July 17, 2005

Of French Leaks and Home-Grown Terror

This is just so infuriating:

Britain's era of good will with Europe lasted 48 hours - all because of the French.

In the wake of the July 7 terrorist attacks in London, Scotland Yard brought together law enforcement and intelligence officials from two dozen European countries and the United States, sharing crucial intelligence and pleading for help in tracking down the bombers.

But the continentwide kumbaya was shattered when Christophe Chaboud, France's new antiterrorism coordinator, broke the cardinal rule of the club.

He leaked.

In an interview with Le Monde that appeared on the newsstands last Monday afternoon - two days after the exceptionally open briefing - Mr. Chaboud announced to the world that he knew "the nature of the explosives" used in the London bombings.

It "appears to be military, which is very worrisome," he said, adding: "We're more used to cells making homemade explosives from chemical substances. How did they get them? Either by trafficking, for example, in the Balkans, or they had someone on the inside who enabled them to get them out of a military base."

But Mr. Chaboud did not stop with his assessments of the explosives and their origins, which, it turned out, were completely wrong. He plunged into politics, railing at the British with an I-told-you-so air that Europe was a more dangerous place because of the war in Iraq.

"The war in Iraq has revived the logic of total conflict against the west," he declared, without adding the obvious, that Britain supported the war and France did not.

The British reacted with fury, sending off communiqués to a number of its European friends that expressed deep disappointment that the bonds of trust had been broken, two European officials who received the missives said.

The sense of betrayal has been acute. The British overture to its friends was rare in the intelligence and law enforcement world, where information is often shared only on a bilateral basis and only when it benefits a country's own national security.

At a moment when Europe is facing a threat that knows no boundaries, the rift between the countries with the most sophisticated intelligence services in Europe is particularly troubling.

There is concern among intelligence services that the bombings in Madrid in March 2004 and in London nine days ago are part of a larger terrorist war against Europe and that Italy or Denmark could be next.

But since the French leak, the British have been much more suspicious of traitors in their midst, doling out dollops of information on a need-to-know basis.

"The gentleman," said the director of a European law enforcement agency, "talked too much."

So poisonous is the atmosphere that the talk in European intelligence circles is that the British feel that the French may have leaked bad information on purpose.

"My friends in London are furious at the French about this," said the director of a European intelligence agency. "They believe they released this incorrect information deliberately." The result, he added, is "there's not much good will left between them."

It's infuriating on a variety of levels. First off, and as B.D. had then written, the fact that the explosives used on 7/7 did not appear to be military grade bolstered the thesis that al-Qaeda's operational capabilities had been weakened. The French leak led to a slew of stories that the explosives were of sophisticated, military quality; which was erroneous, but which led to an important misperception about the attacks. For god's sake people, if you are going to leak, well then you better have your damn information straight. At least give us that much.

Second, and worse, is Chaboud's hugely reprehensible statement drawing a direct cause and effect between the Leeds/Luton bombers and Iraq. Look, it is beyond doubt that the Iraq war has made jihadist recruitment easier than before it. But this is a long term conflict, and those advocates of the war always realized that there could well be a short to mid-term uptick in jihadist activity given the destabilization and emotions that would inevitably be triggered by the Iraq war. The goal was and is to slog it out and see emerge a viable, unitary democratic polity in Iraq that would serve as an example to the Arab world of how a complex, multi-sectarian country can enshrine minority rights, the rule of law, and other tenets of political liberalism so as to help pull the region towards modernity. This, in turn, could well lead towards a long-term diminishment in radical Islamist activity. But Chaboud ignores all this in favor of a dishonest 'I told you so' moment. Dishonest because he ignores the 3/11 attacks in Madrid that were being planned before the Iraq war. Because he ignores 9/11 which was of course planned before the Iraq war. Because he doesn't deign to consider that certain jihadists will blow themselves up in Western cities, come what may, until foreigners (even, perhaps, foreign influence) are not present in the perceived caliphate spanning southern Spain to Indonesia. He also neglects to mention that Afghanistan alone is viewed as a legitimate casus belli by many fanatics. Or even the French ban on head scarves that has led to threats of violence on French streets. And what of Theo van Gogh's slaughter on the streets of that icon of libertinism, Amsterdam? Iraq the cause too, doubtless? How dare Chaboud politicize in such a nakedly self-serving fashion the 7/7 attacks? How dare he leak erroneous information so irresponsibly? How dare he be so breath-takingly self-serving and duplicitous so soon after the death of so many innocent Britons? It's really bloody low, even by the deathly low standards of the Chirac government. And to think this lack of class was what was getting me hot under the collar a couple days back. How much worse it gets, eh? I'm naive, it seems, when it comes to the potential for perfidious going-ons from points Paris.

Another word on all this. From today's Times, this interesting quote from Jessica Stern in a Week in Review piece on suicide bombers:

At least one of the young men from Leeds was from an affluent family, and none were particularly poor or unhappy, according to press reports. At least two had become devout. At least two had traveled to Pakistan. At least some of their parents clearly opposed such violence. A breakthrough for the police came when the mother of one, fearing her son was a victim of the bombings, informed police he was missing.

Jessica Stern, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the author of "Terror in the Name of God," spent part of the spring in the Netherlands investigating the attitudes of young Muslims there. She said she feared that for some of them, violent Islamism had become a fad.

For some, she said, "To be angry and rebellious these days is to be angry, rebellious and Islamist, and, unfortunately, to be violent." In a previous era, she observed, they might have embraced Marxism. She said that while these young people experienced some prejudice and economic hardship, their grievances were reinforced by "a feeling of vicarious humiliation" of Muslims elsewhere. The radicalism of some appeared driven less by contact with a charismatic cleric than by what they found for themselves on the Internet.

