Chaos and Caliphate: the Struggle for the Middle East. Book Review
Recent events in both North America and the Middle East have illustrated how the chilling potency of the Islamic State group is far from exhausted. The mass murder in Orlando was probably only indirectly inspired by the group (alternatively known as IS or Isis) but their homophobic ideology was explicitly referred to by the gunman as part of his motivation. Car bombings in Baghdad, undoubtedly Isis-inspired, continue with depressing regularity. Even the European Championship football tournament is being conducted under the cloud of a possible repeat of last year’s attack on the Stade de France.
Obama, Cameron and other Western leaders periodically like to claim the group’s grip on territory in Iraq and Syria is shrinking and that its political influence is now on a downward trajectory. Patrick Cockburn’s journalism throughout this century has been a valuable corrective to the misplaced optimism and disastrous strategic planning of such leaders and their predecessors. One of the effects of reading Chaos and Caliphate, a new collection of his observations on the region, is to conclude the world would be much more stable if his reports had been read and comprehended by the likes of Bush and Blair.