The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is celebrated as a great victory in the war on terror. But al-Baghdadi and ISIS fit a pattern known as "the poisonous triangle" – destructive leaders, vulnerable devotees and conducive environments – that can explain how tyrannical leaders with personality disorders come to power and maintain it. Personality disorders are the key to understanding the functioning of the toxic triangle, but the focus is on a system that is much larger than the leader alone – both the system of followers and their ideology and the larger social system from which they emerge.
Such systems not only create a disorderly leader, but a wealth of potential leaders. For this reason, the death of al-Baghdadi can be so strongly misunderstood, and I wanted to ask an expert on the toxic triangle to explain this from this perspective.
I turned to Ian Hughes, author of the new book " Disordered Minds: How Dangerous Personalities Destroy Democracy ." As he explained in his introduction, he grew up in Northern Ireland when it was devoured Barbarism of "problems", the political and sectarian conflict that killed more than 3,600 people in three decades. The problems began at the same time as the first moon landing ̵
It is the depth of sensory perception that characterizes "Disordered Minds" and is based on a wide range of research and reflection that has been carried out so far. The first chapter of Hughes contains a well-integrated picture of what is known about three different types of dangerous personality disorders that cause people to behave violently or overly selfishly. Psychopaths can not see others as human beings, but only as things and commit so many serious crimes. Narcissists can not consider others as equal and admire themselves "for qualities for which there is no adequate basis". Paranoids can only view others as a threat. Many disturbed heads combine two or three such errors.
Hughes then devotes two chapters to historical examples: Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot, each surrounded by similarly disorderly lieutenants on a large organization whose core affiliation was similarly disordered. Everyone came to power, writes Hughes, because of terrible circumstances that drove ordinary people to support extreme measures in the hope of a better future. The specific ideology plays no role in the basic process.
These dangers dramatize how democracy can be understood as a protective system against the threat of such mental disorders – a perspective that Hughes develops in Chapter 4, which informs the rest of his book. This view of democracy offers a unique insight into the struggle of humanity for a better future. "The majority of people around the world yearn for peace, justice and freedom from oppression and discrimination," writes Hughes. "Only by reducing the minority's influence in these disorders will we begin to see this truth more clearly."
In this spirit, I turned to Hughes to provide insight on the occasion of the death of al-Baghdadi.
The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is celebrated as a great victory in the war on terror. However, her book is based on the framework of the poisonous triangle – destructive guides, vulnerable devotees and conducive environments – to explain how tyrannical leaders with personality disorders come to power in a system far greater than just the leader alone. This left me wondering if his death might be overrated, especially as the large-scale examples you cite all affect a significant inner circle of similarly disturbed individuals. How can ISIS be better understood in the sense of the poisonous triangle?
ISIS can only be understood in the wider context of the war in Islam, which has raged between Sunni and Shiite Muslims for more than three decades. The two main actors in this war are Saudi Arabia with a Sunni majority and Iran with a Shiite majority. For decades, a deadly proxy struggle with global consequences for supremacy in the Islamic world has been raging between these two regimes. This war started with the revolution in Iran in 1979 and with Saudi Arabia's response to it, spreading its harsh version of Sunni Islam around the world. The sectarian violence has spread to the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan and has also affected the Philippines and Indonesia. This war, not the so-called war between Islam and the West, was the defining war of modern times, but is rarely recognized in this way.
As you've already mentioned, with the Toxic Triangle, we can see the rise of dangerous leaders not only in terms of the leader himself (it's always a "he"), but also in terms of a critical mass of like-minded followers and critics the environment in which such a leader can emerge. In the case of ISIS, this conducive environment has so far included six wars – the Soviet War in Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, the first Gulf War, the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and currently the war in Syria. It also includes the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda and the IS. Losses of life – mostly innocent Muslims – are immense, with conservative estimates of several million dead. Related to such brutal and protracted violence, extremist organizations are expected to emerge under the leadership of malignant, psychopathic leaders and gain power.
What big misconceptions tend to confuse experts, media commentators or the public?
The report generally focuses on short-term developments and major incidents such as the death of al-Bagdadi. As a result, the general public is not getting the framework needed to understand and effectively respond to IS and the broader issue of deadlocked violence in the Middle East.
I think we need to focus more on three basic topics. First, this is primarily a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and international pressure must be exerted on these regimes to resolve the fundamental conflict between them, fueling the violence leading to ISIS and al-Qaeda. The United States and Europe, along with other nations, should try to address this issue directly through the United Nations.
