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« Modernism Done Right | Main | Home-Grown Murderers »

July 12, 2005

Comments

Jim

There was an article in the Indian press, Times of India, I think, a few years ago about the link between AO and the LTTE. The link was logistical rahter than ideological - the LTTe make the best fake travel document sin the world. Aside from that, while Tamil Hinduism may not be the cause of the LTTE's especially bloody and ruthless style, it certainly may enable it. Shaiva is the dominant religion, and that was the basis for the Thagi cult in the 19th cnetury. I think the same is true for Chrisitianity. It really only provides cover for people who want to carry out their own psychological dysfunctions on the rest of us.

Abiola Lapite

The West has its full share of people who suffer from psychological dysfunction, and yet none of them choose to become suicide bombers, nor do Middle Eastern Christians, for that matter.

Ideology does matter, and Islamism is as potent an ideology as Communism used to be - more so, even, as Communism never promised its adherents a personal express ticket to paradise if they chose to die for its sake.

Wayne

Well, the West doesn't need its own suicide bombers to demonstrate its own form of disgrace - witness the rule of the Nazis and their 'master race' attitude to justify slaughter of other races. There's also the aspect of suicide pilots used in WW2 for Japan and the threat by Japanese Generals that they'd encourage their people to commit mass Hari-Kiri if the US attacked with conventional methods.

Obviously I'm talking of the enlarged definition of the 'West' here by including Germany and Japan. But I think the mental psychosis and anti-social behaviour of Nazi's has quite a bit in common to the mental state that drives one to become a suicide bomber.

Abiola Lapite

Sure, and what did it take to eradicate Nazism and Japanese militarism from the face of the Earth, as they almost entirely have been? It wasn't looking for and addressing supposed "root causes" like poverty and "occupation" that did the trick ...

Getting back to the point at issue, no sane person ever claimed that the "root cause" of Nazi genocide and aggression was anything other than Nazism, and German society hardly contained more dysfunctional people at the time than did any of the other nations which had been bled dry during the Great War. Talk of "dysfunction" or the West's own past bloodletting only serves to obscure the reality that *the* primary motivator for terrorism today is Islam, or at least a particular variant of Islam which has much wider purchase than most people are willing to admit.

Mrs Tilton

Abiola, haven't read Pape's article, but if I correct recall a summary of it I read someplace today, he did note that an overwhelming factor in suicide bombings is a *difference in religions* between bomber and target; not that the difference is necessarily predictive, but that, where there are suicide bombings, the difference is almost always there. (Admittedly, this is a fuzzy concept; is there a 'diference in religions' between Irish republicans and loyalists, or between Serbs and Croats? Depends on how far back you're standing, I suppose.)

Andrew

So, what is it about Islam that makes it specifically vulnerable to spinning off a cult of death with a violent aversion to modernity, in a way that Christianity, Hinduism, etc. are not? If I read you correctly, you're not saying that Islam itself is a violent cult of death etc, but that the modern phenomenon of "Islamism" over the last 50-100 years is related directly to Islam in the sense that no other religion (and religion per se, not set of sociohistorical circumstances) could have produced something broadly similar. Correct me if I have misinterpreted.

Russell L. Carter

I'm unconvinced by Abiola's argument--that the nature of Islam is uniquely important in its generation of suicide terrorism. Pape's interview is founded on facts, that if true are compelling. I don't see any that are obviously false. Fundamentalist Islamic culture may be especially congenial for producing suicide bombers, but it does not logically follow that the occupations are not the primary stimulus for the action. They might or might not be. Pape provides clear evidence they are.

Just another point. As antiterrorism strategies and public awareness has improved, it's reasonable for the terrorist's tactics to change (i.e., no stranded bags, no transit lockers, etc.). A suicide bomb really is the most effective strategy attm, thus the most rational to adopt. People have always been willing to die for their country...

Jim

"The West has its full share of people who suffer from psychological dysfunction, and yet none of them choose to become suicide bombers, nor do Middle Eastern Christians, for that matter."

Islamism tells its adherents that they are superior to everyone else. Nothing unique about that. The tension comes form the obvious disparity between this belief and the visible evidence. At least when Western Christians believ(ed?) they were inherently superior, they didn't have to deal with having their noses rubbed in contradictory evidnece everyday. Of course Islamists are frustrated; they have the impossible task of asserting their professed superiority. They are murderously frustrated. Tough shit. They need ot answer one question for themselves before we get sick of them enough to answer it for them: is their warped belief worth more than the survival of their nations, their languages, their religion and all their little vectors? How much longer do they think they have? How forbearing would the French be if something similar happened in Paris? How long would it take for the bodies in the banlieues to start piling up? Not only are these people delusional about religion, they are delusional about Europeans.

