On dealing with terrorism


by Sunny
21st June, 2007 at 9:01 am    

The current edition of Prospect Magazine has an extensive article by Shiv Malik titled My Brother the Bomber.

It’s an illuminating insight into the life of Mohammed Sidique Khan (MSK), the ringleader of the 7/7 terrorists. A humane picture almost. The full article is well worth reading.

I have two issues with this article: the first on the nature of terrorism and the second on the solution.

Shiv Malik’s thesis is essentially that MSK was driven to terrorism through a mixture of Wahhabist fundamentalism and inter-generational conflict. MSK’s parents wouldn’t let him marry the woman of his choice and he eventually got quite sick of the community’s apparent hypocrisy of paying lip-service to Islam while being stooped in caste-based Pakistani culture. So, to what extent is culture an issue?

This is a bit complicated. Two years ago Navid Akhtar wrote this article, saying that the constrained Biraderi system in created frustration amongst youngsters and made them somewhat likely to turn to extremist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir to voice their anger. But writing last week for Prospect, Yahya Birt says, “while extremist recruiters seek to exploit a common concern, arranged marriage is only a circumstantial and not a necessary driver of extremism.”

I feels both are half right. Let’s compare this to another group. I recently pointed out in Catalyst magazine that religiously observant young Sikhs are also frequently frustrated with Gurudwara committees. They also face inter-generational conflict with parents frequently trying to ensure their kids marry someone of the right religion/race/caste.

So it is easy to overstate the impact of culture and inter-generational tension in creating terrorists. At the same time, young British Sikhs have also seen somewhat of a revival in religiousity. This hasn’t created terrorist groups but does sustain political campaigns such as the annual 1984 remembrance rally as well as limited support for the Khalistani movement (especially in Birmingham).

Youngsters, especially those religiously inclined, sometimes get involved in political movements for varying reasons. Poverty, drugs and inter-generational conflict may be some but they not explain why so many Hizb ut-Tahrir members are middle-class and well-spoken. In that sense they’re no different to many of the white radicals who join hardcore socialist/communist/libertarian/racist movements.

What Muslim radical preachers can do however is exploit various factors that make them more successful than the Khalistanis were in circa 1984: conflicts around the world (such as Afghanistan/Iraq) where Muslims are being killed, for propaganda purposes; an extensive network of preachers and recruiters that have been allowed to operate in Britain for a long time; being able to incubate and brainwash potential suicide bombers in places like Pakistan and then bring them back here.

Capacity for evil
Let’s get one thing straight – anyone can be turned into an ‘evil monster’, it’s just a matter of circumstances. Sikh militant groups used to hunt down and kill Hindus during the height of the Khalistani movement; Hindus are responsible for a huge amount of suicide bombing in Sri Lanka and the Gujarat massacres of 2002 of Muslims. Christians? Well they have a history of religiously inspired (and non-religious) conflict as long as my arm.

In an interesting interview with the New York Times not long ago, Dr Zimbardo is asked: “You keep using this phrase ‘the situation’ to describe the underlying cause of wrongdoing. What do you mean?

He says:

That human behavior is more influenced by things outside of us than inside. The “situation” is the external environment. The inner environment is genes, moral history, religious training. There are times when external circumstances can overwhelm us, and we do things we never thought. If you’re not aware that this can happen, you can be seduced by evil. We need inoculations against our own potential for evil. We have to acknowledge it. Then we can change it.

So it’s difficult to pinpoint which one factor is the root-cause of terrorism. There isn’t likely to be one. Blaming forced marriages or Wahhabism alone won’t be the answer. Neither can Iraq since many of these people were radicalised before that war started. So rather than try to pinpoint an issue, my solution would be to focus on the other aspects – the preachers, recruiters, incubators and extremist organisations that facilitate suicide bombings.

Way forward
The other problem follows on from this. After building a portrait of Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shiv Malik isn’t really able to point a way forward in resolving the problem of terrorism. He says the problem looks “depressingly intractable”.

He adds: “But maybe all that we can do now is remain vigilant and wait for the tide in the battle for Islam’s soul to turn in the west’s favour.” I think this is also a cop-out.

The solution will take time but for others reasons. Muslims themselves are becoming increasingly vocal of problems that their families face and are becoming innovative in tackling them. That will take time to manifest itself. As I pointed out a year after 7/7, things have already changed a great deal.

The response from Labour, police and intelligence services will also take a few years to get on the right track. They started by inviting the MCB over every week and belatedly realised this wasn’t going to get them anywhere. The government response, while far from perfect, is moving in the right direction. The police have spoken out against media sensationalism and leaks, funding is slowly moving towards grassroots and womens organisations and the the intelligence services are building a better picture of potential terrorists.

Over the long term there can only be one response: to fully embrace British Muslims (and other minorities of course) as British citizens. As Yahya Birt points out: “…it is only the extremists who argue for absolute choices between Islam and the west.”

While British Muslims are trying to resolve their identity conflict issues, along with British Sikhs and Hindus (though they don’t feel conflicted as much since there’s no sign of a British attack on Sikhs / Hindus elsewhere), I believe Labour should facilitate this process by pushing through with the ‘Britishness project’, to ensure that British Muslims feel a sense of belonging and civic identity. That is the only long term solution to the schism that extremists want to create. I should really expand on this but I’ve gone on for too long already…


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  1. Free Political Forum » On dealing with terrorism

    [...] Original post by Sunny [...]


  2. Replies to Shiv Malik at First Drafts - The Prospect magazine blog

    [...] at his Pickled Politics site, Sunny Hundal has written his own response to [...]




  1. soru — on 21st June, 2007 at 10:48 am  

    So it’s difficult to pinpoint which one factor is the root-cause of terrorism.

    One common factor in all _successful_ terrorism is either some kind of hands-on, face-to-face training in explosives, or direct supply of working weapons. Downloading a recipe off the internet and building a working bomb seems to be a lot more tricky than you might think.

    On a wider scale, the ‘how-to’ question is key. Economics and external circumstance place people in a particular situation, religion or philosophy explains to people how to live well within that box. If you get the instructions for the wrong box, you won’t know how to make use of it, so will either abandon the instructions or buy another box.

    MSK seems to have been in the unfortunate situation of the man who bought a cheap Korean stereo that had instructions in bad english for how to use a washing machine. When someone tried to sell him some white goods where the diagrams actually matched up with buttons on the front of the unit, that was such a revelation to him he bought it on the spot.

    There are strands of Islam that teach:

    1. how to be a 3rd world peasant

    2. how to be a citizen of a modern(ish) Islamic state

    3. how to be a subject of a Muslim King

    4. how to be a roving religious warrior.

    A strand that would teach how to live as a citizen of a modern and majority non-muslim country exists, or at least is coming into existence. But it is less prominent, less proven and reliable, less self-confident as a brand, less advertised in books, films and stories.

  2. leon — on 21st June, 2007 at 11:29 am  

    I believe Labour should facilitate this process by pushing through with the ‘Britishness project’

    Labour? You’ve been using the L word a bit lately…shouldn’t this be directed at the government and any future one irrelevant of which party is in power?

  3. Roger — on 21st June, 2007 at 11:47 am  

    “the ‘Britishness project’, to ensure that British Muslims feel a sense of belonging and civic identity. ”
    …except that islam already offers just that, and the particular forms of islam followed by terrorists offer much a much stronger a sense of belonging and identity. At least as mportant to an identity as those who are included are those who are excluded.

    Dr Zimbzrdo is miostaken in making such a clear distinction between external and internal environments. What is important is the interaction between them- indeed, lumping together “genes, moral history, religious training” as the internal environment is wrong. Moral history and religious training are parts of what Popper called World3, a kind of external heredity. It is the interaction between the different aspects of that and the external environment that inspires actions- all actions, not just bad ones.

  4. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:05 pm  

    i hear what you are saying sunny and you raise some good points.

    i would think that Shiv Malik is right about the importance of the marriage thing in making them vulnerable to the Islamists. i also hear your comparison to young Sikhs ( and i guess it would also in theory apply to young Hindus) because lets face it, when it comes to conflict with our older generation, us indian subcontinental types have the same social dynamic.

    and there is never any one factor that determines anything – it is never that simple and anyone who tries to think there is obviously some kind of simpleton.

    having said all that and agreed with the main thrust of your post, however there is the issue that is always sidestepped.

    for me religion is no different to some kind of belief in nationalism – the way i see it, religions tend to point to some God in the sky as king – so an invisible one -and nationalism tends to be about leadership as well – and giving up your life for your country should you need to – but its all terrestrial – no pie in the sky. both sets of ‘loyalties’ require a belief in your group being right, and the idea that as a loyal member one must defend the group when under threat. Now various groups will define this in various ways, i.e. when are you under threat, when should you fight etc. but the root problem is there – i feel.

    So of course if you have a religion, or a ’cause’ you feel is ‘right’ – and if you feel you have the right to take life to further the cause, then there will be trouble.

    the problem islam has – which no one seems to admit to – is that if you accept that the Prophet had the right to kill all the pagans in Mecca and the one or so Jewish tribe that ‘persecuted’ them then personally i can’t see why everyone thinks its so odd that some messianic figure like Bin laden could come along and say ah well we’re persecuted now, join with me to fight. where’s the big difference? i don’t mean to say that all people who accept the Meccan activities will turn into murderers – of course not -seeing as most people won’t accept any further messiahs – but the potential is always there. People in Mecca accepted Mohammed’s claim to divinely inspired warfare – so what i mean is – why should anyone be surprised if centuries later someone uses a similar argument to inspire other forms of what they consider warfare. same social dynamic isn’t it – and same sort of belief.

    of course, just to remind everyone, in my view, this sort of thing is no differen to the kind of patriotic loyalties nation-states try to create. religion as a kind of manifestation of uber-nationalism with God being the leader in the sky, and nations having some Leader down here. if the Leader says Kill – then we’ve got trouble.

  5. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:07 pm  

    so i see religion being kind of like an uber-nationalism which posits our leader is a Divine Being in the sky ( but apart from that just like any other nasty despotic leader)

  6. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:10 pm  

    So this really – is what religious people ( of any sort of religion) naturally don’t want attention to be brought to. Or nationalists. All religions, causes, or nations have the potential to require, and demand, and get surprisingingly enough) people willing to die for that cause.

    So that’s why the debate on “terrorism” is mostly one full of diversionary and deflecting tactics. because it would require us to understand ourselves better than we do – or admit to a lot more than we do.

    And i don’t believe in ‘evil’ -by the way.

  7. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:17 pm  

    Leon’s got a good point in no. 3 – I cannot understand either why Sunny keeps saying Labour this and Labour that. this sort of thing is surely a) aimed at anyone who will be in power and b) not just even aimed at “Government” i.e. our current model of governance – its the sort of thing WE all need to understand – in fact its precisely the sort of reasons why we need a different model of governance

    all this Leader business is crap. and that’s why this is all round and round the rose bushes. Sure let’s have our leaders in the meantime seeing as that’s our model and im not one of these Revolutionistas – but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking they’re doing much positive Leading.

  8. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

    Oh and I should point out that i think Labour “pushing through the Britishness project” – whatever that means – or anyone else for that matter – will just as likely caus e lots of trouble. How is that solving the problem here? If we take the Shiv Malik marriage and intergenerational conflict theme as an example: so say we transplant it to a situation where mummy and daddy are both 2nd gen British Asians – say Muslims. They see themselves as british, no issues there, they see themselves as conservative muslims – so we don’t go to the pub or go clubbing. no conflict there. they can bring up their 3 kiddies who also grow up thinking, yes we’re good british muslims we are, just like mummy and daddy, we also dont go pubbing or clubbing. so no intergenerational conflict right\? Perhaps, but say one of them thinks well actually im british and im muslim but i want to go to the pub and club and mummy and daddy say we’re british but we’re not white and we’re not like them – or insert less racist family – we’re muslim and not like them – so we don’t go to the pub. We also dont have boyfriends and girlfriends and I want one. Or something along those lines. so there you can have some intergenerational conflict – “within” the Britishness thing .and everyone’s got a Britishness thing happening. so how is this going to be resolved by the national identity? in countries where people have the same national identity but different religious ones – you hear this sort of thing from parents – like only Hindu people do this, we’re muslim. or only muslims do that – we’re hindu. Whatever, take your pick.

    As long as kids are going to be brought up feeling like they cant do this and they cant do that ( which frankly i dont know about anyone else but Muslim parents seem to be feel obsessed with) which they see people around them doing – there’s intergenerational conflict right there.

  9. Chairwoman — on 21st June, 2007 at 12:47 pm  

    With Leon @ 3(and Sonia) on this one.

  10. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 1:06 pm  

    it’s also reflective of a belief in Authority -that ‘they’ are supposed to know what they are doing – so let’s ask them how they are going to fix ‘IT’. Well yeah sure – its the ‘governments’ fault for looking like they are in Charge of things – but frankly, there’s no point looking to Government when they don’t really understand what the hell is going on with anything – never mind this.

  11. anas — on 21st June, 2007 at 1:15 pm  

    Pull my finger.

  12. Kismet Hardy — on 21st June, 2007 at 2:12 pm  

    The common view is that terrorists, much like Blofeld, goes to bed with an evil laugh as he concocts up another dastardly plan to destroy the world. I think that just makes them into caricatures, which hardly helps anyone’s understanding of what drives them.

    More than the obvious glory that comes with being freedom fighters and martyrs, I really believe they see themselves as underdogs, modern day Travis Bickels that refused to stand for injustice any longer. While their actions are evil in any sane person’s eyes, the important thing to consider is that they don’t see that in the mirror.

    The new age terrorists (and by that I referring to those beyond the Irish and the Tamil Tigers) were borne out of the fact that the west were waging a one-sided war where they had the big bombs and big planes and the muslim world didn’t seem to have a soldier in sight fighting back.

    So they, in their minds, did what little people under fire from a superpower did. Instead of using might against might, they used dirty tricks. It worked in Vietman against USA, it worked in Afghanistan against Russia. Except back then, they had a better name for themselves. Guerillas.

    Now that they’re known as terrorists, everyone thinks they don’t have a point like the guerillas and freedom fighters did, which makes them increasingly alienated and doubly vicious. They’re left feeling they are the only ones, the lone rangers, who can make a stand against the scum of the universe.

    Wannabe heroes never emerge on the street if they see the police doing something about it. In the same vein, these men (and make no mistake, they think their actions are heroic) wouldn’t take the law in their own twisted hands if they weren’t faced with the news of thousands and thousands of innocent people being killed in the name of civilisation/democracy/whatever the west wants.

    You want to know how to stop terrorists? Fight fair.

  13. Usman — on 21st June, 2007 at 5:41 pm  

    The route cause of terrorism is the west’s colonial foreign policy which is, invade then occupy the land, exploit the resources of the nation regardless of the effect this has, even if thousands of innocent civilians are killed, are left starving or homeless, its all good so long as it makes a profit/ benefits their economy, insert their own despot who speaks the same language and looks the same as the people of the host nation, maybe at some point move out leaving a mess, and continue to exploit that nation via their agent. The bias support of some nations over others even though they are open tyrants who oppress their neighbour state, the support of dictators who oppress people of their own nations and torture their political opponents, in summary have a large part in radicalising Muslims, as to the argument that Islam is to blame for this is false because even non Muslims are radicalised by the foreign policy. Thats where the criticism needs to be.

  14. Anas — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    Yeah, Usman, spot on. But people don’t want to hear it. I wrote at length about this on my blog:

    http://anask.wordpress.com/2006/10/11/its-the-foreign-policy-stupid-part-1/#more-6

    I quoted Chomsky, and that quote isn’t any less relevant now:

    “[Those who want to reduce the threat of terror] will also distinguish carefully between the terrorist networks themselves and the larger community that provides a reservoir from which radical terrorist cells can sometimes draw. That community includes the poor and oppressed, who are of no concern to the terrorist groups and suffer from the crimes, as well as the wealthy and secular elements, who are bitter about US policies and quietly express support for bin laden, whom they detest and fear, as “the conscience of Islam” because at least he reacts to these policies, even if in horrifying and disastrous ways.”

  15. ZinZin — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:40 pm  

    So Anas, the west invades a country whose inhabitants happen to share your faith. This justifies an individual of the same faith who happens to be a citizen of the invading nation killing innocent people who happen to be sharing the same railway carriage?

    Its always someone elses fault isn’t it? Why are you unable to acknowledge that these terrorists have their own agenda, one that is not influenced by the actions of the west?

    Anas even if you drained the swamp you will not kill all the mosquitos.

  16. sonia — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:45 pm  

    kismet makes some good points. terrorists see themselves as soldiers, standing up for something.

    the problem is that in a society where nations have earned the legitimacy to have wars, similarly, others feel they have legitimacy to do their dirty tricks version. me i don’t like nation-state wars, or these dirty tricks. both lot seem to think they have the right, there’s the problem.

    the current foreign policy situation exacerbates the situation and provides fodder for Islamists, or anyone looking for fodder

  17. Muzumdar — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    Anas

    Do I, as an ‘angry young Sikh’, have legitimate justification for turning up at the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore and blowing myself and the Friday prayer crew to smithereens….given that Pakistan, a colonial entity created by the British, and propped up by the US, stole mine and millions of other Sikhs’ homes and ‘occupied my land’?

  18. Don — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:51 pm  

    kismet,
    Outside of ritualised combat ‘fight fair’ is an oxymoron and always has been. If anyone ever entered a war with fairness higher on their scale of priorities than winning then they have been written out of history.

    Usman/Anas,
    Clearly your key point that exploitation leads to resistance is correct, and the history of the strong exploiting the weak is the history of our world. But surely the key passage in Anas’s Chomsky quote is ‘…the poor and oppressed, who are of no concern to the terrorist groups and suffer from the crimes…’.

    Violent resistance to callous exploitation has a long and (sometimes) admirable history, whether it be slave revolts, the early Fenians or whatever. But the distinguishing feature of our current crop of high profile mass killers is that they feel a vicarious outrage on behalf of an abstractly defined group towards whom they ascribe a formal identity. But they have no apparent qualms about butchering large numbers of those same exploited and oppressed in the name of the self-righteous ideology they have constructed.

  19. Sunny — on 21st June, 2007 at 6:54 pm  

    Anas, we’ve covered this area so many times. But it’s chicken and egg isn’t it. You blame colonialism, they blame religious extremists who want to use any excuse to recruit and launch terrorist attacks.

    MSK was radicalised before Aghanistan and Iraq. The terrorists will use any excuse to recruit. Your shallow analysis gets us nowhere constructive. Just read what MSK said in his video speech. It wasn’t just about retaliation for Iraq (barely mentioned). It was about his deep contempt for western society. He blows a hole in your own theory.

  20. Anas — on 21st June, 2007 at 7:11 pm  

    Do I, as an ‘angry young Sikh’, have legitimate justification for turning up at the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore and blowing myself and the Friday prayer crew to smithereens….given that Pakistan, a colonial entity created by the British, and propped up by the US, stole mine and millions of other Sikhs’ homes and ‘occupied my land’?

    Err, no dickhead, I never said terrorism was justified, in any case, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, or Christian. Anyway, it’s clear that there’s a difference between past injustices and ongoing attrocities in terms of its effect in motivating angry young men and women.

    So Anas, the west invades a country whose inhabitants happen to share your faith. This justifies an individual of the same faith who happens to be a citizen of the invading nation killing innocent people who happen to be sharing the same railway carriage?

    LOOK I NEVER SAID IT WAS JUSTIFIED! But, if you want to understand why it happens and why it’s likely to happen rather than feeding yourself nice little fairy tales about psychological factors, etc, then it’s clear as the nose on your face, FP is the main factor.

    Errr, Sunny, to quote MSK:

    Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world, and your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security, you will be our targets, and until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment, and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight…We are at war, and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation

    Pretty straightforward I’d say.

    Shezad Tanweer says:
    For the non-Muslims in Britain, you may wonder what you have done to deserve this. You are those who have voted in your government who in turn have and still continue to this day continue to oppress our mothers and children, brothers and sisters from the east to the west in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Chechnya. Your government has openly supported the genocide of more than 150,000 innocent Muslims in Fallujah.We are 100 per cent committed to the cause of Islam. We love death the way you love life. I tell all you British citizens to stop your support to your lying British government and to the so-called war on terror. And ask yourselves: why would thousands of men be ready to give their lives for the cause of Muslims?What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a series of attacks which will intensify and continue to until you pull all your troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Again, pretty clear what was bothering him.

    And yes people were radicalised before Afghanistan and Iraq — anyone who brings that up clearly doesn’t understand Western FP of the last century and more.

  21. Sunny — on 21st June, 2007 at 7:30 pm  

    LOOK I NEVER SAID IT WAS JUSTIFIED! But, if you want to understand why it happens and why it’s likely to happen rather than feeding yourself nice little fairy tales about psychological factors, etc, then it’s clear as the nose on your face, FP is the main factor

    Rather than go over old territory constantly Anas I’m going to try a different approach. Most people when confronted with such injustice don’t blow themselves up. Why? Because their own moral compass tells them it is a bad idea and will not get them anywhere.

    There’s 1.8 million Muslims here. Most haven’t blown themselves up. We can only assume they have much more sense than the 4 who did. Now, let me try and explain this better. There is a whole process that takes place where you take one guy who is angry and frustrated, and turn him into a suicide bomber. That whole process has been well documented and requires lots of brainwashing and propaganda. People don’t just get up one day and decide to blow themselves up and kill innocent civilians. Yes?

    Now we’re talking about the process here. Chomsky, who you are quoting, alludes to this process too. The people behind that indoctrination don’t really care about the injustices. They are interested in political goals and they will use pawns such as MSK to achieve that goal.

    Read what Chomsky is saying again until you get that point…. That community includes the poor and oppressed, who are of no concern to the terrorist groups

    Now, my point is this. Even if we get deal with the our unethical foreign policy, which should be dealt with and evaluated on its own merit rather than what some suicide bombers want, the point is it doesn’t stop or destroy those networks of recruiters. They will use other excuses to recruit people. Try and understand what I’m getting at here.

    Sikh militancy in Punjab wasn’t killed off just by placating the Khalistanis. They actively went after the trouble-makers and took them out. Once you no longer have the trouble-makers who will use any excuse to create a schism, then we can have a sane conversation.

    That has to happen here as well for long term peace.

  22. Refresh — on 21st June, 2007 at 7:32 pm  

    Anas meet Muzumdar aka Hannibal.

    Do work with our resident joybinger.

    Just picture him singing to himself as strokes his keyboard:

    I bring joy, and I can take you through,
    All those days when people seem to get to you.
    I bring joy, and I come here to you.

    I bring life, and I can take you where
    You can see, and feel, and breathe, and touch the air.
    I bring life and I can take you there.

    Feelings inside that we keep
    Out of sight and out of reach
    Bring us to the things we seek

    Take your time, remember when you do
    There are days when people feel the same as you.
    I bring time, and I can take you through

    I bring joy…

  23. ZinZin — on 21st June, 2007 at 7:33 pm  

    Anas It doesn’t take much for muslims to get radicalised ask Sir Salman.

  24. Flying Rodent — on 22nd June, 2007 at 12:07 am  

    I’ve heard plenty of proposed explanations for home-grown terrorism, but I’ve rarely if ever heard anyone mention the culture of Britain.

    In reading newspapers and clicking around the internet, I’m always stunned to discover that Britain is an immoral country sinking into a quagmire of crime, depravity and degradation.

    Then I walk down the High Street and it looks like any other day. Why are we so quick to portray ourselves as degenerates, when we’re really a decent and generous people?

    It strikes me that this continual condemnation is eerily similar to the message of radical Islamists – is it crazy to consider that our constant doom-mongering and hatred of modernity is preparing the ground for the growth of poisonous fruit?

    Contempt for fellow humans + contempt for modernity + self-righteousness = radicalisation, or have I got my maths wrong?

  25. Chairwoman — on 22nd June, 2007 at 10:16 am  

    Anas – Regulars here know you, and know that you are completely agains terrorist activities, but by quoting MSK and his acolyte, Shezad Tanweer, visitors here could think that you are supporting them.

    Please make it absolutely clear that although you were quoting them, there is no way that you condoning them.

    This is said from friendship and auntie-ji affection.

  26. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 10:31 am  

    yeah and to ensure the rest of us here don’t get hauled off to jail with you!!

  27. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 10:39 am  

    flying rodent makes a good point

  28. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 10:55 am  

    usman no. 14 – are you talking about terrroism through the ages or terrorism now?

    are you suggesting that muslims should only be offended by the dodgy actions of the ‘west’ – or dodgy actions on the part of everyone? and if not the latter – why not?
    and those in the past as well or just now?
    what is so particular about ‘the west’ – why is ‘it’ an ‘other’ – might that view have something to do with a particular mindset? there have been plenty of dodgy empires in history ( arab expansion being one of them – persians – moghuls- turkic groups – you name it, us ‘easterners’ were no worse than ‘the west’) and human rights now is apalling in many countries, and certainly in the ‘east’ again if you want to use such dichotomies.

    So i repeat: ( and i ask anas this as well) why is it not about what is going on everywhere, that we are doing to each other, in the past, in the present, and no doubt in the future? Why is it that the discourse and rhetoric uses the same kind of ‘othering’/enmity thing that Muslims complain of? why is it that people are buying into the clash of civilisations thesis so easily?

    Is it perhaps because there is some rhetoric, from a ‘dying’ empire mindset – which wants ‘glory’ and power again? which sees the ‘west’ in ascendancy now and wants that position back? See of course that is why Huntington’s thesis appeals to so many people – it is written from the perspective of thinking of civilisations as competitive, of wanting that glory and power of being the civilisation. the ones in charge.

    what about thinking about collaboration instead of competition? thinking of ourselves as individuals who have some agency – and if we collaborate and try and channel that agency collectively – instead of seeing ourselves as victims and taking ‘deadly’ ways out of the problems we collectively contribute to.

  29. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    but anyway Yahya Birt’s comment about arranged marriage being ‘circumstantial’ dismisses its central role in intergenerational conflict in asian communities.

    let’s ignore terrorism for a minute. its pretty central thing in life if your parents think they can choose your partner, and you think of a relationship as something your choice and not your family’s to make. anyone who thinks that isn’t central to a family relationship – they haven’t found themselves in that situation and are ignoring how serious it can be. Now if you cant’ resolve this with your parents i.e. if your parents are intractable then often that is the end of the relationship. if you are still quite young then this can make you very vulnerable – now that’s what leaves you open to all sorts of things. some kids might leave home and be fine, some might leave home and become homeless, a drug addict, whatever ‘ills’ you can think of or are usually represented as a ‘bad thing’. Now in a certain environment, one of those ‘ills’ could be dodgy Islamist Mullahs floating about trying to get hold of you ( or some other cult) . So yes it is ‘circumstantial’ in as much as anything is circumstantial – the vacuum left by family if that’s happened, the dodgy cult wandering around trying to find vulnerable people to manipulate…

  30. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 11:10 am  

    and the reason why arranged marriage is a potentially big conflict is that the traditional (south)asian parental perspective is that pretty much you as a child are there to do what the parent/family unit wants – because its not about the individual, its about the collective. so naturally – in the same way they didnt have much of a choice, because it was about what was in the family’s interest, so they don’t see why the kids want something different. Wanting to have the right to choose your own partner, and wanting to have your parents to be simply happy for you – - is about wanting your family to see it as something YOU want to do. And so many families just think of that as some kind of ‘insult’ to the family unit. And very often i have heard from friends here that their parents thought they wanted to do their own thing because they had become too ‘western’.

    so it is highly central when considering the conflict between parents and their children in an immigrant society.

  31. Chairwoman — on 22nd June, 2007 at 12:20 pm  

    Sonia – Good points.

    With respect to Yahya Birt’s comments, I think, that like me, his understanding of the cultural implications of arranged marriages is limited, as we weren’t brought up in societies where it is the norm (and I know he wasn’t, because his father and the late Chairman were in the same class at school, where his father’s nickname was ‘Trib’, oh the original inventiveness of it).

  32. sonia — on 22nd June, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    thanks Chairwoman auntie – and the background info on yahya birt!

    let’s say – when i had this same sort of ‘conflict’ with my parents, they were like you young people nowadays you’re too “modern”. they didn’t say it was because i had become ‘western’ which i think they may have done if i’d grown up here, and ‘western’ was the thing parents don’t want their kids to be, the ‘other’.
    because so many young people in bangladesh ( and in the indian subcontinent in general) who want to do their own thing and the older generation realise this – even if they grumble and don’t like it, they realise change is inevitable and not ‘western’.

