Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


They want to kill us all
October 20, 2002 5:33 AM   Subscribe

They want to kill us all Forget the ‘root causes’, says Mark Steyn. The massacre in Bali was part of the continuing Islamofascist war against the West, and those who ignore it are sleepwalking to national suicide I wait now--loaded with my meds--for the Left to call for more understanding, help for the poverty stricken, and understanding. Incidentally, if you turn to http://www.debka.com/ today, you will see that they claim Bin Laden alive and well in Saudi Arabia!
posted by Postroad (108 comments total)

 
Thank you Postroad!

This is reality from (refreshingly) a Canadian whose point of view combines both facts and sheer common sense.

Ignore it at your peril.
posted by hama7 at 6:01 AM on October 20, 2002


If you ignore the root causes, you're only fighting the symptoms, not the disease - and that's a battle you will NOT win. But then again, if you only fight to eliminate the root causes, but do nothing to prevent the symptoms, then you're opening your gates to terrorism.

The best bet to defeat terrorism is to make a two-pronged attack consisting of the short term military repression and of a long term fight against the poverty that creates the basis of terrorism: Ignorance, desperation and religious fundamentalism.

hama7, ignore the root causes at your peril.
posted by cx at 6:02 AM on October 20, 2002


Excelent article. Indeed most left excusniks get caught up in their own patronizing attitude of knowing what and why those 'poor little third worldy extremists' really want, better than they do themselves. The real root causes are the west's liberal culture itself. If you wanted to remove the root causes, you would need to end all the social accomplishments of the past several hundred years.
posted by HTuttle at 6:10 AM on October 20, 2002


Oh, come on - enough with the gratuitous liberal-bashing. This liberal finds himself agreeing with a surprising amount of Steyn's presentation.

"Islamofascist," which could so easily be dismissed as Godwinist claptrap, is a term that captures something real and which I believe we in the small-l liberal small-d democratic West will need to wrestle with before too long.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2002


Beneath contempt, and not worthy of a response.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 AM on October 20, 2002


So cx, the "root causes" sound pretty important, but I think you've managed to ignore the point of the article, which is that Islamists do not give a rats ass who dies, as long as they are "infidels".

Those extremists want you to die.
posted by hama7 at 6:18 AM on October 20, 2002


Well said, cx. I would add that since we can't erradicate poverty too well in the West, we should also focus on cultural exchanges that help us to view things from an Arab perspective, and lead them to see us in terms they can grasp.

Take suicide bombings, for instance. I look at that and I am inclined to write off Palestinian culture as bankrupt; most likely, they feel the same about us. Making sure they all drive nice cars won't necessarily change that.
posted by The Raven at 6:19 AM on October 20, 2002


stavros: why, exactly?

I'm dimly aware that Steyn is a Bad Person and I'm s'posed to take him about as seriously as I might O'Reilly. That said, I find the posted article makes a fair amount of sense to me, once one strips out the invective.

I find myself sort of guiltily nodding my head: I do believe that those who have appointed themselves guardians of the Islamic faith desire the undoing of post-Enlightenment Western rationality, preferably a violent undoing.

(Yes, I am aware that, for the preservation of a tradition of inquiry and rationality, we all owe Islam a debt of gratitude. My fears are not toward Islam qua Islam, but rather that version of it which has been allowed to position itself as the sole legitimate voice of the tradition, a version which I do believe earns the label "fascist.")
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:32 AM on October 20, 2002


...I don’t have decades of expertise in the finer points of Islamic culture...

This one statement shows Mark Steyn's failure to have any clue about the stuff that he is talking about. He reminds me of Jerry Falwell who called Muhammad a terrorist. Why do people actually want to follow the absurd and those who preach it?
posted by Stynxno at 6:47 AM on October 20, 2002


An important point here. The author is wrong to use the image of the Tiger in his piece. The Bali Tiger is extinct and has been since the 1940's.

At the turn of the century their were 8 sub-species, and over 100,000 tigers. Since then the Bali, Caspian and Javan have become extinct leaving only 5 sub-species, and approximately 4,500 tigers left in existence.

In a recent interview Valmik Thapar stated that the biggest threat to tigers is "poverty, greed, and a lack of imagination."

His approach to conservation is to tie the communities to the tiger, giving them positive reasons to co-exist. Where his projects have been set up, the communities no longer hate, or fear the tiger, nor do they want it to die.
posted by RobertLoch at 6:51 AM on October 20, 2002


I would add that since we can't erradicate poverty too well in the West, we should also focus on cultural exchanges that help us to view things from an Arab perspective, and lead them to see us in terms they can grasp

Raven - I agree with you on your point but I'd add one other thing: we should also focus on cultural exchanges that wil help the western world understand the Muslim perspective.

adamgreenfield - I disagree with your assumptions that the Muslim terrorists are the guardians of the Islamic faith because its sounds like you're disregarding the fact that these terrorists are a minority in Islam. With your reasoning, I could state that the Christian Coalition or the Amish are the true legimate voices of Christianity and the United States. I personally don't agree with that and I don't know many people who'd agree with that statement.
posted by Stynxno at 6:53 AM on October 20, 2002


I fail to see how "they want to kill us all" has anything to do with "root causes," let alone invalidates them as an avenue for preventing terrorism. It's a false conflict. Obviously changing those roots will not change the minds of terrorists, in other words will not appease them, as the causes, if they exist, have already caused. Changing them after the fact does not change their earlier effects. Those have to be cleaned up separately. The hope is that there are things than can be done to prevent more people from becoming terrorists. This is not in conflict with dealing with existing terrorists in whatever way you like, nor is it invalidated in any way by repeating "they want to kill you."
posted by Nothing at 6:58 AM on October 20, 2002


Styxno - I never claimed that terrorists are the guardians of the Islamic faith, nor that they are the sole legitimate voice of same. Importantly: *they do*.

The difference between what is going on in Islam and what is going on in the West is that when Jerry Falwell makes an absurd and offensive pronunciamento, he is roundly ridiculed for it. Nobody save his microcommunity (and that community which is the target of his hate) takes him seriously.

In contemporary Islam, the vile minority speaks and is not challenged; the Lie becomes consensus normality; mothers pray for their sons to die the deaths of martyrs. Does it happen in the West, too? Sure. But by and large, we don't strap bombs to ourselves and run to catch buses full of civilians.

I shall never absolve the West for our own failings, abuses and crimes, but this in no wise means I have to turn a blind eye to the lethal hatred being unleashed in other corners of our poor planet.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:10 AM on October 20, 2002


What a way to start a Sunday morning. The problem for me is precisely that the article casts the issue in the terms of 'unrational hate' versus 'Western enlightenment.' Truth is, the west is also responsible for hate too; it's not as enlightened as all th at. It's a pity therefore that Mark Steyn doesn't mention previous unconditional US support - beginning with Ford and Kissinger, who visited Indonesia hours before the invasion - for General Suharto's annexation and occupation of East Timor, which resulte d in the deaths of up to 200,000 East Timorese. So killing 200 westerners is unrational, whilst overlooking the killing of 200,000 non-westerners in the pursuit of 'strategic interests' is enlightened?

What is most worrying about discussions like Steyn's is a relentless drive to brand, in a guilt-by-association move, a considerable proportion of the world's population as irrational and unenlightened. The third from last paragraph, especially, is particularly clear on Steyn's pseudo Macarthyist, neo-domin o theory as applied to the demonisation of Islam.

I presume this is for political ends. From there it's only a small step to dehumanising people, and shooting them on the street. It's happened before and it's happening again. At which point the enlightened become that which they fear most.

But isn't said that what you hate most in others is ultimately what you fear most in yourself?

Without wanting to be presumptious - perhaps Me-Fi is one good place to start thinking about this in a non-knee jerk way.n
posted by carter at 7:11 AM on October 20, 2002


This stuff has people running around like headless chickens. From my point of view it's the Islamo-fascists versus the Ameri-fascists versus the You-name-them-fascists. Americans are being manipulated into seeing a world full of bogeymen instead of trying to see things as they really are. We can't pretend that our government is not inciting rebellion and violence because of its foreign policy. How long can you expect people to let their natural resources and capital get sucked up by American business without someone resisting? That's what this terrorism is all about...desperation.
posted by letterneversent at 7:47 AM on October 20, 2002


I am not sure what Letterneversent means. I had thought that most of the Gulf State Islam nations in fact became wealthy and for the first time when they sold their natural resources and formed a cartel (monopoly) OPEC to cntrol prices and make the West pay the price...imagine a cartel in this country getting away so easily.

