It’s Paul Krugman vs. Noam Chomsky: This is the history we need to understand Paris, ISIS

It’s Paul Krugman vs. Noam Chomsky: This is the history we need to understand Paris, ISIS

Krugman mocks idea that US imperialism’s at root of all evil. But scars of our meddling are key to the Middle East

Two remarks a few days apart lead straight to the question posed in this space after last Friday’s tragic events in Paris. Why? Why does the Islamic State wage war? Why does this war now reach into a Western capital? The question is why, the argument being we will get nowhere in resolving a crisis that can no longer be described as the Middle East’s alone until we ask it and attempt answers.

“If you have a handful of people who don’t mind dying, they can kill a lot of people,” President Obama asserted after a Group of 20 summit in Turkey Monday. “That’s one of the challenges of terrorism…. It is the ideology they carry with them and their willingness to die.” The White House transcript of the president’s presser is here.

Interesting in itself. Already we start to answer the “why” question. There is an ideology at work. What is the ideology, then? It arises from exactly what?

The president’s remark is even more provoking of thought when considered next to something Dexter Filkins said on Charlie Rose Friday evening, just as news of the Paris catastrophe was coming in. (Our Charles grows slothful: The program was taped and he should have spiked it. The video recording is here.)

Filkins, once of the Times, now of the New Yorker and throughout corresponding from the Middle East, spoke without reference to the Islamic State’s assault on the French capital, which came over a little bizarrely. Rose had asked him to explain why Iraq remained a shattered polity since the Bush II invasion in 2003 and why it does not effectively resist the Islamic State’s onslaughts.

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