  33. Arif — on 22nd June, 2007 at 12:44 pm  

    Didn’t Ed Husain also identify the relatively liberal views on marriage of the vocal salafis as an important reason that young people were attracted to them? I don’t know for sure about this, but it is worth considering along with the other things (Kismet Hardy #13 on identification with victims of injustice, soru #2 on brands of Islam and how cool they are in presentation, sonia #5 on the acceptance of apparently brazen cruelty in mainstream tradition).

    I like the focus of the top article, because what is most important is to understand our capacity for evil and how to disarm it. For me it is also important that we do not disarm it selectively, because it is easy to be aware of evil in others, but our own is usually invisible to us, cloaked behind certainty of our own virtue.

    If we look into the mirror we see someone who wants to do their best in a harsh world full of evil. Just like the suicide bomber does. We have our own defences to understanding the impacts of our self-righteous behaviour just as much as the suicide bomber. So I need the help of others, and I will trust them enough to accept their help, if they would be willing to trust my help in return.

  34. Usman — on 22nd June, 2007 at 6:24 pm  

    Firstly I want to make it perfectly clear the Islam forbids the killing of innocent lives regardless if it is muslims, non muslims, jews, blacks, white etc.

    My comment at 14 is specifically is in reference to the atrocities committed by western governments against Muslim people because
    1) This is the topic of discussion, and
    2) Unfortunately the major conflicts in the world happen to be with Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia to name a few (I wish it were otherwise).

    The point at issue is that western foreign policy is either directly or indirectly responsible for much of the blood shed so naturally this will breed resentment against the aggressors. This does make Muslims angry in the case of the 7/7 bombers they became so angry the decided to take their own lives, which I do not condone but until the issue of foreign policy is highlighted this problem is not likely to go away.

    When I say this I say it as a Muslim myself and am speaking from personal experience, foreign policy does grieve me and grieves Muslims even though Mr Blair on the one hands thinks Muslims have a false sense of grievance and then at the same time acknowledges that Muslims are grieved but shouldn’t be. Even non Muslims are angry at the foreign policy so the notion that Muslims shouldn’t be grieved is ridiculous.

    Some may sense that Muslims are more sensitive to aggression against Muslims which is true, (not to say that atrocities against non Muslims is not felt, I am grieved also when people in Africa starve to death daily as a result of western colonial foreign policy) reason being for this is that Muslims see them selves as one single body, a Muslim is a brother to another Muslim (or sister) even though they have no blood relation but it’s the creed of Islam which bonds the Muslims together and it is the creed which defines the identity of a Muslim and not race or location, naturally you will grieve more when your own brother or sister is hurt and killed.

    As to the claim that Islam is responsible for terrorism and that they will find any excuse to murder like the rhetoric of Tony Blair and sunny do not have any credibility firstly because Blair is a know liar (maybe sunny couldn’t think of anything original of his own to say and so jumped on the band wagon) and secondly terrorism isn’t unique to any creed, religion, race etc, but what most have in common is that it’s a reaction to something or some one. Continuing in denial of this is not productive.

    And one final point before I end, that things should be kept in perspective, yes there was a terrorist act on 7/7 which was a bad thing and shouldn’t have happened but also don’t forget that the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of more that 600,000. Its clear to me that Mr Blair is victim of following an evil ideology, and this is the crux of the matter, foreign policy can not change because it is ideologically driven regardless of who is in power, Britain has a long history of colonial foreign policy and is here to stay for the future.

  35. Anas — on 22nd June, 2007 at 6:49 pm  

    Anas – Regulars here know you, and know that you are completely agains terrorist activities, but by quoting MSK and his acolyte, Shezad Tanweer, visitors here could think that you are supporting them.

    Please make it absolutely clear that although you were quoting them, there is no way that you condoning them.

    This is said from friendship and auntie-ji affection.

    Yes, non-regulars, the lovely Chairwoman is absolutely right. I don’t condone.

  36. ad — on 22nd June, 2007 at 6:58 pm  

    I believe Labour should facilitate this process by pushing through with the ‘Britishness project’,

    I take your point, but I cannot help imagining running such a project in Ulster. And what would happen afterwards.

    Such a project is clearly an attempt to destroy every ethnic or religious community in the UK, and absorb them into the monoculture.

    In the long term – if it works – it reduces sources of conflict. In the short term, the leaders of such communities – at the very least – will surely resist.

  37. Anas — on 22nd June, 2007 at 7:01 pm  

    OK, work with me here…so you admit that the theft of Sikh property and land and the merciless slaughter of Sikh men, women and children to make way for Pakistan was a ‘past injustice’.

    Will you, as a good Muslim boy, petition the government of Pakistan for the right of return for Sikhs to their homes? This means all those houses and all those farms and all those canal colonies given back….

    I’ve no doubt that injustices were committed against Sikhs — just as grave and bloody injustices were committed against Muslims on an at least comparable scale. However I’m not sure these were not just the usual South Asian communalist savagery which erupts given any excuse, rather than an official part of making way for Pakistan.

    Now, my point is this. Even if we get deal with the our unethical foreign policy, which should be dealt with and evaluated on its own merit rather than what some suicide bombers want, the point is it doesn’t stop or destroy those networks of recruiters. They will use other excuses to recruit people. Try and understand what I’m getting at here.

    Again this is a criticism I deal with in the piece I wrote. The short response is that the recruiters will have a hard time recruiting anyone without having Western FP to exploit. And yes psychological factors do play a role, but it doesn’t overturn the fact that pretty much every expert says Iraq, for example, has fuelled/will fuel terrorist recruitment — that there is a very important cause and effect relation there.

    Anyway, you say something interesting above, namely:

    While British Muslims are trying to resolve their identity conflict issues, along with British Sikhs and Hindus (though they don’t feel conflicted as much since there’s no sign of a British attack on Sikhs / Hindus elsewhere)

    Is it me or are you not conceding the primary importance of FP here in alienating young Muslims and driving them to in extreme cases terrorism?

  38. ZinZin — on 22nd June, 2007 at 7:42 pm  

    Anas
    You are also a fan of Adam Curtis in his documentary the power of nightmares he makes clear that one of the primary motivation behind Qutbs ideology was a contempt for the immoral,degenerate west. Baby its cold outside.

    Also Tanweer was blaming his victims. Don’t do the same with this FP causes terrorism crap as that is what it is.

  39. Flying Rodent — on 23rd June, 2007 at 1:55 am  

    Yeah, okay, I’ll come back another day.

  40. Sunny — on 23rd June, 2007 at 2:36 am  

    Is it me or are you not conceding the primary importance of FP here in alienating young Muslims and driving them to in extreme cases terrorism?

    Anas, FP has exacerbated the threat we face from terrorism. Have accepted that loads of times. But changing FP won’t solve the problem because those recruiters will use another excuse to recruit people. Ultimately, the only way is to destroy those networks, not just have a strongly ethical dimension to our FP.

  41. Chairwoman — on 23rd June, 2007 at 9:33 am  

    Good Heavens! I agree with Sunny!

  42. Usman — on 23rd June, 2007 at 11:23 am  

    “But changing FP won’t solve the problem because those recruiters will use another excuse to recruit people.”

    Really sunny? What excuse is that then if you don’t mind me asking? You and Blair keep mentioning this but its just a slogan really, what’s this excuse you keep going on about maybe you could share it with the rest of us rather than just regurgitating Mr Blair’s words.

    “Ultimately, the only way is to destroy those networks, not just have a strongly ethical dimension to our FP.”

    Sunny are you denying that foreign policy is making people angry? Are you saying that people should not be angry?

    Ethical foreign policy? Is this possible? A foreign policy which does not benefit the economy?

  43. ZinZin — on 23rd June, 2007 at 1:29 pm  

    “If someone was to insult your mother would you be angry dear boy?”

    Being angry if one thing, calling for the death of someone is a different matter as is killing someone. Perhaps muslims should turn the other cheek.

  44. ZinZin — on 23rd June, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    Now were getting somewhere its the reaction to the provocation that does Muslims harm.

    Stop playing the islamophobia card.

  45. soru — on 23rd June, 2007 at 3:03 pm  

    What I find interesting about this discussion is the phrase ‘foreign policy’.

    ‘foreign policy’ can mean sending aid, refusing aid, trading, boycotting, lecturing, silence, meeting, avoidance, buying weapons, selling weapons, agreeing, criticising, protecting dissidents from extradition, arresting bombers, arming bombers, sponsoring a coup, training an army, funding an insurgency, regime change, occupation, invasion, breaking international law, enforcing international law, and a hundred other things.

    It also, crucially, gets used to mean ‘have done any of those things at some time in the past’, or ‘stood by and let others do them’, and even ‘have been rumoured by some guys on the internet to have done them’.

    It’s so universal and transcendant a grievance, it’s unimaginable that it could ever go away. There is is no need to think of a replacement, at least until the day every country is Denmark, or perhaps there are no countries. There will always be 40 or so areas in the world where thousands of people die each year. And every so often, there will be areas where more die. All those deaths will be a result of ‘foreign policy’, as defined above.

    If the complaint were about specific issues, Kashmir, Iraq, or whatever, then you could imagine it being resolved one day. Which is why those who make a living from that sense of grievance, rarely make specific demands, talk about specific issues, for fear of them being met and them having to find another line of work.

  46. Don — on 23rd June, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    It is not necessarily the case that FP which angers muslim extremists to the extent that they can convince themselves it justifies indiscriminate murder is always a morally wrong FP.

    The (understandable) focus on Iraq – which most people here would agree was a morally indefensible screw-up – can mask the fact that even a foreign policy decision many would find fully supportable, such as Australian support for East Timor, can cause the same reaction (the Bali bombings were as clearly identified as a response to that as Iraq was by MSK.)

    To most of us the immorality of Iraq lies mainly in the unnecessary suffering it has caused. To the extremists its immorality lies in not accepting their agenda. As the earlier Chomsky quote made clear, the suffering of the innocent is of no concern except as propaganda – after all much, or even most, of that suffering is inflicted by the extremists themselves.

  47. Don — on 23rd June, 2007 at 5:23 pm  

    Usman,

    Your #46 seems to imply an equivalence between a cartoon, a novel and a war.

    Could you indicate – say, on a scale of 1 to 10 – how angry you feel about each? It might give an insight into where your sense of proportion lies.

  48. sid — on 23rd June, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    It has been stupid and decidly irresponsible of successive British governments to expect, after generations of encouraging and creating Bantustans in all the major cities of England, that FP would not have a galvanising effect on minority communities. But how else should the wholly shoddy business of Iraq, which as been a moral fuck up from top to bottom, be perceived as anything otherwise? It should galvanise all people and not just those morally skewed by ideology.

    That there us a propaganda value of the disaster is a boon to the extremists, there’s no argument. But perhaps that is because Blair and Bush goverments, incapable benefitting from any propaganda credit on Iraq themselves, benefit from a specious gloss that we all view the Iraqi aftermath with. Or perhaps it’s just moral-disaster fatigue.

  49. sid — on 23rd June, 2007 at 5:29 pm  

    sorry, bantustan is not a proper noun.

  50. Don — on 23rd June, 2007 at 5:37 pm  

    sid,

    Do you really believe that government has conciously set about creating bantustans?

    I don’t doubt that in some cases that has been a consequence of fumbled response to a challenging situation inadequately met or even understood, but a policy?

  51. sid — on 23rd June, 2007 at 6:38 pm  

    Don, perhaps not a policy but a slow drip recession of universal values over the encouragement of regional ideologies and worst of all, other pseudo-universal values (“Khilafa State” etc). Not sure what to call this slow, gradual generational phenomena. I’m not versed in the technicilities or the arcano of local government legislation, but the creation of bantustans, if not formally created then passively encouraged, bringing us to this present state.

  52. Don — on 23rd June, 2007 at 6:45 pm  

    sid,

    I see what you mean, just cautious about the intentionality behind it.

  53. Jini — on 23rd June, 2007 at 10:00 pm  

    Usman

    Foriegn Policy is like the cough caused by the flu virus.
    FP does not cause terrorism, just like the cough did not cause the flu. the virus caused the flu.

    The virus, is islamism.

    Lets face it, true muslims, who follow the message delivered by gabriel to muhhamed, are very few. its islamists who dominate the muslim world, therefore more terrorism is inevitable, as islamists love death dont they? whereas the infidels love life!

    there is no solution, there will be more and more terrorism, until eventually the non-muslim world declares war on the islamist regimes, especially saudi arabia and iran and pakistan and then we will have a royal blood bath.

  54. Sunny — on 23rd June, 2007 at 10:33 pm  

    Well we’ve reached a stalemate. I’ll leave you folks to think about this.

    After 7/7, Tariq Ramadan, who I find the best speaker on these issues, said that there needed to be two responses: 1) a political response to the Iraq war (lobbying the govt to pull out, holding it to account etc) and a
    2) a religious response to 7/7 (making sure the Islamists don’t keep being able to justify suicide bombings).

    It seems to me that despite all the fatwas and the statements that suicide bombings should not be condoned, there hasn’t been a proper religious response to 7/7. Islamists still keep justifying and carrying on with suicide bombings without much of a guilty conscience. The consensus still seems to be that in certain circumstances suicide bombings is still viable and ok. Well then, for a potential suicide bomber, the answer lies in simply adjusting those circumstances to suit himself. So the bombings will carry on regardless.

    In which case, the government has to instigate a military response.. so if those Islamists cannot be persuaded to pursue more democratic or non-violent ways to suit their agenda, then you take them out. It’s that simple.

  55. Usman — on 24th June, 2007 at 3:01 am  

    Jini
    “Foreign Policy is like the cough caused by the flu virus.
    FP does not cause terrorism, just like the cough did not cause the flu. the virus caused the flu.”
    On this point I will agree with you, Foreign policy is the cough and the virus is capitalism as it’s the basis that shapes foreign policy. A foreign policy which serves its vital interests with other nations, i.e. exploiting resources etc regardless of the loss of life.
    “Lets face it, true muslims, who follow the message delivered by gabriel to muhhamed, are very few. its islamists who dominate the muslim world”
    Jini, what do you actually know about Islam or Islamic history apart from what you hear on the media? Why don’t you go and learn about these things, go do some research from the source, and I’m not saying this with the intension to insult you, honestly. Also Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan are not islamist/Islamic regimes.
    And sunny Tariq Ramadan is a farce and that’s how Muslims view him, a vending machine scholar employed by the government to serve their agenda, he may be the best speaker for you but to ordinary Muslims he’s a sell-out we see straight through him, he’s not fooling no one nor any other sell-out scholars the government has on a payroll. These moves along side all the other plans like trying to change Islam to a British Islam will back fire badly.
    “It seems to me that despite all the fatwas and the statements that suicide bombings should not be condoned, there hasn’t been a proper religious response to 7/7.”
    How many times do you want it to be said sunny? Islam does not condone the killing of innocent lives, this has been repeated time and time again. What is it that you want exactly?
    In terms of “suicide bombings” in places where there is conflict, you can’t be seriously trying to imply that the locals of those lands shouldn’t retaliate because that is a really daft statement to make, to expect a man not to defend himself.
    Look sunny, you can completely disregard what I’m saying and knowing you, you will no doubt disagree, but your attitude and the plans of the government will back fire, because you have completely misunderstood the problem, and as a result your solution will be incorrect and will further anger the Muslims.

  56. Sunny — on 24th June, 2007 at 3:29 am  

    Usman, you’re not reading me properly.

    You first say: Islam does not condone the killing of innocent lives, this has been repeated time and time again.

    then you say: you can’t be seriously trying to imply that the locals of those lands shouldn’t retaliate

    What I’m referring to is the “retaliation” towards innocent civilians of course and the racist propaganda that continuously accompanies it. Why should anyone be convinced that Hamas, going by its charter, is not just dedicated towards liberating Palestine but actually eradicating and killing all Jews? I’m sorry to tell you this but actually those people “retaliating” don’t inspire much sympathy when they’re blowing up innocent people.

    I also made the point about a “religious response”. You illustrated my point perfectly by talking about retaliation (which can, and often is, against innocents, and therefore immoral). So you don’t condone taking of innocent lives but you’re ok with people retaliating by killing innocent people? I guess it depends on how you define as innocent eh?

    A foreign policy which serves its vital interests with other nations, i.e. exploiting resources etc regardless of the loss of life.

    Every country’s foreign policy is designed to serve its own interests. Welcome to the real world. The question is, how many innocent people end up dying during that. Funnily enough, most Muslims like you are angry at FP of western countries, but don’t say much on how Muslim-majority countries treat others.

    and as a result your solution will be incorrect and will further anger the Muslims.

    At which point I’m tempted to ask what isn’t going to make people like you (and I don’t mean most Muslims since in general they still seem to like this country) angry at anything. You don’t have solutions, only complaints.

  57. j0nz — on 24th June, 2007 at 3:42 am  

    No need to comment, Sunny said it already. And if myself and Sunny are in agreement, you Usman, are in the wrongest place you can be.

    I am least likely to agree with Sunny than any person, bar the commies at lenin’s shit hole.

  58. Jai — on 24th June, 2007 at 12:31 pm  

    Also Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan are not islamist/Islamic regimes.

    And the Pope isn’t Catholic and the Dalai Lama isn’t Buddhist. And the Queen isn’t the head of the Church of England. And so and so forth. You get my point.

    Whether the aforementioned countries really are based on the “true” message of Islam is a different matter. The point is that they sure as hell think they are, and they behave accordingly.

  59. Usman — on 24th June, 2007 at 1:07 pm  

    “I’m sorry to tell you this but actually those people “retaliating” don’t inspire much sympathy when they’re blowing up innocent people.”

    According to you they don’t have the right to retaliate though do they sunny, they should shut up and take it while they lose their lives, families, land, farms and all the rest of it, hey sunny? The Israeli state can kill as many as it likes do what ever it wants but the Palestinians shouldn’t fight back? Its these kind of double standards where the victim is demonised that really makes the blood of Muslims boil.

    “Every country’s foreign policy is designed to serve its own interests. Welcome to the real world. The question is, how many innocent people end up dying during that.”

    Nice on sunny im glad you picked that out, maybe you could elaborate on what the vital interests are of a capitalist nation like Britain and America are, and if you get stuck you can look up history and find your answers there. The same reason 600,000 innocents have dies in Iraq alone.

    “Funnily enough, most Muslims like you are angry at FP of western countries, but don’t say much on how Muslim-majority countries treat others.”

    Oh those Muslim majority countries that are supported by western governments you mean, yeah that is bad sunny, the west should stop supporting them. For the record these are not Islamic countries they are secular states run by dictators with the blessings of their Colonial masters.

    “You don’t have solutions, only complaints.”

    Its all irrelevant to you isn’t it sunny, after all the Muslims don’t have the right to complain do they? Conveniently you ignore the solution because you know the solution is something that this country can not compromise on as it would affect their vital interests abroad, namely stealing the natural resources of other nations, supporting their agents who kill and torture their own populations etc.

  60. ZinZin — on 24th June, 2007 at 1:12 pm  

    Usman
    Go away. I have had enough of your impotent rage.

  61. Chairwoman — on 24th June, 2007 at 1:46 pm  

    Usman – Killing yourself seems to be a pretty silly and useless way to retaliate.

    You’re dead, and all your act has achieved is to harden your enemy’s resolve.

  62. Usman — on 24th June, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    Chairwoman,

    It’s a shame that the Iraqis, Palestinians, Afghani’s are blowing themselves up, it’s a shame they don’t have helicopter gun ships, tanks, F16 fighter jets and all other modern military hardware that the ones who occupy their land and murder them with have.

  63. Sunny — on 24th June, 2007 at 2:47 pm  

    Usman, you conveniently ignored the main part of my response. Just to jog your memory I’ll copy and paste it below.

    “What I’m referring to is the “retaliation” towards innocent civilians of course and the racist propaganda that continuously accompanies it. Why should anyone be convinced that Hamas, going by its charter, is not just dedicated towards liberating Palestine but actually eradicating and killing all Jews? I’m sorry to tell you this but actually those people “retaliating” don’t inspire much sympathy when they’re blowing up innocent people.

    I also made the point about a “religious response”. You illustrated my point perfectly by talking about retaliation (which can, and often is, against innocents, and therefore immoral). So you don’t condone taking of innocent lives but you’re ok with people retaliating by killing innocent people? I guess it depends on how you define as innocent eh?”

    No one said people don’t have the right to resist occupation of their lands. South Asians of all colours did it when the British ruled. But their plan wasn’t to come here and blow up innocent white men/women in retaliation. And neither would I support such action.

    So, answer my points above.

  64. Katy Newton — on 24th June, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    The Israeli state can kill as many as it likes do what ever it wants but the Palestinians shouldn’t fight back?

    Poor Sunny, he gets it in the neck from all sides. As if he’s ever said anything like that. You are an idiot, Usman.

  65. Usman — on 24th June, 2007 at 3:11 pm  

    “Why should anyone be convinced that Hamas, going by its charter, is not just dedicated towards liberating Palestine but actually eradicating and killing all Jews?”

    So does that justify state terrorism by Israel? Does this terrorist state kill innocents? Are they driving Palestinians out of their homes, destroying their olive groves? All this is taking place and the world turns a blind eye to this and is justified as collateral damage. Double standards sunny that’s what this is. So there is resistance, there is retaliation, why are they retaliating?

    Forget for a moment that they are Muslims for a second, they are human beings and other human beings should also be outraged, this is an injustice done against humanity. And that includes non Muslims also but keep things in perspective, yes 7/7 was wrong, innocents dying is wrong but then look on the other side of the fence and see what is going on there yeah.

  66. Chairwoman — on 24th June, 2007 at 5:01 pm  

    Usman – There are plenty of other people, including Muslims (and Jews), both on and off this site who feel as strongly about the Palestinians as you do. Their compassion encompasses suffering peoples other than Muslims.

    Yours appears not to.

  67. Anas — on 24th June, 2007 at 5:40 pm  

    Anas
    You are also a fan of Adam Curtis in his documentary the power of nightmares he makes clear that one of the primary motivation behind Qutbs ideology was a contempt for the immoral,degenerate west. Baby its cold outside.

    Also Tanweer was blaming his victims. Don’t do the same with this FP causes terrorism crap as that is what it is.

    Well I wasn’t too hot on his last series, but yeah I did like the Power of Nightmares. But I think maybe you’ve missed something out here. Qutb did indeed feel disgust for what he say as the permissiveness and decadence of the West. However, his solution, at least in the short term, wasn’t to target the West, but to attempt to stop these immoral trends from catching hold of Egypt and other Islamic societies.

    In fact, Qutb’s primary aim was to transform Islamic society — the rest would follow. The idea of targeting the West came later when the Islamists found they were getting nowhere with their murderous campaigns in the Muslim world– and that was done in the name of FP. Indeed, Bin Laden, himself give as his (ostensible) justification for attacking the West in 1998 the following :

    “[The] call to wage war against America was made [when it sent] thousands of its troops to the land of the two holy mosques over and above… its support of the oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical regime that is in control. These are the reasons for the singling out of America as the targets.”.

    Indeed, ZZ, you may think the idea that FP is the primary cause behind the increase of so called “Islamic” terrorism, or the threat thereof is crap, but like I say most terrorism experts and intelligence agencies don’t.

    Anas, FP has exacerbated the threat we face from terrorism. Have accepted that loads of times. But changing FP won’t solve the problem because those recruiters will use another excuse to recruit people. Ultimately, the only way is to destroy those networks, not just have a strongly ethical dimension to our FP.

    Again I feel that if you took the bloody ramifications and greivous injustice of most Western FP (here I’m thinking of Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, all the tyrannies in the Muslim world supported by the West) out of the equation it’s unlikely that apart from a few isolated cases anyone would feel motivated, angry enough to blow himself up in a crowded place — regardless of the “brainwashing” you think goes on. Indeed, I think the threat would be close to null.

    IMHO, it’s because the recruiters can play on legitimate grievances that there is a real threat that they will recruit impressionable young people. Now that’s just a point about human psychology and motivation. And, it’s pretty obvious, the best way to fatally weaken the networks is to remove sympathy for them amongst the wider community.

    Think about it, what material do the recruiters use? It’s not wedding videos of miserable looking young men in arranged marriages, I’ll tell you that for a start — tho maybe that might work.

    Also, I understand some Muslims went apeshit over Rushdie, Danish Cartoons, etc, but then so did some Hindus over MF Hussain’s paintings, and some Sikhs over Bezhti. I think that’s a somewhat separate if not unrelated issue from people joining organisations with the expressed intent to cause widespread destruction, murder, and terror — ostensibly in the name of FP. Actually I think if events like the Danish cartoons do increase the threat of “reprisals” that’s only because they come where there’s a general background of intense anger over FP. Read my blog piece, I explain my point in a lot of detail and have probably anticipated most of your responses there anyway.

    I think I’ll paste a quote from there because, not to big myself up too much, I make an important point here re “terrorism” and some Muslims attitude towards it :

    “But wait a minute, you might ask, how can Muslims, or indeed anyone justify supporting terrorist actions even if carried out in the name of a just cause? In order to understand that you have to appreciate the extent to which many Muslims perceive the term “terrorism” itself to have been devalued by persistent American/British misusage. Indeed when many Muslims hear American or British politicians apply the term “terrorist” to label some person, group, or state, they automatically assume that the usage is primarily determined by whether the “terrorists” in question are perceived to be threatening US (legitimate or illegitimate) interests than by any more objective definition of the term — what Noam Chomsky calls a term’s “operational definition” as differentiated from its ideological definition.

    “And it’s easy to accord for this all pervasive cynicism especially when across the world America is itself regarded as the single greatest instigator, (ideological and diplomatic) supporter, funder and beneficiary of terrorism; that is if terrorism is defined more objectively, as in the Encyclopedia Britanica, as “the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective.” Accusations of terrorism against others by the foremost (obviously un-self-acknowledged) perpetrators of the same inevitably have for most Muslims, who understandably given their history see themselves the primary victims of US imperialism, the stench of rank hypocrisy.”

    I mean, it’s like when Sunny calls Hamas or Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. Fair enough, they have used terror in the past. But take Israel’s strike against Lebanon last year. An act of terrorism that resulted in the loss of at least a thousand innocent lives and the maiming and injury of many more. And yet, Sunny never calls Israel a terrorist state and I appreciate why — no doubt he’d be called an anti-Semite and I guess he doesn’t need that hassle.

  68. ZinZin — on 24th June, 2007 at 7:24 pm  

    Anas Curtis Last series was a dogs dinner on that I believ we can agree?

    Curtis did set out Qutbs ideas quite neatly and your description is apt. Qutbs ideology aimed for an Islamic renewal that sought to expunge the influence of the west. He also thought of muslims who did not share his ideas as lesser muslims, infected as they were by western ideas. Thus excusing their murder when his followers used violence to pursue his aim of an islamic utopia.

    No wonder Qutb and his ilk are hated by many muslims.

    Its worth noting that when Anwar Sadat was assasinated by one Qutbs supporters he did it because he was an apostate ruler. His assasin shouted “I’ve Killed pharoah”. We can put to bed the idea that the camp David agreement sealed his fate.

    FP exacerbates but you must not ascribe that as the sole reason behind the actions of Islamic terrorism. They must be seen on their own terms. The FP angle could be described as soft racism as it treats muslims as unthinking barbarians reacting wildly to any action by the west. Anas just acknowledge that they have their own aims and objectives and that its not just FP.

    FP exacerbates but it does not cause terrorism. A church dance on the other hand….

  69. Sunny — on 24th June, 2007 at 9:41 pm  

    No Usman, you’re not answering my question! Again, you keep avoiding it.

    So does that justify state terrorism by Israel?

    I’m not justifying anything by Israel. I made the point about Hamas. Why not answer my question?

    So there is resistance, there is retaliation, why are they retaliating?

    So in retaliation is it ok to kill innocent people or not??

    but then look on the other side of the fence and see what is going on there yeah.

    You’re all over the place. I want one set of rules for everyone yeah, so let’s agree with them first. You’re screaming about Israeli aggression but then on that basis you’re justifying Hamas retaliation. Then it only comes down to who is stronger isn’t it? If Hamas had bigger weapons it would be killing more Israelies. Morally they’re the same.