Abiola Lapite

"I'm unconvinced by Abiola's argument--that the nature of Islam is uniquely important in its generation of suicide terrorism."

Yes, you obviously know something the leaders of Hamas and Al-Qaeda aren't privy to, what with their silly insistence on according Islam pride of place in their philosophies. Why not share this privileged pipeline you have to the thoughts of suicide bombers with MI6 and the CIA?

"it does not logically follow that the occupations are not the primary stimulus for the action."

Then why did September 11 happen, and why to an America which had gone to bat for Muslims in Bosnia, and had pressured the Israelis under Clinton's watch? Why was the USS Cole bombed way back in 1998 under the same Clinton's regime? Or was he a neocon "occupying" Muslims territory too?

"A suicide bomb really is the most effective strategy attm, thus the most rational to adopt."

If it's so "rational," how come the only people who practice it other than the Tamil Tigers happen to be Muslims? Don't Christians, Atheists, animists and Buddhists have grievances as well? Palestinian and Iraqi Christians share all the daily frustrations of life under "occupation" with their Muslim brethren, so why aren't *they* engaging in this "rational" behavior? Or are you claiming that Muslims enjoy a rationality no other disgruntled peoples possess?

"People have always been willing to die for their country..."

Show me all the Irishmen, Columbians, Basques, Xhosas Shonas and Tibetans who've gone out and committed acts of suicide terrorism. Hey, let me make it easy for you: show me the vast numbers of secular-minded Westerners who've been willing to engage in *certain* suicide (as opposed to merely *risking* same) for the sake of their country.

In any case, we aren't talking of people dying for their "country", as Islam isn't a country - other than in the minds of the Islamists whose religious beliefs you insist on discounting the importance of.

Andrew

"Then why did September 11 happen, and why to an America which had gone to bat for Muslims in Bosnia, and had pressured the Israelis under Clinton's watch? Why was the USS Cole bombed way back in 1998 under the same Clinton's regime? Or was he a neocon "occupying" Muslims territory too?"

I believe part of Pape's thesis is that one of the strategic aims of al-Qaeda is to drive the American troops out of Saudi Arabia, which were there even in 1998 and 2001. He's not referring specifically to the US occupation of Iraq. According to this thesis, pre-Iraq-war attacks on the U.S. are perfectly consistent with a "strategic" interpretation of suicide terrorism.

Russell L. Carter

"Then why did September 11 happen, and why to an America which had gone to bat for Muslims in Bosnia, and had pressured the Israelis under Clinton's watch? Why was the USS Cole bombed way back in 1998 under the same Clinton's regime? Or was he a neocon "occupying" Muslims territory too?"

The stated reason, of which you are aware, is the US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.

As to the rest, it is clear to me that given provocation, Islamic culture provides an ample, almost unique, supply of suicide terrorists. Why that mitigates or even justifies the provocation, is a mystery.

Leaving aside the justness of the on-the-ground occupations, it is Pape's observation, which is just that, an observation, that removing the occupations essentially eliminates the suicide bombings.

Other alternatives exist for eliminating suicide terrorism. A few posts down you advocated that the moderates self police their culture. I thought that might help, but probably not much. We could certainly implement genocide. Other ideas?

Abiola

"I believe part of Pape's thesis is that one of the strategic aims of al-Qaeda is to drive the American troops out of Saudi Arabia, which were there even in 1998 and 2001."

Yes, but *why* did al-Qaeda have this particular "strategic" aim, again? Because the presence of American troops there was defiling what is considered holy soil by a certain *religion* ... There are or have been American troops stationed throughout numerous countries across the globe, but only in one did their mere presence so offend some group's sensibilities that they felt compelled to initiate a campaign of suicide terrorism.

It's really quite straightforward: one cannot understand global Islamic terrorism without acknowledging the crucial role Islam plays in it. Trying to do otherwise is as stupid as looking at any other cause other than Communism to explain Communist expansionism.

Abiola

"it is Pape's observation, which is just that, an observation, that removing the occupations essentially eliminates the suicide bombings"

The wonderful thing about this "observation" ("hypothesis" is the more appropriate word here) is that it hasn't been put to the test, nor will it be any time soon. Who is naive enough to believe that tucking our tails between our legs and fleeing Iraq and Afghanistan won't simply encourage Islamists to ramp up their demands? Today it's Saudi Arabia, tomorrow it'll be Kuwait, the day after the UAE, the day after that Uzbekistan ... and once we've run out of places to flee, we'll then get to enjoy Bin Laden's followers demanding we fully accomodate the veil, just like they've demanded of France; acquiescing to this in turn then leads to new claims upon the pusillanimous Westerners who've proven that they'll agree to anything for a little peace from militarily insignificant fanatics.