What is Saudi Arabia or Iraq without oil?
posted by Postroad at 7:57 AM on October 20, 2002


to brand...a considerable proportion of the world's population as irrational and unenlightened.

A considerable proportion of the world's population *is* irrational and unenlightened, and not nearly all of them are conveniently Other.

None of this speaks to Steyn's central thesis, which I do take to be true and which could be more palatably restated as follows: a growing, vocal, activist population (a) desires the physical annihilation of Western liberal democracy; (b) says so quite plainly, offering no reason not to take them at their word; (c) is manifestly willing to take concrete measures to further this goal; and (d, implied but unstated) is more comfortable operating over long timeframes than the West. I have to view that as something other than Excedrin Headache #242.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:02 AM on October 20, 2002


Islamofascist

Sorry to derail, but is this the new Godwin?

I am calling, maybe not troll, but flame bait here.
posted by lampshade at 8:18 AM on October 20, 2002


Clever, RobertLoch. Very clever.
posted by Dick Paris at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2002


Yeah and Bali was tied to the tiger called tourism, and well now that that tiger is gone...
posted by PenDevil at 8:28 AM on October 20, 2002


Every side has its martyrs, its symbolic sacrifices whose deaths serve to define and unify the group against outsiders.

The bombers (I can only presume, since no one has been arrested yet for the crime and no group has claimed responsibility) wanted to use the deaths of nightclubbers to make a political point - about who they are and who they aren't. Apparently, Mark Steyn wants to do the same thing with the same dead bodies. I find the whole business of fueling nationalist fervor out of the corpses of strangers more and more unsettling all the time. The comparison of a conveniently shifting "them" (jihadist terrorists, Islamist governments, Muslims in general) to predatory animals does not help to put my mind at ease.

There is only one humanist choice to make in all of this, and that is to increase the security of all who might be victimized. This means strengthening one's defenses, but it also means acting to reduce hostilities and promote mutual respect all around. That requires recognizing the other side and its potential sympathizers as people, with (perhaps) legitimate desires, aspirations, and even grievances. Anti-Western or anti-American popular sentiment in many countries (Indonesia, for example) constrains their governments in cooperating with U.S.-led anti-terrorism efforts. In other words, popular opinion in other countries, even if none of us agree with it, is still important and must be taken into consideration. What people think and feel matters, even if they are not rich, white, or Christian, and this is the basic point that Steyn seems to be arguing against.

For liberal democracies, preserving security also means not destroying freedom in order to save it. The most disturbing points of Steyn's article involve his apparent equation of jihadists and Western leftist cultural critics as the enemy, and his characterization of British police officers sticking to the letter of the law (permitting anti-Salman Rushdie demonstrations where no one was destroying property or assaulting anyone) as "cultural squeamishness." Given this, what does Steyn mean, exactly, by "identify[ing] the enemy, and confront[ing] him as such"?
posted by skoosh at 9:07 AM on October 20, 2002


It can to be diificult to grasp the fact that someone actually wants to kill you-the whole thing is an affront to rationality and humanism-nevertheless, that is the case. There is an amorphous collection of islamic true believers quite intent on using violence to achieve their amorphous aims. Bummer.
Adams summary, supra, states the case well. I am interested to hear a refutation of any of its points as i think it's a fairly spot-on diagnosis.
posted by quercus at 9:31 AM on October 20, 2002


Beneath contempt, and not worthy of a response.

And yet, you gave one.

Go figure.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2002


Lampshade: What's wrong with the term Islamofascist? My initial take on the word is that it's preferable to calling them Islamists, which makes it sound as if the terrorists are mainstream Islamic people rather than a violent radical minority.
posted by rcade at 9:51 AM on October 20, 2002


by and large, we don't strap bombs to ourselves and run to catch buses full of civilians.

Instead, we have indoctrinated soldiers who drop bombs on civilians from thousands of feet in the air.

I am quite sure that if Bin Laden had F-16s and Long-range weapons, he would be using those instead of attacking night-clubs. He is fighting a war, and on this I agree with Steyn-- a war is being fought and it's irrelevant why, from the perspective of survival.

Bin Laden has his goals, we have our goals, and it's all about power. If you happen to like the society you live in (or at least prefer it to something else) it's worth it to fight against those who would take it away. It doesn't matter if they are Koreans in submarines or Indians with machine guns or Indonesians with C4-- it's a war and you must treat it as such.

That being said, Steyn has revelaed himself time and time again to be an idiot and an Islamophobe who focuses far too much on the manner of the attacks, and the 'otherness' of the those attacking. His method is to exploit these attacks and use anger as a crutch. He is simplistic, ignorant, and puerile, and consistently plies an agenda of hatred and bigotry rather than the much lauded 'common sense' he purports to deliver. This article makes a decent point that a war is being fought, however one gets the impression that if the shoe were on the other foot, he would be writing vitriolic praise of such attacks.
In other words, his care for human life is not universal, it's sectarian.
posted by chaz at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2002


"A considerable proportion of the world's population *is* irrational and unenlightened, and not nearly all of them are conveniently Other."

Exactly right, if I take you to be referring, by 'non-Other' irrationalists, to the west. My argument is also that a lot of irrationality is to be found here.

Thus while Steyn is right when he says that there are gangs of armed thugs roaming around looking for mayhem and violence in the name of their ideology, he is wrong to say that this violence is a new feature o f the world, associated with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.

He is wrong because such an account provides instant apologia for existing violence in the world - a large part of it precipitated, or actively or tacitly supported by the west - presenting it as the act of 'enlightened' people defending freedom.

He is also wrong because, in the choice of language and metaphors he uses to describe this, he willingly hitches his rhetoric to the bandwagon that actively seeks to demonise an entire religion and culture.

There is plenty of violence in this world. If Steyn was against violence per se he should have spoken out earlier. There are plenty of armed thugs in the world who have declared war on a certain section of society - often the poor, and in the name of western (economic and strategic) interests.

A bomb at a western resort in Indonesia: terrorism.
A bomb at a wedding party in Afghanistan: enlightenment..t
posted by carter at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2002


I prefer Jihadism, myself (which apparently should be capitalized - my bad). Islamism, in my understanding, refers to a set of political ideologies that promote Islam and traditional Islamic teachings as the primary or sole basis of social organization and governance. Islamists are not necessarily terrorists or violent militants, as the Islamist parties in Turkey seem to demonstrate. Jihadism, on the other hand, exalts armed struggle against infidels (defined in the broadest possible terms) as a holy crusade, incumbent upon all Muslims everywhere. Not all Muslims are Islamists, and not all Islamists are Jihadists.

Responding to adamgreenfield and quercus: I agree with all of adam's points. However, I think it is only part of what Steyn is really saying, which is that "they" want to kill us all, and some of us don't understand that that means we must... Must what? Steyn doesn't exactly spell out the proper response to Jihadi terrorism, but it seems to include a possibly brutal and hard-hearted war with much of the poorer parts of the world, as well as a silencing of domestic dissent (can't be "culturally squeamish", after all). What's so fiendishly clever about it is that Steyn doesn't spell these things out because, for obvious reasons, reasonable people do not want to start long, brutal wars or crush political dissent. His is an entirely emotional argument, waving the bloody shirt of the martyred dead to short-circuit any reasoned debate about causes or proper response.

What to do when a kid on a playground stabs you in the leg with his penknife? Do you punch him in the face? Break his arm? Kill him? Beat up all the other kids on the playground that might have considered doing the same? Whatever course Mark Steyn would advise, it apparently wouldn't include stopping to think about why the kid might have stabbed you, or what you could do short of terrible, "asymmetrical" (i.e. utterly one-sided), and possibly endless violence, to lower the chances of it happening again. Any kid who's given you a dirty look or talked trash to you is an enemy and should be treated as such.
posted by skoosh at 10:44 AM on October 20, 2002


adamgreenfield: The difference between what is going on in Islam and what is going on in the West is that when Jerry Falwell makes an absurd and offensive pronunciamento, he is roundly ridiculed for it. Nobody save his microcommunity (and that community which is the target of his hate) takes him seriously.