    My question to you is: is it ok to kill innocent people under any circumstances? Is it ok to kill civilians in the act of retaliation? Those two questions do no mention Israel or Hamas, nor Jews or Muslims. Those questions should apply to everyone.

    Answer that first and we can move forward.

    Anas: I mean, it’s like when Sunny calls Hamas or Hezbollah a terrorist organisation. Fair enough, they have used terror in the past.

    So they’ve killed innocent people in the past too. You accept that. If you want to then call Israel a terrorist state, by your own standards you shoudl also be calling Hamas and Hizballah terrorist organisations or not?

  70. Usman — on 25th June, 2007 at 1:02 am  

    Sunny

    How many times have I said killing innocent people is wrong, I’ll say it again for you so you understand, Killing innocent people is wrong, there, happy or do you want me to say it again?

    Hamas? Now you’re banging on about Hamas? The state of Israel has been inflicting state terror on the Palestinians long before Hamas come on the scene.

    “So they’ve killed innocent people in the past too. You accept that. If you want to then call Israel a terrorist state, by your own standards you shoudl also be calling Hamas and Hizballah terrorist organisations or not?”

    So would you say that Britain is a terrorist state for killing so many innocents in Iraq and everywhere else? Apply your own logic to that one. You yourself are guilty of what you accuse me of.

    You like to ask a lot of questions but not answering any yourself, let me cut and paste it for you.

    “Nice one sunny im glad you picked that out, maybe you could elaborate on what the vital interests are of a capitalist nation like Britain and America are, and if you get stuck you can look up history and find your answers there. The same reason 600,000 innocents have dies in Iraq alone.”

    Answer that first and we can move forward.

    And if your still having trouble with it you can find the answer at the bottom of comment 62

  71. Sunny — on 25th June, 2007 at 2:00 am  

    So would you say that Britain is a terrorist state for killing so many innocents in Iraq and everywhere else?

    I think it depends on the intention of what the state is trying to achieve. In my belief the state should be the only body allowed to kill people though it should be held legally accountable if it does so illegally and immorally. You’ll see from my previous threads I’m not a fan of Israeli or British foreign policy.

    Hope that answers your questions.

    I’m banging on about Hamas because you’re not addressing my point, repeatedly. Doesn’t matter if Israel has been around for longer. I didn’t ask you if killing innocent people was wrong. I asked you if killing innocent people in retaliation was wrong? And would you see normal Israeli people as “innocent” or not?

    on what the vital interests are of a capitalist nation like Britain and America are

    That’s like asking what the vital interests of Pakistan are. Every state has many different interests. What answer do you want here?

    One could say, sponsoring Kashmiri groups to target innocent Hindus in Kashmir and drive them out is part of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Which it is.

    You want to keep talking about capitalist Britain or the USA, but they’re not different to, say, Pakistan or Indonesia (both of which, as Muslim-majority countries, have slaughtered 100s of thousands of people in Banda Aceh and Timor and Bangladesh). Though there’s more accountability in the UK/US and these states are militarily stronger. Is the recent history of these countries any less violent?

    I’ve never supported Britain’s excursion into Iraq so I don’t know what question you want me to answer. Name me a few states where they have a very ethical foreign policy.

    Incidentally, you keep blaming the west for funding dictatorships in the Mid-East. But what about the huge number of imams and mufits who live in those countries? Why are they not leading a rebellion against those dictatorships or forcing their people to rise up against unethical foreign policy?

    It seems to me that most Saudis seem quite happy with their US-sponsored dictatorship.

  72. Usman — on 25th June, 2007 at 11:51 am  

    “I think it depends on the intention of what the state is trying to achieve. In my belief the state should be the only body allowed to kill people though it should be held legally accountable if it does so illegally and immorally. You’ll see from my previous threads I’m not a fan of Israeli or British foreign policy.”

    Most people will agree that the Iraq war is illegal and immoral, personally I don’t have much confidence in the perpetrators being held to account, if history is anything to go by the whole thing has been a joke from the very beginning, WMD’s, sexed up dossiers, complete disregard of UN veto’s, etc the ones responsible will justify their actions one way or another and walk away, so in theory they are accountable but in reality it doesn’t come into fruition. No surprise people lose faith in the whole thing.

    In terms of Hamas, firstly I’m no fan of Hamas or fatah, to you sunny you may see the average citizen of Israel as innocent, do the Palestinians views it that way? I doubt it very much, Israel was never formed by legitimate means from day one, now I don’t have a problem with Jews, just because someone is against Zionism doesn’t make them anti-Jew, even orthodox Jews are against Zionism, so going back to your question, depends what you would define as innocent. Put yourself in the shoes of a Palestinian, does he see the ones that drove him and his family out of his home, killed his people, destroyed his farms and then developed their own settlements on his land as innocent? Would you? I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I wouldn’t.

    Today Palestinians are asked to recognise this illegal state, yet David Ben-Gurion the first Israeli Prime Minister admitted.
    “If I were an Arab leader I would never accept the existence of Israel. This is only natural. We took their land. True, God promised it to us, but what does it matter to them? There was anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was it their fault? They only see one thing: we came and took their land.” [Nahum Goldmann, A Jewish Paradox: A personal memoir, 1978]

    “That’s like asking what the vital interests of Pakistan are. Every state has many different interests. What answer do you want here?”

    True, vital interest can be multiple, but the point I’m trying to make is the main vital interest of a capitalist nation can not be ethical because the measure of what is morally good would be that which benefits the economy by any means necessary by exploitation of the nations wealth regardless of how many people die in the process, and history will testify that this is the case with mainly Britain and America. So Britain has never had, doesn’t have, will not have in the future an ethical foreign policy.

    “Incidentally, you keep blaming the west for funding dictatorships in the Mid-East. But what about the huge number of imams and mufits who live in those countries? Why are they not leading a rebellion against those dictatorships or forcing their people to rise up against unethical foreign policy?”

    Sunny the prisons in these countries are full with political prisoners, sadly the ones who rise up against these western backed dictators pay with their lives.

  73. Anas — on 25th June, 2007 at 5:45 pm  

    Anas Curtis Last series was a dogs dinner on that I believ we can agree?

    Yeah, and it started out well too.

    Anas just acknowledge that they have their own aims and objectives and that its not just FP.

    If you read what I write carefully you’ll see I don’t assume that.

    So they’ve killed innocent people in the past too. You accept that. If you want to then call Israel a terrorist state, by your own standards you shoudl also be calling Hamas and Hizballah terrorist organisations or not?

    Well, my point was that you had to apply the term consistently (I did say it was fair enough to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist orgs).

    BTW, I completely disagree with Usman in his post 57. I personally really admire Tariq Ramadan, and I think a lot of other Muslims do too.

    Also, I made a deliberate error in my last post, the current disaster in Kashmir is not directly a result of Western FP (altho if you wanna go back 60 or so years…).

  74. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 6:15 pm  

    Usman:

    “Firstly I want to make it perfectly clear the Islam forbids the killing of innocent lives regardless if it is muslims, non muslims, jews, blacks, white etc.”

    yes – the operative word here being INNOCENT. People disagree on this. No doubt the terrorists and their propaganda leaders have all sorts of ways of deciding ‘innocence’. i bet the 7/7 blokes thought they weren’t killing innocent people – they probably thought by association, we all weren’t ‘innocent’ you know.

    So its not much good saying ‘ah well Islam forbids killing innocent people’. I mean the Prophet killed lots of people ‘ah well they weren’t innocent then were they’. So there you go. You can justify it if you inculcate enough people that others aren’t innocent because they are ‘standing by while innocent people are murdered’. So where does that leave us?

  75. sonia — on 25th June, 2007 at 6:20 pm  

    its like ‘foreign policy’ is “one thing” nowadays. and as if every country in the ‘West’ has the same ‘foreign policy’ and as if even if we refer to the UK, foreign policy is all bad. lots of bad things, i absolutely agree, but equally, there are other aspects to ‘foreign policy’ than just bombing other people.

    and going around bombing people is stupid – whether or not you’re a nation-state – any idiot knows that. it makes it easy if someone is hitting you – to say -oh look they’re hitting me, im going to hit them back, especially if you wanted to do that anyway cos you were PISSED OFF.

    in any case, one set of killings doesn’t justify another set. nor does it imply there weren’t some other factors linked in. obviously if one goes for the linear model that might seem so, but that’s crap anyway.

  76. Jagdeep — on 25th June, 2007 at 6:56 pm  

    Sonia asked:

    So where does that leave us?

    I answer, it leaves us here;

    Guilty of collective crimes, collective culpability, and morally appropriate targets for being turned into lumps of dead meat, bone, splatter and gristle on bus and train windows and platforms and pavements in order to consummate the darkness inside small man-children and their ideological ghettoes and evil.

    And also post-mortem discussion fodder for apologists and those who deny individual agency and exculpating an ideological virus of hate over ‘phoren paaalicy’

    Sonia ya really impress me sometimes.

  77. Jagdeep — on 25th June, 2007 at 7:16 pm  

    The point Sonia makes in despair and anger of where this leaves us is of course that those who anoint themselves judge, jury and executioner have appointed every single one of us as guilty and deserving of death. In that respect you’re sifting through a load of propositions that mean nothing in the face of such implacable hate and darkness. The innocent are not innocent ultimately because they say the innocent are not innocent. And if you can demonstrate that their reasoning is wrong it does not matter because, they’re not innocent, because I say so.

    One way of reaching this point is to create a vision of the world in which there are no individuals, and identified groups are engaged in a narrative of destruction and conspiracy, an undifferentiated mass of ‘enemy’, common in intent and guilt and culpability.

    For an early example of this procedure read Mein Kampf. To trace the roots of a more topical issue, refer to the collected works of Maulana Mawdudi, Syed Qutb, and their epigones amongst us who inculcate and inebriate minds with their trash.

  78. Usman — on 26th June, 2007 at 12:58 am  

    Sonia

    On your point about who is innocent depends on how one would view things from their perspective, I agree with you. Today I was reading in the sun newspaper a article about a British soldier that got killed in Iraq who was described as a hero, on the other side of the fence the Iraqis who killed him saw him as an aggressor, and even on the issue of what is morally good and bad you can apply the same logic, what one views as morally good may be seen by someone else as morally bad and vice versa.

    So where does that leave us.
    There is no morality, it could be argued the war in Iraq is good morally, and the war in Iraq is bad morally depending on how you view it.

    Foreign policy is decided by what the state views as its vital interests, from what I can sense is that in a capitalist nation those vital interests are defined as that which benefits your economy regardless of the consequences it has on others, and this is not isolated to the Iraq conflict alone but even in history this seems to be the case.

    Is this basis the correct basis to form foreign policy? To benefit your economy even though you may end up killing thousands, the attitude that murder is justified because we made a profit?

    Should humanity accept this?

  79. Jai — on 26th June, 2007 at 9:43 am  

    I’m going to turn the following around, in light of this thread’s primary topic:

    from what I can sense is that in a capitalist nation those vital interests are defined as that which benefits your economy regardless of the consequences it has on others

    In a jihadi mindset, those vital interests are defined as that which benefits your Ummah regardless of the consequences it has on others.

    Is this basis the correct basis to form foreign policy?

    Is this basis the correct basis to form theology-based policy towards those of a different religious affiliation, particularly in matters concerning warfare ?

    To benefit your economy even though you may end up killing thousands, the attitude that murder is justified because we made a profit?

    To benefit your Ummah even though you may end up killing thousands, the attitude that murder is justified because the ends justify the means, because “they broke the rules regarding attacks on innocent non-combatants, and therefore it’s justified for us to do the same in the spirit of retaliation”, and because in a democratic nation, civilians should be held culpable for the actions of their leaders in this sense (even though huge numbers of these civilians may not have voted for the individuals in power, and in many cases may oppose their actions) ?

    Should humanity accept this?

    Do you think God should — or, indeed, would — accept this ?

  80. Usman — on 26th June, 2007 at 10:41 am  

    Jai
    It is predictable that someone would give such a response as you have just done. If you want to debate the basis from an Islamic point of view in comparison to the capitalist basis, then we can do, even though this may not be the best place to have such debate. For the record, the actions of 7/7 are wrong from an Islamic perspective.

    You still haven’t answered the question just brushed it aside, maybe for you making a financial profit is morally good for you, at the cost of over 600,000 civilian deaths.

  81. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 11:09 am  

    Usman I am glad you concede the point about innocence being a subjective issue. Hence different perspectives on people being murdered in Iraq and Palestine, and those who were killed in the name of Islam back in the Prophet’s day.

    so where does that leave us? it leaves us in the position of not determining whose life we are allowed to take and whose we aren’t. stick to the idea that you don’t take anyone’s life – period. if someone is about to stab you and you kick em, well you’ll figure it out in that split second. don’t need to theorize about it beforehand

  82. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    So my point is Usman, that in much the same way I opposed Tony’s line of thinking that he was justified in going to war in Iraq because even though he said he was trying to ‘help the oppressed’ ( never mind that involved killing innocent people in the process), I oppose anyone else thinking they have the right to kill some more people, even if they think they are ‘stopping’ oppression. stopping oppression by killing more is – obviously – a stupid thing to do because all you are doing is contributing to the violence. and yes, violence always begets more violence – if this is what people mean by the constant references to foreign policy – well obviously duh someone kills someone, someone takes revenge – is a circular thing, so trying to say well i only killed him because he killed my brother, but then the brother killer no doubt has some reason why he killed the brother, and you know what its endless. Its a vicious cycle that’s my point.

    Yes i think we should look at factors that lead to young people becoming so dispirited they fall for this ‘you must fight for your religion’ crap since maybe we can avoid some deaths.

    I also wish we could also demand that governments stop trying to inculcate the poorer sections of society to join armies to fight for their countries.

    I’ve said this before and I will say it again : nation-states have managed to legitimise killing in the name of country. this is precisely why religions want to have nation-states too so they can do the same. it’s all crap and each points to the other and shouts that’s why i’m doing my killing. Well its because they both want power and seem to see it as a competitive game. Both sets use people’s loyalties and feelings and don’t give a shit about the ‘soldiers’ or the ['martyrs]. its just ridiculous and it needs to stop and if all the young people in the world thought about this and refused to be manipulated by their various authority/power structures, we’d all be better off.

  83. Jai — on 26th June, 2007 at 11:28 am  

    Usman,

    For the record, the actions of 7/7 are wrong from an Islamic perspective.

    I am well aware of that. In any case, your response renders large swathes of this entire discussion as moot. If attacks on non-combatants are wrong from an Islamic perspective, then they are wrong even if motivated by retaliation, regardless of provocation and regardless of what tactics the enemy may have utilised. End of story. No caveats.

    maybe for you making a financial profit is morally good for you, at the cost of over 600,000 civilian deaths.

    Maybe for you, using strawman arguments and extrapolating all kinds of imaginary nefarious mindsets on the part of what you perceive as being commenters on “the opposing side” of the debate on this thread is morally good for you, because it enables you to justify your anger to yourself, claims of the moral high ground, and rationale for justifying (or at least “understanding”) violence which unequivocally contravenes Islamic guidelines for permissible warfare.

    Stop making excuses. There’s a term for what you’re doing — it’s called “Tu Quoque”, and it basically means “Yes I know what I’m doing is wrong, but I’m justifying it because you did it first, and I’m using your immoral actions to excuse my own in response”.

  84. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 12:13 pm  

    or to make it simple usman: do unto others as you would unto them.

  85. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    And your questions about foreign policy, and capitalist nations- i absolutely agree we should push for change. what you are missing is that the fundamental reason the system is fucked : the fact that we socially organise ourselves into these antagonistic, competitive nation-state model. You can have “socialist” nation-states and the problem still remains: the nation-state model is not inherently suitable – it is all about power authority borders and clashes. And the Islamic idea of Caliphate didn’t to me seem very different i.e. they still thought of themselves as a nation and they were seeking a State. oh yes they may have wanted the whole world to be their State but obviously it would be just as problematic. Until we are willing to consider non-coercive models of social organisation, we can expect to carry on as we are.

    thankfully nowadays there is lots of awareness of this sort of stuff. people who just want to grab power – like the Islamists, like the Caliphate back in the day- haven’t worked out how to answer these questions because they don’t really WANT TO. the model of top-dog under-dog means that under-dogs fight to become top-dop and the flip happens and then another fight to re-flip..

    you get the gist no doubt. then again, maybe not.

  86. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 12:43 pm  

    so what the jihadis were upto essentially is no different to what every other power-monger in history has been upto. most of the time power-mongers have ‘nice excuses’ like jai points to – the end justifies the means, and they always point to current oppressive practices ( there are always some!) and say ‘ i can promise you something better’ – and they nearly always never tell you how its going to be better ( cos they don’t know obviously and neither do they care, its better to them because THEY are in power and are currently top-dog) and nearly always reproduce precisely the same structures of power that gave rise to the problems they said they wanted to combat.

    God you’d think they’d write famous last words in big red letters

  87. Kismet Hardy — on 26th June, 2007 at 1:19 pm  

    Forget Captain America, here’s US MAN

  88. sid — on 26th June, 2007 at 1:33 pm  

    Brilliant Jai, brilliant.

  89. Anas — on 26th June, 2007 at 7:55 pm  

    Should we turn terrorists into inhuman demons whose obscure reasoning processes are entirely beyond our grasp and to pretend otherwise is to become an apologist? OK, you can take that tack and it’ll probably make you feel good and you can write at length about how evil and twisted these people are and pat yourself on the back. On the other hand, if you want to understand why someone becomes a terrorist, it can be uncomfortable and challenging, because a lot of the things that bin Laden, and various terrorist organisations point out about Western imperialism and terrorism are right. That’s why they say them, because they want to play on peoples’ anger and frustration at the West and gain sympathy.

    Indeed, the “Islamist” terrorists might regret that innocent people have to die as a result of their actions which they claim are intended to put an end to the West’s actions overseas in the name of Islam, i.e., for an ultimately beneficial result. But then I’m sure Bush and Blair regret the hundreds of thousands of foreseeable deaths that were the result of their actions committed in the name of freedom and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine. (Of course I’m reminded of Madeline Albright’s response to being asked about the deaths of a Million Iraqi children due to sanctions which was basically “it was worth it”). Like I said earlier, you have to be consistent when you’retalking about these things.

  90. Muzumdar — on 26th June, 2007 at 8:02 pm  

    Anas

    Western Foreign Policy created and sustains Pakistan’s existence.

    Do you want to see an end to Pakistan as a colonial entity?

    Yes or no will suffice.

    Thanks.

  91. Don — on 26th June, 2007 at 8:12 pm  

    Jai,

    Don’t think he grasped the tu quoque thing.

  92. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 10:52 pm  

    heh heh Mazumdar nice one in 92. that’s a good one. yes the creation of pakistan is probably the highlight of the messes british imperialism caused.

  93. sonia — on 26th June, 2007 at 10:55 pm  

    so anas given you’re always talking about consistency what did you think about the issues i brought up in my troubling hadiths post? what do you have to say about islamic imperialism back in the day? ( you’ve avoided the question so far hence i am asking rather pointedly)

  94. soru — on 26th June, 2007 at 11:26 pm  

    On the other hand, if you want to understand why someone becomes a terrorist, it can be uncomfortable and challenging, because a lot of the things that bin Laden, and various terrorist organisations point out about Western imperialism and terrorism are right.

    That may be true, but the parts of what they say that are right have nothing much to do with the parts that casually explain why they do what they do.

    If there’s an open goal, the other team are going to kick the ball at it, no matter what was planned in the team talk. If there’s a plausible-sounding argument, it’s going to get used.

    But that doesn’t explain why the team are on the pitch dressed up in football gear.

  95. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 12:06 am  

    Usman makes some good points.

    We’re faced here in the UK with news of UK soldiers killed in battle – only natural, our care of ethics naturally extends to what is familiar and close to us.

    But he points to the hundreds and thousands that die every day , in cross fire, in battle, as collatoral damage, in the middle east, and other places of conflict, these are people with no names, occassionally we see their pictures of corpes in the Metro on the train ( by the way we would never be allowed to paste images of dead UK people on grounds of indecency).

    These are faceless and namesless people that die every day – all as Sonya, says in the name of nation-states legitimising violence.

    So if we were to do away with nation-states, would we have less violence?

    The history of war tells us that the wars of the 20th century were the most barbaric ever seen in human history.I’d say that the wars in the 20th century ( war 1 and world 2 ) were the culminations of nation-states wrestling for spheres of influence, and this is the result. With more ambition in nation-states comes more violence.

    Who invented nation-states and the theoretical under-pinnings of nation-states? Locke, Hobbes, and all the honourable men in the cannons of western history of political thought.

    So terrorism is only terrorism because we’ve agreed states have the monopoly of violence. We agree because that’s the practical way to organise society and ourselves – we can’t all police each other, that power has to be transfered to an arbirating body.

    There is no morals behind who uses power. Just practical sense.

    That’s the social contract we end up with in society.

    What I don’t understand is the moral plalava about terrorism.

    There are on going debates in academia and history of ethics about just wars – some say there is no such thing as a just war – and even if there was, Iraq and Afghanistan fall very short of a legitimate intervention so the people leading the insurgents in the country are to be commended.

    How would the UK like it if Iraqi soldiers landed and occupied half of the country? We’d all be calling the UK insurgents heroesm and we should.

  96. Usman — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:08 am  

    My point is simple, that the reason why terrorist acts have taken place on British soil is solely down to foreign policy.

    In the past few years Britain has gone to war with Afghanistan and Iraq, in the process killed many by using weapons of mass destruction (maybe not biological and nuclear but creating mass destruction in the process still). Years later these countries are still in a state of war and the death count and destruction increases with no end in sight.

    These actions along with other issues such as supporting of states which also are seen oppressing Muslims such as Israel, supporting dictators in the Muslim world etc have had the knock on effect of anger and despair in Muslims worldwide, to such an extent that some Muslims in the UK have decided to take their own lives and others, maybe in their minds as fighting back justifying it to themselves one way or another.

    The government of this country can not and will never admit that their foreign policy has had any part to play in this. Reason being that this would jeopardise their seeking of their vital interests abroad, i.e. robbing the wealth of other nations which is a fundamental part of capitalism, to take this away would be like detaching freedom of ownership from democracy. It has found it far more convenient to create a diversion of the blame of these terrorist acts onto Muslims and Islam.

    Let’s say for arguments sake that I agree, there are these so called bogey men which are running around polluting the minds of young Muslims into killing others. Would they have much success had they not had so much propaganda material to play with? Anas sums this up quite eloquently in his earlier comment.

    The current climate in Britain is one where Muslims feel victimised, the comments of jack straw about the Muslim woman’s dress code, anti terror laws, possible arrest by mere suspicion, the whole debate about changing Islam into a British version of Islam, provocative moves such as the knighthood of Salman Rushdie and so on will only breed more resentment and despair amongst Muslims in this country. Is the situation likely to improve? Especially when the route cause is not solved.

    This whole episode is diverting the attention from the real issue, that the foreign policy is un-ethical and illegal.

  97. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:23 am  

    Sure I agree foreign policies are often the problem.

    But foreign policies are also long term legacies relating to a country’s strategic vital interests etc.

    It is not short term. Parties and govts can change but foreign policy interests remain static.

    So the question I am interested in is why the foreign policy interests of UK, US, has suddenly conflicted so intensely with the interests of Islamic leaning countries?

    You see my point?

    I don’t believe in the clash of civilisations thesis, crap thesis written by Huntington in edition of Foreign Affairs ten yrs ago, no one gave it a second look, and then after 9/11 it is he bible for explaining many things.

    So if we agree it’s no clash of civlisations, what is it?

    I have a theory. It’s about the US losing it’s preminec e in th 20th century – the 20th century could be classed in international relation terms as the American century. The 21st Century is aparently open for grabs. Sp what do any rational self interested states do – hold on, realign global strategic landscape to secure their positions. This happened in the 1870s, then again in the pre-1914 world, then post-WW2.

    It’s not about looking for an enemy. It’s about securing economic advantage in the global economy.

    US is over. China rising is a reality, the other BRICS are not far behind, and the joke now is that globlisation is a abbreviation fo Chinese goods. There’s also Japan of coarse, the other big player in the Paficif – which once it stops being a sliightly poodle like to tbe US, it will play an independent role in the 21st century.

    Remember that as well as the Europe theatre , US went to war in the seciond war to resist Japan. The Pacific rum has always been an economic threat. Now it seems the Pacific giants have risen.

    Back to search for balance of power then.

    So why is the Middle East embroiled in US insecurity and why is UK following suit? Haven’t figured that out yet.

  98. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:26 am  

    The short point I wanted to make is that religion is a dis-tracter .

    It makes Marx’s comment on religion as the opium of the people to even more sinister levesl.

  99. Jai — on 27th June, 2007 at 10:06 am  

    Anas,

    Indeed, the “Islamist” terrorists might regret that innocent people have to die as a result of their actions which they claim are intended to put an end to the West’s actions overseas in the name of Islam, i.e., for an ultimately beneficial result.

    That’s pure speculation. Anas, unless there’s something you’re not telling us, you don’t have a clue what these terrorists are actually thinking in this matter, least of all whether they have any sympathy towards people living in the West or those who die as a result of terrorist attacks in this part of the world. I haven’t seen them exactly crying tears of regret and compassion in the sporadic videos supplied to Al Jazeera where they either threaten future attacks on us or comment on attacks that have just taken place.

    And if their hearts were breaking so much over the civilian deaths they have caused and are still threatening to cause, they would not have deliberately targetted civilians in the first place. What happened on 9/11 wasn’t a result of the hijackers heading for NORAD’s headquarters, holding the map upside down, taking a wrong turning, and saying “Whoops” while they accidentally flew into the World Trade Centre.

    Don’t fall into the trap of romanticising these people, which you seem to currently be in danger of doing.

    I don’t believe in “inherent evil” either, or demonising people by viewing them as “inhuman monsters”, but simultaneously I don’t think people like Bin Laden and his supporters — especially those at very senior levels of Al-Qaeda — are bleeding-heart poetic outlaws like Kevin Costner playing Robin Hood, or angst-ridden, sensitive, misunderstood heroes like Kalashnikov-’n-kurta-wearing versions of the characters from “Dawson’s Creek”.

    But then I’m sure Bush and Blair regret the hundreds of thousands of foreseeable deaths that were the result of their actions committed in the name of freedom and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine.

    There’s no direct comparison because, for the thousandth time, the terrorists are deliberately targetting civilians. If Western armed forces had dropped nukes on heavily-populated civilian areas of Kabul, Mecca and Baghdad then the comparison would be valid, but this obviously isn’t the case.

  100. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 11:15 am  

    unfortunately tahir, though i agree with you about huntington’s thesis “no one gave it a second look” is inaccurate as it is prob. one of the top texts in most major universities international relations courses.

    in any case you make good points.

    also i don’t understand necessarily why people are just bothered about ‘foreign’ policy and not policy here. or why they are bothered about foreign policy if they are not bothered about the fact that if you are a nation-state, then you’re going to do what you think best for that entity, regardless of the individuals in that entity, or anyone else, or even whether in reality that course of action is good for the nation-state. ( long -term war isn’t good for anyone, nation-state or no nation-state. but of course we’re all a bit shortsighted aren’t we) if people are happy with that, then they ought not to be suprised at the dodgy things that pop up under ['foreign policy]

    “A country’s foreign policy is a set of goals that seeks to outline how that particular country will interact with other countries of the world and, to a lesser extent, non-state actors. Foreign policies generally are designed to help protect a country’s national interests, national security, ideological goals, and economic prosperity. This can occur as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations, or through aggression, war, and exploitation.”

  101. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    in any case, dodgy foreign policy is hardly exclusive to ‘western’ nations. i’d say for example in the indian sub-continent we have major problems with our foreign policies. I mean we package our suspicion of our neighbours into our ‘foreign policy’ and don’t let them in as easily as we let all sorts of other people in.

    anyway Anas simply isn’t responding to the fact that if anything, Blair’s foreign policy probably resembles the Caliphate’s foreign policy. After all, whose foreign policy came first? :-)

  102. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 11:18 am  

    or my allegation.. if we want to be pedantic. Anas?