"They self-recruit, self-radicalize, and they go and find their own imam," Ms. Stern said. "So the picture that we have, that all we have to do is watch those fiery imams, or go into the mosques - well, those days are over." [emphasis added]

Am I alone in thinking along similar lines? When I see the face of the young Jamaican Lindsey Germaine who blew himself up in London--playfully smiling back at us with his wife in the picture we've now seen around the globe--I see an impressionable young 'laddie' quick to jump on the latest fad. In an era of tremendous violence in movies, in video games, in the streets of large urban centers--coupled with perceived humiliations (and real ones too, of course, like Abu Ghraib) of the Muslim nation--how easy to come under the sway of a slightly older man like Mohammad Sidique Khan (another London bomber, 30, who had even worked as a primary school counseler before). Born of boredom, of anomie, of a culture of violence and anything goes--well, why not play jihadi? And go full out and kill your own fellow citizens. This too stems, at least in part, from the too relativist, faux protest-ridden post-60's era, which is why a Jessica Stern will point out in another era they might have been Marxists. It is the too simplistic reasoning and empty protestation that if they are killing us there; we will kill them here. Jihadism, I am concerned, is becoming something 'cool' in the London satellite cities like Luton, or the banlieu of Paris, or Muslim sections of Amsterdam. And with the Internet providing access to radical websites where the young, impressionable adolescents can pair up with radicalist networks only too eager to use them as so much cannon fodder as foot-soldiers in their jihad--one must be concerned that this phenomenon looks set to be with us for a while yet.

We live now in an era of warnings and look-out and fear when it comes to suicide bombings. In Iraq, as John Burns writes:

American commanders say spotting the suicide bombers after they set out on their missions is almost impossible. Still, American and Iraqi troops have been told to watch out for telltale signs that include vehicles with suspensions splayed from unusual weighting in the rear; male drivers in their late teens and 20's who are alone; and certain makes of vehicle, usually aging Opels, Kias and Daewoos that can be bought used for as little as $1,000 and appear to be favored by attackers. Drivers who lurk at expressway on-ramps, in parking areas near military installations and government buildings, or who sit waiting in stationary vehicles for no apparent reason, are also high on the watch list.

And now, in London, in Milan, in Madrid, and yes, in Paris--people will be on the look-out too. For the middle class Muslim kid who might have popped over to Peshawar for a week or two a summer or so ago. And came back, perhaps not with a big flowing beard, but more serious, more sober, more religious. No big deal, to each his own religious orientation and right to worship and degree of fervor thereto, yes? But as these young men (and women) increasingly divorce themselves from their adopted country and then commit mass murder against their fellow citizens they break a basic compact. As has been said in other contexts, the constitution is not a suicide pact. People will feel this way more and more in the UK and Italy and France if such carnage continues.

So, what to do? Well, like many of us doubtless, I am very uncomfortable with the smell of neighborhood watch groups and the like. It smells gestapo-ish, and we recoil from it. Still, read this Mansoor Ijaz piece (via the indispensable uber-collaters of RCP). In it, he asks that Muslims living in Western societies start stepping up to bat more so as to better confront and combat the small minority of fanatics that hide and dwell within the large Islamist community. He writes:

The trust that binds citizens of free societies together was violated last week when suspected Islamist terrorists set off a wave of bombs at the height of London's morning rush hour, killing more than 50 people and injuring 700.

This tragedy follows at least 17 other bombings worldwide linked to Al Qaeda since 2002, according to Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who compiles data on the subject. The planning and execution of last Thursday's bombings indicate that Al Qaeda continues to function efficiently. For the perpetrators of London's attacks to escape the notice of the world's most formidable domestic counterterrorism service before the strikes underscores their resolve and cunning.

Al Qaeda's success in mutating from a centralized terror conglomerate into an amorphous ideology with local, homegrown cells in target countries challenges the big-power thesis of taking the war to the enemy before the enemy arrives on our shores. Most disturbingly, however, Al Qaeda's success defines the central failure within moderate Islam to identify, control, and stamp out its extremists. The enemy, it appears, is already among us. This is why the London bombings represent a milestone for moderate Muslims. They can either stand up now and fight Islam's radical fringes from within or sit haplessly by while Western governments do it for them....

...What to do? The action plan for moderate Muslims is uncomplicated if the political will to combat Islam's extremists from within takes hold. In Britain, three steps would be effective:

• Forbid the use of mosques and other religious institutions to discharge bigotry and hatred. As France has done, Britain should require imams to pass competency exams. Radical preaching must be replaced with knowledge of how the Koran relates to daily life within Britain's secular traditions. Any imam failing to comply should be shown politely to the departure lounge at Heathrow Airport. Those who pass must accept their citizenship responsibilities to become resources for authorities seeking data on criminal elements residing in Britain's Muslim communities.

• Open Britain's Islamic charities to greater financial scrutiny to identify those that fund terrorism. Charities should limit foreign donations to 10 percent of operating budgets and certify that the remaining donors are British citizens who give from taxable, transparent income sources. Stopping the flow of money is key to dismantling Al Qaeda's franchise strategy, where one or two foreign "masterminds" oversee attacks with foreign money and logistical support.

• Form community watch groups made up of Muslim citizens to reclaim Islam from terrorists - groups that are committed to contributing useful information to authorities. Britain's tolerant political environment has transformed it into a haven for militant Islam. Communities joining together to compile and analyze data on Muslim fanatics for use by British authorities in official proceedings is the best way for moderate Muslims to prevent the state's antiterror apparatus from appearing biased or being used inappropriately. It would also be the surest sign that British Muslims take their citizenship as seriously as their religion.

It is hypocritical for Muslims living in Western societies to demand civil rights enshrined by the state and then excuse their inaction against terrorists hiding among them on grounds of belonging to a borderless Islamic community. It is time to stand up and be counted as model citizens before the terror consumes us all.

Shorter Mansoor: We need moderate Muslims (the vast majority of adherents to Islam, one of the world's three great monotheistic religions, are indeed moderates) to help us reclaim Islam from the fanatics, not only in far-away Saudi Arabia; but also in nearby Luton and Leeds. We need them--not only to help 'out' fanatics hiding in their and our midst--but also to help spur on the conditions whereby a reformation of radical Islamist thought can take root. Violence-infused, radical Islamist thought must not be allowed to even flirt with the mainstream. It must be portrayed as evil and fascistic, and very firmly denounced and forsaken. Repeately, loudly, often--by Muslim community leaders throughout Europe and the Middle East and the United States in places like Detroit.

The currents of modernization via technological improvements, satellite television and the Internet are not necessarily of particular comfort in all this, by the way. While they expose the Arab and Muslim world to outside ideas (kill the mullah's with connectivity, as some opine and hope), they also provide cyber-havens and meeting points for those weened on a diet of violence, of alienation, of humiliation, of the tempting comforts of radical religiosity--thus facilitating images such as these.