"Other ideas?"

Yes, repeat the lesson of World War 2: answer Islamist aggression not with surrender, but by giving them *more* of the very thing they claim to be fighting against - the more terror they throw at us, the more invasion and occupation they'll experience. Once they see the will to retaliate with two eyes for each eye taken is there, they'll lose their zeal for international jihad quickly enough ...

Mrs Tilton

'Islamism tells its adherents that they are superior to everyone else. ... The tension comes form the obvious disparity between this belief and the visible evidence. At least when Western Christians believ(ed?) they were inherently superior, they didn't have to deal with having their noses rubbed in contradictory evidnece everyday.'

Western Christians living in Muslim Toledo or Granada would have had their noses rubbed a bit, I'd say.

Abiola

Yes, and look at how they reacted: by initiating several crusades, as well as a long and bloody reconquista.

Chuckles

Pape's thesis is a very tempting view; one that I am afraid finds traction amongst a lot of Libertarians (mostly those of the antiwar stripe). Prima facie; I will agree with the antiwar crowd that Islamists arent just driven by an abstract hatred of "Western values" or "Freedom". But then why the attacks? "They are over here because we are over there," is the answer.
"Well, whats wrong with us being over there,?" I ask.
Thats where the entire argument crumbles; in so far as American troops are not in these countries by pure expanionist effort. Chalmers Johnson also makes these interesting arguments and urges withdrawal - but this is hopeless. Islam has a history of vicious terrorism and we must ask "why" exactly these people want the troops out of Dar es Islam. The root causes like Abiola pointed out are then again distilled into Religion/Culture. "They are holy sites," we are told. Bullshit.
People seem to forget what the Islamists would do were roles reversed. Islam has been destroying and polluting the holy sites of other cultures from time immemorial. Doesnt matter how you slice it, the causes of Islamic terror are religious and themselves expansionist. OBL doesnt want to drive out the Sauds so he can establish Paradise! No! These folks are expansionists!
Its not as if OBL is going to come in, establish a democracy and deliver the hoi polloi from oppression - these fellows are tyrannical expansionists and thus any consideration of "root causes" that ignores the fundamental is just a load of crap.
(And No, they arent angry because the USA isnt supporting democracies. They are angry because the USA isnt supporting their own brand of fundamentalism; which is not any more democratic than the latest depredation out of Arabia's ruling houses.)

Russell L. Carter

"answer Islamist aggression not with surrender, but by giving them *more* of the very thing they claim to be fighting against - the more terror they throw at us, the more invasion and occupation they'll experience."

Iraq is what, 25 million? Giving them more of what they're fighting against costs about $100B/year plus maybe 10K soldiers (K+W).

So Saudi Arabia: 15M. Pakistan: 148M. Yemen: 17M. Egypt: 68M. (Note, apparently no suicide terrorists originate from Syria or Iran, so I'll not include them).

I think you'll agree the above list is a tidy meal to tuck into. A simple extrapolation (ignoring economies of scale) is about $1000B/year and 90K troops a year. And it has to be said that operational success in Iraq is strictly hypothetical.

Genocide would be so much cheaper.

In other words, you can't be serious. Are you?

Chuckles

On Theo Van Gogh:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-5136448,00.html

[...The Muslim extremist on trial in the slaying of filmmaker Theo van Gogh confessed Tuesday, saying he was driven by religious conviction. ``I don't feel your pain,'' he told the victim's mother...]

[...``If I were released and would have the chance to do it again ... I would do exactly the same thing.'' ...]

[...``What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith. ... I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet,'' he said...]

[... Some spectators rose to their feet as he spoke, visibly stunned by his comments...] (Ignorant jackasses IMO. Why should they be stunned?)

[...At one point, he addressed the victim's mother, Anneke, who was sitting in the public gallery. ``I have to admit I don't have any sympathy for you,'' he said. ``I can't feel for you because I think you're a nonbeliever.''...]

Yeah...Islam the Religion of Peace couldnt possibly have produced this maniac. The root causes for his psychosis lie in his anger at the defilement of Islamic holy sites and icons in a land where he is an immigrant. This fellow is obviously an anomaly, one thinks - (until of course when one wanders into a mosque in a place on the Earth where many of the congregants havent even ventured out of their tiny hovels and hamlets and one feels the very same sentiments).


Abiola

"Iraq is what, 25 million? Giving them more of what they're fighting against costs about $100B/year plus maybe 10K soldiers (K+W)."

