Fear and Loathing — Just Not in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing — Just Not in Las Vegas

Why you should care

Combating evil in this world starts with understanding it. Consider this a tutorial.

Happy Holidays! While OZY’s on vacation, we’ve put together some of our favorite reads of the year.

Gordon Brown — yep, the former U.K. prime minister — summed it up grimly when he pronounced 2015 the “Year of Fear.” And that was just five months in. Since then, the litany of issues we’re facing has only grown, whether it’s the paradigm shift where even the most stoic scientists need to process their doomsday findings or the rising number of girls and boys at risk from conflicts.

Indeed, this father took his own life after his 17-year-old daughter and her friend traveled from northern Germany to Syria to join the Islamic State (IS). The search for clues about what happened led to the girl’s hometown, a working-class suburb of just 70,000 residents. There, her mother remembered how the girl started sleeping on the floor, while eating and drinking very little, probably to prep for the harsh living conditions of an ISIS camp. If that doesn’t disturb you, maybe a real-life tale of a human trafficker — and how the Syrian manages to pull off his ruthless business — will.

Which raises the question: How can we stop IS, aka ISIS and ISIL? It requires first understanding what makes it tick, writes OZY contributor and former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin. He also suggests that ending this scourge will require a military strategy, one that somehow addresses the grievances of Sunni populations. And in the last of a three-part series that McLaughlin wrote especially for OZY, he lays out a military strategy that tries to avoid the proverbial “armchair general” approach and recognizes that “no one has exclusive wisdom on this problem.” These are ideas, he notes, for debate.

But debating isn’t exactly for everyone, President Yahya Jammeh included. The little-known dictator of Gambia has ruled Africa’s smallest mainland country since a 1994 coup by relying on much of what IS feeds off today: fear, force and what we can best describe as, well, creepiness. That’s not to say developed countries have it all figured out, of course. One of our most provocative and immodest proposals to date looks at whether color-coded cops are the solution to police brutality in the United States. And little-known research from France actually shows that racism increases when left-wing political parties take power but falls under the right’s rule. Go figure. Here’s to hoping 2016 is a lot less grim, eh, Gordon?

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