Microcommunity? Falwell is well respected amongst the crazy right-wing christian cults like the infamous American Familiy Association which alone has a few hundred thousands if not a million+ members. Not only are they mainstream, but they affect the mainstream. Some proud achievements of a so called "microcommunity" afa.net:
* Disney/ABC cancels the pro-homosexual show Ellen, for "lack of ratings." AFA led the campaign to encourage responsible advertisers to drop from the show.
* AFA and other pro-family groups sponsored a rally in support of Judge Roy Moore of Alabama who refused to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom.
* AFA leads the effort to clean up Howard Stern Radio Show. To date, over 2/3rds off all advertisers dropped from the show in monitored areas.
* AFA promotes Pornography Awareness Week
* AFA distributes 400,000 copies of the the "Fight Back Book," a comprehensive resource guide of TV advertisers, products and addresses.
* AFA supports and promotes Shatter the Silence, a national observance to bring attention to religious persecution throughout the world.
* AFA leads efforts to expose abuses of tax dollars by National Endowment for the Arts.
* The 43 Federal Prisons removed porn magazines from their commissaries after efforts by AFA supporters.
* The Southland Corporation, owners and franchisers of the 7-Eleven convenience store chain, along with 30,000 other convenience stores pulled porn magazines from shelves after intensive boycotting and picketing by AFA.
* In 1994, AFA launched a "war on divorce," by helping develop and distribute the Marriage Savers video series.
* AFA has promoted successful boycotts of several national advertisers because they were leading sponsors of TV sex, violence and profanity. Because of the boycotts, some companies - including Burger King, Clorox and S. C. Johnson - have changed their advertising policies.
posted by skallas at 11:21 AM on October 20, 2002


sniper in the white suburbs kills seven: terrorism, national media obsession.
drive-by killings in the ghetto: crackheads doing the world a favor, 2 inches at the bottom of page 22F, underneath the chelation therapy ad.
posted by quonsar at 11:27 AM on October 20, 2002


the Left to call for more understanding, help for the poverty stricken, and understanding

It's been well said by others in this thread, but sometimes nobody listens, so....

* characterizing the left (or any other group calling for address of the root causes) as some monoculture of uniform thought is not only disingenuous, it's flat out wrong. Reference our German Marxist friend who thought that a regime change in Iraq would be an excellent idea.

* it's not just a bunch of lefties advocating restraint, multilateral action, and addressing root causes. The joint chiefs of staff of the military have some interesting things to say about it.

* "understanding" does not mean "somebody needs a hug," as Postroad seems to imply. It means that in addition to accepting the fact that sometimes people go off the deep end and/or subscribe to a whacko deathwish worldview, you ALSO work from the parallel but equally true fact that most people are at least semi-rational and won't kill and escalate conflict without a real motive.

They want to kill me? I'm fine with my government finding them and blowing them to hell. The same government, however, had better also be investigating conditions that encourage people to participate in terrorist attacks and seeing what it can do to prevent them, not just spouting nonsense to itself about Realpolitik. The reality is that crime goes up in hard times, down in times of prosperity, and people with more to lose from a conflict are less likely to start one.

Don't play the dichotomy between "root causes" and "fighting back". It's false, and it's a red herring that leads away from good policy.
posted by namespan at 12:00 PM on October 20, 2002


Are we going to have the same conversations every time a big bomb goes off? Postroad, your framing of this thread is deliberately insulting. You said you were going to try to stop trolling; it would be nice if you kept your word on that.

The article raises a couple of good points but, as chaz notes, is mired (yet again) in an ignorant view of the history and potential of Islam. "The real ‘root cause’ of Islamofascism is Islam’s difficulty coexisting with modernity"? Yeah, whatever. Islam was reaching heights of science, culture and religious tolerance back when Protestants were still hunting Catholic priests like dogs in Ireland. That Classical Age can happen again; there are plenty of folks working to bring it about. It's way too easy to talk in the kind of generalities Steyn does, which pander to an "Islam must be destroyed for the West to win" mentality that is disgustingly neanderthal.

adamgreenfield: In contemporary Islam, the vile minority speaks and is not challenged; the Lie becomes consensus normality; mothers pray for their sons to die the deaths of martyrs.

Oh, good Lord - what a ridiculously unfair and bigoted statement. I can't believe we're still seeing garbage like that. I have one relatively secular Muslim friend who sees Wahabism as a clear threat to her person. I have other more devout Muslim acquaintances who routinely denounce the "vile minority" you speak of; the idea that their mothers "pray for their sons to die the deaths of martyrs" is a wretched thing to suggest. Who are you talking to, adamgreenfield? Where are you looking?

Can we be just a bit more careful with the broad generalizations, please?
posted by mediareport at 12:19 PM on October 20, 2002


Not all Muslims are Islamists, and not all Islamists are Jihadists.

I see what you're saying, skoosh, and I appreciate it, but Jihadism may be an equally misleading term, as jihad is merely a struggle (as I understand it), and has no necessarily violent component. The most important jihad is said to be internal.
posted by Hildago at 12:20 PM on October 20, 2002


Skoosh and namespan-I can hardly disagree that we need to be looking in to the root causes of terrorist attacks and undermining any popular support they may have-but in the end you know the mindset of these terrorists is so ...off, let's say, that i don't know if they ever can be pulled into the arena of rationality. Did anyone call for soulsearching after McVeigh's heinous bombing? I would prefer characterizing these people as isolated international criminals a la McVeigh rather than pursuing war with their countries of origin (or not) but that can be a tough needle to thread. I certainly respect longings for pacifism but I'm in a moral dilemma as to how to most quiclkly resolve this and minimize suffering all around. What's depressing me is I foresee no possible short term solutions.
posted by quercus at 12:31 PM on October 20, 2002


how to most quiclkly resolve this and minimize suffering all around

Yeah, we'd all like to see a quick and easy answer to the world's problems, but one good place to start is reading history. It helps make sense of today's mess more than anything else.

Oh, and tomorrow morning, make a phone call to your favorite elected official and ask what s/he's doing to boost research & development of alternative energy sources, so the West can engage Islam honestly, without having to keep one eye on its fuel gauge.
posted by mediareport at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2002


Okay kids, school time,

the only way to eliminate terrorism is:
A) kill all who hate us ,.
B) Find out what we're doing to piss them off and stop it
c) A then B..........

History of Rome is Appropriate here I believe


Did anyone call for soulsearching after McVeigh's heinous bombing?

Yep. I seem to remember the religious right tried the apologist approach, Pat Robertson and such same as Waco.

posted by Elim at 12:43 PM on October 20, 2002


Yeah I'm doing a lot of history reading mediareport, especially Western Europe 1933-1939.
posted by quercus at 12:54 PM on October 20, 2002


> Did anyone call for soulsearching after McVeigh's heinous bombing?

Better yet, look at all attention paid to cause and effect after Columbine. Or look at how little attention Ruby Ridge got. Waco was largly written up as a bunch of cultists, but Heaven's Gate spawned thousands of pieces on what a cult is, how to spot one, are your kids in one, etc.

Whether or not something gets analyzed seems to be a bit arbitrary. Encouraging the process can only be a step in the right direction if we're pretending to know much about these events. Dressing events up purely as "good vs. evil" as our adminsitration does or the hyberbole and disinformation of this article encourages a non-thinking approach to questions surrounding extreme events.
posted by skallas at 1:14 PM on October 20, 2002


Yeah I'm doing a lot of history reading mediareport, especially Western Europe 1933-1939

Oh, yeah, here comes Godwin. Of course that's the first thing the article does, by mentioning Churchill's remarks on "appeasement". The funny thing is, you're referring to a period when a leader came to power by demonizing an entire racial/religous group. The parallels are just as good for the opposing side of the story, if not better.

Personally I didn't read that article much past the "appeasement" line. No one is talking about appeasement except the people who want to attack Iraq, and they themselves are pretty much doing the Godwin thing. This appeasement crap is simply a way of insulting and mischaracterizing anyone who disagrees with them, precisely like the "--nazi" suffix. There is a profound difference between "appeasement" and simply refusing to attack a conveniently evil and uncooperative country which was not involved in the attack on us, simply to get our martial rocks off.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:33 PM on October 20, 2002


especially Western Europe 1933-1939

The Ottoman empire just after 1492 is worth a look, too.
posted by mediareport at 1:34 PM on October 20, 2002


Speaking of Saudi Arabia, it might be helpful if Bush would stop kissing their ass while they turn a blind eye to their citizens who give money to al Qaeda.
posted by homunculus at 2:32 PM on October 20, 2002


Postroad: Incidentally, if you turn to http://www.debka.com/ today, you will see that they claim Bin Laden alive and well in Saudi Arabia!

