Nobel Prize-Winning Author V.S. Naipaul: ISIS Is the ‘Fourth Reich’

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf petro-powerhouses encouraged a flow of cash to Sunni rebels in Syria for years. But …
AP Photo/Militant Website, File

Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul says ISIS represents the closest thing the world has seen to a “Fourth Reich” and urges world leaders to expand the military campaign against them to ensure their “annihilation.”

His column, which appeared Sunday in the Daily Mail, argues ISIS is an “anti-civilisational” force which seeks to wipe out any history which precedes or attempts to rival Islam. Naipaul sees the motive behind wiping out religious minorities and destroying ancient Babylonian art as similar in this regard. ISIS is at war with every civilization—living and dead—which does not confirm to its monolithic worldview.

Isis is dedicated to a contemporary holocaust. It has pledged itself to the murder of Shias, Jews, Christians, Copts, Yazidis and anyone it can, however fancifully, accuse of being a spy. It has wiped out the civilian populations of whole regions and towns. Isis could very credibly abandon the label of Caliphate and call itself the Fourth Reich.

Like the Nazis, Isis fanatics are anti-semitic, with a belief in their own racial superiority. They are anti-democratic: the Islamic State is a totalitarian state, absolute in its authority. There is even the same self-regarding love of symbolism, presentation and propaganda; terror is spread to millions through films and videos created to professional standards of which Goebbels would have been proud.

Naipaul rejects the fashionable claim that ISIS is not Islamic (citing Cameron, Obama, and Hollande as its chief purveyors). However he also allows that ISIS is far from the totality of Islam. “The Islamic world does contain currents that are opposed to the interpretations that Isis gives to the Koran, the Hadith and to sharia,” he writes, adding, “These are yet to declare themselves.”

Because he sees ISIS as an existential threat to civilization, Naipaul believes there is no room for temporizing. He writes, “Isis has to be seen as the most potent threat to the world since the Third Reich. Its military annihilation as an anti-civilisational force has to now be the objective of a world that wants its ideological and material freedoms.”

Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001 for his novel A House for Mr. Biswas.


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