Wednesday, March 07, 2007

More on Terrorism, Hegemony...

Sources and inspirations for this week's 'toon:
  • My main inspiration was a quote from Alastair Crooke, who says that "what Muslims hate is the West's monopoly on the socio-economic implementation of values such as justice, freedom, good governance, which all Muslims share. Muslims don't believe simply that the West is the only model of the implementation of these values..."

    See also an older Chomsky piece, "Terrorist in the Mirror," where he makes one of his calling-card arguments:
    The most elementary [moral principle] is a virtual truism: decent people apply to themselves the same standards that they apply to others, if not more stringent ones...

    I have been writing about terror for 25 years, ever since the Reagan administration declared its War on Terror. I've been using definitions that seem to be doubly appropriate: first, they make sense; and second, they are the official definitions of those waging the war. To take one of these official definitions, terrorism is "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature...through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear," typically targeting civilians... These definitions yield an entirely unacceptable consequence: it follows that the US is a leading terrorist state, dramatically so during the Reaganite war on terror.

    ...Either the US is part of the civilized world, and must send the US air force to bomb Washington; or it declares itself to be outside the civilized world. The logic is impeccable, but fortunately, logic has been dispatched as deep into the memory hole as moral truisms.

    Later, he reminds us that there were a lot of us out there advocating a measured, intelligent response after 9/11... but, of course, that never happened:
    With regard to Islamic terror, there is a broad consensus among intelligence agencies and researchers. They identify two categories: the jihadis, who regard themselves as a vanguard, and their audience, which may reject terror but nevertheless regard their cause as just. A serious counter-terror campaign would therefore begin by considering the grievances , and where appropriate, addressing them, as should be done with or without the threat of terror. There is broad agreement among specialists that al-Qaeda-style terror "is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries"

    In this article, Chomsky cites research by Robert Pape, who argues that "suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation and not Islamic fundamentalism."

    Check out a blog post by Paul Street, who differentiates the "Iraq war definitions" of terms like "democracy" and "terrorism" from the actual, literal definitions. Lastly, Robert Parry argues that Bush's identified enemy in this war has mutated from "terrorists" into an even more amorphous foe: "radicals and extremists." It would take quite a stretch of the imagination not to label Bush himself a "radical" or "extremist," let alone a terrorist.

  • Check out two reports by Syed Saleem Shahzad on the status of al-Qaeda, which note that American operations in the war on terror have only pushed young Muslims to gravitate towards groups like al Qaeda, and to consider Osama bin Laden a "hero."

    See also Juan Cole on the estimated 650,000 Iraqi civilians killed during the Iraq War.

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