A friend of mine showed me an article on Debka claiming that several al Qaeda members have been shot or gassed while hiding in shipping crates which have landed in us ports. Pretty creative bunch, that Debka.
posted by eddydamascene at 3:19 PM on October 20, 2002


Would you stop it with the stupid "Godwin." You know, find something original, non-cliché to say. Pathetic!
posted by ParisParamus at 3:24 PM on October 20, 2002


homunculus' point is important. When you consider "root causes", you're not simply examining the terrorists, but also the nations and individuals who support them overtly and covertly, those who turn a blind eye, those who are complacent and those who are too afraid to speak out against extremism. What motivates everyone? Steyn doesn't seem interested in that.
posted by blamb at 3:40 PM on October 20, 2002


The basis of Islamic terrorism is illiteracy. The majority of these Arab/Indonesian regimes retain control by keeping their people stupid. And you can't reason with ignorance.

They don't care about some Maureen Dowd-paraphrased-five-point-argument-for-containment. They just want to destroy us.

If the Arabs didn't own half the planet's oil reserves, we wouldn't care what they thought. Our real goal ought to be getting the oil monkey off our back, and getting out that region before we're drug down into a protracted struggle.
posted by Zombie at 3:41 PM on October 20, 2002


Would you stop it with the stupid "Godwin." You know, find something original, non-cliché to say. Pathetic!

Let the record show we have now gone from complaining about mentioning Hitler to complaining about complaining about mentioning Hitler. Let the record further show that ParisParamus is requesting that Metafilter become devoid of cliche catchphrases. Once the exact cause of irony's death has been determined, that will be added to the record as well.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:42 PM on October 20, 2002


"Personally I didn't read that article much past the "appeasement" line."

Then why are you blathering

"The funny thing is, you're referring to a period when a leader came to power by demonizing an entire racial/religious group".

Are you referring to Hitler? If you are, he demonized everyone. Hitler did not come to power by demonizing. He was elected.

There is a profound difference between "appeasement" and simply refusing to attack

really?

I believe your actually referring to Radical Islamic fundamentalists.

Carter administration- appeased the Iranians (peace missions, refusal to attack, then approving a combat operation that was flawed from it's inception.)

Reagan administration- appeased Iranians. Gave them missiles, a copy of the bible signed by BIG RON (beneath a passage of 'St. Paul to the Galatians'), 8 Colt side arms and a key-shaped strawberry cake from West Germany. (would i lie to you folks) Reagan wanted to stop the appeasement when he threatened to bomb Qom if and when anymore americans where taken hostage.

conveniently evil and uncooperative country
Iraq, N. Korea, Afghanistan? I will venture you mean Iraq.

Evil=bad. lets use bad in place of that first word. conveniently bad?
is it convenient to be bad?
do you need evidence that Saddamm is bad. if you do, then you are in serious need of a history book.

"simply to get our martial rocks off"

"...wish only what thou art, to be
Death neither wish, nor fear to see."

-Martial, from 'The Things That Make a Life to Please'
posted by clavdivs at 3:55 PM on October 20, 2002


Microcommunity? Falwell is well respected amongst the crazy right-wing christian cults like the infamous American Familiy Association which alone has a few hundred thousands if not a million+ members. Not only are they mainstream, but they affect the mainstream. Some proud achievements of a so called "microcommunity" afa.net:

Followed by a list of tactics taken by that microcommunity, accompanied by far fewer results. Was the boycott a factor in "Ellen"'s demise given that ratings really were poor in the final season? Some advertisers have agreed to back different shows, but is there less sex, violence or profanity on the air as a result of AFA's efforts? Is Howard Stern vanishing from the airwaves at a noticeable rate?

The only unqualified success on that list, skallas, is getting porn out of the prisons. (And the increase in same-sex rape that no doubt resulted may not have been something they intended to achieve.)
posted by Epenthesis at 3:57 PM on October 20, 2002


The basis of Islamic terrorism is illiteracy
wrong.
Bin Laden was educated as were many earlier "holy" men whom espoused this terrorist nonsense. They use quasi-marxist doctrines to "win" the people over. For example, OBL built up Sudans public works and set up schools.

If the Arabs didn't own half the planet's oil reserves, we wouldn't care what they thought.

not sure about half...anyone have any data? And 'we' did care about what 'they' thought going back for centuries, but in the last century, it was the strategic location 'Arabia' to counter the turks in w.w.I.
posted by clavdivs at 4:04 PM on October 20, 2002


The basis of Islamic terrorism is illiteracy. The majority of these Arab/Indonesian regimes retain control by keeping their people stupid. And you can't reason with ignorance.

Actually, it's not illiteracy so much as control of information. But even that doesn't explain why this horrid movement is staffed by affluent people who have the means to get around and, in theory, realize how twisted they are. So, on second though, I'm nor sure if illiteracy or control of info has that much to do with it.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:07 PM on October 20, 2002


I meant that the uneducated mass of Future Sucide Bombers of America are illiterate.

Ignorance is our common enemy. The Left Behind morons scare me too. Leave a head empty enough and some despot/cult leader will quickly fill it up with twisted crap. The majority of Al-Jazeera's viewers really believe that "the Jews" orchestrated the Twin Tower attacks while they took a sick day. How do you get to that level of delusion if it isn't ignorance?
posted by Zombie at 4:23 PM on October 20, 2002


not sure about Future suicide Bombers of America

is that like Future Farmers of America?

alot of the Palestinian suicide bombers where educated. See, get the smart, disaffected ones whipped up into a frenzy, shower them with cash for mom and dad, intrigue and the 'glorious' battle routine and they tend to go for it. (generally)

Most revolutionary movements were started and ran by the 'middle-class'. for example Lenin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Carlos the jackal, etc.

The majority of Al-Jazeera's viewers really believe that "the Jews" orchestrated the Twin Tower attacks while they took a sick day. How do you get to that level of delusion if it isn't ignorance?

did you take a poll?
but the bottom line for these terrorists is...

They just want to destroy us.

i just do not agree with you reasoning. but you amended your statement and that is a start.
posted by clavdivs at 4:39 PM on October 20, 2002


Thanks for the tip Mediareport. Interesting stuff. Spiggott all I said was reading about Western Europe from 1933-1939. The book in question concerns advances in Belgian milk production techniques during that time. So lay off. Although I do think you're a bootlickin' Islamofascist appeaser anyway.
posted by quercus at 4:48 PM on October 20, 2002


Skoosh: What to do when a kid on a playground stabs you in the leg with his penknife?

The analogy's a little facile, don't you think?

In fact, the whole tenor of most of these arguments is. Including Steyn's. We seem to have this constant need to paint our villains and heroes in black and white, or at least into easily-understood roles.

I personally don't claim to have a solution for the world's problems. But my guess is that it isn't blowing up anyone we don't like the look of.
posted by SoftRain at 4:49 PM on October 20, 2002


clavdivs: Hitler was not elected, he was appointed by Hindenburg. He only got 37% of the vote.
posted by languagehat at 5:04 PM on October 20, 2002


I like the two-pronged approach: understand where these people are coming from in the hope that they, or their progeny, can be civilized, and escorted out of their Middle Ages. But this doesn't mean't not dealing with the current reality with an iron fist.

If most of the Muslim world, or even 25% of the Muslim world believes 9/11 was staged by "The Jews," then we have to assume we are dealing with a very, VERY primitive common denominator which needs to be denied, at all costs, the WMDs which were invented in the West (for better or worse).

I don't believe there's a meaningful rift between Muslim extremists and secular extremists such as Saddam Hussein. Why? Because both Osama nor Saddam are only interested in power and themselves. If they can twist a legitimate religion into legitimizing the murder of innnocent men, women and children, they can twist their ideologies into cooperation. And if they can team up to punch "The Jews" and America better, they will.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:14 PM on October 20, 2002


clavdivs: In a sense, you're both right. Seems to me we've talked about this before, in a discussion of elitism, I think. Most revolutionaries and seeming outsider "voices of the people" who want to shock the system do, indeed, come from the middle or upper classes. Che Guevara did not grow up poor. Neither did Huey Long or George Wallace, to name two relevant American populist examples. But populist, counter-elite or reformer politicians or romanticized bandits only exist because of some kind of existing disparity, economic or cultural or otherwise. They are usually (although not necessarily always) far more a symptom than cause.

Please note that I did not bring up Hitler. (Long pause.)You're welcome.
posted by raysmj at 5:15 PM on October 20, 2002


mediareport: who am I talking to? I'm primarily talking to contemporaries, coworkers, and acquaintances of mine: Iranian, Egyptian and Malay Muslims. Are they representative? You tell me. An anecdotal experience repeated often enough begins to seem empirical.