4LondonBombers.jpg

Four Westernized kids, really, sporting Patagonia looking gear with bulky backpacks at the ready, off in the early morning to kill dozens in one of the world's great cities, and in a country they are all citizens of themselves. There are those, even now, who seek to 'understand' their actions and who get airtime in the predictable places like the pages of the Guardian. This time is past. The call must be to ferret out such killers before they strike again. Too much is at stake. This does not mean that our foreign policy must not grapple with certain realities. As long as we are in Afghanistan and Iraq, as long at the majority of the West Bank is occupied territory, as long as there is chronic violence in places like Chechnya and Kashmir--it is undeniable that the quantum of those willing to die for jihadist causes will be higher in number than just those absolutists who will never rest unless the infidel-free-grand-Caliphate had gloriously risen again. This is not to argue for precipitous withdrawals from any of these places, however. If we were to leave Iraq tomorrow, the country would plunge into utter chaos. If Israel were to leave the West Bank, even with the security wall in place, the lack of a politically negotiated deal enshrined before the world and guaranteed by all the great powers of the international community would all but guarantee continued massacres in places like Haifa and Tel Aviv by irredentists like Jihad Islami. Russia too, has legitimate national interests in Chechnya--though its conduct of the war there has been ghoulish and brutish in the extreme. And a precipitous exit from Afghanistan would likely mean Karzai's days would be numbered, and that the chances of large swaths of the country again becoming dominated by neo-Talibs and al-Qaeada and its symphatizers would increase dramatically. The point here is that we cannot forget that conflict resolution, whether in Palestine or Kashmir or Chechnya, remains a critical element in our strategy in the GWOT. So does, as mentioned above, helping move the Middle East towards democratic open spaces where less frustration lies festering under the repressive boot of autocratic regimes. But important too, of course, is defending our nations against a peril growing within its very borders. The time has come for less blah-blah about root causes from the Muslim community and more active denunciation of those who will use violence to kill innocents. Whether borne out of fanaticism, boredom, faddishness, alienation--or some combination of all these factors. Basta.


Posted by Gregory at July 17, 2005 05:17 PM | TrackBack (6)
Comments

Know thine enemy as thineself says Sun Tzu. Understanding your enemy is not an optional extra ; it's the key to victory.

Posted by: Alexei McDonald at July 17, 2005 06:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Brits have an unwritten deal with Islamic nuts just like the Saudis DID have. Today,Britain alone to my knowledge allows open jihad recruitment if the "object" is not Britain.

They send their soliders abroad to resist evil and ought to be using them to do it RIGHT in London and Leeds.

I think we ought to leave and bring our soldiers home from Europe in particular,no one is serious about this conflict EXCEPT Muslims over there.

Posted by: Patrick at July 17, 2005 07:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The best analogy for the current moral failure, passivity and infuriating grievance/victimization mongering amongst the Muslims I can think of is the way US Southerners related to the KKK in the first half of the 20th century. Like the Wahhabi perversion of the Islamic faith, the KKK had plenty of religious mumbo jumbo and burning crosses to "prove" they were fighting for their unique way of life and white Christian women's purity. Most Southerners looked on them with disdain, but look how hard it was to get a "fatwa" from, say, the Democratic Party (continually rejected at their national conventions) or an anti-lynching resolution from the US Senate (continually filibustered). I agree we need to emphasize to our Muslim friends the need to stand up to the crazies amongst them, but before we get on our high horse we should realize how human their reactions have been to date.

Posted by: wayne at July 17, 2005 07:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is an excellent post. My only quibble is with Ijaz's first point; state-sponsored religious competency exams for clerics would presumably be unconstitutional in the United States, and potentially bad policy even in Britain. The likely effect would be to drive "offensive" preaching further underground.

Posted by: Tom T. at July 17, 2005 08:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes, leaks that violate trust are reprehensible.

Unless the leaks come from a Republican Administration; in which case they never happened or if eventually proven to have happened, then they aren't a big deal. And maybe if they just might be a big deal they probably still aren't, but we won't comment negatively on the administration until all the facts are in, which might be a long time so.... and besides the victims of the leaks were Dems and they might have lied once upon a time so they had it coming, but nothing to see here anyhow, move along now ......

Mais, mon dieu, those leaking Frenchies, quelles couchons!

Il n'y a pas d'un hypocrite comme quelqu'un qui tombe amoureux de Bush.

Posted by: avedis at July 17, 2005 08:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

um.... how exactly does one go about leaking incorrect information?

Posted by: p.lukasiak at July 17, 2005 08:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"The time has come for less blah-blah about root causes from the Muslim community and more active denunciation of those who will use violence to kill innocents."

One of the few times I agree with Greg.

Muslims either start denouncing terrorism, loudly and frequently, or they should expect that they and their organizations will be targeted by intensified investigations and, perhaps, by the ire of the general public.

It is not enough to have a few muslim figure heads make brief appearances only after an act of terrorism has been committed. Instead, effort must be put forth on a daily basis in the Mosques, homes and other community organizations.

Furthermore, the muslim community must police itself. There can be little doubt that most clerics are aware of brethern that are teaching hatred and militancy. The propagators of hate and terrorism must be excommunicated and exiled by fellow clerics. Otherwise, the message to the flock will be lost.

I haven't seen much evidence to date that Muslims are willing to take responsibility for the fact that their religion is producing terrorists, albeit a small minority of the total population.

Not only is taking responsibility the decent (right) thing to do, it is also a sign of respect for the countries that have opened their arms to these immigrant people.

Posted by: avedis at July 17, 2005 09:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

um.... how exactly does one go about leaking incorrect information?

You lie while claiming to be passing along secret information.

You know, like Joe Wilson did.

Posted by: Robert Crawford at July 17, 2005 09:07 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Unfortunately, I'm beginning to think harsh measures against the families of suicidal jihadists are the only things that will give them pause. Instead, what we see are the families openly throwing parties celebrating their "martyrdom." Contrast that to what they do to family members who engage in what they consider improper sexual conduct. They kill them, throw acid on their face, etc to erase the "dishonor" on their family. We need a cultural change that will lead to dishonor being placed on their families and drastic measures being taken against the families of jihadists who engage in murderous activities anywhere in the world. It seems to be the only way to control antisocial behavior among Muslims.

