Across the Bay

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terror and the Experts

Michael Young stole a page from Juan Cole's prophecy book and predicted how "self-styled interpreters" will flood us with the "Palestine factor" in their attempts at explaining the latest horrific terrorist attack in London. The only difference is while Cole is almost invariably wrong, Michael was right. For the Majestic Pseudo-Hispanic had already not wasted time, and "informed" us about the reasons behind the attack.

My condolences to the families of those innocent people who were killed for no reason other than just being there when these lunatics decided to kill as many people as they could.

Addendum: Christopher Hitchens explains why he thinks the attack is not motivated by the Iraq war either.

Update: The Majestic One outdoes himself. In his haste to blame Israel, the informed historian does away with chronology and writes:

In his response, Foreign Minister Jack Straw said that September 11 had not come in response to any Western attack, and was itself in part responsible for the Iraq War. Straw seems unaware that according to the September 11 Commission report, al-Qaeda conceived 9/11 in some large part as a punishment on the US for supporting Ariel Sharon's iron fist policies toward the Palestinians. Bin Laden had wanted to move the operation up in response to Sharon's threatening visit to the Temple Mount, and again in response to the Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp, which left 4,000 persons homeless. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad argued in each case that the operation just was not ready. As for Straw's contention that September 11 caused the Iraq war, he should be reminded that Paul O'Neil reported that the very first Bush cabinet meeting he attended, in late January 2001, was "all about Iraq" and that the 9/11 Commission found no evidence for operational cooperation between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda. (Emphasis added)

Unfortunately for the Pontiff, Jenin happened in 2002! I repeat, how can anyone take this poseur seriously?

Update 2: In a typically gassy piece in, Don Juan bends over backwards in order to shove Israel into the statement by the Islamist group claiming responsibility for the attack:

The attack, the terrorists proclaimed, was an act of sacred revenge for British "massacres" in "Afghanistan and Iraq," and a punishment of the United Kingdom for its "Zionism" (i.e., support of Israel).

This would be hilarious if it weren't so disingenuous. The statement makes no mention of Palestine or Israel. But that would kill Juan's entire premise. So he has to reinterpret the standard formula "the crusader zionists" to mean "punishment for the UK for its Zionism, i.e., support for Israel." First distortion: the statement doesn't say that the UK is being punished for its Zionism. It says, using the formulaic statement, that "now is the time for revenge against the crusader zionist British government." Cole not only deceptively alters that, he actually picks out the "Zionist" part, and reinterprets it as "support for Israel" in order to stick the Israel element in a statement that makes no mention of it. This is called pure dishonesty.

As if that weren't enough, he adds this:

the statement condemns what it calls "massacres" by "Zionist" British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of them Muslim lands under Western military occupation (and, it is implied, similar in this regard to Gaza and the West Bank under Israeli control).

This is outrageous. First, the statement nowhere calls the troops Zionist. It reads: "In response to the massacres perpetrated by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan." Needless to say, the stupid alleged implication about Gaza and the West Bank exists only in Cole's dishonest mind.

Cole, in other words, is consciously misleading his readers.

Update 3: Some more hypocritical tripe. Cole writes:

After Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, many Muslims felt that Bin Laden's dire warnings to them that the United States wanted to occupy their countries, rape their women, humiliate their men, and steal their assets had been vindicated.

These claims were not credited by most of the world's Muslims before the Iraq war.

Oh, really!? Who is he kidding? Before Iraq it was Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya and Kashmir, to name but a few. In fact, here's Cole himself:

On the other hand, the US should strong-arm India and Pakistan into a final settlement of the Kashmir issue. Al-Zawahiri attempted to use Musharraf's lack of progress in helping the Muslims of that Indian state as a justification for his overthrow. The Kashmir issue generates far more terrorism, and even the threat of nuclear war, than Iraq ever did.

Wait, there's more:

Iraq is actually hostile territory for al-Qaeda, and without Iraqi sympathizers it cannot succeed there. By moving quickly to Iraqi sovereignty and improvement of Iraqi lives, the US may be able to get Iraqis on its side, so that they turn in the foreigners.
The thing to keep in mind is that Sunni Arab nationalists and Baathists and local Sunni radicals are likely to remain far more dangerous to the US in Iraq than al-Qaeda infiltrators, and it would be dangerous to take one's eyes off the former ball.

Am I missing something? Here's more on Kashmir: "The Kashmir issue is a major source of terrorism, and is now a nuclear flashpoint." Or try this: "To this litany of Occupations that produce radical Muslim terrorism, Chechnya and Kashmir can be added. ... So it is the combination of Western occupation and weak states that produced the conditions for radical Muslim terrorism. ... You want to end terrorism? End unjust military occupations. ... The Russian scorched earth policy in Chechnya needs to stop. Some just disposition of the Kashmir issue must be attained, and Indian enormities against Kashmiri Muslims must stop."

That post by the way is the one that praised authoritarian ME regimes: "In contrast, authoritarian governments like that of Iraq and Syria, while they might use terror for their own purposes from time to time, did not produce large-scale indepdendent terrorist organizations that struck itnernational targets. Authoritarian governments also proved adept at effectively crushing terrorist groups, as can be seen in Algeria and Egypt. It was only in failed states such as Afghanistan that they could flourish, not in authoritarian ones."

And it's where this gem of a statement can be found: "I don't believe that authoritarian governance produced most episodes of terrorism in the last 60 years in the region. Terrorism was a weapon of the weak wielded against what these radical Muslims saw as a menacing foreign occupation."

Update 4: I loved this hilarious cliche. It reveals so much about a premise still dominant in ME studies, and one which I have often criticized on this blog (e.g., in my post on Anatol Lieven):

The communiqué on the London bombing is unusual in appealing both to the Muslim community and to the "community of Arabism." "Urubah," or Arabism, is a secular nationalist ideal. The diction suggests that the bombers are from a younger generation of activists who have not lived in non-Arab Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, and think of Arabism and Islam as overlapping rather than alternatives to one another. The text makes relatively few references to religion, reading more as a statement of Muslim nationalism than of piety.

This is truly remarkable. This is the only conclusion he draws! Not, for instance, that there is a synthesis of Pan-Arabism and Islamism, which by the way can be found very clearly in Hizbullah's rhetoric, and which I have called "Arabist Islam," or "Pan-Arabist Islam" and which Chuck Freund has called "Pan-Arabist Islamism." I am also reminded of a BBC article that my friend Matt Frost brought to my attention a while ago that said it best:

"Bin Laden, assumed to be in hiding - possibly in Pakistan - with his deputy Ayman Al-Zawahri, remains a powerful figurehead for those favouring global Islamic revolution or, as some analysts believe, a global resurgence of Arab influence on the back of the call to Islam." (Emphasis added.)

Also see Matt's latest post for more related issues. It's far more convenient to maintain the sacrosanct dogmas of the field, which remains subservient to the myth of "Secular Pan-Arabism" (witness Michael Hudson's latestprophecies from Damascus and Beirut.)

The funny part is after negating the religious aspect, Cole goes on to write this: "symbology helps explain why the City of London subway stops were especially targeted, since it is the economic center of London. A "raid" such as the Muslim bombings is considered not just a military action but also a religious ritual."

It's ok. We just don't understand the "complexity" of the matter as Juan does.