda reject, the latter considering the former way too extreme.
Mr. Mondale is now 86. He can look back on all these developments. It’s not surprising his blog is dominated by articles on the subject.