As for war being fought against the west, it has been so for decades now. Europe bought themselves some breathing room during the 90s by paying off the terrorist groups and supporters financially and through "moral" support by carping/craping on the Israelis and the US. All during this time they allowed the jihadis to implant themselves in Europe, and recruit and raise money as long as they didn't target their own countries. That is why so many of the key players in the 9/11 plot had ties to Europe. Our so called allies were content to let them scheme and plot in Europe as long as they targeted others, including us.

Posted by: ATM at July 17, 2005 10:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I can't imagine that any of these entities will be up to it. The French? The English and Tony Blair? Bush has been extraordinary in Iraq but look at his waffling on the US-Mexican border and his embrace of bureacracies like Homeland Security and the laughable but dangerous TSA. Plus of course...the kneejerk reaction of most governments, ours especially, is to use the conflict to attack the Bill of Rights and the basic glue that holds western civilization together.
Then there is always the Chinese. Waiting to jump.
Still, an interesting time to be alive.

Posted by: robert at July 17, 2005 10:48 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To me the way out of the constantly escalating conflict is to cut things short.

At home, make Mosques and families who don't stop suicide bombings, or encourage them with rhetoric, pay. Massive civil suits bleeding off their wealth, so they are forced to flee back to Islamic countries, or simply stop terrorist enabling rhetoric and actions. I think there is a very good case for survivors of London, New York, and Madrid to sue the Leeds Mosques and families for every penny they have. Bankruptcy concentrates the mind wonderfully. And provides a good example without Klan-like actions.

Because, I don't think there ARE moderate Muslims. Islam has no distinction as in the West with secular and religious culture and life. For Islam it is all the same, the only difference being violent jihad or support for it. MAB's anti-terror rally was in support of jihad in Iraq and folks blowing up Shias and UK and US troops. Blowing up children. That's "moderate Islam."

The French have adopted a strategy of appeasement abroad and total crackdowns at home (they are much tougher than the Brits who are letting terror Imam Qaradawi in). However as you point out that will fail as well.

I just pessimistically don't see the political will in the West for common-sense, limited civil measures at home to address Islam before the conflict escalates into a violent nuclear confrontation: losing several western cities and much of the Islamic World. Even the French have the strategic nuclear capability of killing every Muslim in the world, and absent strong moral bounds to constrain that capacity will use it when greatly provoked. Such as the nuking of say, Paris.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at July 17, 2005 11:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just one question: Is "Chaboud" even a French name, or is it, you know, originally something else?

Posted by: AT at July 17, 2005 11:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Mon ami AT:

"Chaboud" is as French as "Aboutaleb" is Dutch.

Posted by: GdeB at July 18, 2005 01:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

wayne, good point about the ku klux klan, who i think indeed are quite analagous to jihadis.

jim rockford brings up the very sound idea of civil suits against the mosques which have incited murder. seems like an excellent idea to me.

in france certainly, yes, the idea of jihad is "hip." it's in the rap songs in marseilles, something oh so dangerous to allude to, and every pack of 5 or 6 arab teenagers love -- love -- how they are feared as a result. these are kids who are by no means religious, they drink alcohol and smoke hashish, then repeat shit they've heard without any critical thought whatsoever.

i would compare it to the black power movement in america in the late 60s. the avatars of which were the black panthers, still seen as heroes even though huey newton ended up a crackhead dying in an alley and the group ultimately did little more than posture and deal drugs.

Posted by: Todd Grimson at July 18, 2005 01:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The problem with the course outlined above is that it's purely reactionary. The big "solution" is to sit around and wait for someone else to do something. This someone else is of course the "moderate muslim," that peculiar creature which continues to miss every chance to make his presence known.

Even if there is such a creature - and it's merely an article of faith for us to keep insisting that there is - I suspect that it's simply too late for Islam to go "moderate." The probable fact that most Believers are not particularly homicidal is not good enough. They foment it, they nurture it, they hide and shelter it. And I suspect that soon they will suffer for it.

Suing their burkhas off - a characteristically Western form of assault - may be a good start, but it's probably too little, too late. As every muslim outrage adds to the tally of implacable foes of Islam here in the West, the situation becomes more perilous and more irreversible. We really have to face the fact that it's time to fight tribalism with tribalism. Hit their authority structure. This is what keeps them from killing each other off back home. Will that require some adjustments to our own Enlightment-era outlook? Probably. It's that or lose the whole thing. Screw that.

Posted by: big dirigible at July 18, 2005 02:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It is interesting to me that these kids feel that the Muslim world is oppressed like no other group globally; that they feel intimately related to some sort of humiliation going on in other parts of the world. What I mean is: isn't part of that oppression coming from dictatorial governments that are run by Muslims? And what of Africa? I mean, if anyone is suffering...Why would some well to do South Asian kid living in Britain be drawn to such radicals? The whole multi-cultural, feel sorry for myself thing always bothered me. Even as a South Asian growing up in small town America. I mean, it was hard to be different, but I always rejected feeling uniquely persecuted because I was brown. It just seemed like a cop out. And I think the larger culture doesn't help these kids when it makes all kinds of excuses for all kinds of behaviour because racism exists in the larger culture. I mean, we have to recognize it, and understand how it affects these kids, but still, it's not an excuse for bad behavior. And somehow, all of the sorts of things you read in the media sort of feed into this feeling sorry for yourself, so that you have geniune acts of anti-Muslim or brown violence lumped in with the most minor of infractions (not even infractions, just differences of opinion, really) - and then you lose all sense of proportion. So that you can somehow, you can grow up into a person who can equate the US in Afghanistan with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

What is it that attracts these well to do South Asian kids to that radical lifestyle, or to Marxism before it? I mean, I could see with my own eyes how different my life was in America from what it might have been in India (and I would still have had a good life there, comparatively), and I just could never get the anti-West thing. It seemed like a chumps game to me.

Posted by: MD at July 18, 2005 02:54 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hmm, I'm reading to many Brit blogs - look how I've spelled behavior (behaviour). It is all so confusing....

Posted by: MD at July 18, 2005 02:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

On Stern:

I don't think there is much doubt that being a jihadist has a certain dangerous, revolutionary, and exciting appeal to some young Muslims. To others the cause is more ideological and there is a passionate sense of defending their god, culture, and people against Western encroachment.