  103. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    i meant i think tahir you make some good points, but what you are missing is that this business of ‘strategic advantage’ while yes – doesn’t necessarily predicate ‘enemy discourse’ however it is predicated on a competitive logic – that you have to get the resources or some one else will. which will happen if we all believe that it is ONE or the other, rather than about co-existing and sharing. And where does enemy discourse come from anyway? its when we’ve decided we won’t share and we’ll fight and then you call the person you’re fighting with your ‘enemy’.

    there is nothing rational about this – it is highly stupid thing to do. So there is no such thing as a rational nation-state by that definition. there is nothing rational about the world we find ourselves in. it is desperate irrationality.

    Yes i absolutely urge you all to be consistent – think about the global nature of these problems, we are all stuck here together, ain’t no point in pointing to one lot or the other. Frankly all nation-states have bad track records, and most still do. this includes the ‘east’ and ‘west’.. and for goodness sakes, let’s get rid of these stupid dichotomies.

    HUMAN SOCIETY -IS RIDDLED WITH PROBLEMS.. is this so hard for us to understand? Why are we trying to lay blame on east/west/north/south/ etc. – isn’t this what people have been doing for centuries? turning the crap idea of a clash of civilisations into a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you believe someone is your enemy and act on it, sooner or later it ends up being so.

  104. Arif — on 27th June, 2007 at 11:46 am  

    sonia #102

    1. Foreign policy matters more to me than domestic policy in the sense that big issues and large scale suffering matter more to me than local and small scale issues. Local issues matter more to me than non-local issues to the extent that I am affected by them more or can affect them more than other issues.

    Since such local issues are few, not often conveyed to me in the TV news, and are relatively prosaic, I assume that this is why foreign policy looms large in my political consciousness.

    2. Since people accept nation-states, why do they then complain that they exercise sovereignty for narrow self-interest in a predictable manner? I think people don’t have so clear an idea of what nation states stand for, and can be taken in by the posturing of politicians that they stand for humanitarianinsm, human rights, global justice and so on. You can never disprove their intentions, so they set up the terms of debate as if there is a morality underlying their actions. And often enough critics collude with the idea that States might not always act out of naked self-interest, because it is better to have a hypocrite forced to be ethical to save face, than have a foreign minister who is a consistent amoralist ridiculing any humanitarian principles.

    This is kind of getting off the topic of how to deal with terrorism. Sunny kind of argues that we can’t get at root causes, but we can get at the things that make it possible to conduct a terrorist operation. And he kind of argues that there is a battle over identities which the British Government can intervene in. But the whole battle over hearts and minds cannot be won by any side which ignores the things which currently frighten people most.

    While we can belittle each others fears in debates, if we want to reconcile people who have taken up antagonistic identities, then we have to start to take the fears and grievances of the other side seriously. That would include Muslims who belittle non-Muslim fears of terrorism as though it is some sort of Islamophobic special pleading by people who are more than happy for hundreds of people to be killed by western bombs anywhere in the world with energy resources. That would include non-Muslims who belittle Muslim fears of a war against Islam as though it is a paranoid fantasy pushed by people who want to create a global sharia-based tyranny.

    If “Britishness” can include and bring together people in such camps then great, but if it is more comfortable for one side than another, or excludes them both, it is irrelevant.

  105. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 12:47 pm  

    Sonia

    true self interested foreign policy is not the priviledge of western nations – but the theory of nation-states is a western concept, and its founding fathers are indeed the top bods in liberal western philosophers.

    Agree your point that enemy discourse is old and always used. But enemy discourse is created as a symbolic enemy (to lull people psychologically) after the rational strategic interests have been worked out.

    You can’t tell people we want to invade Iraq for its oil ( that’s the rational resource argument) but you can say , they are crazy and bad people to their women and then invade. That’s the enemy discourse.

    The other point about rational foreign policy is this – it doesb’t change much in 150 years or so -and when it does, countries ( and their allies) bring with them a major revision of the global map. This explains the big wars. I think we are in the midst of this techtonic shift – with US losing pre-eminence and deseprately trying to align its advantage for 50 years time. If you looked at scenario planning work on foreign policy you will see this is the US roadmap. No mystery to it. In fact scenario planning ( because we can now predict a bit of the future and want to stay on top) is the major policy tool in the US think tanks like Rand, Council of Foreign Affairs, World Bank, the UN and all the major strategic bodies that influence global patterns.

    On Huntington, the point is that when first released no-one paid attention and as a student when I was stydying international relations, it was de-bunked by just about every foreign policy pundit when it first appeared in Foreign Affairs (around 10 yrs ago). But now it’s given credence as though it was always good – it wasn’t, it’s the hawks in Bush’s administration after 9/11 that revided it. That’s right wing revisitionist history for you – gotta watch it.

    I also agree it’s competitive logic writ larger on the national scale, but also on the global scale. The Bretton Woods system ( regulated by the IMF today and with some help with the World Bank to stop fiscal spending on public services) gurantees a competitive logic for nation-states to compete and live in a world that accepts the capitalist logic. Bretton Woods was established after the WW2 – hence the immediate competition with the Soviet Union which had a different world economic order in mind.

    This is why rhe major NGOs these days, and indeed major internaitional development thinkers will argue today, scrap the IMF, it’s regulatory role and build a global economic system based on complimentarity , not just competitive logic. They don’t want aid for example to the developing world but more just trade (see Paul Collier’s response to the recent G8 outcome ). But the major backers to the Bretton Woods System are the funders and the backers who sit on the IMF. This is the G8 countries.

    I tend to think though nation-states are a scourage of the modern world.

  106. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 1:00 pm  

    In any case the enemy civilisation in Huntington’s thesis was Chinese civlisation – again echoing fears 10 years ago about the rise of China – which only 10 years after it’s opening to the West ( stopped it’s closed door policy to the west and when diplomatic ties with uS was suspended) so the bogey country in Huntington’s crap thesis was in fact China. But contemporarily it’s been revised with an Islamic bogey in mind to suit interests now – though I still think the conflict with the ‘Islamic’ aspects/issues is a distracter to calculated, rational self -interest about realigning the world to compete with China.

    You only have to look at the sparks in the Taiwan straits every now and then to work out what the Americans really have in mind. Happy to risk nuclear war here if the poor Taiwanese insist on wanting recognition as a sovereign state in the UN as every other country does. But no, it’s not about Taiwense nationalism. It’s about US and China.

  107. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 1:48 pm  

    no it wasn’t just one enemy – Chinese Civilisation, tahir, it was two – Islamic civilisation and chinese civilisation.

  108. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 1:48 pm  

    according to monsieur huntington i mean

  109. Muzumdar — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:06 pm  

    Now that we have involved China, I’d just like to ask our Muslim ‘victims’ of colonialism (Tahir/Anas/Usman/Arif/Refresh et al) what they think the world will be like when China takes over as the premier super-power?

    At least America offers you a half decent price for your oil, and at least pretends to care about you. I can imagine China being quite ruthless if Islamists get a bit lary and decide to blow up Beijing.

    It was interesting to see that the head of the Lal Masjid, after releasing 6 kidnapped Chinese masseurs, kissing the feet of the atheist Communist Chinese embassy official in Islamabad recently. Even in his religious zeal, he had to bow to the reality of not pissing off one of Pakistan’s patrons. Quite hilarious…

  110. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:20 pm  

    Well the minorities might suffer but at least we won’t have a unipolar balance of power which is far more dangerous.

    You have a thing about Muslims mate, can’t imagine why.

  111. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:22 pm  

    But the larger spectre and the background to US foreign policy fear was one old enemy and one new one. Islam wasn’t one of the main opposing civilisations. Huntington had to widen his thesis to sound clever but the impetus to that thesis at the time was fear of Chinese power.

  112. Muzumdar — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:27 pm  

    Tahir

    So you would support a China that rapes Africa, but cannot stand for a US that rapes Arabia?

    Your master-slave relationship with your Arab masters is all too apparent.

    You have a thing about Muslims mate, can’t imagine why.

    I feel sorry for you guys, you just don’t know how to play the game. Even though you have a billion plus followers you still can’t work out how to play capitalism to your advantage.

    But this is no surprise as, judging by this thread, you cannot comprehend simple arguments, no matter how many times countless people put them forward.

  113. soru — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    Well the minorities might suffer but at least we won’t have a unipolar balance of power which is far more dangerous.

    Run that by me again?

    WWII, WWI, the slave trade, the colonisation of Africa, vietnam, cambodia and Korea all happened under a distinctly multi-polar balance of power (britain and france, or USA and USSR). Nothing remotely comparable ever happened in the few times the world has been mostly dominated by a single power.

    Applied to a single country, that argument could be restated as ‘civil wars are fun, any time one side looks like winning, switch your support to the currently losing side to prolong the war’.

    Why would anyone think that globalised civil war is a preferable state?

  114. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:42 pm  

    On the contrary, I find your arguments too sophisticated to grasp so be a bit more patient – the pitch should be made at lowest common denominator if you want to lead and persuade.

    Playing games isn’t really a top priority for ordinary people.

    The world would be far safer with a balance of power. I believe a balance of power means more than one. Whether it’s US or China matters less – what matters is that there is competition.

    The rape of Africa is indeed a good topic for debate – might be nice for a change to stop going on and on about Muslims which I get bored with.

    Some would argue that at least China spells clearly what its interests in Africa are – resources, not human rights. The US and the UK, the leading architect of the new world order ( against the UN , the EU) wants to go into Africa under the rubric of human rights and uses this a a conditionality for regime change.

    Have you followed what the US is proposing for Africa – or has been for the past 7 years? At least China isn’t saying, here, have my money for AIDS and save the lives of millions but only if you don’t use a condom? S the AIDS money splashes in Africa but only if Africans abstein and don’t have safe sex. How’s that for population control? Stop black African from breeding. The choice is let them die from AIDS or stop them from breeding. Lovely.

    So do you have a thing for Muslims? Make it simple for me, please.

    Master-slave? Come again? I don’t read Marx and I am not into SMS.

  115. Muzumdar — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:56 pm  

    I’m glad I went down this road.

    Essentially Tahir, you are saying that you don’t really care about Africa and are happy for the Janjaweed to continue their raping and pillaging sprees in Sudan, but on the other hand, you cannot stomach Arabs getting carpet bombed.

    Do you understand the whole ‘Arab master’ thing yet?

  116. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 2:59 pm  

    Soros

    The point about minorities in China or inside the US is a internal issue – I was talking about destabilisation on the external front which is dangerous with unipolar balance of power. I am also suspitious of claims that slam China on human rights continously which is a popular past time in the US administration for the past 20 years. Sure Amnesty criticises China for violiation of human rights but the US in fact comes out worse on most counts so I take claims about China treating minorities badly with a bit more caution.

    The examples you pick are blots in human history. But they are not the result of a multi-polar balance of power. They are a combination of lots of things – it would be hard here to go through the causes of each conflict.

    Iraq and Afghanistan on the other hand is the result of a unipolar state of affairs.

    With the collapse of the Cold War lots of people looked forward to the UK playing a benign supwerpower role which would’ve been a stabilising influence in the world. It was also argued that if the US didn’t play a benign influence but a more aggressive influence ( like it did in Latin America from 1870 onwards) the world would be very dangerous.

  117. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 3:10 pm  

    I absolutely care more about Africa. So much that this blogs sometimes annoys me because anyone would think there was only one problem in this world – how to deal with terrorism. The bigger disgrace in this world is the poverty that sub-Sahara Africa is in today.

    Still don’t understand the Arab thing. Maybe I’ll read Said or something, maybe he’ll tell me there’s no such thing as the Middle East. Please don’t be mean about the deceased if you choose to comment on this aspect of the comment.

    I’d be all for US and UK going into Darfur to stop the genocide but there’s no interest for the US/UK to go in.

    What’s happening in Darfur is a disgrace and a blot on all our consciences while we sit and debate countless things – all of which are nothing in comparison to the tragedy in Sudan at the moment.

    If we stopped the Arab thread for a moment – my friends who work in Sudan say as far as the Sudanese are concerned the whole conflict in Arab/black Africans in Sudan is a western imported discourse, that the conflict is about resources. Just like it is in Northern Nigeria where the Sharia leaning powers are in power but the conflict is about resources).

    So what do you think we should do to inspire more reactions to Darfur? I’d hate to be looking back 10 years on and think, ah, right, if only we could’ve averted this like we do with Rwanda now , We know how to, but we don’t pressure out governments to do more.

  118. Tahir — on 27th June, 2007 at 3:19 pm  

    M

    In case you didn’t think I was serious about Africa, I’ve been working in the last 10 years to reduce poverty in Africa.

  119. Muzumdar — on 27th June, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    Well, this is my point: Muslims, of all varieties, get constipated and pent up about issues affecting the Arab Muslim world, but I never see them get upset about African Muslims or Bangladeshi Muslims.

    I would wager that your average Bangladeshi peasant gets more pent up about the Palestinians than he does about feeding his thirteen daughters and three goats.

    So my point: the Muslim world is a replica of the European colonial societal construct; Muslims look to the Arab centre as representing the ‘truth’, ‘legitimacy’ and the ‘centre’ of their universe. So much so that they forget about the periphery.

    Yes, Said is a must for you Tahir. But he won’t say that there is no such thing as the Middle East, that would be Naipaul, who is post-cultural.

    Good to see that you’re getting constipated about Africa instead of some Arab sheep romancer.

  120. soru — on 27th June, 2007 at 3:24 pm  

    Iraq and Afghanistan on the other hand is the result of a unipolar state of affairs.

    Obvious nonsense. Which situation do you think really matches Iraq and Afghanistan better?

    1: there is one very powerful group of people that is oppressing and killing (for whatever reason), and noone is powerful enough to stop them.

    2: there are multiple groups fighting, all of whom are powerful enough to believe they can win, so they keep on fighting regardless of the cost.

    The first is unipolar, the second multipolar. Pre-war Iraq was pretty unipolar, current Iraq highly multipolar.

    In fact, Afghanistan is better off than Iraq to precisely the extent that it is _less_ multipolar – less people in the country currently think the Taliban, as opposed to the government + NATO, can win. And there are only two real factions, as opposed to Iraq’s 5+.

    Is your vision of the whole world the same as that of the Islamist Taliban commander I heard being interviewed recently who explicitly boasted he could make Afghanistan more like Iraq over the next few years? If he does succeed, will people use his success, the resulting carnage, as an argument in itself for more terrorism?

    Like the kid who killed both his parents then begged for leniency as an orphan?

  121. Arif — on 27th June, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    Tahir (re#107) – could it be that you are also slipping into an enemy-based discourse about the US, after you have reasoned that US hegemony is the biggest threat to the interests you have?

    China’s human rights record is unbelievably nasty, and it also undertakes its own occupation, as well as its own amoral foreign policy including support for other repressive regimes and their occupations. While people may justify it for the material benefits now being achieved through its method of development, or the balance of terror it brings to a world otherwise dominated by other self-interested world powers, these are surely not justifications we would accept from someone intent on removing our own human rights?

  122. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 5:02 pm  

    personally ( to digress) i cant understand why everyone lumps africa as one thing when it is a continent.
    second the other thing about the entire continent of africa’ – is that – its not ( in the past just as much as in the present) been full of poor black hungry people. no that is the image, just like in asia – okay there are different colours of poor people. there have been just as many african people ‘oppressing’ ( for want of a better term) other africans as there has across asia, been asian kings and elites and what have you been ‘oppressing’ asian people. Even now with the whole colonial discourse thing the focus has been shifted to the ‘foreign’ different coloured colonial masters – which of course the asian/african ‘oppressors’ have been feeling great glee about. Look let me be honest here, lots of people who come from a privileged background in either continent of Africa or Asia – i.e. people for example in India whose families for generations and centuries were the feudal land-owners etc., and of course the princes and the maharajas, had just as much of a hand in oppressing ( if not more granted the caste system managed to keep everyone in place)people as these ‘colonial masters’. and nowadays everyone blames everyone in britain for colonialism and frankly a lot of indians back in the day were more culpable than lots of people here today who are the descendants of people who were probably just as much subjugated by their leaders. So this business of taking one country and saying ‘aha!’ this unit is the problem is extremely simplistic as obviously the dynamics within that unit are highly significant. In fact i would argue – that what goes on within a “country”, naturally will then determine which idiot gets into power, and which then determines how that idiot chooses to throw their weight around – both in the country, and anywhere else. so this business of foreign policy being isolated by itself – is not much use. the fact of the matter is that despite huge opposition, ‘Britain’ went to war. and why was that? because the political system the way it is allowed for the discrepancy of a lot of people not wanting something, including Labour MPs, but not being able to do much about it, without sacrificing their careers, or voting for the tories, etc. etc. So the internal dynamics are just as important. This thinking of countries as a unit is just ridiculously simplistic rubbish

  123. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 5:05 pm  

    Muzumdar – wrong about the average Bangladeshi peasant. you may be right if you said upper class or middle class bangladeshi. the ‘peasants’ if you want to call them that – are too busy working hard and minding their own business to either worry about religion, or politics. and that involves politics in their own country, never mind anywhere else.

    i daresay you might want to refer to what middle-class british asian muslims are thinking.

  124. sonia — on 27th June, 2007 at 5:07 pm  

    but i agree, not many muslims seem to be bothered about the janjaweed. of course i daresay that’s probably because of media perception. but perhaps it has to do with not being able to condemn what the janjaweed are doing because frankly to me it sounds a helluva lot like what the early muslims went around doing. and i’ve already brought up the issue of ‘concubines’ and war booty for muslims and the Prophet – seeming like plain old rape of war captives to me, but there you go.

  125. Muzumdar — on 27th June, 2007 at 5:41 pm  

    it sounds a helluva lot like what the early muslims went around doing.

    Not just the early Muslims though. There is concrete evidence, in the shape of autobiographies and Muslim historical accounts, that suggests that the ‘middle’ Muslims, the ‘later’ Muslims and ‘modern’ Muslims did and still indulge in such barbaric practices.

    I would suggest that Islam legitimises rape, mass murder, brutal ethnic cleansing, Imperialism, pillage, plunder and slavery, but I think sonia’s blog already does that rather well, so I won’t.

  126. Arif — on 27th June, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

    So it seems we have people who oppose what they believe Islam legitimises, and people who oppose what they believe western politicians legitimise. Does this mean we can build a consensus based on human rights? Or do both sides want to use it to justify a fight to the death?

  127. Anas — on 27th June, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

    Anas
    Western Foreign Policy created and sustains Pakistan’s existence.
    Do you want to see an end to Pakistan as a colonial entity?
    Yes or no will suffice.
    Thanks.

    Yes. I should suppose no country wants to be a colonial entity. The extent to which that’s possible is arguable.

    so anas given you’re always talking about consistency what did you think about the issues i brought up in my troubling hadiths post?

    They’re interesting issues and obviously should be debated openly. I read your post but I don’t think I have much to add myself since my knowledge in that area is sadly limited.

    what do you have to say about islamic imperialism back in the day? ( you’ve avoided the question so far hence i am asking rather pointedly)

    Back in the day? You’ll have to be more precise since there are a thousand and a bit years of Islamic history to consider.

    anyway Anas simply isn’t responding to the fact that if anything, Blair’s foreign policy probably resembles the Caliphate’s foreign policy. After all, whose foreign policy came first?

    I’m not an expert on Islamic history so you’ll have to explain that to me.

    That’s pure speculation. Anas, unless there’s
    something you’re not telling us,

    Heh, nice.

    you don’t have a clue what these terrorists are actually thinking in this matter, least of all whether they have any sympathy towards people living in the West or those who die as a result of terrorist attacks in this part of the world.

    Nah I’ve been going by the messages of the terrorists themselves as shown on Al-J and other media sources which try to explain why they’ve targeted the West. There have been conciliatory statements from these groups offering truces in exchange for certain actions which seem to imply that they want to present a certain “sympathetic” face to a Western audience. Again, I’m not naive enough to think of these as genuine. Nor do I claim that bin Laden and co genuinely believe in anything they say. My point was that it is possible for the terrorists to claim that they regret having to take certain actions, but that they might then claim that the means justify the ends. In this way, I see little difference between Bush and Blair. Who knows if they really care about the deaths that have resulted in their quest for oil and in establishing a client state in the Middle East, although of course they’d say it was for Democracy and the end of Tyranny.

    And if their hearts were breaking so much over the civilian deaths they have caused and are still threatening to cause, they would not have deliberately targetted civilians in the first place. What happened on 9/11 wasn’t a result of the hijackers heading for NORAD’s headquarters, holding the map upside down, taking a wrong turning, and saying “Whoops” while they accidentally flew into the World Trade Centre.

    Again I direct you to Albright’s “it was worth it” comment. Any savagery is permissible when you think you’re doing it for a higher aim — and you don’t even have to pretend it’s not savagery and not terror. Maybe the hijackers truly believed that such a horrific act would have positive consequences in terms of forcing a change to a barbaric foreign policy that outweighed the bloody results of their immediate actions. I’m NOT saying they did. I’m not supposing anything about their “real” motivations. Just saying it is possible.

    There’s no direct comparison because, for the thousandth time, the terrorists are deliberately targetting civilians. If Western armed forces had dropped nukes on heavily-populated civilian areas of Kabul, Mecca and Baghdad then the comparison would be valid, but this obviously isn’t the case.

    Look, if you knew that an action or actions you were going to take was almost inevitably going to lead to thousands or hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, collateral damage so to speak, then you are responsible for those deaths. If there was a criminal holed up in a towerblock and the police elected to just incinerate the whole towerblock with everyone in it, completely recklessly, I’m sure it would be seen as a massacre (recently we had a similar situation in Afghanistan where scores of civilians were being killed when fighting the taliban). There is a valid comparison to be made here. Although, I will concede that there is a difference between being aware that an action that is excessive and indescriminate will lead to numerous civilian deaths and still going through with it and actually targeting civilians. But that difference seems to become less and less significant — perhaps even negligible — morally speaking when the numbers from the former start getting into the hundreds of thousands — or with the Albright case, where a million children were reckoned to have died as a result. However it is clear that both kinds of actions can be forms of terrorism, terrorism is really about creating fear in a population in order to achieve certain political goals — and heavy indescriminate bombardments in many cases seem designed to do exactly that with subsequent “regret” for “collateral damage”. Actually there is evidence that the US as well as using excessive and indescriminate force in Iraq and Afghanistan has either backed (sectarian) groups that have targeted civilians in Iraq, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had in fact committed actions that deliberately targeted civilians in order to break the “people’s will” — it’s not a question of willingness, but of being able to get away with it. Certainly the US’s client state Israel regularly targets civilians, and did so openly during, for example, the Lebanese war last summer according to the reports of Human Rights orgs.

  128. Jai — on 27th June, 2007 at 6:23 pm  

    Iraq and Afghanistan on the other hand is the result of a unipolar state of affairs.

    Bluntly-speaking, Afghanistan is a result of the Taliban sheltering Bin Laden and the US’s subsequent military response after 9/11.

    And if you think that was heavy-handed of America, consider what a nuclear-armed China would have done if it had been on the receiving end of an Al-Qaeda-sponsored 9/11-type atrocity instead. Underestimating China’s ruthlessness and ferocity in such hypothetical scenarios is very naive indeed.

    Sometimes I wonder if that’s the reason why Bin Laden and his cohorts haven’t attempted a 9/11-type attack against a major Chinese target — it’s because they know that if they tried to pull such a stunt, when China retaliates it won’t give a damn about matters such as collateral damage, mass civilian deaths, human rights, or tempering one’s actions in order to cater for religious sensitivies. Its priority would be to annihilate its enemy and effectively ensure that nobody dared to attack it a second time.

    The Muslim world is lucky that the US is the world’s current dominant power, not China. Because what the so-called “Western coalition” has done post-9/11 is nothing compared to what China would have done — or would do — in similar circumstances.

  129. Jai — on 27th June, 2007 at 7:00 pm  

    Anas,

    My point was that it is possible for the terrorists to claim that they regret having to take certain actions, but that they might then claim that the means justify the ends.

    They’re not claiming any such thing. They’re specifically targeting civilian non-combatants — whether we’re talking about 9/11, 7/7, Jordan, Bali, the Madrid bombings etc. They were not aiming at military forces, with the aforementioned fatalities getting “caught in the crossfire”. And, unless my memory’s faulty, no statements of regret for the civilian deaths has been made in any of the periodic videos that have been released by them, including MSK’s video.

    They don’t regret these actions because we’re ALL legitimate targets, Anas. That means you too — including your family and friends — if you’re travelling on public transport or are in any of the public spaces they target.

    I wonder what the individuals commenting on this blog and going on ad nauseam about Western culpability due to foreign policy would say if they, or any of their loved ones, were casualties in an attack on (for example) Bluewater or the Central Line. Would they still say “I understand their motivations, it’s all about foreign policy. Now please call an ambulance for my unconscious mother while I try to find a way to stop the bleeding” ?

    I doubt it.

    Maybe the hijackers truly believed that such a horrific act would have positive consequences in terms of forcing a change to a barbaric foreign policy that outweighed the bloody results of their immediate actions.

    One of Bin Laden’s explicit aims is to establish a Caliphate which includes large sections of southern Spain. What the hell does Andalucia have to do with “barbaric foreign policy ” ?

    I’m NOT saying they did. I’m not supposing anything about their “real” motivations. Just saying it is possible.

    That’s still pure conjecture, mate. We can say “maybe this” and “maybe that” until the cows come home. It’s a pointless exercise. Let’s stick to the facts. And I fail to see the rationale of trying to “understand” the terrorists’ motivations (beyond a certain point, obviously), especially what is making them so “aggrieved” and “angry”, when they have already stated outright what their aims are and what is (allegedly) driving them. No Western country — at least the US and the UK (yes I remember what happened in Spain after the Madrid bombings) — is going to change its foreign policy at the point of a gun, especially if that gun is being pointed at you by people living in your own house, to draw an analogy in relation to homegrown jihadis.

    So how does “understanding their anger” help us to defend ourselves against our domestic terrorists ?

    Look, if you knew that an action or actions you were going to take was almost inevitably going to lead to thousands or hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, collateral damage so to speak, then you are responsible for those deaths.

    No, it depends on the specific situation. There is a difference between a sniper specifically targetting someone (which is basically what terrorists targetting British civilians are doing) and a soldier using a machine gun against armed opponents where nearby civilians get accidentally hit in the crossfire (which is what’s happening in Iraq).

    Both situations are morally unacceptable, but there IS a material difference between the two.

    Also, thanks to the actions of insurgents in Iraq, far more civilians are being killed there by other Muslims than by American & British forces. So let’s place the primary blame where it’s due, unless you’re looking to excuse that too.

  130. Katy Newton — on 27th June, 2007 at 9:54 pm  

    Certainly the US’s client state Israel regularly targets civilians, and did so openly during, for example, the Lebanese war last summer according to the reports of Human Rights orgs.

    *sigh* That is a pretty controversial statement. As you well know, a pretty much continuous debate rages as to (a) whether or not the “civilians” who are “targeted” by Israel are in fact civilians or not, given the “freedom fighters’” habit of not wearing a uniform and cynically bedding in amongst civilians to fight their war, and

    (b) whether, where innocent civilians have died, it can really be said that Israel has targeted them, as opposed to them having been caught in the crossfire.

    The war in Lebanon was heavily spun to exaggerate the damage caused. Take, for example, the deliberate zooming in of photographs of damage in Lebanon to make it look as if far more damage had taken place than in fact had, the photoshopping of images to produce a similar impression, and the faking an incident involving a Red Cross ambulance. But then the Israeli/ME situation is frequently manipulated by the media. There is a very good piece here about how photographs can be manipulated to make things appear bigger, smaller, fuller, emptier, more threatening and less threatening than they actually are – to the detriment of both sides of the conflict.

  131. Katy Newton — on 27th June, 2007 at 10:27 pm  

    Argh! Someone delete my comment. I do not want to derail. Cheers…

  132. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:14 am  

    And if you think that was heavy-handed of America, consider what a nuclear-armed China would have done if it had been on the receiving end of an Al-Qaeda-sponsored 9/11-type atrocity instead. Underestimating China’s ruthlessness and ferocity in such hypothetical scenarios is very naive indeed.

    Jai

    If you’re going to steal my argument (#111), at least do it with some style….

    If Islamists ever grew the balls to fly planes into the Beijing sky-line, the wrath of the Chinese would be devastating.

    Firstly, they would, quite openly, start butchering all the Muslims in China – in true Maoist fashion though, they would humiliate them by making them literally dig their own graves, and then bury them alive.

    They would then decimate any Muslim country they saw fit – the Iraq war would be seen as a tea party in comparison.

    Nukes would probably be used to save time and money.

    The Muslim world, powerless, inept and stupid, would then have no choice but to turn to the Great Satan (the US, not Salman Rushdie) for help. Bluntly, they refuse.

    China, by this time, is superior economically and militarily, and is a key trading partner of, well, just about everyone.

    They will then simply take your oil. OPEC will be laughed at. The Royal Families and high profile politicians will seek refuge in California, and the Muslim masses will be left to die.

    You think the ‘catastrophe’ was bad, you have many more horrors to look forward to Tahir, that is, if your Islamist cohorts are ever stupid enough to mess with the Chinese.

  133. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:16 am  

    The point is not to celebrate Chinese violation of human rights but to ploint out that if we guys were living in East Asia ( which is more than just China) you might be forgiven for thinking China is the only country guilty of gross human rights violation.

    Sitting where I sit ( which is not in the West) everyone is so seduced by the world according to the US/UK. It would be nice to take some distance from the world according to ….. Imagine that map of the world , turn it upside down so South is what you see first, and the North is at the bottom. Might get a different view of the world.

    I’m not falling into enemy discourse about the US but history tells us in the 20th century there were a lot of wars where the US led. Fact. Not enemy discourse.

    So for example the current Iraq War should be called US war in Iraq.

    The Vietnam War is referred to in East Asia as the US war in Vietnam.

    Point on Afganistan – did I miss something or is the US and UK mostly at war in that country?

    I can’t remember the point about unipolar anymore, sorry, lost the thread. But often when we talk about bipolar and unipolar balance of power we refer to not internal politics but to the outside world.

    Africa is not a blob – you are right – which is why we might single out sub-Sahara Africa which has the worst levels of human development indicators in that region.

    This is why stop world poverty campaigns focus on this region.

    On Lebanon – The vast amount of aid that went in to reconstruction in Lebanon was far greater than anything that could be comparable or needed say in Sudan – the reason was that aid to Lebanon was political. The international community did not respond in the right way to Israel aggression and made up for it by topping up Lebanon with reconstruction aid. Lebanon is tiny.

    The international NGOs that were active in the reconstruction in Lebanon also refused to take British or US aid because of their refusal to condemn Israeli actions, particualry on the use of cluster bombs.

    On Middle East: Said might argue the Middle East is an imaginary construction that exists in the mind of the west to conjure up something of the Arab world – no one knows what the faultlines might be.

    VS Naipul – far from being whatever you said he was, (never head of the term post-cultural, do you mean post-modern or post-structualist?) – would infact deny Muslims any identity. I believe he’s known to be a well known BJP sympathiser and writes anti-Islamically. I suspect he is also one of your favourite authors. I quite reading VS Naipul a long time ago desite his literary genious.

  134. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:23 am  

    Tahir

    The lesson you should learn from Said is that although he is talking about the relationship between the colonised and their European masters, the same can be applied to non-Arab Muslims and their Arab masters.

    As for Naipaul, I am not a fan of his work at all. Although he is, without question, the finest living English writer. I use the term post-cultural, as opposed to post-modern/structuralist, because his later work is synonymous with a universalist construct that seeks to delegitimize perceived cultural labels. But the word ‘cultural’ is used in its broadest, Western, meaning.

  135. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:34 am  

    I thought Orientalism was in the western imagination, but can be applied broadly of coarse, but still insist there is no such geogrpahical entity as the Middle East as culturally distinct.

    But stay with me and explain this pre-occupation with Arab masters? Is it sexual? I am dead serious.

    VS Naipur – is he English? Thought he reined somewhere in the Caribbean?

  136. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:56 am  

    Tahir

    this pre-occupation with Arab masters

    Non-Arab Muslims bow down to Mecca five times a day in a show of ideological, spiritual and political affinity with their Arab imperial masters. Their blood, bodies and souls belong to the Arabs.

    If I were to bow down to Washington five times a day from my hypothetical home in Mirpur, I would be told that I am a servant of imperialism and that I should promptly leave for the States before I have my testicles removed.

    Is it sexual? I am dead serious.

    Sex has a lot to do with it. When the Arab imperialists came to the sub-continent, one of their primary war tactics was rape.

    VS Naipaul was born in Trinidad.

  137. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 1:12 am  

    Imperialism was strictly a late 19th century phenomenon and then practiced by the US from 1870 onwards.

    Are you saying Arabs in Asia was retrospectively imperialist?

    I can dig out the definition of imperialism for you if I google in a few secs…

  138. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 1:16 am  

    Arch imperialist was Cicil Rhodes .. Before imperialism we had what was known as colonialism. Tryign to recover my GCSE knowledge…

  139. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 1:23 am  

    Imperialism = monopoly capitalism

    Not every capitalist country is imperialist. In fact, most of the world’s people live in poor, underdeveloped capitalist countries like Iraq that are exploited by the imperialist powers of the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and Japan.

    Capitalism developed first and reached its most advanced stage in those countries. Imperialism exists by keeping the rest of the world enslaved and dependent on its institutions, including the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

    V.I. Lenin, the Russian revolutionary leader of the early 20th century, gave the most complete, scientific definition of imperialism in his 1916 booklet, “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism.”

    He wrote: “If it were necessary to give the briefest definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”

    Using economic statistics and historical facts, Lenin showed how capitalism’s early, free-market phase led to the creation of giant industrial and banking monopolies.

    So sorry – Arab imperialism in South Asia doesn’t find any historical bearing. Imperialism is a peculiarly modenr phenomenon, rooted in capitalism, and Muslims perhaps were not thinking on this logic.

    Marxism is interesting when you read it accurately.

  140. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 2:21 am  

    Tahir,

    You missed out China from the list of exploitatative nations. Or the USSR, in it’s heyday. Is that because they pretend to be different? It is all about resources, and who controls them, I think.

    Arab imperialism was exactly the same as British imperialism, it was to find new markets, gain land, market share and impose a dotty religion. What’s different, really? Had it succeeded, then we’d all be sitting around complaining about it too. Had Marx been alive, he might have seen that counterfactual as just as significant, don’t you think?

  141. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:55 am  

    But Lenin was around in 1914 – I don’t seem to recall him talking about Arab imperialism in the same way. I assume you would agree ‘Arab imperialism’ ( I’m reluctant to use the term as I don’t know what this means – Ottoman expansion, Persian ?) probabably took place before 1914.

    I think I’ve consistently argued that conflict is all about resources – some nations more than others are successful at exploiting.

    US in 20th century has been more successful than others – hence why we might single it out – esp as it might be the chief agressor in Iraq at the moment. USSR and China have been exploitative, yes, but their crimes have been more significant for internal reasons. Both Mao and Stalin committed more crimes against their own people rather than against external threats – both crimes are hideous.

  142. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 7:41 am  

    Tahir,

    I think Marx was quite influeneced by the ‘in your face’ nature of the capitalism he saw in Germany, France and England. It was, I think, valid political commentary on the immediate world he lived in. Which was Victorian era Europe. It was the excesses of rampant exploitation of everyone and everything by a very small group of people that he railed against. Rightly, in my opinion. Certainly has echoes for me, anyway.

    Imperialism goes back at least as far as Rome though.

    Eastern Europeans, Tibetans and dare I say the Taiwanese might have a slightly less rosy view on the way the USSR and the Chinese conduct(ed) themselves.

    It was, for instance, a strange consequence of the Second World War, that the French could quickly re-establish a democracy yet the Hungarians were met with tanks when they tried to do the same?

    The most significant event, politically, in my lifetime, has been the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the schism of the USSR. Compared to that, 9/11 and 7/7 are ripples, not tsunamis.

  143. Jai — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:20 am  

    Imperialism goes back at least as far as Rome though.

    Along with the establishment of Imperial “unified” China under the Qin Dynasty, Ashoka’s empire in India, Chandragupta Maurya, the Persian Empire (Cyrus/Darius/Xerxes), etc etc…..

  144. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:27 am  

    Imperialism is as old as humanity and is just an expression of the natural animal instinct to mark out as much territory as you can for you and yourself. It is what every society aims for and the only difference between them is that some are able to get more territory than others.

    It always makes me laugh when people slag off imperialism and almost in the same breath hold up organisations like Hamas and Hizbollah as worthy of praise and support. They are the most openly imperialist, colonising organisations around.

  145. Jai — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:27 am  

    I’m not falling into enemy discourse about the US but history tells us in the 20th century there were a lot of wars where the US led. Fact. Not enemy discourse.

    The First and Second World Wars were not started by the US. In fact America was reluctant to get involved in the second conflict at all, until the events of Pearl Harbor.

    Point on Afganistan – did I miss something or is the US and UK mostly at war in that country?

    Which was begun by…..the attack on the US on 9/11.

  146. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:38 am  

    That’s not to say, by the way, that I think imperialism or colonialism are necessarily good or right (although you could have a “what have the Romans ever done for us” conversation in every case of either). But people who end up in government are always people who want power, and imperialism and colonialism are ways of getting more power. People who don’t want power don’t run for government.

  147. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:23 am  

    Using economic statistics and historical facts, Lenin showed how capitalism’s early, free-market phase led to the creation of giant industrial and banking monopolies

    Pet peeve of mine: it really can’t be stressed enough that Lenin’s theory of imperialism is utter tosh from start to end. I can’t think of single idea that so utterly fails the simplest test of opening a history or geography book but somehow seems to get popular intellectual credibility.

    Look at the world, and do you really see giant banking and industrial monopolies? Do you really see capital tied into national borders, and so clamouring to have those borders moved?

    If you can believe that, you can believe anything. Even that the USSR couldn’t possibly, by definition, be an empire, as it wasn’t capitalist.

    The early 19C British had a theory of imperialism that define what britian did as the polar opposite of imperialism, as practised by the nasty Napoleonic French. Only once they took over the Islamic Mughal empire, and gave the popular Queen Victoria the title, did they start to use the term about themselves.

    The Japanese were ruled by an emperor, invaded, occupied and attempted to annexe other countries, and considered themselves in both public propaganda and private conversation to be anti-imperialist.

    Noone now takes their word for it, I don’t know why lenin gets some kind of free pass for his special pleading on behalf of the Russian empire.

  148. sonia — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:51 am  

    148. katy good points. you’re spot on about our systems of government in the past, and currently. i guess that’s what i so uneloquently try to get across everytime sunny says something about the Labour party etc.

  149. sonia — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:52 am  

    all civilisations have had histories containting imperialism in some shape or other. this is most definitely not restricted to the ‘western civilisation’, as anyone who knows any history ( clearly not very many people nowadays) there were other civilisations too! ( hah) and at the imperial game from much earlier.

  150. sonia — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:55 am  

    i mean look at what king nebuchadnezzar was upto way back in the day. everyone was fighting killing grabbing other people’s territories, this stuff is nothing new, in fact its as old as houses

  151. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:06 am  

    Imperialism was strictly a late 19th century phenomenon

    Oh dear Tahir, your entire argument is collapsing around you…

  152. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    Sonia, we are the only sensible people in the entire universe and everyone should listen to us.

  153. Chairwoman — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:35 am  

    Can we please pretend we’re in the ’60s?

    War’s a Bad Scene. Terrorism’s a Bad Scene. Wear flowers in hair. Walk about with ‘spiritual’ expressions on faces. Think peaceful thoughts. Everything will be OK.

    Yes, Yes, I know it was a waste of time, but it was a lot less harmful than all this exploding is.

  154. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:11 pm  

    The way imperialism is discussed in popular language is a mis-understadning of imperialism as a theory developed by Marxists. This blog discussion demonstrates my point – we’re all busy asserting what we think is imperialism. Leaving opinions aside let’s see what imperialism is according to historians.

    Imperialism is a phenomenon according to historians with a specific time span. You can disagree with the historian’s view which we are all entiled to, but someone like Emmannual Wallerstine wouldn’t characterise the earlier versions of empire building ( Roman, Ottaman, Habsburg) as imperial. It is a particular phase in the history of capitalism.

    Wallerstein is of coarse a Marxist critic and his view is left leaning, but since Marxists have a lot to say about imperialism , it might just make sense to listen to them.

    But anyway as we know that Marxists might’ve got things wrong, let’s just stick with good old fashioned middle of the road Wikipedia:

    Imperialism developed in the early 19th century after the Industrial Revolution when the western nations began to take control of other non-industrialized nations and colonies. The “Age of Imperialism” usually refers to the Old Imperialism period starting from 1860, when major European states started colonizing the other continents. The term ‘Imperialism’ was initially coined in the mid to late 1500s[2] to reflect the policies of countries such as Britain and France’s expansion into Africa, and the Americas.

    The Rise and Fall of Great Powers ( by Paul Kennedy – a mainstream figure in US history schools) is the basic text for all undergraduate students – he charts the rise of British naval power, the rise of French nationalism and idea of French identity ( in Fr and overseas ), the Ottomans, the Habsburgs etc, but imperialism itself is not that old, it is a modern phenomenon.

    Sorry – still not convinced, happy to be convinced if you can that imperialism is older….

  155. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:13 pm  

    Jai

    I fail to see what 9/11 has to do with Iraq and Afghanistan. As a lot of people in the world are still confused about the correlation. But I am sure we’ve discussed this issue at length by now.

  156. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:27 pm  

    Imperialism developed in the early 19th century after the Industrial Revolution when the western nations began to take control of other non-industrialized nations and colonies.

    I don’t care what Wikipedia says. Whilst the label “imperialism” may only have come into vogue in the nineteenth century, more developed nations have been conquering and colonising less developed nations since before written records. What do you think Egypt, Rome, the Mayans, the Assyrians and the Babylonians were doing when they conquered and colonised other nations? What were they doing if not empire-building?

    *rolls eyes*

  157. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

    What did William the Conqueror do when he conquered Britain from his base in Normandy? What did the British do when between 10-something and 15-something they first conquered and then proceeded to gradually lose most of France?

    How can anyone seriously suggest that imperialism only started in the 19th century?

  158. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:35 pm  

    I am really fed up with people suggesting that colonialism and imperialism are recently born evils which only Western nations indulge in. That is demonstrably rubbish.

  159. Chairwoman — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:37 pm  

    Imperial Rome?

  160. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    Tahir

    I genuinely feel for you.

    Wikipedia is renowned for being dodgy at the best of times, but when the page you are referencing has the tag ‘The factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed’, you know you’re on a loser.

    But if you want to carry on playing the game of ‘quote wiki’, try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Islamic_Imperialism_in_India

    By the way, what is your obsession with Marx, Lenin et al? They were protagonists within very specific time contexts, 19th century and post-WW1 Europe, so their theories are inevitably going to contain critiques of yes, you guessed it, Europe and European imperialism.

    I can sit here and quote you reams of authors who talk of Islamic Imperialism on the sub-continent, Persia, North Africa, Spain etc etc. That’s easy.

    I fail to see what 9/11 has to do with Iraq and Afghanistan

    I went to a lecture by another fan of Marx, Tariq Ali, and he put it simply: Afghanistan was revenge (for 9/11) and Iraq was about American hegemony and oil (9/11 gave them the excuse they wanted).

    By the way, you sound like a first year undergraduate who has discovered Marx for the first time and are fascinated and enthralled by his polemic, and are acting as if we haven’t read him and don’t know about him…please spare us the Marxist reading of the world.

  161. Chairwoman — on 28th June, 2007 at 12:41 pm  

    Persian Empire? Genghis Khan? Alexander the Great?

  162. Kulvinder — on 28th June, 2007 at 1:55 pm  

    What exactly are you people arguing about?

  163. Anas — on 28th June, 2007 at 2:02 pm  

    They don’t regret these actions because we’re ALL legitimate targets, Anas. That means you too — including your family and friends — if you’re travelling on public transport or are in any of the public spaces they target.

    I wonder what the individuals commenting on this blog and going on ad nauseam about Western culpability due to foreign policy would say if they, or any of their loved ones, were casualties in an attack on (for example) Bluewater or the Central Line. Would they still say “I understand their motivations, it’s all about foreign policy. Now please call an ambulance for my unconscious mother while I try to find a way to stop the bleeding” ?

    I doubt it.

    J, I think you misunderstand me. I’m saying one could make a case that potentially the targeting of a few thousand civilians in a terrorist action could have important repercussions in terms of saving many more civilians. It’s a purely speculative utiltarian argument which isn’t contradicted by what the terrorist leaders have actually said.

    However to return to the point, I wonder what the individuals who go on and on about the beastly islamist terrorists but who are apparently blind to *our* terrorism would say if their families lived in Iraq, Afghanistan or if God forbid they were Palestinian. If their loved ones were massacred in a sectarian blood bath that was a forseeable consequence of waging an aggressive war in Iraq, or if they were murdered or starved by the Israelis would they still make such a large distinction between the two forms of terror. I’m not defending the terrorists or making excuses for them like you seem to think, I’m just pointing out that there is an inconsistency here.

    One of Bin Laden’s explicit aims is to establish a Caliphate which includes large sections of southern Spain. What the hell does Andalucia have to do with “barbaric foreign policy ” ?

    I was talking about the hijacker’s motivations, not bin Ladens. Again you’ve seen the footage of MSK and Tanveer, did they mention this Caliphate idea when justifying the attacks they were to commit?

    That’s still pure conjecture, mate.
    It was a thought exercise, that’s the point — and one in the realms of possibility.

    No Western country — at least the US and the UK (yes I remember what happened in Spain after the Madrid bombings) — is going to change its foreign policy at the point of a gun, especially if that gun is being pointed at you by people living in your own house, to draw an analogy in relation to homegrown jihadis.

    I’m not claiming it will.

    And I fail to see the rationale of trying to “understand” the terrorists’ motivations (beyond a certain point, obviously), especially what is making them so “aggrieved” and “angry”, when they have already stated outright what their aims are and what is (allegedly) driving them…So how does “understanding their anger” help us to defend ourselves against our domestic terrorists ?
    It’s not their anger so much as the anger of others in the wider community which they are exploiting. And if you want to stop recruitment that’s what you have to focus on.

    No, it depends on the specific situation. There is a difference between a sniper specifically targetting someone (which is basically what terrorists targetting British civilians are doing) and a soldier using a machine gun against armed opponents where nearby civilians get accidentally hit in the crossfire (which is what’s happening in Iraq).

    Yes, it does depend on the example. Take the situation when you indescriminately target a crowd of people to get your “opponent” knowing that you will kill everyone in that crowd even though they’re all innocent — just to get one or two people, or as the Israelis love to do you just flatten a whole tower block with all its inhabitants just to get at one “terrorist”. This is a good analogy to many of the collation forces’ actions in Iraq, etc. Where would that fit in your continuum?

    Also, thanks to the actions of insurgents in Iraq, far more civilians are being killed there by other Muslims than by American & British forces. So let’s place the primary blame where it’s due, unless you’re looking to excuse that too.

    Actually there is an important point you’re missing here, let me quote an article from Znet regarding the crime of waging a war of aggression

    It is important to understand that war crimes fall into two classes: (1) war crimes relevant to battlefield conduct; (2) waging a war of aggression. To explain what was at that time an unprecedented focus on the second kind of war crime, war of aggression, the Nuremberg Judgment included the following statement: “The charges in the indictment that the defendants planned and waged aggressive wars are charges of the utmost gravity. War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole…
    The Nuremberg Judgment states: “The question is, what was the legal effect of this pact? The nations who signed the pact or adhered to it unconditionally condemned recourse to war for the future as an instrument of policy, and expressly renounced it. After the signing of the pact, any nation resorting to war as an instrument of national policy breaks the pact. In the opinion of the Tribunal, the solemn renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy necessarily involves the proposition that such a war is illegal in international law; and that those who plan and wage such a war, with its inevitable and terrible consequences, are committing a crime in so doing.”

    The important point is that if you initiate a war of aggression you are in an important respect responsible for the consequences, as was determined at Nuremberg. The allied forces were well aware that by starting a war they would destabilise the whole country and that there was a strong possibility of bloody civil war ensuing as well as knowing about the thousands of people that would die anyway.

    As you well know, a pretty much continuous debate rages as to (a) whether or not the “civilians” who are “targeted” by Israel are in fact civilians or not, given the “freedom fighters’” habit of not wearing a uniform and cynically bedding in amongst civilians to fight their war, and
    (b) whether, where innocent civilians have died, it can really be said that Israel has targeted them, as opposed to them having been caught in the crossfire…Argh! Someone delete my comment. I do not want to derail. Cheers

    Ah! too late Katy! Please read my WHO IS SHE!?!?!? piece . I’ve summarised a lot of the findings of several human rights organisations. To quote myself:

    ‘Indeed a clear and consistent pattern is identified from the very start and throughout the war according to which Israeli forces would launch artillery and air attacks with “limited or dubious” military gains but which resulted in an “excessive civilian cost“. HRW conclude that “the extent of the pattern and the seriousness of the consequences indicate the commission of war crimes“. In fact, “[in] some cases, the timing and intensity of the attack, the absence of a military target, as well as return strikes on rescuers, suggest that Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians.”’

    OK, you’re right the attacks only “suggest” Israel targeted civilians. However I think you’re being naive here, from the start Israel admitted it was waging a terrorist campaign intended to turn the population against Hezbollah– it’s pretty clear that such a strategy would involve targeting civilians or at least committing indescriminate acts of terror that would murder many innocent people. Definitely not just “caught in the crossfire”.

    Also

    ‘Amazingly, [HRW] “found no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack”; adding that “[w]hile some individuals, out of fear or sympathy, may have been unwilling to speak about Hezbollah’s military activity, others were quite open about it”. In fact HRW did accuse Hezbollah of placing “rocket launchers within populated areas or near U.N. observers”, although strangely enough “[in] none of the cases of civilian deaths documented in [HRW’s report] is there evidence to suggest that Hezbollah forces or weapons were in or near the area that the IDF targeted during or just prior to the attack”’.

    Actually, there’s evidence that some of Hezbollah’s targeting of areas in Israel was intended for Israeli military installments rather cynically located near populated areas.

    Furthermore to quote Kate Gilmore from Amnesty:

    “Israel’s assertion that the attacks on the infrastructure were lawful is manifestly wrong. Many of the violations identified in our report are war crimes, including indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. The evidence strongly suggests that the extensive destruction of power and water plants, as well as the transport infrastructure vital for food and other humanitarian relief, was deliberate and an integral part of a military strategy.“

    Not much time for more now, but will happily debate Israel’s tactics with you anytime, Katy :)

  164. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 3:20 pm  

    M

    I quote Marx for you for the left perspective. I quote Wikipedia for the idiots guide . I quote undergraduate history for you so we can move from opinions to some historical views.

    But at least I am quoting others and not marshalleing my own views.

    Bt if all sources point to the same thing there migth be a grain of truth in it.

    If you all want me to quote historical method and a lesson on what is history I can. If you want to consider imperialism from the perspective of historical method – what you are all describing as imperialism is emire building but not imperialism. For historical method , please go and read some E.H Carr and we can get back.

    All the major schools of history will say imperialism is a modern phenomenon.

    If you want to know debunk historism this is fine – you may as well sit and say the undergraduate courses in UK universities are all wrong. But I’m not that arrogrant to assume I know better.

    Imperial Rome isn’t the same thing as imperialism.

    For picklers who are usually fairly bright you really must gtet back to basics on your history lesson.

  165. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 3:49 pm  

    Tahir,

    Look, at one point the Roman Empire was called Imperial. It might not fit with a Marxist perspective, probably doesn’t, but at least some historians thought it was the case.

    What you are asking everyone to do is accept a Marxist perspective on history, nothing wrong with that, it’s just fair that folk point out to you that there are other, non Marxist viewpoints.

    See here if you don’t believe me. It is not, for once, the ever reliable Wikipedia:

    http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/ROME/IMPROME.HTM

  166. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 3:52 pm  

    Bt if all sources point to the same thing there migth be a grain of truth in it. .

    This link gives 12 definitions of imperialism, only one of which remotely matches yours (‘The highest, and last, stage of capitalism.’). And that comes from http://www.workers.org.

    To avoid confusion, if you are using that definition outside a Marxist-Leninist context, say ‘Leninist imperialism’, and perhaps put in a footnote:

    note: this term has nothing to do with the commonly used word ‘empire’, no relation to wars, occupations or military issues. It is a theoretical construct in Marxist economics that corresponds vaguely to ‘mercantilism’ in mainstream economics.

  167. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    Anas,

    Have you read the ever wonderful Seth Freedland on CiF today?

    Now that is an interesting thread too. Nearly as good as this one.

    Here:

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/seth_freedman/2007/06/circling_the_wagons.html

  168. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 3:58 pm  

    Oops,

    Seth Freedman.

  169. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 4:10 pm  

    Not asking everyone to accept Marxist view of history – but theirs is one. I don’t even believe in it.

    Mainstream historians would argue that imperialism is a distinctly modern phenomenon, 19th century onwards.

    It ain’t Marx whose saying it.

    Ask any undegraduate or GCSE history student.

    I can’t believe that people on this blog with quite a lot of intelligence are arguing about this.

    Imperialism being a modern phenomenon is as uncontroversial as saying the in the early 20th century Europe underwent 2 world wars.

    According to the countless undergraduate history courses on sale in this country.

  170. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 4:12 pm  

    Yes Rome was at one point called imperial, and Nixon is called an imperial president in his style of politics. But this doesn’t mean the same thing as imperialism – its a popular term to desfribe a style of leadership. Not phase in historical development.

  171. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    Mainstream historians would argue that imperialism is a distinctly modern phenomenon, 19th century onwards.

    What they _actually_ say is that the _british_ empire became self-consciously imperialist at that time: it defined itself as an empire, and tried to persuade itself that was a good and glorious thing.

    That fact has nothing to do with whether earlier or later empires were imperialist according to that, or any other, definition: Rome certainly was, for example.

  172. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 4:39 pm  

    Tahir,

    Now here’s a leap. Given that Classicism was considered by many Victorians, to be the best thing to study, don’t you think that Imperial Britain might, just, have antecedents in Imperial Rome?

    Classics graduates were just the sort of folk that entered politics and the civil service.

    Rome, the model, perhaps?

  173. Anas — on 28th June, 2007 at 4:40 pm  

    Also, I know this is way way off track but doesn’t Ehud Olmert facially resemble Franklin Rooselvelt?

  174. Jai — on 28th June, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    Anas,

    I’m saying one could make a case that potentially the targeting of a few thousand civilians in a terrorist action could have important repercussions in terms of saving many more civilians.

    Let me ask you something point-blank. Would you be okay with the notion of your parents, other immediate family members, or close friends dying in a terrorist attack against British civilians right here in the UK, if you thought it could potentially save “many more civilians”, which I presume you to mean Muslim civilians in foreign countries ? Would YOU be prepared to sacrifice your own life right here on British soil, and not have a problem with being killed by jihadi terrorists in such an attack against British civilian targets ?

    Yes or No ?

    I wonder what the individuals who go on and on about the beastly islamist terrorists but who are apparently blind to *our* terrorism

    They’re not necessarily “blind” to it, they just don’t think there’s any moral equivalence between the two. It’s also question of priorities. I’m surprised that you’re not more perturbed by the fact that, like the rest of us, you’re a target for Islamist terrorists right here in the UK, and they won’t necessarily give you any advance warning to get off the train or head for the nearest exit in Bluewater before they detonate their explosives. You’re going to die just like everyone else these psychopaths would wish to kill. They won’t discreetly ask you if you’re a fellow Muslim first.

    And I certainly don’t regard the war against Afghanistan as being “terrorism”. One could flip the argument around and say that it was reckless and stupid for the Taliban to shelter Bin Laden, knowing that by doing so they and their fellow countrymen would become targets for American retribution post-9/11. They’re lucky the US didn’t just nuke the entire country. Countries like China most probably would have, as has been mentioned before.

    I’m not defending the terrorists or making excuses for them like you seem to think,

    You may not realise it, but you’re certainly doing some of their dirty work for them. I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear that there are “fellow Muslims” right here in Britain who are more than happy to repeatedly draw attention to alleged “Western terrorism” whenever the focus of the debate shifts to Islamist terrorism. They’ve got inadvertant apologists right here on British soil. How wonderful for them.

    Not that it’ll stop them trying to kill you along with everyone else in any potential attacks on British civilians, mind you. I hope you realise that.

    I’m not claiming it will.

    In which case, repeatedly claiming “foreign policy” is a motivator of homegrown jihadi terrorism is pointless. Here’s an analogy for you: Someone has a personal grievance against you. Due to their “anger” and desire for you to change your stance, they first kill your parents and your wife. They subsequently threaten to kill your children, unless you listen to their complaints and subsequently change your actions.

    How likely would you be to a) be willing to engage in any dialogue or negotiation with them, and b) change your behaviour ?

    Not much, I bet. This is the fatal flaw in Al-Qaeda’s thinking, and — more pertinently — the thinking of our homegrown jihadis, along with those who may (to a lesser or greater extent) appreciate and empathise with their motivations.

    This is a good analogy to many of the collation forces’ actions in Iraq, etc. Where would that fit in your continuum?

    You know very well that I am unequivocally opposed to the very notion of “acceptable collateral damage”.

    But your example still doesn’t justify any terrorist attacks here in Britain. An equivalent example would be attacking the Ministry of Defence or some army base in Britain, and accidentally killing many civilians in the process. The terrorists aren’t doing this — they specifically want to kill British civilians, as many as possible.

    I hope you understand this distinction.

    The important point is that if you initiate a war of aggression you are in an important respect responsible for the consequences, as was determined at Nuremberg.

    So, in that sense, Al-Qaeda and their supporters worldwide (including here in the UK) are responsible for the consequences of 9/11, knowing that it would provoke the US into revenge-motivated attacks on Muslim countries (not that you could necessarily call Iraq a strict “Muslim country” pre-invasion, of course). Correct ?

    The allied forces were well aware that by starting a war they would destabilise the whole country and that there was a strong possibility of bloody civil war ensuing as well as knowing about the thousands of people that would die anyway.

    So what you’re saying is that the allied forces should have known that, if they weren’t living in a dictatorship held together by force, large numbers of Iraqis would use this as an opportunity to tear their own country apart and kill huge numbers of their fellow Iraqis.

    If someone else hands you a loaded gun, it’s your own fault if you then decide to point it at someone and pull the trigger. The primary blame for what happens lies with you.

    I hope you realise that what you’re basically saying is that the West should have been aware that many Iraqis weren’t civilised enough to behave responsibly towards each other if the strong arm of Saddam Hussein was removed.

    Again, none of which justifies homegrown jihadi attacks here in Britain. And since Iraq is currently striken with sectarian violence, perhaps the ire of our friendly neighbourhood jihadis would be better directed towards the Shia/Sunni militants (delete as applicable) on “the opposing side” who are fighting for control of Iraq and killing so many ordinary Iraqis in the process, rather than the Western governments (and especially their civilian populations) who have inadvertantly opened the door for the violent forces over there.

  175. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 5:13 pm  

    this article makes the point concisely.

    Here’s another interesting one, from 1913:

    The policy by which a people or an autocrat acquires and maintains an empire, we
    call imperialism. The term is, of course, a legacy from Rome — a mute witness to
    the peculiar importance of the Roman empire in the history of state-building. And,
    I suppose, it is the policy of Rome that we think of most instinctively when we allude
    to imperialism. This is by no means an accident. For not simply the type, but also
    many of the most noteworthy varieties of this kind of policy, are found in the
    experience of the Romans; and the course of political progress has been such that in
    the triumph of Rome imperialism reached its logical issue more closely than either
    before or since in the history of the world.

    another one
    Mason Hammond (1903-2002) in “Ancient Imperialism: Contemporary Justifications,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Vol. 58. (1948), pp. 105-16 discusses the motives for ancient expansion/imperialism.

    About the Persians, Hammond says that their imperialistic urge was based on the Zoroastrian duty of good men to unite against evil. The Athenian urge to empire was created by a realization of the economic possibilities. Isocrates, who sought to free the cities of Asia Minor from Persia, Hammond describes as seeking to unite all Greeks in imperialistic war against the inferior/barbarian non-Greeks. This policy was approximated by Alexander the Great.
    Rome’s imperialism seems less simplistic. The idealistic Gracchi and their successors wanted to expand so the revenue from the provinces could support the people, and generals wanted the military glory.

  176. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 5:18 pm  

    Tahir

    It is quite hilarious to watch you attempt to clamour furiously out of the deep, lice infested, grave you have dug for yourself.

    You mentioned earlier that you were posting from the third-world; NWFP Madrassa by any chance?

    Not asking everyone to accept Marxist view of history – but theirs is one. I don’t even believe in it.

    You go on a Marxist tirade and, when it’s pointed out to you that Marx was a product of his time and place, you then try to disassociate yourself with his theory of imperialism. Why bring him up in the first place then?

    And in any case, you join an illustrious list of fools that have, at one time or another, misread Marx; when Marx spoke of imperialism being the highest form of capitalism and Socialism being the answer, he was talking of economic circumstances that have never been achieved yet.

    But that doesn’t matter, because, having realised the folly and stupidity of your argument, you have quickly disowned Marx as your ideologue.

    But at least I am quoting others and not marshalleing my own views.

    Tahir, instead of regurgitating the viewpoint of a 19th century megalomaniac, why not use your own brain and ‘marshal’ your own views? After, that is what your brain is for. Think for yourself.

    You are a tragic product of a modernist construct and exhibit a mindset that cannot comprehend the world in which we live. You are a tragedy waiting to happen.

  177. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 5:38 pm  

    Tahir, I think you better tell Amazon to stop stocking this book, as this author seems to have got it tragically wrong: http://www.amazon.com/Islamic-Imperialism-History-Efraim-Karsh/dp/0300106033

    Also, better tell those jokers at Yale too: http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=0300106033

    Oh look, here’s some more Islamic Imperialism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Islamic_Imperialism_in_India

    There is no need to scour through your copy of the Communist Manifesto or Das Kapital to find an explanation. It’s all very simple.

  178. Katy Newton — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:05 pm  

    Not much time for more now, but will happily debate Israel’s tactics with you anytime, Katy :)

    No way dude! I will save this thread :-D

  179. Kulvinder — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:07 pm  

    It is quite hilarious to watch you attempt to clamour furiously out of the deep, lice infested, grave you have dug for yourself.

    Irony.

  180. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:10 pm  

    I don’t start labelling you so don’t assume I am Marxist. My point was not to discredit Marxist arguments. It was not to claim I am a Marxist.

    I think you better take a quick course at SOAS in the history dept.

    I am working in a developing couuntry, not the Third World.

    My point was to stick to historical method – not to point to Islamic or Chrsitian imperialism. Can we elevate the discussion above your pet hate , Islam?

    I better try and use my brain and undoe my PhD in history or something . Studying, if you recall, especially in history is not to marshall your own opinions, but to marshall evidence. Students would fail if they used their brains to come up with random opinions.

    That’s what I thought the British university system does and students use tools, theoretical models, and facts, not assert opinions and label people on account of disagreements. Opinion and assertion isn’t what the British university system trains you for – the reason for this is to stop getting people carried away iwth ideology and opinions.

    The reason why I cite a wide range of sources from Wiki to Marx isn’t because I’m subscribed members of either but because someone once said – there’s lots of version of truth , all we can manage is hear as wide range and get closer to the reality/view we are seeking. That isn’t a Marxist dogma, it was John Stuart Mill.

    Unfortunately I didn’t read Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto – they would be considered primary sources in historical method , needing interpretation, so I wouldn’t accept it as dogma for how to understand the world.

  181. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

    Douglas

    I haven’t read the bio of Cecil Rhodes, the arch imperialist in the British administration but he might’ve studied Latin as all learned folks at Oxbridge do.

  182. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:19 pm  

    The other distinct feature of imperialism was eugenics and ‘race’ as a construct which didn’t exist prior to this time period. People from different parts of the world were treated as slaves or landed aristocrats and what have you but the concept of ‘race’ came full parcel with the development of imperialism in the 19th century.

  183. douglas clark — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:29 pm  

    Tahir,

    Re post 182.

    You did a PhD in history?

  184. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:33 pm  

    Studying, if you recall, especially in history is not to marshall your own opinions, but to marshall evidence

    The reason why I cite a wide range of sources from Wiki to Marx

    The point is, none of your sources, other than those directly derived from Lenin, come close to supporting your point that the Roman empire was not imperialist. For that argument, you have no evidence.

    Of all definitions of the word, the only one that doesn’t fit Rome is the orthodox Marxist-Leninist one (note: not plain old Marxist, as Marx was more or less in favour of Empire): ‘military expansion driven by devloped marketised financial interests’.

    If you really think your lecturers would have claimed that Rome wasn’t imperialist in any other sense of the word, you are misremembering what they said.

  185. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:33 pm  

    Aparently so and maybe these days they give PhDs in history away like marbles.

  186. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:45 pm  

    Tahir

    My point was to stick to historical method

    Yet all you did was to quote Marx, refer to Lenin, and then disown them when told that they wouldn’t have harped on about Islamic Imperialism, Roman Imperialism etc because they were concerned with Europe. You are laughable.

    If you consider Wikipedia and vague references to Marxist determinism as ‘historical method’ then I seriously suggest you widen your reading on how to study history. Begin at Key Stage 3 and take it from there.

    Can we elevate the discussion above your pet hate , Islam?

    Sure, as soon as you admit that you were wrong in saying that ‘Imperialism was a 19th century European thing’. Until then, I will constantly refer to Islamic Imperialism as evidence that Imperialism existed prior to European Imperialism.

    undoe my PhD in history

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read all year. Keep it coming. Where did you buy it from? Was it a buy one get one free deal on getafakePhd.com? You crack me up.

    especially in history is not to marshall your own opinions, but to marshall evidence

    This just shows that you have no clue. The study of history itself, as a western academic pursuit, was a by-product of European imperialism and, if you read Said, ‘evidence’ was neither here nor there. This continues to this day; history is subjective.

    So where does this leave us?

    It leaves me about to go and watch England get hammered by the Windies in a 20-20 match, and leaves you shame faced. Again.

  187. Jai — on 28th June, 2007 at 6:57 pm  

    Until then, I will constantly refer to Islamic Imperialism as evidence that Imperialism existed prior to European Imperialism.

    Correct. “Mughal Shahenshah” translated into English means “Mughal Emperor”, from the Persian term for “King of Kings”.

    A “King of Kings” is an Emperor. Emperor = Empire = Imperial.

    Not so difficult to understand.

  188. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 7:06 pm  

    Not so difficult to understand.

    Especially if you have a PhD in History, and I’m assuming a BA (Hons) and MA to boot.

    I thought doing a PhD would require robust research, erudite enquiry and rigorous thought. However, Tahir seems to be living proof that they hand PhDs out to any Abdul Bloggs these days.

    Unless of course he just made all that up to make himself sound hard.

    Sad.

    Anyway, how you doing Jai? Hope all is well.

  189. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 8:29 pm  

    M

    I wouldn’t dream of sounding hard – you beat everyone fair and square on that point.

    History itself is subjective but to study it you have to marshall evidence and present ‘objective’ evidence, not assert opinions. You’d fail on the BA if you don’t do this. Said is right to say history is sibjective , indeed most post-structuralist theorists would argue all knowledge is subjective and reflects bias in society and hegemonic values of the day. But to pass a degree in this discipline you gotta present and marshall evidence to support a lne of argument, not assert.

    In blogs it’s easier to stick to lay terms hence wikipedia but if we want to obscure and lay claims to evidence from the likes of E/H Carr on historical method, or Eric Habsbaum on history of modern thought we’d bore the hell out of eveyone – in case this hasn’t happended already.

    The reason why used Lenin etc on imperialism is because well the man did say a lot about it.

    Still not convinced that imperialism isnt a distinct 19th century, mostly associated with British and French adventures. But that’s what they’re teaching in British universities.

    I do have a BA, true, didn’t buy the PhD but was given an honorary MA so maybe that’s the fake bit. Money can buy PhD if you have the money – sadly I had to get scholarship – tuition fees are three times as you home students for us so no can buy.

  190. Muzumdar — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:03 pm  

    Tahir

    Still not convinced that imperialism isnt a distinct 19th century, mostly associated with British and French adventures. But that’s what they’re teaching in British universities.

    Efraim Karsh is Professor and Head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King’s College, University of London. He wrote a book called:

    ‘Islamic Imperialism : A History’

    Check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Islamic-Imperialism-History-Efraim-Karsh/dp/0300106033

    Knowing academics like I do, I can guarantee you that this is required reading for the modules that he teaches.

    So your baseless assertion is blown out of the window. Again.

    Just accept defeat and give up, you’re just embarrassing yourself and destroying any credibility you may have had.

    Or, better still, carry on posting and let your humiliation continue.

  191. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:10 pm  

    Let’s agree to disagree then.

    I’m not disputing that there aren;t books popularly titled Islamic imperialsim or Roman imperialism. I am saying imperalism as a phase in history was distinct to a specific time and place.

    Like colonialism as a phenomenon can be traced back to a specific time and age . It doesn’t mean we need to discuss French colonialism but simple the phenomenon that is colonialism.

  192. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:18 pm  

    But that’s what they’re teaching in British universities.

    Do you have the remotest shred of evidence to back up that claim?

    15 minutes with google finds:

    University of Edinburgh:
    Roman Imperialism
    The course aims to be an in-depth analysis of a major aspect of Roman history, namely that of Rome’s drive for empire.

    Warwick
    Optional Modules for Second and Third Years … Democracy and Imperialism in Classical Greece

    Exeter:
    Example of how to do a citation –
    A. North, ‘The development of Roman imperialism’, JRS 71 (1981), 1-9.

    Nottingham
    A selection of modules taught recently includes: … War and Imperialism in the Roman Republic

    Liverpool:
    Not all of the following list of modules will run in any given year. … Imperial Athens … Roman imperialism

    Leicester:
    The coherence of the degree comes through themes that transcend the ages (eg: democracy, slavery, imperialism, ethnicity)

    Swansea:
    The special interests of staff are in: … Imperialism in Egypt and the Near East

    And finally, SOAS #1:
    Significant shifts in the coherence of that world will be treated in relation to the
    continued importance of Buddhism within later Inner Asian conceptions of empire, particularly Manchu
    imperialism

    SOAS #2:
    How did ancient Jews cope with Greek and Roman imperialism?

    Is there some point where you are going to admit you are wrong?

  193. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:32 pm  

    If we can stick to the theories of imperalism as opposed to imperial histories of Spain or Egypt we might get somewhere.

    We’re looking at the episteomology of imperialism as a theory.

    Here is something I googled up .

    Theories of Imperialism

    Conservative Theories
    Examples: Disraeli, Rhodes, Kipling
    Imperialism is necessary to preserve the existing social order in the more developed countries. It is necessary to secure trade, markets, to maintain employment and capital exports, and to channel the energies and social conflicts of the metropolitan populations into foreign countries. There is a very strong ideological and racial assumption of Western superiority within this body of thought.

    Liberal Theories
    Examples: Hobson, Angell
    Imperialism is a policy choice, not an inevitable consequence of capitalism. Increasing concentration of wealth within the richer countries leads to underconsumption for the mass of people. Overseas expansion is a way to reduce costs (and thereby increase or maintain profit levels) and to secure new consumption. Overseas expansion is not inevitable, however. A state can solve the problem of underconsumption by increasing the income levels of the majority of the population either through legislation concerning wage levels (minimum wage laws, legalization of unions, child labor laws) or through income transfers (unemployment compensation, welfare).

    Marxist Theories
    Example: Lenin
    Imperialism also arises because increased concentration of wealth leads to undeconsumption. However, since the state represents the capitalist interest it is not possible to reduce underconsumption effectively through liberal strategies. Both strategies involve taking away money from the bourgeoisie and Marx and Lenin did not view this strategy as possible. Ultimately, according to Lenin, the world would be completely divided up and the rich countries would then fight over the redivision of the world. This analysis served as his explanation for World War I.

    Political Theories
    Examples: Morgenthau, Cohen
    Imperialism is simply a manifestation of the balance of power and is the process by which nations try to achieve a favorable change in the status quo. The purpose of imperialism is to decrease the strategic and political vulnerability of a nation.

    Social-Psychological Theories
    Example: Schumpeter
    Imperialism is objectless expansion, a pattern simply learned from the behavior of other nations and institutionalized into the domestic political processes of a state by a “warrior” class. This warrior class is created because of the need for defense, but, over time, the class will manufacture reasons to perpetuate its existence, usually through manipulation of crises.

    Recommended Readings:

    John Hobson, Imperialism, 1902

    Vladimir Illyich Lenin (1870-1924), Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1916

    Joseph A. Schumpeter, The Sociology of Imperialism, 1918

    British Imperialistic Anthems, Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory, and more

    George Orwell, “Shooting an Elephant”

    So let’s agree to disagree.

  194. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 9:44 pm  

    Here is what a typical MA in Imperialism will cover. Not the emphasis on imperialism as expertise, not an academic’s attempt to write a history of Ottomans or the Spanish Empire mis-leadingly titled Imperial Spain….

    Theories of Imperialism (30 credits) Professor Peter Cain

    This module will explore some of the major attempts to understand the relationship between capitalism and imperialism. Beginning with a look at the debate between radicals and imperialists in Britain in the 1870s it then moves on to consider J. A. Hobson’s pioneering work on financial imperialism, the ‘classical’ Marxist theories of imperialism of Hilferding and Lenin, and their chief contemporary critic, J. A. Schumpeter.

    In the second part of the module, some major post-1945 developments will be examined and, in particular, there will be some consideration of the work of Robinson and Gallagher on ‘free trade imperialism’ and of Cain and Hopkins’ concept of ‘gentlemanly capitalism.

  195. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:03 pm  

    So let’s agree to disagree.

    No, lets agree you are wrong, it will save time.

    Art historians commonly refer to Picasso’s ‘Blue period’. They will have conflicting ideas and arguments for exectly what and why he was doing then, which they can discuss at great legth. Once it is clear they are talking solely about Picasso, they would say ‘blue period’, not ‘Picasso’s blue period’.

    That doesn’t mean that nothing in the world that isn’t a painting produced by Picasso between 1901 and 1904 can be labelled ‘blue’.

    Similarly, when looking at western, european or just british history, there is a period Hobsbawm called the Age of Empires, when imperialism was one of the main themes of politics, war and even art. Historians talking about that period will call it the imperial period, use the word ‘imperialism’ for specific military, political and artistic developments of that time.

    But that word used in that way should be read as short for western, european or british imperialism, not as evidence that non 19C british things can’t be imperialistic.

    It’s a more complicated question than Muzumdar makes out whether the Arab, Mughal and Ottoman empires can be said to be explicitly imperialistic. But really, there isn’t the slightest doubt amongst any historian or political scientist I have ever heard of that the Roman empire was an example of imperialism.

  196. Sunny — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:28 pm  

    Muzumdar, I thought you were going to spare us with your patronising tone and go away?

    Tahir – could you define imperialism for me (apologies if you have already) and then maybe point out how ‘modern Imperialism’ is different to wars and conquests in the past.

    I’m sorry mate but the I find the idea that imperialism is a recent phenomena also a joke. It’s what happens to people who spend too much time reading MArx and not enough time reading wider worldwide history.

  197. soru — on 28th June, 2007 at 10:33 pm  

    Actually, reading Lenin would be enough:

    Colonial policy and imperialism existed before this latest stage of capitalism, and even before capitalism. Rome, founded on slavery, pursued a colonial policy and practiced imperialism.

  198. Tahir — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:33 pm  

    Sunny

    In lay terms:

    The policy of extending a nation’s authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations.

    Soru – it’s not difficult to agree to disagree, but can take your point at least and others , that there are DIFFERENT views of when imperialism started. That’s the fascinating thing about history – we disgree about motives, causes etc. That’s why historians have different views on what caused WW2 or the US civil war. There are different answers.

    One view, and this is one shared by history disciplines in the UK, and perhaps reflects a British world view. So one view is that the high tide of imperialism started in the middle of the 19th century, got mixed up with eugenics and race, and ended up with the scramble for territory in Africa and Asia.

    Sunny

    Note that the dictionary definition refers to nations and actions of nation-states. Nation states, too , are a relatively new phenomenon and imperialism is usually attributed to expansion of nation-states in the 19th century onwards. The Enlightenment itself had a big impact in shaping this imperialism – and the key texts on imperialism in any undergraduate course are these:

    You will see that most of the primary and secondary sources in most courses in this country refer to the 19th century. This is because these authors relate imperialism as a particular stage in the development of nationalism. The Roman Empire isn’t built on the premise of nationalism – it was a civilisation. You can trace the trends towards imperialism in key enlightenment texts by Kant, Condorset, Smith, Voltaire and so on – all of whom trace a relationship between modern nationalism and imperialism.

    Recommended Readings
    Imperialism, primary sources:

    Imperialism—Internet Modern History Sourcebook. There are a lot of great links here. I recommend looking in particular at the political and economic explanations for the ‘new’ imperialism, in particular the links to excerpts from J.A. Hobson’s Imperialism (1902), Lenin’s “Imperialism: The Highest Stage in Capitalism” (1916), and Joseph Schumpeter, The Sociology of Imperialism (1918). There are also excellent links on this page to imperialism in specific contexts (notably India, the Middle East, China, and Africa), as well as on United States and Japanese imperialism. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook34.html.

    Imperialism, secondary sources:

    Basset, Thomas. “Cartography and Empire-Building in Nineteenth-Century West Africa,” Geographical Review, Vol. 84, 3 (July 1994): 316-35. On-line through J-STOR at http://uk.jstor.org/

    Darwin, John. “Imperialism and the Victorians: The Dynamics of Territorial Expansion,” The English Historical Review, Vol. 112, no. 447 (June 1997): 614- 42. On-line through J-STOR at http://www.jstor.org/

    Headrick, Daniel R. “The Tools of Imperialism: Technology and the Expansion of European Colonial Empires in the Nineteenth century,” The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 51 No. 2, Technology and War (June 1979), pp. 231-63. On-line through J-STOR at http://uk.jstor.org/

    McGowan, Patrick J. and Bhodan Kordan. “Imperialism in World-System Perspective: Britain 1870-1914,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 25, 1 (March 1981): 43-68. On-line through J-STOR at http://uk.jstor.org/

    Suggested Reading Response Topics:

    * What, exactly, is ‘imperialism’, and what is its relationship to ‘colonialism’? What were some of the key factors that led to the expansion of Europe’s empires during the nineteenth century?
    * The burst of imperialist expansion undertaken by European nation-states in the late nineteenth century (by both older and newer imperial powers) has been referred to as the ‘new’ imperialism. What, according to Hobson, Lenin and Schumpeter, were the particular political, economic and political factors underlying the ‘new’ imperialism?
    * What, according to the sources you have read, is nationalism? Is it an older or a distinctly modern phenomenon? Why did it become a mass phenomenon in the nineteenth century?
    * What was the relationship between nationalism and the ‘new’ imperialism?

    On the point of Marxist – text , phew, for someone whose never read a word of Marx, I am finding myself credited with an awful lot of interest in Marxism. It’s odd – you can’t accuse someone of being an ardent Marxist perspective because they cite as as one relevant perspective on imperialism – I’ve recounted several others, but no-one is accusing me of being an arch liberal either.

  199. Kulvinder — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:42 pm  

    It’s what happens to people who spend too much time reading MArx and not enough time reading wider worldwide history.

    Or what happens when people don’t read Marx, or Lenin, and selectively quote

    Colonial policy and imperialism existed before this latest stage of capitalism, and even before capitalism. Rome, founded on slavery, pursued a colonial policy and practiced imperialism.

    Oh look. It’d probably be helpful if you gave the entire paragraph

    ‘Colonial policy and imperialism existed before this latest stage of capitalism, and even before capitalism. Rome, founded on slavery, pursued a colonial policy and practiced imperialism. But “general” disquisitions on imperialism, which ignore, or put into the background, the fundamental difference between social-economic systems, inevitably degenerate into the most vapid banality or bragging, like the comparison: “Greater Rome and Greater Britain.”* [C. P. Lucas, Greater Rome and Greater Britain, Oxford, 1912 or the Earl of Cromer's Ancient and Modern Imperialism, London, 1910.] Even the capitalist colonial policy of previous stages of capitalism is essentially different from the colonial policy of finance capital.’

    He wasn’t glossing over the fact imperialism existed before his time. The point he was making was it was trivial to say that; the difference he was pointing out was the nature of capitalism and finance. The next paragraph…

    ‘The principal feature of the latest stage of capitalism is the domination of monopolist combines of the big capitalists. These monopolies are most firmly established when all the sources of raw materials are captured by one group, and we have seen with what zeal the international capitalist combines exert every effort to make it impossible for their rivals to compete with them by buying up, for example, iron ore fields, oil fields, etc. Colonial possession alone gives the monopolies complete guarantee against all contingencies in the struggle with competitors, including the contingency that the latter will defend themselves by means of a law establishing a state monopoly. The more capitalism is developed, the more strongly the shortage of raw materials is felt, the more intense the competition and the hunt for sources of raw materials throughout the whole world, the more desperate is the struggle for the acquisition of colonies.’

    I honestly don’t know what you people are arguing over. As lenin himself said it is banal to say there has always been imperialism, but that doesn’t mean all imperialsm is the same. There has been democracy since the time of the ancient greeks; that doesn’t mean we practise the same type of democracy.

  200. Kulvinder — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:47 pm  

    nb i could show my big e-dick by giving everyone a long list of books they won’t read. But i won’t.

  201. Kulvinder — on 28th June, 2007 at 11:53 pm  

    Oh going back to the original post, i like Shiv Malik’s article, but i disagree that the problem is ‘depressingly intractable’ if anything the localised social and family conflicts that essentially ostracized these men isn’t something thats easily ‘spreadable’ to other individuals.

    Those who are outcasts from society may well be attracted by the ‘brand’ of al-queda, but i don’t think that ‘brand’ ideologically attracts people in the same way movements have in the past.

  202. Sunny — on 29th June, 2007 at 12:17 am  

    Those who are outcasts from society may well be attracted by the ‘brand’ of al-queda, but i don’t think that ‘brand’ ideologically attracts people in the same way movements have in the past.

    Thank god the discussion has moved back on topic. Tahir, I think Kulvinder has made his point in 202, lets move on.

    Kulvinder can you elaborate further on the above?

  203. Tahir — on 29th June, 2007 at 12:40 am  

    Kulvinder

    Point taken. Hope long e-list didn’t offend, wasn’t trying to show off, I haven’t read a single text on it, but merely pointing out there are a hell of a lot of books that locate imperialism in a particular time context.

    I don’t know what we’re arguing over but was impressed with the level of passion people show against marxism in a blog that is apparently progressive on politics. I
    d hate to be a Marxist on this blog or in the UK.

  204. douglas clark — on 29th June, 2007 at 1:41 am  

    I think I agree with Kulvinder. But in an odd sort of a way. The whole idea that you should respect your parents wishes, or feel conflicted about it, seems to me to be an entirely, how can I put this, old fashioned idea. If MSK had had the bottle to stand up to parental constraints, perhaps he’d still be happily playing cricket on the village green. And his wain would be watching him from a buggy.

    Perhaps that is a reasonable definition of what ‘Britishness’ actually is.

    Think Philip Larkin and you won’t go far wrong.

    Maybe.

  205. Kulvinder — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:17 am  

    Kulvinder can you elaborate further on the above?

    Its fustrating because as far as im aware theres no ‘words’ that describe the point im trying to make, so you’ll have to empathise with what im saying.

    Since its already been mentioned, think of the Communist movement in the late 19th century as being on one end of a ‘revolution’ scale. It has a tremendous philosophical foundation, theres a lot of intellectual input into what is wrong with society and how that should be put right. Theres a concerted attempt to really understand what the ‘issues’ are for a wide variety of people, and thats largely why its possible to ‘sell’ this idea to so many working class people. It’s a political movement not a gang.

    On the other end of the scale you’d have people like AQ or even the 80s Khalistan movement. There isn’t any real attempt to make a coherent foundation of what you’re trying to achieve. Its more like a gang than a political movement. AQ isn’t being progressive and holding up an idea of a better future for its supporters, its more about the fight. It’s supporters aren’t trying to help those around them, rather they’re killing those innocent people because they’re alienated from them.

    A gang isn’t the same thing as a political party. Theres no strategic thought to what they’re doing its about friendship, and reacting together against the outside world.

    I don’t believe theres a vast AQ network around the world, instead i think OBL and AQ are a ‘brand’ that people who are alienated latch onto. I’m not saying that if only we hugged MSK more he’d be different – his alienation was a complex mixture of generation gap/identity crisis etc, but neither am i worried that hes the first of thousands.

