Who says they are "amazing"? Maybe they make that claim in their slick propaganda. Part of the problem is that no one took Isis seriously as a military threat. Obama called them "JV." Their success says more about the lack of order in the region than their effectiveness as a military force. From what I understand, their military success and organizational capability is at least in part due to old Baathists and Saddam-era military personnel in their ranks. The notoriety comes from posting gruesome execution videos. Sick as it is, they're good at propaganda.
Who says they are amazing? The media, and their entire narrative pumps up ISIS to some insurmountable thing, all the time. The way media treats terror attacks is IMO one of the various reasons for continued terror attacks being "successful", as it were they are presented as THE pressing threat, even here..where we've had plenty of non-jihadist mass shootings. It's a toughy to be sure, but not because they are amazing at anything, more because the circumstances that led to their rise (part foreign policy on our part, part religious ideology on theirs, part political grievance, part sectarian conflict etc.) will be difficult to change. It's our own weaknesses that makes them seem stronger.
But petty criminals have been around forever - the jump to mass killer is unfathomable without this context.I think Gladwell is onto something. I think interrupting the cycle of indoctrination would help, but if Gladwell's article is right and its applicable here, then alternative examples of behavior would be mot effective. Show these angry young men there are other alternatives.
Yes, that's true, that's the most (only, really) impressive thing about ISIS, their propaganda is effectively turning unhappy, crazy folks in the criminal class into mass killers. Again, the tone of western media coverage helps this along greatly IMO. Our media have turned them into the ultimate boogey man, which presumably was part of their plan, and I imagine that the media adepts at ISIS relish it when they check out the front page of CNN and see TERROR EVERYWHERE
and panicked headlines for a week every time there is an attack.
There are people in the ME working for actual democracy, and some notion of liberality, but I think they are crushed between the authoritarian regimes on the one hand, and the jihadists on the other.
I don't think I'm the one making an extraordinary point in saying that the Killing Fields of Cambodia are qualitatively different than the carnage from car bombs in market places across the Middle East and broadcast gore porn executions. Other than some incredibly vague and broad conclusion that both are fall out from colonialism, the parallels are hard to make out. I think the burden is on you to make the case, but who are we kidding? Neither of us are experts on this and the dissertation demanded to make such a thesis is not going to happen. I can see both arguments, I just think the differences are more prominent.
It appeared to me that you are somehow making the claim that Jihadist violence is "unique", as if the ME is uniquely violent in human history, which is nonsensical if you go by body count at least, even by type of atrocity. Usually people deploy this as a way to not
examine the circumstances surrounding the creation of the modern Middle East, or it's specific problems, and just focus on suspicion of Islam. Obviously it's different than something like the Khmer Rouge, but presenting as if it's some new, unique threat to civilization is questionable IMO. If you weren't trying to do that, then sorry.
One simple parallel: much of the Khmer Rouge foot soldier population were young men. Younger I think than the jihadists generally are though. This is important though, young men are... manipulable in some very specific ways.