A key tactic of insurgents/extremists in any conflict is to provoke escalating violence and passionate antipathy on BOTH sides and thereby destroy the ability of the status quo power to maintain order and boost recruitment and support for the insurgent organization. In that sense, Bush fell hook line and sinker for Bin Laden's bait by linking Iraq to the GWOT, engaging in an unsanctioned unprovoked war, and creating a rallying point for radicalization of young Islamic men.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 18, 2005 03:12 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Curious though that, POTUS B.

How many wars have been won without going on the offensive?

Posted by: Tim at July 18, 2005 03:47 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS B:

Then why did bin Laden offer terms of his surrender in his pre-election message?

Posted by: AT at July 18, 2005 04:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS B –

I think your argument missed a turn somewhere and went off the map when it went out of its way to land in Iraq.

If we consider the response of Muslims to radical Islam to be somewhat analogous to the response of Southerners to the KKK, then your comments about Bush and the GWOT being wrongheaded would have played out in the 1960’s as:

Kennedy’s “invasion” of Arkansas to integrate the schools and enforce the current standard of order was a dangerous diversion from stopping southern lynchings and will do nothing but drive up recruitment in the KKK.

It may have done just that, but it also put the southern moderates on notice that the status quo would no longer be tolerated and that their state and local governments would not be the final arbiters of what was “acceptable”. Once the battle lines were drawn, people were finally forced to choose a side – something that wasn’t always mandatory in the preceding decades.

Posted by: kevin at July 18, 2005 04:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If the muslim community isn't careful it will end up being treated the same way the Japanese community was just after Pearl Harbor - and for much the same reason. Right now most Americans don't know where the true loyality of the muslim community lies; and, until they do, all muslims will be targeted by the crack-pots (and not so crack-pots) if things get really messy here in the US.

Posted by: rabidfox at July 18, 2005 04:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

MD wrote:

It is interesting to me that these kids feel that the Muslim world is oppressed like no other group globally; that they feel intimately related to some sort of humiliation going on in other parts of the world.

They sound like America's white Christians.

Posted by: NeoDude at July 18, 2005 04:35 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They sound like America's white Christians.

Or Christians in Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the Palestininan territories, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, but hey, they're just evil Republicans, so who cares?

Posted by: AT at July 18, 2005 05:32 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg, an excellent post.

I have written elsewhere in this blog in response to Professor's Pace's analysis that I felt that the majority of suicide bombers were impressionistic youths being manipulated by more sophisticated handlers. We have to acknowledge that the media - whatever that means - has a remarkable ability to manipulate the real life images of the world as seen by young people who frequent that particular manifestation of the media. The fascination of young white, middle class Americans with ghetto rap is an example. When such an influence is combined with the tendency of younger people to develope strong identities with faddish behaviors, you have the ingredients for precisely the kind of seduction that bedeviled these four Brits. It is mind boggling for a Westerner to accept that a fad that celebrates suicidal participation could be met with such enthusiasm that the adherents gleefully blow themselves up, but witness the power of faddish behavior in this very incident. I have read quotes from other young British Muslims expressing identity and empathy with the bombers.

I further agree with the posters who question whether there truly is a moderate Islam that distances itself from the Jihadis not because of pressure from the populace from their "host" countries, but because of genuine beliefs that such conduct is both wrong and inconsistent with Islamic beliefs. I am waiting for those moderates to step forward and take the leadership that will ostracize those in the Islamic community that advocate and participate in Jihad. Until that happens on a large scale, Greg's prescription is not going to be filled. If it does not happen and soon, we will have no choice but to become vastly more intrusive in the Muslim communities in our midst. I would hate to have that happen.

I think it essential not to lose site of the risks. Were we to experience a WMD terror attack in this country, regardless of where, our economy and our way of life could well collapse. Witness the aftermath of 9/11 and multiply that many times.

I commend Greg for having the courage to put these difficult issues out in front. We need to stop dealing with the risks of homegrown terrorism by being more sensitive to the feelings of the Muslims amongst us than by insisting that they adhere to the requirement of our social compact to the effect that by living amongst us, they have the same obligation to preserve and respect the fibers of our society as the rest of us. Each time I hear that the majority of Muslims are moderate and find the Jihadist element repulsive, I ask, where is the confirmation.

Michael

Posted by: Michael Pecherer at July 18, 2005 06:23 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tim - how many wars have been lost going on the offensive without knowing the direction?

Posted by: zuavo at July 18, 2005 10:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Feigned surprise at yet another perfidious act by our allies, the French? Shame on you Gary.

Shouldn‘t the more pressing questions be, ‘Is this an isolated instance of perfidy by some mid/high-level bureaucrat? Or does this belie a more serious breach of the ‘old alliances’ at the upper-most levels of government?’


Posted by: Eg at July 18, 2005 11:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Boys will be boys:

The importance of being noticed

Posted by: Sissy Willis at July 18, 2005 12:09 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

NeoDude said: "They sound like America's white Christians."

That's a lot of ignorance and bigotry to pack into a mere six words.

Posted by: pst314 at July 18, 2005 01:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Remember, the U.S. left wanted to let the same French determine our foreign policy.

Posted by: exhelodrvr at July 18, 2005 02:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually NeoDude, they sound like neoNazis or more radical/fringe groups. But I understand the rhetorical point you were trying to make. Yes, people can get too carried away, can't they? All whites are this, all Muslims are this, sort of blog banter.....

Posted by: MD at July 18, 2005 02:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good post, but some rather pernicious accusations about the role of violent media...let's keep it in perspective, eh?

The role of _open_ media, of _accessible_ communication arguably plays a much greater role in executing terror attacks than violent entertainment. Note the biographic summaries of both Theo van Gogh's murderer and the London bombers indicate that they were, for all intents and purposes, normal until a period of extreme Islamism, in all likelihood brought on by either an epiphany about 9/11, or something as insane as a theomaniacal dialogue.

But it probably wasn't the last level of Doom 3.

As to openness in media, it is the price we pay for our free society.

Posted by: Scott Nowers at July 18, 2005 06:19 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The goal was and is to slog it out and see emerge a viable, unitary democratic polity in Iraq that would serve as an example to the Arab world of how a complex, multi-sectarian country can enshrine minority rights, the rule of law, and other tenets of political liberalism so as to help pull the region towards modernity. This, in turn, could well lead towards a long-term diminishment in radical Islamist activity.