This is quite simply daft. The only reason Iraq's occupation is costing so much is that America's actually trying to do something positive for Iraqis by rebuilding the infrastructure and keeping the peace. If the sole aim were to occupy the country and keep its people under the iron heel, the running costs would be much lower.

"In other words, you can't be serious. Are you?"

Why don't you answer your own question? Your insistence on denying the blatantly obvious, along with your penchant for weird arguments out of left-field, suggest otherwise.

Russell L. Carter

"If the sole aim were to occupy the country and keep its people under the iron heel, the running costs would be much lower."

Your WWII analogy implies two successes: Japan and Germany, each reconstructed at enormous expence. I however am going to unconditionally surrender at this point.

Best!

Abiola

"Your WWII analogy implies two successes: Japan and Germany, each reconstructed at enormous expence."

Perhaps you ought to re-read your Japanese and German history books then. The reconstruction of the former country was done almost entirely on the Japanese citizen's own dime, not through some massive American-funded infrastructure scheme, and both Germany and Japan were allowed to rebuild only to serve as defenses against the Soviet Union, *not* because they remained rife with ideological fervor. East Germany actually had to pay both for the reconstruction of itself *and* the Soviet Union.

"I however am going to unconditionally surrender at this point."

As well you should - your arguments are less than impressive.

Andrew

"Once they see the will to retaliate with two eyes for each eye taken is there, they'll loose their zeal for international jihad quickly enough ..."

But you've just emphasized how irrational the Islamists are, and that they're driven *not* by rational strategic aims [you put "rational" and "strategic" into scare-quotes, for example], but by fanaticism of the "they hate us because they hate freedom" sort. That's not the sort of thing that is responsive to "Oh guys, our tactics aren't working, they're too tough for us... we'd better just give up on this suicide bombing nonsense." We certainly didn't win WWII by *intimidating* the Nazis into surrendering, we won by smashing Germany utterly. I hope you're not arguing that we should defeat suicide terrorism by smashing all the Muslim countries utterly.

Re your P.S.: Pape's argument applies more broadly than to military occupation in the strictest sense (e.g., our occupation of Iraq). In the case of Turkey, the Kurdish extremists believe that Turkey is "occupying" their "homeland." I would consider this a case more akin to the Tamil rebellion in Sri Lanka than al-Qaeda. However, I agree that Islamist attacks on Saudi Arabia can't be construed as acting toward the strategic goal of removing foreign occupiers from a perceived homeland.

Abiola

"In the case of Turkey, the Kurdish extremists believe that Turkey is "occupying" their "homeland.""

The Turkish attacks I have in mind were suicide attacks carried out in Istanbul in 2003 by *ethnic Turks*, not by Kurdish separatists.

Andrew

"The Turkish attacks I have in mind were suicide attacks carried out in Istanbul in 2003 by *ethnic Turks*, not by Kurdish separatists."

Ah, gotcha. But then the 2003 attacks sort of support Pape's thesis: the attacks were on "Western" buildings, i.e. HSBC bank and the British consulate. That is, they didn't target "Turkey" in the same way that attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacked the US or that bombing the Tube attacked Britain; the specific nature of the targets suggests the attacks were symbolically aimed at Britain. It could be that they targeted British symbols in Istanbul rather than targeting Britain itself because, as Turkish nationals, they had greater freedom of movement to get to Istanbul than to get to the UK. And by this time the Iraq war had begun. The timing of the bombs to Bush's visit with Blair also suggests a pointed symbolism to the attacks. (However, the attack on the synagogues doesn't fit so well with Pape's thesis and fits better with a "they hate Jews, the West, modernity, capitalism, democracy, etc etc" thesis.)

jeet

"the 2003 attacks sort of support Pape's thesis: the attacks were on "Western" buildings, i.e. HSBC bank and the British consulate."

In March 2001 (NB before any invasion or occupation of Afghanistan or Iraq) the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, a remnant from before the Muslims' own invasion of Afghanistan.

If you want to go further back in the history of Afghanistan, look up the 1895-6 jihad of Amir Abdur Rahman against the indigenous non-Muslim Kalasha of Afghanistan.

"it does not logically follow that the occupations are not the primary stimulus for the action."

It all depends on how you define "occupation". The mujahidin believe that Kashmir is "occupied" by India even though the Muslim presence there is the legacy of Muslim armies invading Central and South Asia rather than the other way around.

The mujahidin are expansionist xenophobes, plain and simple. They do not discriminate between rich and poor or white and brown. They believe they have the right to kill you because they are Muslim and you are not.

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