They are, to a person, careful to point out that the Jihadists do not speak in their name, and then (again, to a person) launch into a recitation of how "none of this would be happening if America wouldn't support the Jews on Palestine."

Frequently, we're able to have these conversations from end-to-end without my ever once disclosing that I am of Jewish descent, so it's uncensored. They apparently see me as a reasonable representative of "Christian" America - "the kind of American you can talk to"? I challenge their characterizations when egregious, but for the most part I'm simply interested in what they have to say, how they see the world.

And I hear the most vile stream of "Protocols of Zion"-esque invective, from these otherwise placid and intelligent engineers and students: Jews run America; Jews have so sealed their domination of America that the poor Christian dupes in Congress and the White House do their bidding unchallenged; Jews have decreed that the US do what it can to occupy Islamic holy sites and annihilate Islam itself. And finally, what self-respecting people wouldn't use violence to preserve itself when under the Jewish hammer? I've even heard one guy edge into nudge-nudge Hitler-praise, i.e. "You faced these problems yourselves in Europe in the forties, what's a couple of bombs compared to that?" I look very differently at him now, believe me.

(All I can say is the International Jewish Conspiracy must've lost my address when they were passing out the dividend checks and I'm pissed.)

So I'll stand by what I said: the viewpoint of a hateful minority is becoming the consensus normality of an entire global community; incidentally, this anecdotally supports one of Steyn's contentions. "Mothers pray for their sons to die the death of martyrs" - reported in enough media outlets, of sufficient ideological diversity, that I believe the statement reflects reality. Can you categorically state that this does not happen?

I am happy for you, mediareport, that your Muslim friends are so willing to stand up for the right and the good. I as well know more than a few independent-minded (secular) Muslims - back home in the States. From here in Tokyo, where things may just possibly be more representative of opinion in the Islamic world, things are not so cheery.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:03 PM on October 20, 2002


true enough LH, but Hitler was not a german citizen until The minister of the interior of Brunswick appointed him an attache. Once a german citizen, he ran for the top slot. He was defeated in 32' with only 37% of the vote. After Strasser was out, he made a deal with Papen in exchange for appointing non-nazis to the Reichstag. Hindenburg fell for the trap and appointed Hitler Chancellor. I based 'elected' on his achieving the majority of the so called popular vote and nazi seats in the Reichstag.

So i withdrawal 'elected' for 'tricking the president within the german electoral system of that time.'
posted by clavdivs at 6:11 PM on October 20, 2002


adamgreenfield has a point. I've heard the same anti Jew/Israel spew from practically every Arab I've ever gotten into the subject with. Which is another answer to why they want to kill us all - they hate the US for supporting Israel.
posted by Zombie at 7:13 PM on October 20, 2002


* AFA promotes Pornography Awareness Week

Excellent. People in this day and age are simply not aware enough where they can obtain pornography and what it contains. I think more people should be educated in this fashion. Everyone should be aware of porn.
posted by Neale at 7:14 PM on October 20, 2002


they hate the US for supporting Israel.

Unconditional U.S. support for right-wing Israeli policies that continue to grab Palestinian land is unconscionable. Pointing that out - along with right-wing pro-Israel money's stranglehold on U.S. political debate - is hardly the same as support for terrorism.

adamgreenfield: The inability of conservatives to distinguish between the two is far more damaging to this debate than the combination of disgust for terrorist killings and understanding of Palestinian anger that characterizes many Muslims. Conflating the two is an ignorant strategy designed, I believe, to smother any questioning of U.S. Middle East policy.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 PM on October 20, 2002


Beneath contempt, and not worthy of a response.

Because Steyn doesn't implicate Starlink or Jeffrey Skilling as a 'root cause' of islamist terrorism?
posted by shoos at 7:52 PM on October 20, 2002


mediareport, I'm gonna come right back at you with this:

Unconditional U.S. support for right-wing Israeli policies that continue to grab Palestinian land is unconscionable.
Agreed.

Right-wing pro-Israel money's stranglehold on U.S. political debate
"Can we be just a bit more careful with the broad generalizations, please?" I don't see that this is a responsible characterization of U.S. political debate. It's a shibboleth, and a dangerous one, no matter what one feels about U.S. Israel policy (which is, I agree, unconscionable.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:07 PM on October 20, 2002


clavdivs: Amendment accepted. It may seem nitpicking, but I'm awfully tired of the "Hitler was democratically elected!" meme. You know the details, but most don't, so I try to stamp it out whenever possible.
posted by languagehat at 8:28 PM on October 20, 2002


It ISNT Palestinian land. It's Jordanian and Egyptian land which Israel is forced to occupy and which Israel is trying to give to the Palestinians without the Palestinians ruining Israel. The Settlements are an, admittedly stupid, embarassing sideshow.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:40 PM on October 20, 2002


Show me a stable, democratic Arab country, and I'll show you a model for an Arab Palestinian state that will allow Israelis to sleep peacefully at night. In other words, there isn't one. So, for the moment, the horror of Palestinian "leadership" trumps stupid Israeli settlers as what we should be focusing on.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:45 PM on October 20, 2002


me: Right-wing pro-Israel money's stranglehold on U.S. political debate

adamgreenfield: I don't see that this is a responsible characterization of U.S. political debate.

Oh, come on, Adam. I made certain to note it was the money of a subgroup of conservative American Jews that's the issue here. While I'm glad you agree that blind U.S. support for right-wing Israeli policies is a serious problem, I haven't come close to the kind of broad over-generalizations you've blurted out in this thread - and for which you've yet to apologize. I don't see how any intelligent observer of U.S. politics can deny that members of the U.S. House and Senate are scared shitless of seriously questioning Ariel Sharon's land-grab.

As an American Jew, I'm frankly disgusted at how the debate has been twisted in this country. Hell, Joe Lieberman would be a knee-jerk conservative in the Israeli Knesset, but he somehow gets away with being a "liberal" here. Why is that?
posted by mediareport at 9:02 PM on October 20, 2002


Just out of curiosity, can anyone point out a case when a purely repressive/retaliatory response to terrorism has proven effective? I ask not rhetorically but out of a genuine desire to know. While I concur that the immediate response to acts of terrorism should be to find the terrorists and reduce them to their component atoms (or, if you insist, put them on trial), I know of no reason to believe that that will in any way stem the tide.

This article does not suggest a better answer, or really, any answer. Certainly to capitulate to terrorist demands is a wretched idea; and to (for example) withdraw support from Israel in an a manner that appears to be reaction to terrorism would, as has been widely suggested, be indistinguishable from appeasement. I agree that this would only invite worse.

So what is the third option? There doesn't appear to be one. Responding to terrorists with military action sends the right message but doesn't produce the right result: terrorism is a Hydra. Addressing the root causes in conjunction with reprisals and trials would seem to be the only winning combination -- so I guess I'm with cx and namespan on this. There is anecdotal evidence that people who become militant islamists do so largely out of hopelessness. I submit that some understanding of this hopelessness is essential; and if we are contributing to it, do something about it.

I agree with one theme of the article: people who are already engaged in terrorist acts? Write them off: deal with them in a judicial or military fashion, but don't bother trying to heal their wounded souls. But as for tomorrow's terrorists: it would be madness not to try to understand where they're coming from. The article points out many examples that prove that active terrorists are dead to compassion. No argument there. But there are vast swathes of the middle eastern world that are considered "breeding grounds" for terrorism, and it is those that we need to understand.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:07 PM on October 20, 2002


Show me a stable, democratic Arab country, and I'll show you a model for an Arab Palestinian state that will allow Israelis to sleep peacefully at night.

How many times have you raised that point, ParisParamus? How many times have some of us responded? Paris loves to wave off the continued Israeli settlement of Palestinian land as a "stupid, embarrassing sideshow" (I wonder if he'd say the same about the extremist Jewish settlers who plant bombs in Palestinian schools), but the matrix of theft and control Israel has been implementing should be clear to anyone who's able to look even slightly dispassionately at the situation.

There are two arrows driving this cycle of violence. One is the horrific targeting of civilians by Palestinian terrorists; the other is the theft of Palestinian land (cropland, mainly) to build Jews-only roads through the Occupied Territories. That's just a "sideshow"? Yeah, I've got your sideshow right here, Paris.