Yeah, how's that working out?

In an era of tremendous violence in movies, in video games, in the streets of large urban centers--coupled with perceived humiliations (and real ones too, of course, like Abu Ghraib) of the Muslim nation--how easy to come under the sway of a slightly older man like Mohammad Sidique Khan (another London bomber, 30, who had even worked as a primary school counseler before). Born of boredom, of anomie, of a culture of violence and anything goes--well, why not play jihadi?

Please. For all the reasons people commit this violence, alienation, humiliation, salvation, anger, hatred, etc., I think violent movies and video games are really low on the list. A Jamaican jihadist is an anomaly, not a product of society.

We need moderate Muslims (the vast majority of adherents to Islam, one of the world's three great monotheistic religions, are indeed moderates) to help us reclaim Islam from the fanatics, not only in far-away Saudi Arabia; but also in nearby Luton and Leeds. We need them--not only to help 'out' fanatics hiding in their and our midst--but also to help spur on the conditions whereby a reformation of radical Islamist thought can take root. Violence-infused, radical Islamist thought must not be allowed to even flirt with the mainstream. It must be portrayed as evil and fascistic, and very firmly denounced and forsaken. Repeately, loudly, often--by Muslim community leaders throughout Europe and the Middle East and the United States in places like Detroit.

That is fine, but let's be careful here. If we say that the bombers are responsible for the crime, we cannot make the entire Muslim community responsible for their acts and blame Muslims for not doing enough "loud condemnation" everytime a bomb goes off.

And it really isnt so simple as wild-eyed fundamentalists vs. good law-abiding folk here, however much you want it to be. Many Muslims who condemn the London bombing still believe in strict interpretations of the religion we would find medieval; many who support it aren't so religious at all, just angry.

It also isn't so simple as violent Muslims with no political intentions. There is real shit going on in the world, wars in Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, etc. A loud condemnation against bombings which kill 50 in London (which there have been plenty of by the way) is going to be followed by multiple loud condemnations against wars that kill many more than 50 every day. You cannot wish that away, its simply reality.

Telling Muslims how to react isnt going to get us anywhere. It's a nice sounding solution to a much more difficult problem.

Posted by: hamburger at July 18, 2005 06:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The goal was and is to slog it out and see emerge a viable, unitary democratic polity in Iraq that would serve as an example to the Arab world of how a complex, multi-sectarian country can enshrine minority rights, the rule of law, and other tenets of political liberalism so as to help pull the region towards modernity. This, in turn, could well lead towards a long-term diminishment in radical Islamist activity.

Yeah, how's that working out? Our intentions don't matter, our results do.

In an era of tremendous violence in movies, in video games, in the streets of large urban centers--coupled with perceived humiliations (and real ones too, of course, like Abu Ghraib) of the Muslim nation--how easy to come under the sway of a slightly older man like Mohammad Sidique Khan (another London bomber, 30, who had even worked as a primary school counseler before). Born of boredom, of anomie, of a culture of violence and anything goes--well, why not play jihadi?

Please. For all the reasons people commit this violence, alienation, humiliation, salvation, anger, hatred, etc., I think violent movies and video games are really low on the list. A Jamaican jihadist is an anomaly, not a product of society.

We need moderate Muslims (the vast majority of adherents to Islam, one of the world's three great monotheistic religions, are indeed moderates) to help us reclaim Islam from the fanatics, not only in far-away Saudi Arabia; but also in nearby Luton and Leeds. We need them--not only to help 'out' fanatics hiding in their and our midst--but also to help spur on the conditions whereby a reformation of radical Islamist thought can take root. Violence-infused, radical Islamist thought must not be allowed to even flirt with the mainstream. It must be portrayed as evil and fascistic, and very firmly denounced and forsaken. Repeately, loudly, often--by Muslim community leaders throughout Europe and the Middle East and the United States in places like Detroit.

That is fine, but let's be careful here. If we say that the bombers are responsible for the crime, we cannot make the entire Muslim community responsible for their acts and blame Muslims for not doing enough "loud condemnation" everytime a bomb goes off.

And it really isnt so simple as wild-eyed fundamentalists vs. good law-abiding folk here, however much you want it to be. Many Muslims who condemn the London bombing still believe in strict interpretations of the religion we would find medieval; many who support it aren't so religious at all, just angry and anti-Western.

It also isn't so simple as violent Muslims with no political intentions. There is real violence going on in the world, wars in Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, etc. A loud condemnation against bombings which kill 50 in London (which there have been plenty of by the way) is going to be followed by multiple loud condemnations against wars that kill many more than 50 every day, condemnations which are routinely ignored in the West.

Telling Muslims how to react isn't going to get us anywhere. It simply allows us to be self-righteous while ignoring reality.

Posted by: hamburger at July 18, 2005 06:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

hey, please delete my first comment

Posted by: hamburger at July 18, 2005 06:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

MD,

Thanks for pointing out my intent...I'll try to be more clear, when I throw out bigoted and prejudicial statements.

Posted by: NeoDude at July 18, 2005 09:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For god's sake people, if you are going to leak, well then you better have your damn information straight. At least give us that much.


Am I the only one who thinks there are good reasons for not considering an anonymous leak credible just because it's a leak?

Posted by: rosignol at July 19, 2005 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

This is a perfect example of why the EU is doomed. The continuity of a political ecosystem requires balance and the removal of maverick or unstable elements.

Hmm. Maybe the EU without France would work.

Posted by: Neo at July 19, 2005 06:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Kevin --

Your JFK and KKK analogy is interesting although the situations are different in a lot of important ways:
- foreign invasion vs. federal intervention
- information and political culture of Southern USA vs. Middle East
- polarization of race relations vs. more broadly pervasive anti-Western, pro-Islam sentiments
- other differences in scope, aims, structure, etc.

I'd bet that the civil rights interventions of the 60's DID help KKK recruiting. But the KKK wasn't going to be a serious threat, the civil rights cause was critical to the nation, and school integration was at the center of that cause.

Islamic extremist terrorism clearly IS a seriout threat, its not clear Iraq was, and for sure Iraq was not at the center of the GWOT.