Second, this is a sectarian conflict, and in such a conflict, continued violence enables extremists on both sides. The only hope to reduce extremism is, first, to stop the violence.
And thirdly, the profound political and economic injustice that characterizes the countries is an important factor in supporting groups such as ISIS, al Qaeda and the Taliban in which these groups are active. These underlying structural issues are an integral part of the toxic triangle and must be addressed if violence is to be reduced.
How do shared views of people with disturbed minds help them to function more coherently?
I grew up in Northern Ireland during the sectarian violence of the so-called problems there. There are two lessons from Northern Ireland that I believe are valid for any sectarian conflict, including the Middle East. First, sectarian conflicts can provide people with dangerous personality disorders with an easy path to power. secondly, religion can be used as a strong justification for the most brutal forms of violence.
As I wrote in "Disordered Minds", religious extremism offers those with paranoid personality disorder the perfect outcome for their talents as a cheerleader in whipping hatred against a "godless enemy." It gives narcissists the comforting illusion that they speak for God. And it offers psychopaths unlimited opportunities to kill and mutilate innumerable innocents and become heroes. As author Reza Aslan said, these aspects of religious extremism can transform those who should be considered killers and thugs into soldiers sanctioned by God.
While the governance structure of ISIS is poorly understood, can you explain the factors that make ISIS more dangerous and destructive after al-Baghdadi's death than less interference likely to share its leadership?
Jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, are predominantly Sunni Muslims. They believe that God wants an immediate, God-sanctioned war to establish his will on earth. This requires a cleansing of the world of all degrading elements, including not only Christians but also Shiite Muslims. It is a doctrine of destruction that sees the murder of millions of people as God's will, and it is a doctrine rooted in hatred. Osama bin Laden wrote, "The Almighty Lord has commanded us to hate the unbelievers and to reject their love. "This [hatred] is part of our faith and religion."
Given the fact that the leadership of jihadist organizations will be the most passionate supporters of this extreme ideology, the character of individual leaders is less important than the circumstances that could empower them. It has long been clear that increasing violence, chaos and disorder are the strongest conditions for ISIS, which is why it is constantly trying to create them.
What wrong assumptions are made (or were made in general) of not understanding the toxic triangle that can lead to errors in risk assessment and strategy in response to his death?
The biggest mistake that virtually every actor makes in this tragic situation is the conviction that violence will solve the problem. The media response to the death of al-Baghdadi is a small example of this. The media generally report that this is one of the great milestones of Trump's presidency, just as the death of bin Laden was described as one of Obama's big milestones in the presidency. These may be milestones in eliminating profoundly dangerous and evil men, but they do not move the needle at all in terms of the underlying causes of conflict. The portrayal of the murder of leaders as "victories" drives what the theologian Walter Wink calls the "myth of redemptive power". This is the idea that violence can save us, that war can bring peace and that violence can be easily justified. Over three decades of brutal wars in the Middle East have sufficiently proved the fallacy of this myth.
One of the main arguments in your book is that democracy can be understood as a system of defense against the threat of leaders with these disruptions, including the prerequisites that make their rise to power more likely. They write: "This system of defense includes the rule of law, electoral democracy, the principle of liberal individualism, social democracy and the legal protection of human rights."
September 11th was a horrible crime that can not be relied on Englisch: www.germnews.de/archive/gn/1996/11/16.html. In response to the rule of law, America launched the terrorism "- which Bin Laden claimed to have intended. Was this a mistake from the perspective that was developed in your book?
I think it is generally accepted that it was a mistake. As you say, Bin Laden's intention was to bring about a violent US reaction that would create even more violence, chaos and disorder – the conditions under which support for extremism thrives. This is also the intention of IS in its attacks in Europe – to provoke a violent reaction and create tensions within European countries and antagonism to ordinary Muslims in Western societies. I think the "war on terror" with its increasing violence and the accusation of extremism as the enemy of the West has had an effect on this script.
What is the deeper reason why it was a mistake?
I think the "war on terror" is misguided because it also enters the myth of redemptive violence, even though violence actually prevents the underlying causes from being solved. This is in line with Hannah Arendt's prediction that while the use of force undoubtedly changes the world, the most likely change is a more violent world. The "war on terror" is misguided because it essentially serves as a blueprint for an endless spiral of violence that ignores the root causes of conflict.
What could or should have been done instead?