The Palestinian government is clearly corrupt and needs dramatic reform, but you know, the same could be said of the Israeli government over the last few years. The "first must come democracy" line that Bush/Sharon are now spewing is a convenient cover for doing nothing while ultra-conservative Israelis continue to encourage the Jewish settlement of land now in the hands of Palestinians. The word for U.S. support of those policies is, again, unconscionable.
posted by mediareport at 9:48 PM on October 20, 2002


mediareport -

"Scared shitless" of condemning Sharon? Maybe. More probably not.

I mean, instead of positing that n number of U.S. elected representatives live in fear of Jewish-orchestrated electoral reprisals, how 'bout the Occamesque assumption that they're voting their beliefs/consciences.

I think that many, many Americans of the political class, if forced to choose between Sharon and Arafat as a figure to identify with, would name Sharon every time - as odious as he and his policies may be to the likes of you or I.

As for the "generalizations" you accuse me of "blurting," well, as I noted above, I based them on personal observations and experiences, with the sole exception of the motherhood/martyrdom comment. *This is what it feels like to me*. I don't see any need to apologize.
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:20 PM on October 20, 2002


This article does not suggest a better answer, or really, any answer.

But Steyn wasn't assuming to.

Here's another question central to this topic: are there correlations (anecdotal or not) between poverty/lack of opportunity/low standard of living and cultural or geographical sources of terrorists?

I mean does a society's (anywhere in the world) having more of these sorts of problems mean the more likely they are to produce terrorist individuals or groups?
posted by shoos at 10:46 PM on October 20, 2002


The Israelis are our only true friend in the region. You only have to look at Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to see what stalwart allies we've got in the Arab world.
posted by Zombie at 11:55 PM on October 20, 2002


George_Spiggott: ... can anyone point out a case when a purely repressive/retaliatory response to terrorism has proven effective?

Yes, this piece argues that "killing and jailing terrorists wipes out terror."
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:39 AM on October 21, 2002


I would have thought that the relationship between terrorism and poverty was a pretty obvious one. While there are must be many factors involved in breeding terrorists, mass deprivation combined with disenfranchisement and oppression (whether real or perceived) makes a pretty volatile combination.
posted by cbrody at 12:59 AM on October 21, 2002


killing and jailing terrorists wipes out terror

Great, let's do it. How?
posted by cbrody at 1:04 AM on October 21, 2002


There are two arrows driving this cycle of violence. One is the horrific targeting of civilians by Palestinian terrorists; the other is the theft of Palestinian land (cropland, mainly) to build Jews-only roads through the Occupied Territories. That's just a "sideshow"? Yeah, I've got your sideshow right here, Paris.

Yeah, except for those 2 little problems that the 'horrific targeting of civilians by Palestinian terrorists' started in 1929 and that the main group currently engaging in them states plainly that it's Israel's very existence they're fighting, not settlement expansion (Arafat's group too, but I don't consider him trustworthy ;) ). So, now that we've heard your brilliant plan for getting it down to 1 arrow driving this 'cycle of violence', maybe you'd like to share yours for getting it down to 0.
posted by boaz at 1:22 AM on October 21, 2002


The larger point is that too often 'root causes' are really not causes at all, just generic problems that plague lots of people in the world. A hell of a lot of people in the world are poor, are powerless, are illiterate, but there are very few terrorists. Further, many terrorists, Bin Laden and Abu Nidal for instance, are afflicted by none of the above 'root causes'. One who wishes to make the case for these 'root causes' should consider that Saudi Arabia has 13 times the per-capita GDP and twice the literacy rate of relatively terrorist-free neighbor Yemen. As H.L. Mencken once said, "The common argument that crime is caused by poverty is a kind of slander on the poor."

The second bit of wishful thinking that needs a reality check is that somehow terrorism can be stopped by depopularizing it, by turning the popular sentiment of the terrorists' fellow citizenry against it. In many ways, the Middle East is an argument for exceptionalism, as it is one of the few places where you can actually find majority support for terrorism, but one need only look at the examples of the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh to see how depopularized terrorism would work. Working alone or in very small groups, they were able to cause significant damage and casualties, both in the service of causes with essentially 0 public support. Just as the numbers didn't work then, with only a handful of like-minded wingnuts needed out of a 250 million person country, so will it not work among the 1 billion Muslims in the world.

Not to worry, though, for when logic closes a door, it opens a window. The essential clue you need is the stated goals of the terrorists. That's all, just find out what they want and then decide if you're going to give it to them or not. If their stated goal is to push you into the sea, then you can safely narrow down your choices to: 1) Fighting them or 2) Offering a compromise with the understanding that your strategy will revert to #1 if refused or reneged upon or 3) Building an ark. Sure, there are subtleties; maybe you'll have negotiations, maybe you'll invite Jimmy Carter over, maybe you'll pretend to do #2 while you're really #1ing, etc. But just to ask them (rather than yourself) what they want is an essential first step.

And, of course, the final bit of good news, already broken by Hieronymous Coward, is that fighting terror really works. The biggest disadvantage terrorists have is that they're invariably a small group of statistical outliers; as such, there is a finite, generally quite small number of people that need to be killed or captured in order to defeat them. The list, partially compiled in HC's linked piece, though I would venture to add Shining Path, November 17, FRC and a host of others, of terrorist groups that have been defeated is long; it is the list of terrorist groups that have been negotiated or appeased away that is woefully short.
posted by boaz at 2:02 AM on October 21, 2002


cbrody: I'm assuming you were responding to the question I posed. If so, the four links you posted don't really address the issue.

1st link - no numbers or details, just a few sound bites.
2nd link - article overall is agnostic on the issue and mentions only 2 countries out of ~200 on the planet.
3rd link - I don't think CASI would say that Iraq produces terrorists, would they? (they don't on their home page at any rate).
4th link - I don't see how this particular article pertains to the issue.
posted by shoos at 2:58 AM on October 21, 2002


Negotiating with terrorists involves a lot of very tricky steps including:
  1. Finding their leaders Bombing areas known to harbour them
  2. Asking them what they want Interrogating their captured supporters
  3. Putting their leaders on trial Finding excuses to attack sovereign nations
  4. Negotiating a settlement Violating UN resolutions
  5. Entering into power-sharing arrangements Planning assassinations
Sorry, I'm getting carried away.

The leaders of two of the world's most feared "terrorist" organisations, the IRA/SF and PLO/PA, are democratically elected by their supporters. In the case of Sinn Fein, they have even entered into power-sharing arrangements with their so-called "oppressors". It's easy to identify (and find) the leaders in both cases, but it's not so easy to be seen to be negotiating with them when their henchmen still think that murdering civilians is a valid form of warfare. But if you do bring them to the table you have at least to be prepared to listen.

Another alternative is to try to kill them all. From a distance. With bombs that kill many more civilians than known combatants.

What does "majority support for terrorism" mean? If a majority support it, is it "demoractic terrorism"?

I've been here 5 minutes and I'm trolling already.
posted by cbrody at 3:39 AM on October 21, 2002


shoos, lack of opportunity = disenfranchisement = lack of representation = lack of power. I'm sorry you didn't find the links relevant.

Problem 1: nobody can agree what "terrorism" means
Problem 2: some things I find so obvious (for example that poverty vs wealth = anger, resentment and sometimes even hate) that I find your question somewhat naive.

Another difficult but similar question would be something like, "does education cause intelligence"? Can you prove it?
posted by cbrody at 3:58 AM on October 21, 2002


cbrody: Terrorist groups have representation and quite a bit of it in Middle East states.

Syria and Iran back Hizbollah, Saudi Arabia has multiple links to Al Queda financing , Iraq backs almost whoever is anti-Israel/America, Islamic Jihad opeerates without worry in Egypt.

Jordan are I think the only real exception when they cut their relationships with terrorist groups when the PLO tried to instigate a civil war there and were quickly kicked out.
posted by PenDevil at 4:50 AM on October 21, 2002


Al-Qaeda in Southeast Asia: The case of the “Ngruki Network” in Indonesia. A thorough research on Islamic networks in Indonesia. This is a summary of the full document (PDF). This was written this past August well in advance of the current trouble.
Excerpt:
"The problem is that the Ngruki network is far wider than the handful of people who have been accused of ties to al-Qaeda and includes individuals with well-established political legitimacy for having defied the Soeharto government and gone to prison as a result. Many Indonesians have expressed concern that pressure from the U.S. and Southeast Asian governments on Indonesian authorities to carry out preventive arrests of suspects without hard evidence could be seriously counterproductive. It could easily turn the targets of that pressure into heroes within the Muslim community – as has happened with Abu Bakar Ba’asyir – to the point that they become the beneficiaries of substantial political and financial support."
posted by talos at 5:18 AM on October 21, 2002


Metafilter: Beneath contempt, and not worthy of a response.