All of these differences contribute to why Iraq is a more potent potential recruiting tool for bin Laden and a distraction from the center of gravity of the GWOT and thus not comparable to the risk undertaken by Kennedy.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 19, 2005 07:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Er, wasn't the President who used the National Guard to integrate that school Eisenhower, not Kennedy?

Posted by: rosignol at July 19, 2005 12:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good question Rosignol. I was simply assuming Kevin had his facts right (a risky proposition in any blog comment!). The substance of the points are valid regardless.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 19, 2005 02:38 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"and for sure Iraq was not at the center of the GWOT."

Hmmmm.... And you know that how?

Does the GWOT have a center? If it did it doesn't now.

Does a war have to be fought only at its center anyway? Historically that is simply unsupportable, logically it makes no sense. The idea is to get to the center, not start there with a magic mother of all battles to begin with. If Al Qaeda ever was gracious enough to provide such an obvious opportunity with all its fascist brethren in tow I am sure Bush would have taken him up on it. However, I am sure Hussein, Assad, the mullahs in Tehran and any number of other actors would have cooked up some new ones.

From everything I have read Iraq wasn't the center of Al Qaeda, though more involved with them than most critics want to admit, but it was certainly amongst the most prominent supporters of terrorists in general. If you define the GWOT as merely a fight against Al Qaeda then you have an argument about Iraq's centrality. Of course that means you wanted to fight a different war than I or Greg did. We wanted a fight against Islamic terrorist groups in general, against those who might help them and Al Qaeda in the future, and the fascist states that breed them. In the war myself, Greg and Bush are supporting, Iraq is quite central.

Posted by: Lance at July 19, 2005 08:15 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS B –

I agree there are many differences between the scenarios, but as with all historical analysis we’re not looking for perfect historical models of our own situation (there aren’t any) but models where we can see parallels, learn from history, and make adjustments for the differences between historical and current scenarios.

The similarities between the current Middle East moderates and the moderates of the mid-century American South are interesting to consider. We have a much deeper understanding of what happened with Southern moderates in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s than we probably do about what’s happening in the minds of Iraqis from 1980 to present, [Even if we misstate the US President at the time – HT: rosignol]. This allows a much richer dialog on a number of topics if we are open to discussing the similarities as well as the differences.

My larger point was it took some outside force to break the grip of the Southern racists on the thinking and behavior in the American South. With the KKK riding roughshod and hooded to conceal their identity, moderates had a hard time speaking out let alone gaining control of power and challenging those who directed violence against blacks.

The Civil War had been fought, the slaves had been freed, and the courts had struck down segregation, but it still took an outside force for the good people of the South to feel the real center of power (the Federal government) was on their side even as their local centers of power (state and local governments) were not and would not be for some time.

I don’t think anyone at the time would have picked Little Rock as the center of Southern racism, but the situation it presented by ignoring the decisions of the Federal courts created not only the responsibility to act, but the opportunity for Federal intervention into Southern society.

Likewise, Iraq, by its invasion of Kuwait and subsequent disregard for the terms of surrender (including sanctions and UN monitoring of WMD), created a situation where action by an outside force could allow moderate Muslims to engage in the political process as they had not been before.

I recognize the inherent risk of OIF, but opportunities to truly change the game in a meaningful way are few. You have to grab them when presented.

Posted by: kevin at July 20, 2005 04:00 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The idea that the London and Madrid attacks were carried out by "fringe elements" within the Islamic community is naive in the extreme.
Prior to 9/11 the mainstream Islamic community in the west had ample opportunity to blow the whistle on the extremists in their midst. This never happened.
You can be certain that if Christian churches had been infiltrated by radical crusading fanatics intent on wreaking havoc, more than a few clerics would have been going to the authorities and the media with their concerns. The uniform silence within Islamic ranks in the west cannot simply betoken ignorance - to what extent it indicated collusion is another question.
In the months following 9/11 there was ample opportunity for mainstream Islamic voices to distance themselves publicly from the extremists. Fatwahs condemning bin Laden could have been issued and other tangible signs of condemnation. This never happened. The fatwah issued in Spain against bin Laden was a direct reaction to the train bombing and sprang from fear for the internal security of Muslims living in Spain - not disinterested condemnation of bin Laden and all he stands for. Islamic terror has to some extent been nurtured through a combination of active support, passive compliance and willful ignorance on the part of a good many mainstream Muslims.
The IRA and Sinn Fein similarly, could never achieved it's reach and impact in N. Ireland without the assent of those Republicans in suits and ties who would never dream of lifting a gun, but who weren't above giving the nod to the Provos.

I would also add that the hand of these bombers is strengthened by the home spun sub-cultures in Britain that hate the flag and authority almost by default - the urban anarchists and punks. There are legions of these types in urban centers in the UK. The only badge of merit that carries any weight with them is giving the finger to authority and bucking any kind order. Naturally the bulk of them live off money doled out to them by the authority they so despise. These types gravitate mindlessly toward any force that attacks “the establishment” and they need to be targeted along with those British Muslims who support to the likes of Al Qaeda and cheer the on-line butchery of psychotics like Ayman al Zawqawri.

Posted by: Alex Finley at July 23, 2005 03:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Vraiment une regime de banane.

Posted by: Joe N. at July 23, 2005 03:50 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Good to see that the hate still flows freely in some quarters...

Quote from the Harvard professor:

"She said she feared that for some of them, violent Islamism had become a fad.

For some, she said, "To be angry and rebellious these days is to be angry, rebellious and Islamist, and, unfortunately, to be violent." In a previous era, she observed, they might have embraced Marxism."

She obviously doesn't know the first thing about these people's motives and sure as hell doesn't know anything about 'fads'

Is she so dense that she thinks that young, affluent men would turn to radical Islam just because it's a 'fad'?!? Yeah, I'm sure that people go down a path that will probably result in their own death (or ticket to Guantanamo) and the destruction of their family on a whim, or just to 'rebel'. Oh, yeah, they're so dumb that they don't realize how serious it is (but wait, weren't most of these people well-educated?)

Please, does common sense exist anymore? This isn't a 'fad' like tongue piercings or raves...these people are joining up in record numbers because of a deep sense that injustice has been inflicted upon their people.

The first step to victory is to understand your enemy. The first step to understanding your enemy is to understand their motive. Their motive is the US policy in the Middle East.

