From Iraq, visions of belief
claim to have massacred 1,700 captured Shiite soldiers so far, aside from other reported large-scale killing of civilians. And they are now threatening to march on Baghdad and on the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbalâ'. Volunteers throughout Shiite southeastern Iraq are signing up to fight; as I suggested last week, many who will not fight for a meaningless failed state will fight for their religion and their own community. Iraq seems to be heading toward a full-blown religious war.
This is not about Bush. Bush was grossly incompetent, but he threw a match into a tinder-box; the tinder was already there. Bush's stupidity is a matter for American domestic politics. This is about Iraq and Islam and belief. This is what happens when people believe in things, fervently. It's not even about Islam being worse than Christianity. Back when people actually believed in Christianity, there were the Albigensian Crusade and the Thirty Years War, with scenes far worse than the above, had there been any photographers to record them.
It's not even that most Iraqis are fanatics. The great majority of Sunnis in Iraq would probably be utterly repulsed at the massacres ISIS is committing. There's a reason why extremists are called extremists. It takes only a determined and well-armed minority of fanatics, driven by hatred of some other group, in the absence of a state strong enough to enforce order, to launch a conflict which can then engulf everyone, moderates included -- because fanatics target everyone in the group they hate, not just its own fanatics.