Thank you, my Canadian wonder chicken.
posted by adampsyche at 5:42 AM on October 21, 2002


(and I was referring to the article, not MeFi...I just can't resist new taglines, tho)
posted by adampsyche at 5:42 AM on October 21, 2002


PenDevil, my equations were somewhat lax. I didn't mean to equate representation with enfranchisement precisely.

talos' extract confirms my hypothesis that terrorism springs directly from disenfranchisment. As soon as a disaffected group finds a potential martyr/leader, voices will spring up to support that person. He "represents" their strongly held views.

This is emphatically not the same as enfranchisement, in the sense of being a full member of an open democracy.

How many Middle East states have free and fair elections and still support terrorist acts, which I would define here as "attacks on civilian targets whose majority views you do not entirely share, with the aim of silencing those views permanently"?
posted by cbrody at 5:44 AM on October 21, 2002


cbrody: There is only one Middle Eastern country which has free and fair elections. Unfortunately that is Israel (unfortunate that it's only Israel).

The Arab governments in the region have no interest in free and fair elections. Indeed they probably prefer their people to be disenfranchised and vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist groups. By financing and keeping terrorist groups involved in attacks on Israel and America, they keep these groups from turning their guns around onto them and thereby remaining in power.
posted by PenDevil at 6:02 AM on October 21, 2002


Y'know, for the past hour or so I've been trying to construct a response to this article but I've come to the realisation that stavros was pretty much on the money.

All I will add is that as long as people refer to badly researched, stereotyped, pointless political axe-grinding (of any side) such as this then we can forget about being better educated than anyone else. Phooey.

Despite knowing full well that we'd be subject to uninformed crap like this following the Bali bombing it still makes me sick.
posted by i_cola at 6:10 AM on October 21, 2002


Let's stick with Hebron for this one:
What settler life is like in Hebron
Time mag Hebron photo essay

boaz, always a pleasure to engage you on this issue (seriously, it is; I always learn something). That said, I'm not sure what point you're trying to make by raising the 1929 Hebron massacre here without noting the British role in exacerbating tensions between Jews and Arabs at the time.

Once again, I recommend Mark Tessler's A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict for anyone who really wants to understand the horror of incidents like Hebron 1929. For now, this page from the Quaker-sponsored Christian Peacemaker Teams provides the context left out of boaz' link:

The massacre followed several years of the British pursuing a "divide and conquer" policy in Palestine [a classic colonial move, of course]. Every effort between moderate Zionist immigrants and moderate Palestinian Arabs to join forces and plan a bi-national state free of colonial control was stymied. Hence, the extremist elements among both Palestinian Arabs and Zionists gained greater power...To the British, the Jewish and Arab communities in Hebron were a living contradiction to their dictum that Jews and Arabs could not get along and therefore needed a Great White Father to run Palestine.

There's lots more, including this claim about the "almost 400" Jews who were sheltered and saved by Hebron's Arab community: "Arab families in Hebron whose grandparents and great grandparents sheltered Jews from the mob consider these actions a point of honor for their family."

The relevant point is that - even in Hebron in 1929 - there were Arabs committed to coexistence (what I've read suggests they were clearly a majority). Attempts to create an alternative impression are a distortion of the truth. It's also true that the modern breed of settlers in Hebron easily matches the "shove them into the sea" crowd with their "get them out of Judea and Samaria" fanaticism. Baruch Goldberg - who murdered 29 men and boys while they prayed at a Hebron mosque in 1994 - is still celebrated as a holy hero by fundamentalist Jewish settlers.

[off to work, sorry]
posted by mediareport at 6:19 AM on October 21, 2002


Just for anyone thinking that Muslims supported terror, following some comments previously.
posted by i_cola at 6:22 AM on October 21, 2002


i_cola, I couldn't agree more. But the continuing debate on the origins of terrorism is certainly worth having.

PenDevil, To be pedantic, many would of course argue that Israel is not a "country", in the sense that Palestine is not a "state".
posted by cbrody at 6:30 AM on October 21, 2002


Boaz said it very well
posted by quercus at 7:49 AM on October 21, 2002


I'm sorry you didn't find the links relevant.

cbrody: I meant that they were not relevant to the specific question I posed. They were otherwise interesting.

Problem 1: nobody can agree what "terrorism" means

My original question used the word "terrorism," and you responded to it by posting links pertaining (however indirectly) to it, so it would seem you knew what I meant by the word. And in your posts to PenDevil and i_cola above, you use the word again. Did you privately come to an understanding with them about what is meant by that phrase?

Problem 2: some things I find so obvious.

So does that mean you will be able to offer us actual some information on the question?

Boaz did make a good start.
posted by shoos at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2002


Look. You may not like Ariel Sharon, and I may not love him, but his flaws, and those of his supporters, pale in comparison to those of the countries surrounding Israel. Israel didn't make the rest of the Middle East a political and economic sewer. Stop confusing cause and effect. Israel has the right to thwart the creation of another Lebanon on its borders.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:13 PM on October 21, 2002


his flaws, and those of his supporters

Don't forget those of his precursors. These "flaws" pale in comparison because they weren't committed by Arabs, no?
posted by languagehat at 12:31 PM on October 21, 2002


Israel has the right to thwart the creation of another Lebanon on its borders.

Right. Wouldn't want to have a nearby government that coddles terrorists who plant bombs on buses and kill innocent civilians, now would we?
posted by mediareport at 1:11 PM on October 21, 2002


cpbrody,
  1. Nice list. As I said, there are subtleties :)
  2. Dunno about Arafat's credentials as his term was sposed to end in 1999, but the Democratic Terrorists would be a great name for a political party.
  3. The PLO and the IRA are definitely the sellouts of the terrorist world; I bet there are Palestinian/Irish kids telling their friends, 'They were so much cooler before they started collaborating.'
  4. If you want to avoid those extra lines in your list, don't hit return between items. The MeFi parser adds a br tag every time you hit return (and one more at the end, just to mess up ending lists and blockquotes be safe).
  5. Relax, you'll fit in here fine.
posted by boaz at 5:49 PM on October 21, 2002


boaz: So, now that we've heard your brilliant plan for getting it down to 1 arrow driving this 'cycle of violence', maybe you'd like to share yours for getting it down to 0.

I offered a plan? ;) What I'm suggesting, once again, boaz, is that the Israeli government will be on much stronger ground as it fights terror if it stops the settlements. This is only a radical view to kneejerk pro-Israel conservatives. Hell, Colin Powell agrees with me. Everyone's paying the price for the ramped-up settlement program Begin initiated in the 1970s; trying to stop terror while OK'ing new settlements (which Israel can ill afford, but later for that) is stupid.

Or are you really suggesting, boaz, that Palestinians seeing 1) their land get taken, 2) security forces turn a blind eye to settler violence and 3) one-ton bombs dropped on civilian neighborhoods has nothing to do with the poll numbers you cited? Wow, that'd be quite a stretch.

Creating a climate where moderates are encouraged, rather than smothered, is the work of both sides. It can be done. But it won't happen with one-sided takes that let the Israeli government off the hook for policies that seem clearly aimed at eventual expulsion of all Palestinians from the Territories. Sharon is the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

adamgreenfield:

1) You said "contemporary Islam," not "the Muslims I know." Thanks for clarifying, but your initial statement was still a horrible over-generalization.

2) The range of discussion about Palestinians heard in the Knesset and in mainstream Israeli media is far wider than what you hear in the U.S. Congress or U.S. media. Why is that?
posted by mediareport at 6:36 PM on October 21, 2002


mediareport, I would imagine that it's because Palestinian issues are much more relevant to the daily work of Knesset members than members of the US legislative bodies.

Entomologists have a much wider range of discussion concerning the construction of ant habitats than herpatologists do, or should. I don't imagine it takes a conspiracy on the part of entomologists to frame the terms of relevant debate in herpatology.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:39 PM on October 21, 2002


Your link is interesting as an example of modern leftist philosophy overlaid on history, mediareport, but it didn't really edify me. After all, the Hebron Massacre was carried out by Palestinians, who were sparked by a false rumor also spread by Palestinians, in the context of hateful rhetoric not from 'extremist elements' but from the main Palestinian religious leader. Yet somehow, because of vague to the point of meaningless charges of the colonial government playing 'divide and conquer', this is England's fault? It is precisely this propensity for shifting blame from the principal historical actors to more ideologically convenient (i.e. Western) targets that has earned the far left such a wary eye from the general public. If you want to clarify the historical situation, then bring in some facts that do so, but don't pretend that because you read some Quakers spinning about how it's the Brits' fault, that that makes it so.

