ISIS, meet Mises?

John Tamny has a great column over at Forbes that pinpoints my exact frustrations with reporting on ISIS and its supposed threat to our national security. He writes:

In reality, the entity that has left and right up in arms in search of a muscular response was born in a part of the world that is one of the least productive economically, that can’t claim to create even one consumer good (the oil wealth there is largely a creation of western ingenuity) that is desired by global consumers, that can’t claim even one university that would appeal to the best and brightest. Despite this, numerous wise eyes are on ISIS?

Mises likely would have mocked today’s consensus precisely because the basis of ISIS’s existence is one of theft, coercion, or both

It doesn’t take several Foreign Affairs columnists to deduce that there probably isn’t a collection of Thomas Jeffersons and George Washingtons at the top of an entity that has Washington transfixed (ISIS). Figure our political class can’t agree on much of anything (this latest alleged terrorist threat once again a rare example of consensus), the fighting is constant, yet somehow we’re supposed to believe that a criminal organization’s activities are defined by competent consensus and quietude at the top such that failure to respond now dooms us to eventual massacre in the cities and states we live in?

Except for the fact that these are really just general common sense insights and not unique to the Austrian school, these are my thoughts exactly. For some reason, commentators seem to exempt terrorist organizations from the same challenges that face other associations of thinking people. It’s hard enough to get a family of five to agree on where to go out for dinner, let alone convince an entire army to wage a holy war that even they can see has zero prospect for success.

Take the mainstream media seriously, and you’d be led to believe that ISIS militants never doubt the legitimacy of their convictions (unlike everyone else in the world), never question their leaders’ intents (unlike everyone else in the world), and literally won’t stop until they are dead (unlike everyone else in the world). While this might be true of some of them, it’s definitely not true of all of them.

You’d also be led to believe that these people all join ISIS for the same reason and with the same individual goals. Is that true of the U.S. military? Of your local police force? Of the Republican Party? Of any association of even like-minded people? Nope.

You’ll also be convinced that, for some reason, the Islamic youths who voluntarily join ISIS aren’t like youths of every other culture in their propensity to quit when the going gets tough, look out for themselves first and foremost, and engage in reckless behavior that endangers their own well-being. No, these terrorists are alleged to be always thinking about their ultimate goal, even when they likely have no clue where to find their next meal.

I’ve heard about a lot of evil things ISIS terrorists are doing in the Middle East. I hope they stop. But there’s no reason to believe they pose a unique, never-before-seen threat to the very life of the American people.

Finally, here’s a hilariously serious Fox News report on a Texas sheriff preparing for an ISIS attack across the Mexican border. Apparently he heard ISIS was “moving around” near Juarez. And, of course, someone somewhere found a “Koran books” on the border (which can only mean ISIS, right?).

Author: Nick Freiling

Founder/Director of PeopleFish. I write on technology, market research and economics. Bylines at Startup Grind, FEE, the American Enterprise Institute and the Mises Institute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *