attwiw’s 10 best-read posts of 2015

Before you read this, if you haven’t already, please check out the fine writing to be found in the “Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2015” over at Vagabond Scholar. Something of mine is listed there alongside a number of other great pieces.

I actually find it almost physically painful to write self-referential things, a fact that is immediately clear to anyone who’s ever seen any cover letter I’ve ever written. But since this blog’s readership ticked up markedly toward the end of the year, and because I’m desperate for content I can queue up in advance over the holidays, I thought a year-end “10 best” list of attwiw’s 2015 #content might be in order. And, again because of the self-referential thing, I figured I’d skip trying to compile some subjective “best of the year” list and rely on something objective also subjective but in a different way, so I’m going with my 10 posts that got the most traffic. Enjoy!

  1. Don’t Help ISIS Get What It Wants: Easily the most widely-read thing in this blog’s history, written in the aftermath of the November 13 Paris terrorist attack. I tried to argue that the worst thing we Westerners could do in the aftermath of such an attack was to give in to panic and lash out at Muslim communities living in the West, because doing so would be playing right into ISIS’s propaganda. It’s a message that obviously resonated with the American public.
  2. Progress Never Comes Without Cost: Also written amid the fallout from Paris. Examining ISIS’s apparent shift toward focusing on international terrorism in addition to its paramilitary activities in Syria and Iraq, I suggested that territorial losses in its core zone have caused the group to lash out. This piece got a boost thanks to being cited by columnist Ryan Cooper at The Week.
  3. Ramadan Mubarak: I have no idea why this got so much traffic, but it did.
  4. Terror Attacks in Paris: This was the piece I kept updating as the attacks were taking place, when I was thinking an al-Qaeda branch (AQAP, or maybe AQIM) made more sense as a culprit than ISIS. I realized shortly after posting this that I’d overstated the case against ISIS and said so in a follow-up post later that evening and tried to explain why I was slow on the uptake in a post a few days later.
  5. Mossadegh, 1953: history swallowed up in legend: The anniversary of the 1953 MI-6/CIA-engineered coup that ousted Iran’s elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, is obviously a big deal for a blog that covers Iran as much as this one does. In this post I tried to cut through some of the mythologizing about that coup, and about Mossadegh, on both sides of the story.
  6. The good war: I came clean about the fact that I’d been kind of OK with the US/NATO 2011 Libyan intervention (although I wasn’t blogging back then, and I’ve since seen the error of my ways) before getting into a short look at the conflict there.
  7. ISIS driving people to Zoroastrianism: This is another post whose traffic levels are a little inexplicable to me. I was just recounting a report in NIQASH, highlighting a small trend among Iraqi Kurds to “convert” to Zoroastrianism as a statement of opposition to ISIS and of Kurdish nationalism. It’s an interesting story although it’s not something that seems to be sweeping the Kurdish nation or anything.
  8. Islamic History, part 25: Early Islamic theology: Part of my ongoing series on Islamic history. I really slowed down in writing these this year, because of lack of time and because the subject matter got into areas where I felt like I needed to do more research before I could write about them. Hopefully I’ll do more of these next year.
  9. Today’s Happy Birthday wishes: Ibn Battuta: I don’t like commemorating birthdays, because most of the people whose birthdays I would commemorate on this site are people who would have reckoned their own birthdays by the lunar Hijri calendar rather than our solar Gregorian calendar, and so marking their birthdays can be a big semantic mess. But I wrote this before I really had firmed that rule up, and anyway Ibn Battuta’s story is worth making an exception to any rule.
  10. So much for resting in peace…: Again, inexplicable. Just a short comment on a story about a tree in Ireland that blew over in a storm and unearthed an 800 or so year old skeleton in the process. This was probably the first thing I’ve ever posted that got any play on Facebook (posts that my wife shares with her friends excepted), so that was exciting.

Anyway, my real point is: thanks for stopping by this year, and please keep reading in 2016. Happy New Year!

Hey, thanks for reading! If you come here often, and you like what I do, would you please consider contributing something (sorry, that page is a work in progress) to keeping this place running and me out of debtor’s prison? Also, while you’re out there on the internet tubes, please consider liking this blog’s Facebook page and following me on Twitter! Thank you!

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