Posted by: Big Elly at July 25, 2005 04:53 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Qu'ran indicates the enemy is motivated by Jihad. Worldwide Islamic domination. Submit or die. To Islam war is caused by the infidel's failure to submit.

Which explains why America has been thus far Jihad's most aggressive target.

To end Islamic Jihad perhaps Muslims might consider abrogating Chapter 9 of the Qu'ran since abrogation of Islamic verse is an acceptable practice began by Muhammed himself.

Posted by: syn at July 28, 2005 02:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Elly - whose side are you on? It's not just about understanding is it? I mean, I can thoroughly divine the motives of my enemy and be savvy to the root cause of his grievances, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pack up my bags and say "you win".

You appear to subscribe to the myth circulated by Islamo facists and their followers, that certain sectors of the Middle East are sacred ground - owned and operated by the heirs of Muhammad. This medieval notion of a sacred Islamic Dominion is sheer hogwash.

First of all these countries are not inhabited by proto-typical sons of Allah. They are inhabited by people with diverse political opinions, many of whom are chaffing under the tyranny imposed by theocratic dictators and Ba'athist era tyrants. Christopher Hitchens recently visited Iran for a Vanity Fair story, and while in Qom met with the grandson of man who is arguable the godfather of this current outbreak of Islamo psychosis - Ayatollah Khomenei - founder of modern Iran. The grandson tells Hitchens in this VF story, that he would like to see American intervention soon in order to bring an end to the state his grandfather helped to found. There are many democratic activists in Iran who would disagree with your contention that the west should simply retreat from "Islamic lands" and leave people in chains who have as much right to freedom as anyone else.

Not so long ago, the left mounted a global crusade to oust Franco. The Spanish Civil War was the cause c'elebre of the day. Any then who argued that Spain was for the "Sons of the Conquistadors" or some such anachronistic silliness would have been side-lined by the drive to force the tyrant from power.

The reluctance of people on the left to acknowledge that a similar cause exists in the Middle East is because their revolutionary edge has been blunted by anti-American and anti-Israeli prejudice. Opposing the jihad mentality in the minds of some, equates with giving the nod to Israel and becoming an American enabler.

It's amazing what some European socialists are prepared to put up with in the form of the fascistic and chauvinist attitudes that flow from rabid Islamic fundamentalism, just to avoid the appearance of going soft on Israel and the USA.

As far as this pundit is concerned - this position is no longer credible.

Posted by: scowler at July 28, 2005 09:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Elly - whose side are you on? It's not just about understanding is it? I mean, I can thoroughly divine the motives of my enemy and be savvy to the root cause of his grievances, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pack up my bags and say "you win".

You appear to subscribe to the myth circulated by Islamo facists and their followers, that certain sectors of the Middle East are sacred ground - owned and operated by the heirs of Muhammad. This medieval notion of a sacred Islamic Dominion is sheer hogwash.

First of all these countries are not inhabited by proto-typical sons of Allah. They are inhabited by people with diverse political opinions, many of whom are chaffing under the tyranny imposed by theocratic dictators and Ba'athist era tyrants. Christopher Hitchens recently visited Iran for a Vanity Fair story, and while in Qom met with the grandson of man who is arguable the godfather of this current outbreak of Islamo psychosis - Ayatollah Khomenei - founder of modern Iran. The grandson tells Hitchens in this VF story, that he would like to see American intervention soon in order to bring an end to the state his grandfather helped to found. There are many democratic activists in Iran who would disagree with your contention that the west should simply retreat from "Islamic lands" and leave people in chains who have as much right to freedom as anyone else.

Not so long ago, the left mounted a global crusade to oust Franco. The Spanish Civil War was the cause c'elebre of the day. Any then who argued that Spain was for the "Sons of the Conquistadors" or some such anachronistic silliness would have been side-lined by the drive to force the tyrant from power.

The reluctance of people on the left to acknowledge that a similar cause exists in the Middle East is because their revolutionary edge has been blunted by anti-American and anti-Israeli prejudice. Opposing the jihad mentality in the minds of some, equates with giving the nod to Israel and becoming an American enabler.

It's amazing what some European socialists are prepared to put up with in the form of the fascistic and chauvinist attitudes that flow from rabid Islamic fundamentalism, just to avoid the appearance of going soft on Israel and the USA.

As far as this pundit is concerned - this position is no longer credible.

Posted by: scowler at July 28, 2005 09:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Hey Elly - whose side are you on? It's not just about understanding is it? I mean, I can thoroughly divine the motives of my enemy and be savvy to the root cause of his grievances, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pack up my bags and say "you win".

You appear to subscribe to the myth circulated by Islamo facists and their followers, that certain sectors of the Middle East are sacred ground - owned and operated by the heirs of Muhammad. This medieval notion of a sacred Islamic Dominion is sheer hogwash.

First of all these countries are not inhabited by proto-typical sons of Allah. They are inhabited by people with diverse political opinions, many of whom are chaffing under the tyranny imposed by theocratic dictators and Ba'athist era tyrants. Christopher Hitchens recently visited Iran for a Vanity Fair story, and while in Qom met with the grandson of man who is arguable the father of this current outbreak of Islamo psychosis - Ayatollah Khomenei - founder of modern Iran. The grandson tells Hitchens in this VF story, that he would like to see American intervention soon in order to bring an end to the state his grandfather helped to found. There are many democratic activists in Iran who would disagree with your contention that the west should simply retreat from "Islamic lands" and leave people in chains who have as much right to freedom as anyone in America.

Not so long ago, the left mounted a global crusade to oust Franco. The Spanish Civil War was the cause c'elebre of the day. Any then who argued that Spain was for the "Sons of the Conquistadors" or some such silliness would have been side-lined by the drive to force the tyrant from power.

The reluctance of people on the left to acknowledge that a similar need exists in the Middle East is because their revolutionary edge has been blunted by anti-American and anti-Israeli prejudice. Opposing the jihad mentality in the minds of some, equates with giving the nod to Israel and becoming an American enabler.

It's amazing what some European socialists are prepared to put up with in the form of the fascist and chauvinist attitudes that flow from rabid Islamic fundamentalism, just to avoid the appearance of going soft on Israel and the USA.

As far as this pundit is concerned - this position is no longer credible.

Posted by: scowler at July 28, 2005 09:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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