Commonweal trustee Paul Rogers will feature at a Bradford Literature Festival event on 7th July 2018: Are We Over ISIS?:
Rewind one year and the headlines were all about the war with ISIS and the threat it posed to western society. Now, it has almost disappeared from daily news – does this mean that ISIS itself has gone away?
We asked Paul why he believes this question needs to be asked right now.
‘Because its actions have receded from the headlines and because Mr Trump has told us that ISIS has been defeated and we have won the war, many people think that it is a problem of the past. This is wrong on two levels.
‘One is that ISIS is still active in Iraq and Syria but has already spread to other countries including Afghanistan, Egypt and the Philippines and across the Sahel region of Africa.
‘The second, more important reason is that ISIS should be seen not as a dangerous but isolated movement, but much more as an indicator of what may be to come.
‘It is actually much more sensible to see ISIS, along with al Qaida, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, the Taliban and the neo-Maoist Naxalites in India, as separate manifestations of a new non-state dynamic which is now driving international conflict through asymmetric and hybrid warfare, but their real significance is much more fundamental even than this.
‘The problem for the future is not a clash of civilisations but revolts from the margins, with ISIS in particular having been a proto-movement for wars in an increasingly divided and constrained world.
‘The underlying drivers of future conflict are far more than the growth of extreme Islamist movements.
‘They stem from a deeply flawed world economic system that is producing greater inequalities and marginalisation, combined with the onset of persistent global environmental limits, especially climate disruption.
The way forward
‘The failed war on terror shows that the consequences of these drivers cannot be controlled by military force and we cannot close the castle gates.
‘What is required is a fundamentally new approach to security if we are to avoid a highly unstable and violent world – an age of insurgencies which might even involve weapons of mass destruction.
‘We need radically to change our understanding of security, a change that is possible but requires vision and commitment.’
If you can’t attend the event, or if you want to read up before you do, take a look at some of Paul’s weekly analysis articles at Open Democracy.
Paul Rogers is a Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University and Global Security Consultant at the Oxford Research Group. He has researched, lectured and written on international security, arms control and political violence for over 30 years.