Instead of a "war on terror", international efforts must be made to combat injustice, oppression and political kleptocracy in the Middle East. As Jeffrey Sachs pointed out, the United States currently spends around $ 700 billion a year on defense, which is approximately $ 2 billion a day. The US share of the regular UN budget is equivalent to about seven hours of Pentagon spending. The redistribution of a portion of these military expenditures to address the root causes of conflict in the countries where ISIS operates should be child's play.
The last two defenses – social democracy and legal protection of human rights – were major developments in response to the Second World War. However, this system had only a limited range. As you explain, the Arab Spring, a decade after September 11, was a mass uprising trying to ensure that protection. How should America respond to the Arab Spring?
The Arab Spring and its partial re-emergence in Lebanon should clearly be seen as a demand of the local population for an end to sectarianism and kleptocracy that has permeated the region for decades. It should be seen as a clear signal then and now that a new Middle East peace process is urgently needed to heal the Sunni-Shiite gap, and that urgent democratic steps are needed across the region.
Despite initial successes, the Arab Spring outside Tunisia was finally crushed. How did this failure make the IS and its affiliates even more fruitful?
The failure of the Arab Spring and the ensuing wars in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, as well as continuing repression in Egypt and elsewhere, have crushed hopes millions and helped increase the number of those who use force Wanted to bring about change. The biggest beneficiaries were religious extremists, who argue that strict religious morality is the only solution to the gross immorality brought by the region's governments.
The failure of the Arab Spring also shows that a fairer and more democratic Middle East is not in the interest of many powerful players in the region and beyond, and that many of these actors, and not just violent extremists like IS, will do so. Use force to oppose the reforms that would lead to peace and stability.
Your book points out that the whole approach of the "war on terror" is deeply misunderstood because it does not support and propagate the defense system you have described, and that our policies, which are based on repressive regimes, are more undertakes to fuel the problem than to fight it. What should be our guiding principle if we take a new approach that correctly understands the nature of the threat we are facing – not just those currently identified as US enemies, but the destructive forces of disordered minds in general ?
The peace process in Northern Ireland and peace processes around the world show that an end to violence gradually allows the values of the majority population, which includes tolerance, empathy and compromise, the values of intolerance, hatred and intransigence replace that prevail when the violence still exists anger and a pathological minority hold the power. The beginning of peace denies psychopaths the opportunity to become heroes by slaughtering innocent people. It denies narcissists the chance to speak the language of hatred on behalf of millions of "their people". And it denies people with paranoid personality disorder the environment in which they can innocent people as "problems" that require destruction, scapegoat. In short, peace denies people with dangerous personality disorders the brutal environment they need to retain their power. It sounds like a cliché, but it is also the truth – the guiding principle in the fight against IS should be to seek peace and create justice throughout the region.
Donald Trump's election in 2016 may be seen as another consequence of the failure. "War on Terror" approach. He mistakenly presented himself as a leading critic of the Iraq war, to name just a facet of what this was all about. He now empowers other disorderly leaders across the region and beyond. What should be done to counteract what he is doing?
Trump is not only a clear threat to democracy in the US, but also to peace, stability and progress in the world. The path he leads us is in many ways diametrically opposed to the direction we should go.
Instead of deciding to tackle the climate change threat, he rejects it as a Chinese hoax. Instead of tackling the chronic inequalities that lead to so many divisions and disillusionments in the US, he seeks to reward the rich, punish the poor, and exacerbate inequality. Instead of strengthening the international alliances needed to solve the world's most pressing problems, he seeks to fragment the world into isolated nations, each with their own narrow self-interests. Instead of helping to build a global consciousness that we are all part of a single humanity and that we go up or down together, he sows discord and tries to separate us according to every conceivable point of view – nationality, religion, race and gender. Instead of leading us into a converging world where health and wealth disparities diminish, he seeks to enforce American hegemony and prevent other nations from catching up. Instead of strengthening Democrats and strengthening the rule of law, he empowers dictators, disregards the law, and dismantles US democracy from within.
In "Disordered Minds" I write that toxic leaders can never come to power alone, but toxic leaders, backed by an authoritarian party and supported by a critical mass of supporters who regard democracy as expendable, are often unstopable. In the interests of US democracy and world peace, Trump must be stopped, either by impeachment or in the 2020 elections. His re-election would enable him to further transform our world to reflect the anger, conflict, and division that is his own characterize disorderly minds, and this at a tremendous price for all of us.