    I disagree with Shiv Malik that the problem is intractable for the same reason i disagree that street gangs are suddenly going to take over britain. The motivation that drives them in that direction isn’t sustainable and can be countered.

  206. soru — on 29th June, 2007 at 11:16 am  

    I’d hate to be a Marxist on this blog or in the UK.

    Actually, I think it’s pretty much a distinctive cultural feature of the UK that there is a Marxist tradition independent of Leninism. It’s the Lenin I was objecting to, not the Marx: I note your list of theories of imperialism didn’t have anything about fascist theories. You didn’t give Mein Kampf as a explanatory text. Some people lie and distort just too much to be useful in providing even one historical perspective amongst several.

    That missing theory of imperialism is relevant to what Kulvinder says: 1930s Germany very much was a country taken over by street gangs, and one that then went on to apply street-gang thinking to international relations [epeen ref].

    There are political situations in which a erudite history professor will shame and humiliate an inarticulate skinhead.

    And there are political situations in which the same skinhead will drag the professor out of the lecture theatre, kick him to death, and ensure his replacement is someone who writes epic poems praising the nobility and purity of physical violence.

    It’s kind of important to recognise which situation is which, rather than assume the first is inevitable.

  207. Anas — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:02 pm  

    Let me ask you something point-blank. Would you be okay with the notion of your parents, other immediate family members, or close friends dying in a terrorist attack against British civilians right here in the UK, if you thought it could potentially save “many more civilians”, which I presume you to mean Muslim civilians in foreign countries ? Would YOU be prepared to sacrifice your own life right here on British soil, and not have a problem with being killed by jihadi terrorists in such an attack against British civilian targets ?
    Yes or No ?

    Point blank, No. But I never claimed I would be OK with it, so I don’t understand your point.

    They’re not necessarily “blind” to it, they just don’t think there’s any moral equivalence between the two. It’s also question of priorities. I’m surprised that you’re not more perturbed by the fact that, like the rest of us, you’re a target for Islamist terrorists right here in the UK, and they won’t necessarily give you any advance warning to get off the train or head for the nearest exit in Bluewater before they detonate their explosives. You’re going to die just like everyone else these psychopaths would wish to kill. They won’t discreetly ask you if you’re a fellow Muslim first.

    See, that’s what bothers me, you’re saying there’s *no* moral equivalence between the two. I would say that there is equivalence between the two in many important respects. Both parties (Bush/Blair and bin Laden) pursue actions with flagrant disregard for the cost in human lives — and in fact are willing to sacrifice many thousands of lives — both are crooks and terrorists and are willing to use terror to achieve their aims. Also, our own personal priorities shouldn’t blind us to the situations of others across the world — that kind of thinking is what gets us into trouble in the first place.
    Actually I was reading a recent piece by Chomsky earlier, I think it does a good job of summarising our actions towards Iraq, now tell me if many of these do or do not qualify as terrorist:

    The United States and Britain have been torturing the population of Iraq for a long time. In recent history, both governments strongly supported Saddam Hussein’s terrorist regime through the period of his worst crimes, and long after the end of the war with Iran. Iran finally capitulated, recognizing that it could not fight the United States, which was, by then, openly participating in Saddam’s aggression…After the Iran-Iraq war, Washington and London continued to provide military equipment to their friend Saddam, including means to develop weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. Iraqi nuclear engineers were even being brought to t! he United States for instruction in developing nuclear weapons in 1989, long after Saddam’s worst atrocities and Iran’s capitulation.

    Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, the United States and the United Kingdom returned to their support for Saddam when they effectively authorized him to use heavy military equipment to suppress a Shi’ite uprising that might well have overthrown the tyrant. The reasons were publicly explained. The New York Times reported that there was a “strikingly unanimous view” among the United States and its allies, Britain and Saudi Arabia, that “whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country’s stability than did those who have suffered his repression”; the term “stability” is a code word for “following orders.” New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent Thomas Friedman explained that “the best of all worlds” for Washington would be an “iron-fisted military junta” ruling Iraq just the way Saddam did. But lacking that option, Washington had to settle for second-best: Saddam himself. An unthinkable option—then and now—is that ! Iraqis should rule Iraq independently of the United States.

    Then followed the murderous sanctions regime imposed by the United States and Britain, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, devastated Iraqi civilian society, strengthened the tyrant, and forced the population to rely on him for survival. The sanctions probably saved Saddam from the fate of other vicious tyrants, some quite comparable to him, who were overthrown from within despite strong support from the United States and United Kingdom to the end of their bloody rule: Ceausescu, Suharto, and quite a rogues gallery of others, to which new names are being added regularly. Again, all of this is boring ancient history for those who hold the clubs, but not for their victims, or for people who prefer to understand the world. All of those actions, and much more, call for reparations, on a massive scale, and the responsibility extends to others as well. But the deep moral-intellectual crisis of imperial culture prevents any thought of such topics as these.

    And I certainly don’t regard the war against Afghanistan as being “terrorism”. One could flip the argument around and say that it was reckless and stupid for the Taliban to shelter Bin Laden, knowing that by doing so they and their fellow countrymen would become targets for American retribution post-9/11. They’re lucky the US didn’t just nuke the entire country. Countries like China most probably would have, as has been mentioned before.

    They’re lucky the US didn’t nuke the entire country? WTF???!!? These are human beings here, these Afghanis. When you invade a country you need a pretty strong mandate to do it because you’re going to invariably kill a lot of innocent people and be pretty sure you’ll achieve your aims. Has the US caught bin Laden? Are the taliban vanquished for good?

    I’m sure they’d be thrilled to hear that there are “fellow Muslims” right here in Britain who are more than happy to repeatedly draw attention to alleged “Western terrorism” whenever the focus of the debate shifts to Islamist terrorism. They’ve got inadvertant apologists right here on British soil. How wonderful for them.

    Bullshit. Now I’m an apologist? You are fundamentally misunderstanding me — the point is I’m an apologist for neither side, you seem to be an apologist tho for Western terrorism. You have to understand that the focus of debate is always on “Islamist terrorism” that’s the whole point of my contributions. However it’s clear that you don’t think the West is responsible for terrorism at all, in which case I kind of understand your incredulity.

    In which case, repeatedly claiming “foreign policy” is a motivator of homegrown jihadi terrorism is pointless.

    I should have made it clear that *I* personally don’t think it will, but that others may well believe that it will at least raise awareness, didn’t that come through on the last messages of MSK and Tanveer?
    You know very well that I am unequivocally opposed to the very notion of “acceptable collateral damage”.

    I don’t know that at all. The point is when you’re in a situation where you’re well aware your actions will lead to enormous numbers of deaths and you don’t care or you think it’s worth it ultimately, you are responsible for those deaths. When the deaths are mostly of impoverished brown people with funny accents and weird customs, they’re eminently acceptable, so you can take actions which you otherwise could not and in many cases these actions also happen to strike terror into these populations thereby helping you achieve other aims. In fact you can take actions that in other contexts, would rank as massacres and then just shrug them off as “collateral damage”.

    But your example still doesn’t justify any terrorist attacks here in Britain.

    Why do I bother? When did I say any terrorist attacks were justified?

    So, in that sense, Al-Qaeda and their supporters worldwide (including here in the UK) are responsible for the consequences of 9/11, knowing that it would provoke the US into revenge-motivated attacks on Muslim countries (not that you could necessarily call Iraq a strict “Muslim country” pre-invasion, of course). Correct ?

    *sigh* a) your question assumes I am somehow defending al-Qaeda; b) al-Qaeda hasn’t signed up to any treaties under international law as far as I’m aware. I fucking detest al-Qaeda, they’re a bunch of murderers, I have zero sympathy with them. please drill this into your head.

    So what you’re saying is that the allied forces should have known that, if they weren’t living in a dictatorship held together by force, large numbers of Iraqis would use this as an opportunity to tear their own country apart and kill huge numbers of their fellow Iraqis.
    If someone else hands you a loaded gun, it’s your own fault if you then decide to point it at someone and pull the trigger. The primary blame for what happens lies with you.
    I hope you realise that what you’re basically saying is that the West should have been aware that many Iraqis weren’t civilised enough to behave responsibly towards each other if the strong arm of Saddam Hussein was removed.

    Firstly, there’s no correlation between being civilised and being willing to participate in bloody warfare and massacre your own citizens. I think World War 2 initiated by a country that was to all extents one of the most civilised (at least by Western standards) in the world proved that, this country was also responsible for the holocaust — the area that is now encompassed by Iraq was of course one of the first civilised regions in the world. Secondly, yes, Iraq was an artificial colonial construct in the first place so potentially the possibility of civil war erupting if the country was forcibly invaded — not just if Saddam was toppled, he could have been toppled from within — was substantial. Thirdly, as the invading forces the coaliition have ultimate responsibilty for the safety of the citizens, if they knew that elements in the country would exploit the chaos and a situation in which the country was being blown apart by invaders to target innocent people in large numbers, then again they must share a significant part of the blame for that. You don’t just release a rabid dog into a schoolyard and then claim the consequences are nothing to do with you. Fourthly, it’s not just me saying it, it’s an important cornerstone of international law, albeit one ignored by the US and the UK.

    Again, none of which justifies homegrown jihadi attacks here in Britain

    I WOULD NEVER CLAIM FUCKING OTHERWISE.,

    And since Iraq is currently striken with sectarian violence, perhaps the ire of our friendly neighbourhood jihadis would be better directed towards the Shia/Sunni militants (delete as applicable) on “the opposing side” who are fighting for control of Iraq

    Control of Iraq from who? Iraq is currently occupied if you hadn’t noticed, Jai. I agree the sectarian conflict is savage and that we shouldn’t idealise any of the participants. I certainly don’t.

    rather than the Western governments (and especially their civilian populations) who have inadvertantly opened the door for the violent forces over there.

    Inadvertently opened the door? That’s a joke. They fucking invaded the country, mate, killing thousands in the process. Also many of the coallitions actions involve indescriminate acts of murder that result in many lost lives, so it’s not just the terrorists. Ultimately tho, as the invaders, the coallition forces are responsible for the safety of the people of Iraq. If they couldn’t guarantee that to any extent then they should never have invaded.

  208. Anas — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:03 pm  

    Phew what a long post.

  209. Anas — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:04 pm  

    And I didn’t mention Israel once.

  210. Jagdeep — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:14 pm  

    Anas, where were you last night, around 2am, anywhere near Piccadily Circus? :-)

  211. Jai — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:34 pm  

    Mazumdar,

    Anyway, how you doing Jai? Hope all is well.

    I’m fine, thank you; just enjoying your usual sardonic style of writing ;)

    Keep going.

    *********************

    Sunny,

    Muzumdar, I thought you were going to spare us with your patronising tone and go away?

    With all due respect — considering this is of course your blog — I think we should allow him to keep posting here. I obviously disagree wildly with some of his thoughts on Khalistan, but apart from that I think he does make a good contribution to the discussions on this blog. And his humorous, badmaash, typically-Punjabi manner of banter always makes very entertaining reading too.

  212. Sunny — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:37 pm  

    I should have made it clear that *I* personally don’t think it will, but that others may well believe that it will at least raise awareness, didn’t that come through on the last messages of MSK and Tanveer?

    This is an interesting point Anas, and it clarifies a bit more for me. By the way, I have some sympathy for most of your points. I think people who deny any moral equivalence are deluding themselves.

    But my point is this. MSK and Tanweer may see their actions as reprisal for Iraq. Are you saying that you don’t necessarily accept that as the main reason but are saying that is what they think?

    If it’s the latter, then I’m not sure why we should accept that reason as legitimate. Would you try and sympathise with a KKK member?

  213. Uncleji fair and balanced — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:42 pm  

    Lets the not let the Buddhists off the hooks, especially the racist neofacist monks in Sri Lanka preaching for the ethnic cleasing of all non buddhists & non sinhalase

  214. sonia — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:51 pm  

    All the major schools of history will say imperialism is a modern phenomenon.

    tahir man, you’re talking out of your ass if you want us to fall for that one.

  215. sonia — on 29th June, 2007 at 4:53 pm  

    or of course, maybe the ‘major schools of history’ ( whoever they are) just aren’t defining imperialism the way its meaningful. like i said, what Nebuchadnezzar ( ever heard of him?) was doing may not be called by some historian you’ve read as Imperialism, but i don’t care, in my perspective, they are highly comparable activities.

  216. Jagdeep — on 29th June, 2007 at 5:12 pm  

    tahir man, you’re talking out of your ass if you want us to fall for that one

    hahaha

    I havent even been following this argument properly but I’m on sonia’s side!

    By the way, doesnt Islam have a long and much trumpeted history of Imperialism?

  217. Jai — on 29th June, 2007 at 5:24 pm  

    Anas,

    You’re getting a little hysterical, mundea. Do you suffer from anger-management problems ? ;)

    Point blank, No. But I never claimed I would be OK with it, so I don’t understand your point.

    Read your posts objectively, try to consider how you may be coming across to people who do not necessarily understand your motivations for seemingly trying to repeatedly rationalise and “explain” Islamist terrorists’ actions and attitudes, and it’ll help you understand my own point.

    Also, our own personal priorities shouldn’t blind us to the situations of others across the world — that kind of thinking is what gets us into trouble in the first place.

    Correct, but you may want to consider how your own apparent priorities are coming across on this blog — loud and clear. Especially bearing in mind today’s events in central London — I’m assuming you’ve kept in touch with the news today.

    They’re lucky the US didn’t nuke the entire country? WTF???!!?

    Absolutely. In revenge. And it would probably have solved the problem of both Bin Laden and the Taliban very quickly and effectively.

    Understand that I wouldn’t support the above course of action, because I do not believe in either deliberate attacks on civilian populations or “collateral damage”; however, launching an attack against a nuclear-armed country (itself pretty much a declaration of war) is either an act of suicide, or an act where one knows that the other party will hesitate to retaliate against you with the full force at their disposal. Which is what has happened. And as a couple of us have said already, you can bet that a country like China would not have demonstrated this level of self-restraint.

    Bullshit. Now I’m an apologist? You are fundamentally misunderstanding me — the point is I’m an apologist for neither side,

    I used the word “inadvertantly”. Since you are unable to discuss anything to do with Islamist terrorism without continuous attempts to draw parallels allegedly claiming moral equivalence to the West’s own dubious military actions — and, most of all, demonstrate a stubborn refusal to place the primary blame where it belongs, ie. with the terrorists themselves — you are an apologist for them, to all intents and purposes.

    I’m sorry if the truth hurts, mate, but that’s the way it is.

    I don’t know that at all.

    Yes you do. Admittedly my posts on this blog have been far less frequent in recent months due to work-related reasons, but whenever this topic has been discussed during the extensive period I’ve participated on PP, I’ve made it very clear indeed when I think force is justified and to whom it is justifiably directed.

    Thirdly, as the invading forces the coaliition have ultimate responsibilty for the safety of the citizens, if they knew that elements in the country would exploit the chaos and a situation in which the country was being blown apart by invaders to target innocent people in large numbers, then again they must share a significant part of the blame for that.

    But the primary blame — the bulk of the blame — lies with a) the sectarian forces within Iraq opportunistically using the situation to further their own agendas via violence, and b) foreign jihadist fighters similarly exploiting the situation.

    Yes or No ?

    And if the answer is “Yes”, surely our homegrown jihadis should be targetting their “anger” primarily towards the two groups above, instead of threatening to kill large numbers of British civilians ?

    Control of Iraq from who?

    From whoever is in primary control of the country now or in future, either Western powers or elected Iraqi leaders.

    Ultimately tho, as the invaders, the coallition forces are responsible for the safety of the people of Iraq. If they couldn’t guarantee that to any extent then they should never have invaded.

    This topic isn’t about the legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq. We all know the answer to that question.

    The bottom line is the fact that, regardless of foreign military actions by the UK, British jihadis have zero mandate or moral justification to retaliate by targetting British civilians. No matter how “angry” them may be.

    Your energies would be more constructively utilised by focusing on identifying why such individuals think their “anger” justifies plotting acts of mass murder against the rest of us, and how this should be effectively dealt with.

  218. ZinZin — on 29th June, 2007 at 5:33 pm  

    Anas
    The wests actions cause terrorism, but terrorists also have their own reasons for their actions that have nothing to do with the west.

    Anas You would benefit from reading Alaistair Horne’s A savage war of peace: Algeria 1954-62. After reading only a few chapters you would understand the mentality of the terrorist, his aims and motives. The first aim is to polarise and squeeze the centre which the FLN did with great success.

    Ariel Sharon and Donald Rumsfeld both have copies. Probably not read them though.

  219. Jai — on 29th June, 2007 at 5:38 pm  

    you seem to be an apologist tho for Western terrorism.

    This would be a valid allegation if I kept making excuses for collateral damage, or extraordinary rendition, or the invasion of Iraq, or Guantanamo, or at the very least kept trying to “explain” at length the rationale behind all of these subjects, especially if I kept referring to acts of Islamist terrorism every time the West’s unethical foreign activities was discussed.

    This is obviously not the case, so I’m afraid your analogy doesn’t apply to me, Anas old fruity.

  220. Don — on 29th June, 2007 at 6:16 pm  

    Oh good, we seem to have stopped haggling over definitions of imperialism. I was losing the will to live.

    Kulvinder, excellent points at #207. Very well put.

    I think Anas at #209 is entitled to be a little tetchy, as he has made this point, what? twenty or so times? And been met with the same misreading each time. I think his analogy of releasing a rabid dog into a playground is telling. The explosion of sectarian violence was predictable, could have been predicted and was stupidly disregarded by those who chose to invade. That does not detract one iota from the culpability of those carrying out the terrorist actions.

    However, I do think it salient that although MSK (do we really need to call the twat that? as though he were somehow akin to JFK, or MLK?)is most often shown denouncing western military actions, it appears that two thirds of his swan song was a condemnation of his co-religionists who were content to live ordinary lives and adhere to the rule of law.

  221. douglas clark — on 29th June, 2007 at 10:40 pm  

    I agree with Don. There seems to be an almost wilful misreading of what Anas is actually saying. Anas has, quite reasonably in my view, pointed out that some folk have been motivated by FP. Even quoting the last testament of two of the idiots that bombed us. He (?) has never said that they were justified, and backs up that position with references right, left and centre.

    How often must Anas say:

    Again, none of which justifies homegrown jihadi attacks here in Britain.

    I WOULD NEVER CLAIM FUCKING OTHERWISE.,

    before you’ll actually believe him?

    It must be very frustrating.

    Sunnys point at 214 where he says -

    “If it’s the latter, then I’m not sure why we should accept that reason as legitimate. Would you try and sympathise with a KKK member?”

    That is not what Anas is about. Anas seems to me to think that getting inside the mind of evil people might let us understand it and put a stop to it.

    That is actually a pretty honourable endevour.

  222. Rumbold — on 29th June, 2007 at 11:01 pm  

    Please unban Mazumdar Sunny. I know that he winds you up, and it is your site but a lot of people enjoy reading his comments, even if they disagree with him.

  223. ZinZin — on 29th June, 2007 at 11:18 pm  

    Anas seems to me to think that getting inside the mind of evil people might let us understand it and put a stop to it.

    Sorry Douglas but all too often he puts his ideas into their heads, ignoring the possibility that they may turn to terrorism for reasons that are independent of FP. He is unable to leave his Respect mindset and that saddens me.

  224. douglas clark — on 29th June, 2007 at 11:31 pm  

    ZinZin,

    Are you sure Anas is a Respect member? Given his/her views I’d have thought it unlikely. Last I heard Anas was voting SNP….maybe I’m misremembering that, maybe not. Anas?

  225. douglas clark — on 29th June, 2007 at 11:45 pm  

    ZinZin,

    I also disagree that he – can we assume he, simply for the sake of avoiding the he/she thingy – puts ideas into the minds of terrorists. If you’ve read, and understood what Anas actually said, you would not see a bit of apology for terrorism, what you would see is an attempt to mark out their territory. That is valid, I think.

    Lest we tie our hands behind our backs’. Do you see what I mean?

  226. ZinZin — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:14 am  

    Anas did tell me that he would have voted respect if they had a candidate in his area.

    Douglas, I would never call him a terrorist sympathiser, but he gives too much emphasis to the FP argument to the detriment of all others. Anas is a moral man that is beyond doubt and he is sincere when he says he wants to understand, why the likes of Khan and Tanweer turn to terrorism.

    It is not about Iraq sadly its also about the milieu of the terrorist. Khan and Tanweer were british citizens not palestinians living in the west bank. There are other things in their heads than Iraq. That is what Anas underplays.

  227. Refresh — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:16 am  

    Rumbold, yes I agree he should not be banned. I support intelligent free speech, so that we can actually exchange ideas and just as importantly challenge extreme views.

    Lets hope we can remember to do that, and avoid vicarious pleasure when he expresses his extreme views and attacks people in a very personal manner.

  228. Refresh — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:25 am  

    ZinZin, I would vote Respect if it came to it.

    What’s wrong with that?

    How would you react if we had a voter here who voted for Bush?

    I don’t think Respect has had a hand in a single death. A single incident of torture. A single kidnapping. A single rendition flight.

    Add to Respect, the Lib Dems and SNP.

    I believe all of them and many many independent organisations share the same view about foreign policy.

    I think you are deceiving yourself if you do not recognise what the rest of the world knows.

  229. ZinZin — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:30 am  

    ZinZin, I would vote Respect if it came to it.

    What’s wrong with that?

    I haven’t got all night.

  230. Refresh — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:36 am  

    ZinZin, do have a go. Perhaps you should take this opportunity to sway me.

    Who would you vote for? And why? Would Iraq influence you?

  231. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:44 am  

    ZinZin,

    And anyone else reading at this time of night. That is not what Anas appears to be about. He seems to me, at least, to make a somewhat obvious point that – for some folk – FP trumphs all. Whether they were brought up in Yorkshire or whatever. We may disagree with MSK, I sincerely think Anas does, the point is that discussing the why’s does not make you an apologist. Anas is not wrong to ask the questions, it is in fact incumbent on us all.

    That is what I think, anyhow.

    And unless he likes to tell us different, he did vote SNP.

  232. soru — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:16 am  

    It’s not wrong to ask the question, it is wrong to come up with the wrong answers.

    One particular pitfall is trying to understand empathically, rather than intellectually – to think ‘what kind of thing would make _me_ consider doing that’, instead of ‘what made _them_ do that’.

    Related is using fuzzy language to bridge the two things, like ‘foreign policy’, instead of something that actually describes the relevant issues.

    For example, a lot of people are angry that too many people have died in Iraq. People actually allied with those fighting in Iraq are more likely to see it as a problem that too _few_ people are dieing. al qaeda and Sunni groups do currently appear to be losing the war against the Shi’a and Iranians: they might well think a british withdrawl, or perhaps a US attack on Iran, would help their cause.

    On the face of it, those two groups, the anti-war and the anti-Shi’a are as far apart as could be. But they both fall under the fuzzy term ‘foreign policy’, making it seem like they are in agreement on everything except scruples.

    I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Respect, to say the least. But I very much doubt those planting the car bombs in London were potential Respect supporters who just happened to be more angry and less moral than the average.

  233. Tahir — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:53 am  

    Sonia

    I thin the consensus was that `i stopped ranting on imperialism so going with that for the moment ….

  234. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 6:02 am  

    soru,

    234.

    That is fair criticism of what Anas says.

    What I am against is the unfair criticism.

    Folk should be allowed to express their opinions without it being assumed they are terrorist sympathisers.

    I doubt, for instance, that most objective commentators on Iraq would disagree with the fact that there have been circa 650,000 excess deaths since the invasion? Hopefully, we could discuss that statistic without accusing each other of being terrorist sympathisers?

    I find it very hard to accept that Anas is not at least as aware of the facts as you or Sunny or anyone else.

    Fall out with him over his interpretation, by all means, but do not accuse someone of being a terrorist sympathiser when he clearly is not. That is a playground arguement.

    Anas has a point of view. Argue with it by all means, just give it a little respect, small ‘r’ by the way. The failure of most posters here to engage with what he says, rather than a caricature of what he says is cheap and nasty.

    That’s all I’m saying.

    I cannot get my head around the idea that FP is not, for some folk, an issue. Explain that to me again?

  235. Bijna — on 30th June, 2007 at 8:35 am  
  236. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 8:45 am  

    And been met with the same misreading each time

    Anas is so passionately critical of Western governments and foreign policy, and so rarely balances that with any sort of criticism of terrorist groups (unless specifically asked to do so) that I’m not really surprised that some people misunderstand him. You have to bear in mind that some readers don’t read this page every day or even every month. I know that Anas doesn’t approve of terrorist action because of the amount of times we’ve discussed it, but in fairness it doesn’t always come across in what he says.

  237. Jai — on 30th June, 2007 at 10:56 am  

    Katy’s point in #238 basically summarises my own perspective.

    Here’s an equivalent example. Imagine if I kept participating on a blog where there were repeated discussions criticising post-9/11 Western actions against Muslims, particularly by the United States. And every time the topic came up, I posted something like the following:

    “Well, after 9/11 the US had no choice but to go into Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. You can’t allow an attack on America to go unpunished, otherwise every Tom Dick and Hanif will think it’s open season on the US. The Afghan people should have just handed Bin Laden over; they’ve brought all of this upon themselves. Taliban foreign policy against the United States is the reason for American troops subsequently overthrowing Afghanistan’s government and now occupying the country. All the civilian deaths are unfortunate, but that’s the nature of modern warfare, and none of it would have happened if they hadn’t sheltered Bin Laden in the first place.

    Some of the same points apply to Iraq. Sure, there were no WMDs in the end, but who knew what Saddam Hussein had secretly been planning, and at least this means we have one less tyrant to worry about, especially one who had openly declared himself to be an enemy of America. And if the Iraqi people can’t restrain themselves from slaughtering each other if the threat of retribution by a psychopath and his even more psychotic sons is removed (ie. Saddam, Uday etc), that’s their fault too. Maybe we gave them too much credit.

    Guantanamo ? Extraordinary rendition ? Well, “better safe than sorry”. Consider how the American government and its military has to think. The safety of the US and its citizens has to be paramount. It’s not an ideal situation, it’s unfortunate, but that’s the nature of the jihadi threat that we’re all having to deal with. If the terrorists didn’t have such a flagrant disregard for Western lives and weren’t so happy to break all the rules of civilised warfare, the West wouldn’t have to resort to such measures. Sometimes you have to be ruthlessly practical, and you don’t necessarily have the luxury of idealism if you’re trying to safeguard your way of life and the lives of your citizens.

    I’m not saying I agree with or support American and British actions in relation to the above, but I’m just trying to explain why the people in power MAY have done all this”.

    ************************

    I trust I’ve sufficiently clarified my point.

  238. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:14 am  

    Katy,

    I assume you do read this thread on a regular basis? If so, you know that Anas is the popular whipping guy for other posters. Yet he speaks a great deal of sense. It has become a given here that FP has absolutely nothing to do with radicalisation. Anas tries to post against that notion. I’m on his side on that one, it is ‘elephant in the room’ syndrome to think otherwise.

    Fairness would imply that those who do read his posts on a regular basis would not consider him to be a terrorist sympathiser. Your mum seems to see more in Anas than that.

    So do I, BTW.

    If we are going to grapple with morons who are out to kill us, then we should do our best to understand their motivations. So’s we can take these motivations out of the equation. I think that is where Anas is coming from.

    Anas?

  239. ZinZin — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:23 am  

    Douglas
    We are forgetting Anas unfortunate slip when he posted the Respect slogan “we are Hezbollah” on an I/P thread. He quickly withdrew when challenged but supporting a terror organisation and taking into consideration his blame FP for terrorism line makes you wonder.

    For the record Anas is far left and an intelligent man but all too often he does himself no favours. I don’t accept the FP causes terrorism argument. I do agree with Mr Hundal that it exacerbates.

  240. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:31 am  

    ZinZin,

    Well, a least you and Mr Hundal are accepting that FP is a factor. I am not convinced it is the whole story either. But to think it is not a catalyst would be silly, would it not?

    It would be pretending that the room was elephant free.

  241. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:46 am  

    Douglas, would you please actually read what I say before I comment?

    I said quite clearly that I know that Anas is not a supporter of terrorist activity. I went on to say that perhaps people who don’t read the page regularly don’t.

  242. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:47 am  

    I meant read what I say before you comment, obviously. But really you do seem to have developed a habit of announcing that you disagree with me and then repeating exactly what I said in the post that you disagreed with. It is irritating.

  243. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:49 am  

    You’re doing the same thing to Jai, by the way. He hasn’t said that foreign policy isn’t a factor in terrorism. He’s said it doesn’t justify it.

    Half the misunderstandings that arise on this site arise because people don’t bother to sit down and read what’s been said before they comment on it. I’ve been guilty of that myself.

  244. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 11:52 am  

    Much though I hate it when people use four posts to say what they could have said in one, I’ve got to add that when you say

    It has become a given here that FP has absolutely nothing to do with radicalisation

    you are wrong, in my opinion. I have heard plenty of people say that foreign policy doesn’t justify terrorism – as in the murder of civilians, you know – but I have not heard anyone seriously suggest that foreign policy is not a factor in radicalisation. The debate is over what part it plays, not whether it plays a part.

  245. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:18 pm  

    Katy,

    You are not addressing the issue, are you? Anas has a point of view that is diametrically opposed to most posters here. It is a nonsense to propose that your post (238) was a wholehearted endorsement of Anas’ right to free speech when it incorporated this:

    “Anas is so passionately critical of Western governments and foreign policy, and so rarely balances that with any sort of criticism of terrorist groups (unless specifically asked to do so) that I’m not really surprised that some people misunderstand him.”

    Jagdeeps comment at 212 was especially scurrilous.

    When he clearly does nothing of the sort. Read the guys posts for goodness sake.

    If I am reading him right, and I’d be quite grateful for some clarification, Anas seems to think that there is not a cigarette paper to be put between the immorality of Western Governments and terrorist regiemes. Which is a respectable, hah(!), arguement.

    A chicken and egg proposition, I’d suggest.

    Yet you guys seem to think it is open season whenever he posts.

    It should be incumbent on regular readers and posters on here to cut a little slack, is all I’m saying.

  246. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:31 pm  

    Katy,

    I posted the above before reading your 245, 246.

    That is my position too. FP has had an impact. Which is what Anas keeps harping on about.

    Where did I fall out with Jai? Soru, maybe….

    Nuff said.

  247. Muzumdar — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:34 pm  

    douglas clark

    You are misreading Anas.

    He is in denial about so many things it’s almost laughable. However, I stop short of laughter when I realise that he is actually serious.

    Here is one example, Anas said:

    Again you’ve seen the footage of MSK and Tanveer, did they mention this Caliphate idea when justifying the attacks they were to commit?

    He claims to be well informed about their motivations but in the article that spawned this entire thread, Shiv Malik’s, MSK and Tanweer are clearly quoted (via their video address) stating their longing to re-conquer lands like the Islamic Imperialists of old.

    This negates Anas’s argument and exposes him as a rather pathetic individual.

    He cannot handle the fact that his brothers are being butchered in Iraq in an act of vicious neo-imperialism, which is fair enough, but at the same time cannot bring himself to acknowledge that people like Tanweer, MSK etc also want a bloodbath for religious imperialist reasons.

  248. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 12:46 pm  

    Muzumdar,

    You make good points.

    I do not think I am misreading Anas, his heart is on his sleeve, so to speak.

    However, it is up to him to address the comments.

    My opinion is that he should have the right to speak, without ritual vilification.

    Yet he has been conspicuously absent since the shit hit the fan. Oh well.

  249. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:10 pm  

    For fuck’s SAKE, Douglas, I keep saying the same thing over and over again. How is saying that I understand why people who AREN’T regular readers misinterpret Anas’s stance a “scurrilous” infringement of his right to free speech?

    Or are you saying that I’m not entitled to say that I think sometimes he’s open to misinterpretation? You misunderstood me. I am tired of you not reading what I say properly and then ticking me off and I am tired of the patronising tone that you invariably adopt towards anything I say.

    I SAID, loud and clear, that I did not think that Anas was a supporter of terrorist activity but that I could see why people sometimes misinterpreted what he said. You then came back and told me off “because regular readers know that he doesn’t”. That is exactly what I said in the first place. I can’t help it if you don’t read what I say properly.

    I do not agree that Anas is a whipping boy or that he has been “vilified”. He’s stated his position and he and Jai have been discussing it. That’s called political discussion and it’s what this site is supposed to promote.

    Sometimes I wonder if you’re reading the same site as I am.

  250. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:13 pm  

    Anas seems to think that there is not a cigarette paper to be put between the immorality of Western Governments and terrorist regiemes. Which is a respectable, hah(!), arguement

    Jesus. YES, Douglas, that is exactly what he and Jai have been arguing about. That’s what Anas thinks. Jai doesn’t agree. Anas is a robust and intelligent man who is perfectly capable of defending his stance and I doubt he’d thank you for implying that he can’t cope on his own.

  251. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:50 pm  

    Katy,

    For fucks sake to you too. :-)

    I am also capable of irritation. You wrote that Anas was open to misinterpretation. I do not disagree with that. I just find it a bit mundane coming from someone who has engaged with him over the years, and should know better. That was lukewarm support at best. But maybe that’s just me.

    I am no longer interested in this arguement, for that is what it has decended to. Perhaps you and I do read different nuances into what is said here? Maybe we could agree on that?

    Maybe not.

    Probably not.

  252. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:52 pm  

    Douglas – I said something that you agreed with and you had a go at me because you misunderstood it. It isn’t the first time you’ve done it.

    I am just frustrated at your refusal to say “I’m sorry, Katy, I misunderstood what you said”, rather than just edging away from “You are in the wrong” to “Oh well I knew what you meant but I just thought it was a bit mundane”, whatever that means.

  253. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 1:54 pm  

    That was lukewarm support at best. But maybe that’s just me.

    Argh! Yes it is just you! What was I not “supporting”? Did I say that Anas shouldn’t be allowed to post on here? What on earth is your problem with what I said?

  254. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 2:02 pm  

    Sunny, I think we’re ready for you to close the thread now.

    Oh – as long as I’m not curtailing anyone’s right to freedom of speech by saying that.

  255. douglas clark — on 30th June, 2007 at 2:07 pm  

    Katy,

    Re post 256. At least there is something we can agree upon.

  256. Don — on 30th June, 2007 at 2:16 pm  

    Hang on, we still haven’t agreed on what imperialism is!

  257. Katy Newton — on 30th June, 2007 at 2:25 pm  

    Funny, Don.

    I thought that it was quite important to point out that imperialism is a human trait and not a specifically Western one, and I was also rather upset to have been accused of curtailing someone’s freedom of speech when I thought it was quite clear that I wasn’t doing anything of the kind. But I am happy to keep my mouth shut on this and indeed all other issues from now on.

  258. Anas — on 30th June, 2007 at 7:38 pm  

    Unfortunately I only have access to a PC for about an hour or so everyday so can’t reply as fast or as often as I’d like but here goes anyway.

    But my point is this. MSK and Tanweer may see their actions as reprisal for Iraq. Are you saying that you don’t necessarily accept that as the main reason but are saying that is what they think?

    I haven’t seen much evidence to the contrary myself, so I think there’s a strong case that it is what they think.

    If it’s the latter, then I’m not sure why we should accept that reason as legitimate. Would you try and sympathise with a KKK member?

    Sympathise with him in what respect? OK, take the BNP. Many of its members make valid criticisms about how many poor white communities have been ignored by the government rather disgracefully. I would sympathise with that. But then when they start talking about immigration and the existence of immigrant communities being at the root of it, I find that repugnant.

    Read your posts objectively, try to consider how you may be coming across to people who do not necessarily understand your motivations for seemingly trying to repeatedly rationalise and “explain” Islamist terrorists’ actions and attitudes, and it’ll help you understand my own point.

    Is it my attempt to explain and rationalise their actions that is so offensive? Isn’t that what any one investigating a murderer or any kind of criminal would try and do, to figure out the motivations for the crime, especially in order to stop it happening again?

    Understand that I wouldn’t support the above course of action, because I do not believe in either deliberate attacks on civilian populations or “collateral damage”; however, launching an attack against a nuclear-armed country (itself pretty much a declaration of war) is either an act of suicide, or an act where one knows that the other party will hesitate to retaliate against you with the full force at their disposal.

    Again, there’s a little thing called international law that should stop the kind of reaction you’re talking about from taking place.

    and, most of all, demonstrate a stubborn refusal to place the primary blame where it belongs, ie. with the terrorists themselves — you are an apologist for them, to all intents and purposes.

    If I don’t do that overtly it’s because it’s so obvious that the terrorists are primarily responsible that there’s no real need to constantly repeat something so redundant. I don’t even believe that stuff about brainwashing. I think these people are murderers, pure and simple, in my eyes there’s no justification for anything they do. I come at this issue with an aim to understanding why it happens and the most effective ways of stopping it happening. But on the other hand I also like to use the opportunity to point out that the West itself has also been and is also guilty of terrorism, because like it or not when these “Islamic” terrorists strike, all Muslims get tarred with the same brush to some extent, we all become suspect, Islam becomes a religion of terror and of hate. Pointing out that terrorism is not just an “Islamic” thing (there’s that memorable phrase: not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims) is a way of striking at that perception and of helping people become aware of the actions that are being committed in their names across the world that have enormously bloody consequences and that are in fact terrorist themselves (again I repeat that Albright example which almost no one knows about). In fact, there’s an important moral point to be made that if we are going to attack terrorism we have to do it consistently.

    But the primary blame — the bulk of the blame — lies with a) the sectarian forces within Iraq opportunistically using the situation to further their own agendas via violence, and b) foreign jihadist fighters similarly exploiting the situation.
    Yes or No ?

    The primary blame is obviously with those carrying out the killings, but the blame for causing the whole situation lies with the coalition who are also responsible for the numerous “collateral” deaths that have occurred at their own hands.

    And if the answer is “Yes”, surely our homegrown jihadis should be targetting their “anger” primarily towards the two groups above, instead of threatening to kill large numbers of British civilians ?

    I think they might be angry at the war and the occupation in the first place: that a sovereign country could be invaded on a flimsy pretext with zero thought for the cost in lives and then occupied with all the obvious resulting consequences that occur when occupying a country where most of the people don’t want you there. But again, for me, THIS DOESN’T JUSTIFY MURDERING ANYONE. If anything it justifies having Blair and Bush and the other war criminals up in court for war crimes, nothing more.

    This topic isn’t about the legitimacy of the invasion of Iraq. We all know the answer to that question.

    I was making a point about the responsibility in an important sense of the coalition forces for the safety of Iraqis.

    Your energies would be more constructively utilised by focusing on identifying why such individuals think their “anger” justifies plotting acts of mass murder against the rest of us, and how this should be effectively dealt with.

    Obviously, part of it is that they had become adherents of a poisonous, IMO completely, un-Islamic ideology that justified such terror attacks, I’m not denying that. And as has been said Muslims especially have to attack that ideology.

    The wests actions cause terrorism, but terrorists also have their own reasons for their actions that have nothing to do with the west.
    Anas You would benefit from reading Alaistair Horne’s A savage war of peace: Algeria 1954-62. After reading only a few chapters you would understand the mentality of the terrorist, his aims and motives. The first aim is to polarise and squeeze the centre which the FLN did with great success.

    Yes, I agree with that, who knows what bin Laden and the other leaders’ real motivations are, and yes, people do commit terrorist actions for a variety of reasons. But the networks seem to recruit other people primarily on the basis of anger at FP, that’s what the experts seem to say. That there is a very important cause and effect relationship between FP and terrorist strikes against the West.

    That is not what Anas is about. Anas seems to me to think that getting inside the mind of evil people might let us understand it and put a stop to it.

    YES!

    One particular pitfall is trying to understand empathically, rather than intellectually – to think ‘what kind of thing would make _me_ consider doing that’, instead of ‘what made _them_ do that’.

    But in many cases thinking the former is a way of trying to understand the latter, depending on what you have to go on.

    I trust I’ve sufficiently clarified my point

    Not really, Jai. I mean wouldn’t it be a good thing to have different points of view in a discussion? and I think a lot of people would enjoy pulling apart your arguments. Why would that kind of post be a bad thing?

    He quickly withdrew when challenged but supporting a terror organisation and taking into consideration his blame FP for terrorism line makes you wonder.

    Where? I never withdrew anything. I supported Hezbollah in the Lebanese war and I haven’t taken that back.

    He claims to be well informed about their motivations but in the article that spawned this entire thread, Shiv Malik’s, MSK and Tanweer are clearly quoted (via their video address) stating their longing to re-conquer lands like the Islamic Imperialists of old.

    Nice point, Muzumdar, yes as Islamic militant nutters they obviously wanted a caliphate and to conquer Andalucia, etc. But I think my point still stands, do either of them *justify* their actions in terms of wanting a caliphate, or do they actually justify their violence and murder in terms of retribution for FP? Again I come back to their own words, to the terrorists actual public justifications of why they do what they do, and you know what they always mention Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc. (MSK”Until we feel security, you will be our targets, and until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment, and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight”, Tanveer:”And ask yourselves: why would thousands of men be ready to give their lives for the cause of Muslims?What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a series of attacks which will intensify and continue to until you pull all your troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq.”)

    Douglas I love you. You’re spot on. And I thought Jagdeep’s post was in very poor taste but it was hilarious.

  259. Anas — on 30th June, 2007 at 7:50 pm  

    Norman Finkelstein made an interesting point in an interview a while back, it bears quoting here:

    Lets put it this way. The so-called West, and really we’re talking about the United States, and to a lesser extent its pathetic puppy dog in England, have a real problem on their hands. Regrettably, it’s payback time for the Americans and they have a problem because all the other enemies since the end of World War Two that they pretended to contend with .. were basically fabricated enemies. The Soviet Union was a conservative bureaucracy by the end of World War Two, which apart from the sphere of influence it carved out–mostly for defensive reasons–was plainly in retrospect a stabilising force in international affairs. Then the enemies that the US conjured up as the Soviet Union fell into decline beginning in the early 1980`senemies like Libya, Iraq, narco-terrorists and so forththese were basically enemies created by the United States to–among other things–justify repressive policies around the world, and to inflate its military budget. Now they do have a problem on their hands, and its going to exact a cost from Americans. The American elites can talk about honour and creativity until the cows come home, but it’s not going to be like the Iraq shooting fish in a barrel situation, like they did when they destroyed Iraq in 1991. Frankly, part of me says – even though everything since September 11 has been a nightmare–’you know what, we deserve the problem on our hands because some things Bin Laden says are true’. One of the things he said on that last tape was that ‘until we live in security, you’re not going to live in security’, and there is a certain amount of rightness in that. Why should Americans go on with their lives as normal, worrying about calories and hair loss, while other people are worrying about where they are going to get their next piece of bread? Why should we go on merrily with our lives while so much of the world is suffering, and suffering incidentally not with us merely as bystanders, but with us as the indirect and direct perpetrators. So that I think that you can summon up all the heroic and self-aggrandizing rhetoric you want, but there is a problem facing all of us now, and maybe it’s about time that the United States starts having to confront the same sort of problems that much of humanity has had to confront on a daily basis for God knows how long.

  260. Muzumdar — on 1st July, 2007 at 10:34 am  

    A must read:

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2115832,00.html

    Extract:

    ‘By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the ‘Blair’s bombs’ line did our propaganda work for us. More important, they also helped to draw away any critical examination from the real engine of our violence: Islamic theology.’

  261. Jai — on 1st July, 2007 at 12:39 pm  

    I agree that it’s time to pull the plug on this thread, and I’m therefore going to try to keep the following as brief as possible — especially as matters concerning the last 48 hours have overtaken us, as reflected in Sunny’s updated thread.

    ********************************

    Katy,

    Thank you very much for clarifying my own actions and motives in this discussion — you’re spot-on. Greatly appreciated.

    *************************

    Anas,

    Again, there’s a little thing called international law that should stop the kind of reaction you’re talking about from taking place.

    I think the events of the last few years should have demonstrated that that particular ship sailed a long time ago, buddy.

    Is it my attempt to explain and rationalise their actions that is so offensive? Isn’t that what any one investigating a murderer or any kind of criminal would try and do, to figure out the motivations for the crime, especially in order to stop it happening again?

    There’s “explaining and rationalising”, and then there’s “dangerously close to excusing”.

    Here’s the situation, in a nutshell:

    Question: What’s motivating the terrorists ?

    Anas: Foreign Policy to a great extent.

    Jai: That doesn’t justify them trying to kill British civilians.

    Anas: For reasons x,y, and z, they think it does. And they will continue with this attitude until and unless the UK changes its policies towards Muslim countries.

    Jai: No British government will ever do that, at least in response to actual-and-threatened attacks against British civilians, and most of all if it’s perpetrated by homegrown jihadis.

    Anas: Agreed, but the jihadis obviously have different ideas.

    Jai: So what’s the point of continuing to discuss their motivations if we agree that their actions and motivations are unjustified ? And, furthermore, what the hell does “foreign policy” have to do with wishing to kill large numbers of what they apparently regard as “dancing slags” ?

    And so on and so forth.

    all Muslims get tarred with the same brush to some extent, we all become suspect

    I don’t know what part of Britain you live in or how much contact you have with non-Muslim Asians, but here’s some breaking news on life here in London: all Asians have been tarred with the same brush, and we’ve all become suspect.

    And furthermore…..

    there’s that memorable phrase: not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims

    Something I’ve heard repeatedly from English people here in the capital is “Not all Asians are terrorists, but most of these terrorists are Asians”.

    So bear in mind that this has now wreaked havoc in the lives of Asian communities and families who are not Muslim and actually have absolutely nothing to do with “Muslim anger against foreign policy and Western decadence”. We’ve all been dragged into this unholy mess, and are having to deal with the repercussions of a) problems amongst some elements of the British Asian Muslim population and b) reciprocal suspicion and prejudice by members of “the indigenous population”, purely because we share the same ethnicity as most British jihadis.

    *************************

    Mazumdar,

    By blaming the government for our actions, those who pushed the ‘Blair’s bombs’ line did our propaganda work for us.

    Exactly. Thank you very much.

  262. Anas — on 1st July, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

    Jai, I agree that it’s time to put an end to the thread. But I’m very unhappy with you calling me an apologist, because that’s just full of shit. How am I dangerously close to excusing anything when I repeatedly point out my opinions on the terrorist’s actions? It’s like conversing with a brick wall. So I tire of arguing with you. But in my eyes, this is precisely the right time to be asking these questions, when events like these are happening.

    Question: What’s motivating the terrorists ?
    Anas: Foreign Policy to a great extent.
    Jai: That doesn’t justify them trying to kill British civilians.
    Anas: For reasons x,y, and z, they think it does. And they will continue with this attitude until and unless the UK changes its policies towards Muslim countries.
    Jai: No British government will ever do that, at least in response to actual-and-threatened attacks against British civilians, and most of all if it’s perpetrated by homegrown jihadis.

    My take

    Anas: What’s the best recruitment tool that the terrorists have to recruit young alienated Muslims and to convince them that there’s not just a clash of values between Islam and the West but an actual attack on Islam? Why it’s obvious, it’s FP.

    Jai: Sorry, you’re just an apologist for terrorism. You’re suggesting the terrorists aren’t to blame, you’re saying it’s really our fault.You should always combine your criticism of the West’s actions — many of which you and the rest of the world might consider terrorist but which I refuse to do so — with condemnation of Muslim terrorists. Even though no one feels obliged to do that the other way round, i.e., when discussing Muslim terrorism. Foreign policy is just incidental to terrorist recruitment despite the fact that their literature seems to focus heavily on that, their propaganda justfies their attacks on that basis, MSK and Tanveer excused their actions on that basis, bin Laden has explained his actions on that basis (might be lies but why would he be saying that in the first place?). What would happen if some terrorist blew up your family? Eh? Eh? Eh? You’re just making excuses?

    Anas: What? How did you read all that into what I said? I deny all of the accusations you’ve made against me.

    Jai: Sorry, you might not know it yourself, maybe you’re just too dense but that’s what your words are *obviously* implying. What if someone who wasn’t a regular inadvertently read your posts and didn’t notice you condemning terrorism every other line, it’s obvious they’d think you were endorsing it?

    Anas: Huh? That has never happened. Anyway, like I say if you want to know the primary reason why anyone would feel angry enough to blow themselves up…

    Jai: Apologist! Why consider their motivations, they’re evil that’s all you need to know. No one’s going to change their foreign policy just because they’re scared of reprisals!

    Anas:…well maybe if we were more aware of our immoral foreign policy and there was enough public outcry, the government would be forced to change not on the basis of fear but anger at *our* actions, isn’t that what happened in the 60s in the US with Vietnam? Anyway, why would you want to understand any terrorist’s motivations? Why are people so scared to face up to the fact that FP might be the base cause, even if the security services seem to be saying it? Why is there such a culture of denial, why are we afraid to confront these issues, even discuss them without demonising people who bring up these questions accusing them of justifying the terrorist’s actions…

    Jai: No. It’s simple. The terrorists are evil, they blow people up, all the suicide bombers have been brainwashed by an evil Islamist sect (which may or may not actually represent the true Islam that Muslims try and hide, depending on which part of the Islamaphobic spectrum you lie on) that’s all you need to know. The rest is just apologism — and as a Muslim you must make clear everytime you approach this topic that you wholeheartedly condemn these terrorists and do not identify with them, preferably every other sentence. OK, now shut the fuck up.

    I don’t know what part of Britain you live in or how much contact you have with non-Muslim Asians, but here’s some breaking news on life here in London: all Asians have been tarred with the same brush, and we’ve all become suspect.

    All asians are tarred with the same brush to the extent that they’re assumed to be Muslim. Haven’t you noticed the little campaign the BNP have been waging to enlist the support of Hindu and Sikh groups (thankfully on the whole they’ve had little success)?

    ZinZin, I think Sunny pulled the question you asked about Hezbollah. I will still answer it — and Sunny can delete the answer or the whole post or the whole thread, it’s his site! Firstly, there is serious dispute about whether some of the anti-Semitic quotes attributed to Hezbollah/Nassrallah are actually genuine. Secondly, even if they were, and like Hamas they had a disgusting anti-Semitic streak, I would still not disown my support for Hezbollah against Israel in the Lebanese war — even though I acknowledge they have committed terrorist actions and will condemn them as well as condemning any form of anti-Semitism or racism. Simply because if Hezbollah had lost to Israel in that conflict the consequences would have been extremely dire for Lebanon, so in my opinion there was no other option but to be on Hezbollah’s side

  263. Jai — on 2nd July, 2007 at 9:52 am  

    Anas,

    But I’m very unhappy with you calling me an apologist, because that’s just full of shit.

    I said you were doing this inadvertantly, not deliberately.

    How am I dangerously close to excusing anything when I repeatedly point out my opinions on the terrorist’s actions?

    It’s the “but this” and “but that” caveats which achieve this. Especially when you state that there is littled difference between the terrorists’ negative actions and those committed by some Western countries’ governments & militaries.

    Like I said before, you may not realise it, but you’re doing the extremists’ dirty work for them. It may be accidentally, but the end result is the same.

    Regarding the following:

    My take

    Much of what you said there was facetious and immature — not to mention highly paranoid — so I’m not going to dignify it with a response.

    All asians are tarred with the same brush to the extent that they’re assumed to be Muslim.

    Congratulations Einstein, I’d never realised that.

    Let me take this back to one of your comments in #260:

    Not really, Jai. I mean wouldn’t it be a good thing to have different points of view in a discussion? and I think a lot of people would enjoy pulling apart your arguments.

    Firstly, I don’t necessarily support the examples I gave in the post concerned — I was using it as an analogy, by flipping some of your own arguments around and applying them to the West.

    And secondly…..

    Why would that kind of post be a bad thing?

    If you don’t understand why it would be inappropriate, insensitive, and horrendously counter-productive for a person to keep writing such posts on the hypothetical blog I described, especially in the context of the wider hypothetical discussions concerned and with regards to the specific audience on that blog, then that’s the fundamental cause of the problem.

    You also need to be a little less self-centred and not assume that whenever I say something like “FP does not justify terrorism against British civilians” during any discussion attempting to identify root causes, I’m specifically accusing you personally of having such a stance.

    You should also consider that while FP may be a major motivator behind the actions of many terrorists, it may not be the only cause or even the major one, and in many cases it may not really have anything to do with FP at all. There’s also a difference between something being a “reason” and an “excuse”, and again that’s going to depend on the specific individual.

    I’ve said all I wish to on this thread, so this will be my last post here.

  264. sonia — on 2nd July, 2007 at 11:26 am  

    well said jai, and you’re right, the key thing is distinguishing between ‘excuse’ and ‘reasons’. in any case, what amuses me is the ‘direct causality’ model of explaining things people like anas seem to be stuck in.

  265. Anas — on 2nd July, 2007 at 2:29 pm  

    Jai, I’ll admit some of the points attributed to you in the dialogue were actually made by others (like Katy) and the points about Islam being a religion of terror were definitely not made by you, though they still needed to be confronted (although to be frank I think you might have implied them “inadvertently”). But a lot of it, well basically you’ve just repeated in your last post. So I think my paranoia is justified. And yes I am pissed off at constantly being accused of being an apologist for terrorism, whether “inadvertently” or not (you know how patronising that is)– regardless of how many times I condemn it. Arguing with people who disagree with you is often an enlightening experience. I can’t really say the same of this discussion with you, you just couldn’t get past what you perceived as my apologism.

    in any case, what amuses me is the ‘direct causality’ model of explaining things people like anas seem to be stuck in.

    OK, David Hume, what’s so wrong with it? Please describe your new model that explains Islamist terrorism and does away with references to this antiquated concept of direct cause and effect?

  266. Usman — on 2nd July, 2007 at 2:51 pm  

    Anas I’m with you on this one.

    I reiterate that Islam does not allow the harming of innocent civilians. Unlike the leaders of the ‘war on terror’, Islam teaches to value the lives of all innocent civilians whether in London, Glasgow, Beirut, Baghdad or Kabul.

    In recent years, Muslims have had far greater experience of being the victims rather than the perpetrators of terror. The deaths of over 80 civilians in Afghanistan in recent days are the latest shocking reminder of this. Despite this, Muslims should never stoop to the level of the adherents of the insidious neocon ideology that has unleashed terror on Iraq and Afghanistan. It is these policies that are the root cause of worsening instability the world over.

    The continued dialectic about moderates and extremists, that tends to label those who criticise Western foreign policy or advocate the political tenets of Islam as extremists, is extremely counterproductive.

  267. sonia — on 2nd July, 2007 at 4:21 pm  

    yep, anas, amusing to me because so many people who dis the ‘western model’ use that simplistic one cause one effect idea. of course its simplistic – what model? how about multiple causes and multiple effects that aren’t “linear”.

  268. sonia — on 2nd July, 2007 at 4:26 pm  

    many different factors which feed cyclically into each other.

    oh no but we wouldn’t be able to blame one thing that way. Much as i’d love to, i’d like to blame one or two mullahs, or mullahs themselves, or someone like Mohammed for starting it all off, but realistically, whilst it might be very satisfying, there have been so many things along the way that go towards creating a situation where someone has such a fucked up idea of their agency that they feel blowing themselves up is somehow great. similarly, how you can’t just point to one poster which would explain why a sane human being would volunteer to be fodder for an impersonal, ungrateful ( most likely) nation-state.

  269. sonia — on 2nd July, 2007 at 4:29 pm  

    yes re-iterate away Usman, you’ve already pointed out that innocent is a matter of subjective perception. I’m sure Mohammed thought he wasn’t harming any ‘innocent’ civilians when he ‘conquered’ x y and z tribes which involved killing all the males and then taking their women as captives. did the captives think the same? most likely not. but who knows right? i daresay in the eyes of Mohammad they were ‘guilty’ not supporting Allah, but then again, i suppose similarly in the eyes of a would-be martyr, who is innocent and who is guilty?

  270. Anas — on 2nd July, 2007 at 6:52 pm  

    Sonia, I think you misunderstand me — not that that’s surprising. Just because there are many factors that cause something to occur it doesn’t mean we cannot isolate one factor that plays perhaps the most important role in causing a situation to occur. People use assumptions like these all the time like for example when police investigate the motivations for crimes or when historians try and piece together the factors that led to some event in history occurring. It’s not as simple as just “blaming” one thing but looking for causes and weighting those causes in terms of the contributions they make. And it’s an over-simplification in and of itself to say that just because there are many factors behind some actions occuring they must have equal weight. Read my FP piece, I’ve explained it there, in fact I think I’ve probably explained my thoughts on this whole matter most clearly on there.

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