The explosive advances of the army of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), crossing from Syria into northern and central Iraq, have brought deeper miseries to the Iraqi people who might have expected they had already endured the worst, including the effects of U.S. imperialist policy. Atrocities from mass shootings and beheadings to systematic kidnapping and rapes of women—that the world and U.S. foreign policy ignored when IS carried them out against anti-Assad revolutionaries in Syria—in Iraq no longer remained hidden.
A lightning offensive saw Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, fall to the insurgents. The pattern extended itself to Tikrit, farther south, then Samarra, and the battle spread to the oil refining center of Baiji. Most of this was first attributed to ISIS. The question was asked, then: Why and how could a well-armed force of 20,000 Iraqi troops, armed and trained by the U.S., dissolve in the face of 800 terrorists?
In Ukraine, an unexpected eruption of mass struggle led to the overthrow of Ukraine’s corrupt, oligarchic, and ultimately murderous President Viktor Yanukovych. In Bosnia, at the same time, massive, nationwide discontent with the corrupt system left in place when the 1995 Dayton Accords partitioned the country has led to the equally unexpected creation of new forms of democratic organization.
While experiences in the squares of the Arab Spring, in Turkey’s Gezi Park, in the streets of Spain and Greece, and in the U.S. Occupy Movements have revealed moments of what new human relations between women and men could look like, those moments of hope and exhilaration have been followed by devastating reaction and retrogression.