However, I must confess that I only responded to your post previously to set up my following remarks in hopes of guiding the discussion back on topic. While it has become quite fashionable in certain corners to scream ISRAEL at the top of one's lungs immediately following any mention of Muslims and/or Arabs that falls short of glowing praise, your posts are hopelessly off-topic here to any but the most strident Israel basher. If it is unfair to bring up problems in Arab and/or Muslim cultures in a discussion of an attack organized by Arab Muslims against tourists in Bali, then it is both unfair and nonsensical to bring up Israeli issues in response to same. You have nothing to worry about, mediareport, as I can virtually guarantee you will be given many further to grind this ax in the future.

PS. Yes, I understand the oxymoronic nature of my two previous paragraphs, but I'll excuse myself on the grounds that the issue I raise in the first is applicable to the on-topic discussion as well ;).
posted by boaz at 8:15 PM on October 21, 2002


While it has become quite fashionable in certain corners to scream ISRAEL at the top of one's lungs immediately following any mention of Muslims and/or Arabs that falls short of glowing praise

That's a disgusting misrepresentation of what happened in this thread, boaz, and you know it. I was not the first one to bring up Israel, and when I did - far into the discussion - it was in response to adamgreenfield and actually made a point that he agreed with. I can't believe you've retreated from the specifics here into trollish accusations that I said the massacre is England's fault, and that this somehow represents a failure of "the left."

Why is it OK for pro-Israeli-government sites to point out "contributing factors" to violent acts like the 1994 Goldstein massacre, boaz? But when the exact same point is made by someone who disagrees with Israeli government policies, all of a sudden it becomes blaming someone else or making excuses for murder? I eagerly await your answer.

The Quaker site is definitely spinning the story in a different way than the pro-Israeli-government site you linked. But your link also acknowledges the efforts of Arab families who sheltered "dozens, maybe even hundreds, of Jews" (I haven't seen corroboration that it was only 19 families, but I'm curious and have started looking). Given that it notes there were 800 total Jews in Hebron at the time of the massacre, the Christian Peacemaker claim that nearly 400 were saved by their Arab neighbors, while 67 were murdered, seems significant - especially as we look at your clear implication that all Palestinians want to wipe out the Jews from Israel.

And you never answered my biggest question to you, boaz, so here it is again: Are you really suggesting, boaz, that Palestinians seeing 1) their land get taken, 2) security forces turn a blind eye to settler violence and 3) one-ton bombs dropped on civilian neighborhoods has nothing to do with the poll numbers you cited?

mediareport, I would imagine that it's because Palestinian issues are much more relevant to the daily work of Knesset members than members of the US legislative bodies.

I'm not talking about the amount of time US bodies spend discussing Palestinian issues, adamgreenfield; I'm talking about the *one-sided way* in which they discuss those issues. Given the amount of money the U.S. government pours into Israel on a daily basis, ostensibly to protect it from anti-Israel terrorists, I think it's quite appropriate to wonder why the range of debate is far more one-sided in the U.S. media and Congress than in Israel itself. Your answer doesn't begin to address that.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 PM on October 22, 2002


Anyone who thinks Israel is favored in media coverage is dellusional. An interesting commentary
posted by ParisParamus at 6:45 PM on October 22, 2002


Why is it OK for pro-Israeli-government sites to point out "contributing factors" to violent acts like the 1994 Goldstein massacre, boaz? But when the exact same point is made by someone who disagrees with Israeli government policies, all of a sudden it becomes blaming someone else or making excuses for murder? I eagerly await your answer.

So, wait. I'm pro-Israel and this site is pro-Israel, so therefore I must somehow think this site's content is ok (even though I've never even heard of it). Brilliant bit of deductive reasoning there. Yup, you sure outed me as the big, fat hypocrite I am. How about a corollary argument: You're opposed to Israel's policies, and David Duke is opposed to Israel's policies; therefore, you must be a white supremacist. Discuss.

That charge that I believe that every single last Palestinian wants to wipe out the Jews in Israel must have sounded like a sensible restatement of my ideology at the time you wrote it too, but all it tells me is that you are either acutely or chronically irrational. I've seen you make intelligent, insightful posts here on many, many other occasions though, so I'll assume acuteness and hope you get well soon. Till then, I bid you adieu.
posted by boaz at 7:34 PM on October 22, 2002


boaz, answer the damn question:

Are you really suggesting that Palestinians seeing 1) their land get taken, 2) security forces turn a blind eye to settler violence and 3) one-ton bombs dropped on civilian neighborhoods has nothing to do with the poll numbers you cited?

And you completely misread my point about the Israeli site that offers the "context" for Baruch Goldstein's rampage. I *accept* that it's ok for that site to do what it did. It *is* possible to offer context underlying violent acts without accepting or excusing the violent acts themselves. Now, the question is, do you?

Once again, you've dodged the most important points; this is becoming a habit with you.
posted by mediareport at 11:59 AM on October 23, 2002


boaz, answer the damn question:

Are you really suggesting that Palestinians seeing 1) their land get taken, 2) security forces turn a blind eye to settler violence and 3) one-ton bombs dropped on civilian neighborhoods has nothing to do with the poll numbers you cited?


Oddly, I have no memory of suggesting that; Could you kindly point me to the post where I made that suggestion? Were I to suggest anything, it would be valium, highballs and a quick primer on the Straw Man logical fallacy.
posted by boaz at 5:28 PM on October 23, 2002


boaz, I apologize for the "your clear implication that all Palestinians want to wipe out the Jews from Israel" statement; it was overblown and I shouldn't have made it. I mean that. But I'm still not sure if you believe that the majority of Palestinians want to drive Israel into the sea. Would you mind clarifying that?

As to the rest, you seemed to me to be implying two things: 1) that since we can never stop the "send them into the sea" terrorists - even by taking away whatever popular support they have - it doesn't matter what the Israeli government's policies are, or how the majority of Palestinians feel about those policies, and 2) that the "majority support for terrorism" in the poll you cited would remain even if the Israeli government pulled out of the Occupied Territories.

I find those implications wrong-headed, and so am asking you to clarify if indeed that's what you're implying. To be more specific, I'd like to know if you believe that an announcement that the Israelis were pulling out of, say, the Gaza Strip and all but a few of the holiest spots in the West Bank would do nothing to reduce "majority support for terrorism"in Palestine.

I think that'll do it for this round. Thanks again for your replies.
posted by mediareport at 4:52 PM on October 24, 2002


boaz, I apologize for the "your clear implication that all Palestinians want to wipe out the Jews from Israel" statement; it was overblown and I shouldn't have made it. I mean that. But I'm still not sure if you believe that the majority of Palestinians want to drive Israel into the sea. Would you mind clarifying that?

Since I never said that either, yes I do mind clarifying it, mediareport. If you wish to continue thrashing straw men in my name, you will have to excuse my absence. I have become tired of being told what I'm implying by someone who has no desire to respond to what I'm saying.
posted by boaz at 7:11 PM on October 26, 2002


Totally lame. I go out of my way to apologize, let you off the hook completely for your blatant distortions of my position earlier, and yet you *still* find a way to avoid replying to my politely phrased points. boaz, your pattern is now crystal clear.
posted by mediareport at 12:40 AM on October 27, 2002


Miss the point much, mediareport? To make it clearer, I'm not super impressed by an apology when you repeat the very same action you're apologizing for, in the very next sentence. That ranks about as high as Arafat's denunciations of terrorism on the sincerity scale. Now, I would consider your actions as sincere if you answered the very same questions I raised nearly a week ago without resorting to misrepresenting my opinion or engaging in absolutist nonsense this time:
  1. How do you reconcile your claim that settlement activity is driving violence when Palestinian violence precedes it by 40 years? Since you have already admitted that, at the very least, the blame for that act lies with the Palestinians, let's skip a second round of Brit-bashing and just answer the damn question, mmmkay?
  2. How do you reconcile your claim that settlement activity is driving violence when the very groups perpetrating it are claiming that it's Israel's existence that is motivating their acts? If you believe they are lying, tell me why. If you believe thay will magically disappear in response to some Israeli action short of disbanding, tell me why.
Quite simple really, and it'd be a much nicer way to end this conversation than mutual recriminations.
posted by boaz at 10:55 AM on October 27, 2002


« Older La Speranza...  |  The World Is Full Of Crashing ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments