Monday, July 25, 2005

This. This in full. Long, but well worth it. Takes a line of argument about terrorism that's increasingly prevalent on this here interweb (and, sadly, sometimes also in the real world) and demonstrates fairly catagorically why it's abject shite. Good stuff - although doubtless it will soon be swamped by comments picking up on minor typos and the like thanks to the lynch mob, McCarthyite mentality of those it's criticising...


Blogger dearieme said...

That was rather a wordy attack on the pro-[Iraq]-war Left. Wouldn't it be enough to say "They are wrong in particular, for being pro the Iraq war, and chumps in general, for being Left." There, that was shorter, wasn't it?

7/25/2005 02:38:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Shorter, yes. But also one of the least accurate summaries possible. Try reading it again, but this time paying attention to the actual words and argument presented.

7/25/2005 02:52:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

Dearie me,

Quite agree. Don't understand NM's enthusiasm for this - just an impossibly prolix way of stating the bleeding obvious.

Also i note the writer - sensitive and articulate as he is - doesn't really proffer solutions. Perhaps he can't bear to admit the necessary corollary of his argument: The Right is right.

7/25/2005 02:52:00 pm  
Blogger dearieme said...

It wasn't offered as a summary but as an alternative.

7/25/2005 03:27:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Sean - obvious, yes, but comprehensively stated. If you've ever had the misfortune to read some of the nonsense on Harry's Place, you may understand why I feel this sort of thing needs setting out so exhaustively.

As for the lack of solutions, the point of the post was merely to point out the need to begin the process of contemplation that might lead to finding solutions. At the moment, this concept seems to have been rejected by our Blairite overlords.

And it might be suggested that the right have hardly come up with anything overly practical so far. Admittedly, I've probably only seen the most extreme right-wing reponses (and I am exaggerating them here), but so far they seem to involve little more than deporting and/or killing anyone who might be a bit muslim. In fact, as of yet I've seen no practical suggestions from anyone.

Dearieme - possibly I misunderstood your intentions. If so, sorry etc. I'm getting too used to people (from all political backgrounds) leaping on anything and everything and willfully misrepresenting it at the moment, and getting tetchy...

7/25/2005 03:43:00 pm  
Blogger dearieme said...

No offence taken (and thanks for all the liveblogging).

7/25/2005 04:03:00 pm  
Blogger Unity said...

As the author of this piece, perhap I ought to clarify one thing.

The purpose of it was never to look for definitive solutions to terrorism, it's purely and simply a polemic which aims to knock holes in the "it's not our fault" stance of the the pro-war left by, in particular, tearing apart a couple of their sacred cows, not least the whole 'islamofascism' myth.


Because if you take that away then people will have to starting thinking seriously about the issues that terrorism raises instead of dismissing them with a few carefully chosen soundbites.

As it happens I'm more and more coming round to seeing this whole situation as an Islamic problem which requires an Islamic solution, but that's another story.

7/25/2005 04:58:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because if you take that away then people will have to starting thinking seriously about the issues that terrorism raises instead of dismissing them with a few carefully chosen soundbites.

But sadly they prbably won't. Because the "pro-war left", like many other currents on this issue, have a habit of responding to any criticism of their own positions that isn't obviously facile or intemperate by sticking their fingers in their ears and going "La la la... I can't hear you!" I find it unutterably depressing.


7/25/2005 05:46:00 pm  
Blogger Rob Jubb said...

I think this misses the point of most of the use of the moral agency argument so well liked by Harry's Place/Norm Geras et al. The point of the argument is not (solely) to divert attention from the social context in which various acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism occurs, but to correctly point out that even if poverty, colonialism/imperialism, a particular cultural/religious environment and so on explain such acts of terrorism, they don't excuse or justify them. Whether anyone actually thinks that such sociological factors do excuse or justify such acts is another question, but that seems to be the point of the moral agency argument to me.

7/25/2005 06:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark from across the pond said...

This pro-Iraq war/anti-Iraq war argument completely misses the history of terrorism prior to the war. John Howard set it out a few days back in London, so I won't bother repeating it. But just note the Egyptian bombings the other day, the killing of Dutch filmmaker last year, or the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Buddhists in the south of Thailand by militant Muslims - none of which have any Iraq connections.

To say that Iraq is being used as one of many excuses in Islamofascist's propaganda is obvious, but that doesn't give it any more weight or credibility than any of the other hundred absurd arguments used in militant's indoctrinations - ranging from allowing women out on the street unveiled, to letting them drive, to democratic elections, to ... The reason there's no answer, except to eliminate the Islamofascism preachers and leaders as well as any foot soldiers along the way, is that none of their arguments are anything more than self-serving propaganda used to support their true, ultimate aim – regional, and then world dominance.

What the foot soldiers believe at the time they push the button is irrelevant, or at least on the par with fervent belief in the virgins awaiting them on the other side. They are tools, and there's always another excuse their minds will accept. If we ignore the core struggle because we are blinded by excuses de jour, we let ourselves be diverted from true understanding of the War on Terror. It’s actually quite sad that anti-Iraq war arguments are being sullied by linking them to terrorist acts – leading the anti-war Left to be duped into implicitly making justifications or excuses for terrorists.

7/25/2005 06:37:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

OK, we're off the point again (which kind of goes to prove the point)...

The way I see it, when Iraq is raised as a contributing factor (few are stupid enough to claim it as the sole factor), it is usually mentioned not with regard to the justifications the terrorists themselves use - which are all largely meaningless excuses - but to those people who become tempted to listen to those excuses.

As I said in another comment thread the other day, if a bunch of psychos say they're killing you because you're imperialist when you aren't, few people are going to listen to or sympathise with them. However, if a bunch of psychos say you are imperialist and you then invade and occupy two sovereign nations, it's easy to see how people might start thinking "hey - those psychos had a point..." As soon as that happens, the psychos start finding it easier to gain sympathy, support and recruits.

Unfortunately, the first response of any of the pro-war left lot to any suggestion along those lines seems to be "Hey! You're saying that America's imperialist! You're anti-American! You're saying invading Afghanistan was a bad thing! You're saying you'd prefer it if Saddam was still in power! You're sympathising with the terrorists!" Acknowledging the point, to them, seems to mean you agree with it.

Personally, I genuinely can't see how acknowledging that certain tactics adopted by Britain and America could have helped make the terrorists's *claims* (not *actions*) appear less delusional - and thus make the terrorists themselves more appealing to those who sympathise with the things they are *professing* to be fighting for - can be so consistently misinterpreted as meaning that the person making the acknowledgement themselves sympathises with the terrorists.

It doesn't matter whether or not Iraq is merely being used as another excuse for terrorism - because as Mark says, that's obvious.

It's only and always the impact the terrorists' professed reasons for attacking us has on the previously unradicalised Muslim populations to whom they are appealing which matters. Because let's face it, if the terrorists fail to get more recruits, sooner or later they'll all have blown themselves up.

The terrorists have to attract more people to their ranks, so they need things to point at which can be portrayed as so terrible that the only option is to fight them. Neither the US nor Britain were actually doing anything which could easily be portrayed that way until we started charging off all over the world in the wake of 9/11. All the terrorists had to go on before then was economic influence in the Middle East and support for Israel - neither of which are enough to get most people riled enough to go off and kill, which is why their impact was relatively minor and their support base minute. Yet now the terrorist recruiters can point to images of dead Iraqis, coalition soldiers rounding people up, detainees at Guantanamo Bay etc. Just as Hamas can point to out of context images of Israeli tanks demolishing Palestinian houses and thus gain recruits to fight Israel, so our own terrorists can point to out of context scenes of destruction in Iraq and win recruits for their campaigns against coalition nations.

To deny the power of those images, and the radicalising effect they can and have had is to either be blind to the nature of propaganda or simply lying.

To take that to the next stage of accusing of having misplaced priorities anyone who suggests that maybe we should try to do something to prevent these images from continuing to appear, and so help remove one of our ememy's prime recruiting tools, strikes me as short-sighted and overly defensive at best. Additionally suggesting, as many on the pro-war left do, that it is impossible to criticise tactics without criticsing the entire war merely strikes me as moronic.

7/25/2005 07:24:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Oh, and for the record (and before anyone starts leaping on that rather confused last comment) I still don't actually have a solid opinion about Iraq other than it doesn't exactly seem to have gone according to plan.

My only problem is that I've got this wishy-washy belief in the sanctity of life - all life. As such I dislike the idea of anyone being killed for whatever professed reason.

7/25/2005 07:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn those university educated sons of millionaires and their poverty!

It's simple Koran + Education => Terrorism.

7/25/2005 08:02:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

'My only problem is that I've got this wishy-washy belief in the sanctity of life - all life. As such I dislike the idea of anyone being killed for whatever professed reason.'

that is to say:

'My only problem is that I'm a deeply sensitive human being with these fine moral standards'.

Yuk. Watch me as I weep for the world! Listen to my poor bleeding heart! Pass the sickbag, Alice Cooper.

That grotesque passage aside, you are right on Iraq. But that's just common sense. We all know it. The difficulty is in knowing how the USA could have responded to 9/11 without riling the Ummah. They had to go into Afghanistan, and hard. In the event they did it with some restraint - taking time. A lot of us thought Bush would just nuke the place, immediately.

I fear that a clash between radical Islam and the West had been building for decades, whatever we did. Remember Salman Rushdie anyone? The 1993 attack on the World Trade Centre? That could have killed thousands, only luck stopped it.

Iraq has certainly been a recruiting sargeant - I agree. But we'd still be at war without it...

7/25/2005 08:31:00 pm  
Blogger sean said...

ps This just in from the department of I Didn't Tell You So: turns out Stockwell Man was probably a legal immigrant, not an over-stayer.

Confusion piled on confusion. We await the next developments. Soon they'll tell us he was in fact a terrorist. Member of Mebyon Kernow, the Sons of Cornwall.

And where the Fuck are these bombers?? Some say they are dead, killed themselves. Don't believe that. Surely they'd try and take a few of us with 'em...

7/25/2005 08:34:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

My only moral standard is "don't kill". Other than that I couldn't really give a fuck. I'm sometimes even inclined to go in for a bit of torture - I just don't reckon it's very effective, is all...

Afghanistan was necessary and overdue - the Taliban were a bunch of abject cunts and were actively supporting not just our terrorist buddies, but also the heroin trade, so the country, region and world should have been better off without them - and they didn't have many mates either, so it shouldn't have buggered up the Islamic world too much. We still dicked it though, and left with the job unfinished to invade Iraq as well. Reminded me of nothing so much as Operation Barberossa. Bloody stupid.

As for our Brazilian chum, I doubt very much we'll ever have a satisfactory explanation for that one.

The bombers, meanwhile, are probably shitting themselves in a basement somewhere and hoping it all blows over. Even though they were the shittest terrorists we've seen in a long while, they still were never going to be stupid enough to go back to the addresses they'd carefully left details of in their explosives-laden rucksacks. If the police were really relying on that to catch the buggers we might as well give up and all convert to hardcore Islam now.

7/25/2005 09:25:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...


Spelling's gone to shit at the moment.

7/25/2005 09:27:00 pm  
Blogger jake-the-peg said...

And where the Fuck are these bombers??

If it were working, I'd say we'll find them going round and round on the circle line.

Seriously, these are people who know too much. If they have have superiors, then they'll be hiding from them. We've pointed out before that these lot seem less nihilistic than the Leeds scum. It may take them a long time to come up with a plan. Maybe they are waiting for next Thursday to establish a pattern? Maybe they'll conclude that divine intervention buggered their bombs and it's Allah's will that they not blow themselves up?

7/25/2005 10:31:00 pm  
Anonymous Mark from across the pond said...

It's interesting that Iraq images are portrayed as radicalizing otherwise peaceful Muslims. When I see the images of dozens of kids getting some candy or toys, and being blown up in the process, or other mass attacks on Iraqi civilians, I would expect the peaceful Muslims to rise up and (a) condemn the terrorists, and (b) offer to send troops and volunteers to provide for more defense of Iraqi Muslims. That should be a more obvious response. But it's not, is it? The silence is deafening.

The power of jihadists, Wahhabis, and other Islamofascists perverts the Muslim world, and that's where anyone looking for reasons behind the terror attacks should focus, not Guantanomo, coalition forces in Iraq, unveiled women tourists in Egypt, etc. Not that these topics shouldn't be discussed on their own merits, starting perhaps with unveiled women, but they add no insight to prosecuting and winning the war on terror. Remove these reasons, and a dozen others would spring in their place.

7/25/2005 10:48:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Mark - and yet Iraqis continue to flock to the recruiting stations to join the police force and new Iraqi army, despite the fact that these are among the prime targets. You say it's a deafening deafening silence - I see an incredible bravery and keenness to stand up to the maniacs.

7/25/2005 10:59:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you really read all of that nosey.

If it suits your taste you might enjoy a similar tome titled Mein Kampf. Same reasoned and temperate approach. Pick a demon and blame them for everything.

7/26/2005 12:25:00 am  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

I can't figure out why significant numbers of Iraqi Muslims respond by joining up to fight the terrorists and significant numbers of British Muslims respond by joining up to kill Londoners, or maybe just deciding that western society sucks and ought to be brought down but they're not quite sure how.

I guess it's not as simple as all that, huh?

7/26/2005 12:37:00 am  
Anonymous Mark from across the pond said...

Nosemonkey - I agree that Iraqis are showing both bravery and determination to create a more normal, civil society. What separates them from Muslims elsewhere? I would suggest, that the despite the incredible pressures from Islamofascists, the presence of the coalition troops and examples of their own citizens are winning the battle for their minds and their hopes. Iraq is one place where jihadists and Wahabbis aren't assured of an upper hand, and the Iraqi population has reached for the chance of freedom from all that perversion of Islam and the oppression that accompanies it in most Muslim countries.

That's why I don't buy the argument that peaceful Muslims are being radicalized by Guantanomo, coalition troops in Iraq, etc. Any Muslims buying into that rather than standing up to the indiscriminate murder of civilians by suicide bombers is already a brainwashed radical filled with hate and looking for an excuse. Or a coerced individual doing what he's told to save his family.

7/26/2005 04:35:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Yes anonymous at 12:25 - that's EXACTLY what it was like, wasn't it? Christ...

Juan - I don't understand either. Largely because I'm pretty certain that there's little genuinely rational thought behind these kinds of acts of terrorism.

Mark - possible. But in Iraq, at least, it's so bloody complicated I no longer know what the hell's going on. All I do know is the one thing some of us have tried to point out and that Blair consistently denies - just as images of starving Africans on the telly get us reaching for the cheque book, images of dead Iraqis on the telly are powerful enough to prompt others to action.

This isn't for a moment to suggest that they wouldn't find an excuse to take those actions anyway, but I'm personally convinced that the current situation in Iraq has more power to prompt radicalisation than many other things. It's surely not as benign as the impact of violent movies or computer games, for example, which are also often blamed for people's actions - in those cases I genuinely think they are predisposed to violence and merely looking for an outlet. The same likely goes for our terrorist chums (otherwise, after all, we'd have a hell of a lot more Musliim terrorists than we actually do) - but the Iraq situation's got a hell of a lot more chance of winning someone over to supporting jihads and fatwahs than some beardy preacher blathering on about abstract concepts of infidel and the like.

7/26/2005 09:06:00 am  
Blogger Andrew said...

Nosemonkey: My problem with the piece is that the "it's all about Iraq" argument, or even the "it's at least partly because of Iraq" argument, or even the "Iraq at least contributed, even if just to lend the bombers some small measure of credibility" arguments are all pointless, because they're both trivially obviously true, and totally unhelpful, as we're lacking the necessary time travel technology to reverse those policy decisions. The question for me is 'What next?', and that's where the anti-war left seem to have no answer at all, as they're still trying to win the pointless Iraq argument. Yes, we screwed up Iraq. What exactly are we supposed to do about that?

7/26/2005 11:44:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Andrew - largely my feelings as well. The point I believe most people who raise the Iraq issue are trying to make (at least, I hope so) is less "we told you so", more "time for a change of tactics, don't you think?"

As far as I can tell, only a tiny number of idiots are seriously calling for complete withdrawal from Iraq. What most people who consider Iraq to be a contributing factor would advocate (I think) is a complete rethink of all the tactics being used there by coalition forces.

One thing I've never quite managed to work out (although I'll admit I'm hardly into military strategy in any way whatsoever) is why we've continued to use conventional tactics against an unconventional enemy.

After all, the Nazis occupied northern France and installed a puppet government in the south during the 1940s yet still weren't able to stamp out the resistance. If they failed (with a far larger military presence and far harsher responses to resistance insurgency), why should the coalition have any more success in Iraq?

So, basically, my problem isn't with Iraq itself, merely the unhelpful and failed tactics we've been using there.

7/26/2005 11:55:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem in Iraq is that the Sunni wackos (generaly non-Iraqis) see the country being handed over to the Shia (devil worshipers to them) and the Kurds (some of whom ever practise *Christianity*).

The not-quite-ex-Bathtubists (also Sunnis) see that they are not running the country anymore. When the Americans leave, they think the "traditional" will happen.... i.e. they are for the chop. Literally.

The British forces in Basra allowed a small version of this to happen. The local Shia tribal leaders got a free hand to de-Bathtub the place.

What you are seeing is a not a civil war so much as a religous one.

Notice that not a single word has been said about the denomination of the memebers of the spontaneuously combusting community (7/7)... or mention of the makeup of the Muslim areas of London where they chose to explode.....

7/26/2005 11:02:00 pm  

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