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 It's the Ideology, Stupid

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Sim0n
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PostSubject: It's the Ideology, Stupid   Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:59 am

Wherever the global jihad strikes, it does so with the same goal: the establishment of a worldwide Islamist state. This is as true when the Taliban conducts suicide operations in Pakistan as it is when Turkey’s Islamist government sends a “freedom flotilla” seeking martyrdom in support of Hamas. It is true of terrorists plotting attacks on America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, whether at Fort Hood, in London, Madrid, Mumbai, Detroit, Nairobi, or Times Square. And it makes no difference whether the terrorists are home-grown, come from far away, or—in an ironic twist—are Americans trained at al Qaeda camps in Yemen. Whatever rhetorical pretext may be advanced by the jihadist network—national dignity, expulsion of invaders, an end to social injustice—all of its components, whether state or nonstate actors, are united in a revolutionary purpose, justified by their millenarian ideology: the overthrow of the West and its Enlightenment values through violent struggle to usher in an age of happiness for all mankind. The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran—increasingly the country most bent on leading this international network—proclaims the global umma to be the ultimate purpose of the Islamic Revolution.
Yet almost no one ever says this. The Obama administration, finally driven to concede that “acts of terror” are taking place, still avoids identifying the revolutionary ideology that is the central problem. Government officials do not speak of an open-ended struggle between liberal democracy and a totalitarian movement bent on instituting a collectivist utopia. Nor do they draw the connection between this struggle for the soul of modernity and our earlier, decades-long resistance to communism and fascism. Washington, indeed, has been overwhelmingly vague in its account of jihadism, never emphasizing to the public, for instance, that Major Nidal Hasan and “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab are driven by the same ideology that motivates murderers in Baghdad and Kabul. And many opinion makers join in the obfuscation. Within minutes of learning of the shootings at Fort Hood, CNN labelled it a “rampage killing,” as if the incident bore some resemblance to what happened at Columbine High School. The president referred to Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist.” National Security Council chief of staff Denis McDonough used the same term to describe would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, who was trained in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano even called terrorist attacks “man-caused disasters,” implicitly likening the decision to blow up innocents to a freak of nature as senseless as Hurricane Katrina.
The many cells of the global jihad are linked by a revolutionary ideology, which is why we need a more robust lexicon to describe the threat. The Bush era’s “war on terror” has become a worn-out place holder for something we are unwilling to name. Besides, the emphasis on “terror” subtly recasts a political act as a psychological aberration of the “terrorist,” an inexplicable lashing out that could turn up anywhere, like bad weather, interrupting the flow of normal human behavior. In this view, politically motivated violence is reduced to some psychotic episode (“he snapped”) or some lurch of despair bred by poverty and hopelessness.
Economic despair, to be sure, has helped make non-Western countries recruiting grounds for Islamist movements, just as they were for previous revolutionary movements like Third World socialism. And jihadists are quick to weave the language of Marxist class struggle, national liberation, environmentalism, and anticapitalism into their explicitly religious call to arms. But despair does not suffice to explain the motives of jihadist leaders, the designers and strategists of terrorist attacks. It ignores the fact that people are quite capable of a principled, methodical hatred of liberal democracy and the political values of the Enlightenment, especially when these are seen as tainting one’s own country via foreign military or cultural invasion. Reducing the causes of terrorism to poverty ignores the fact that a hatred born of wounded honor and moral outrage is independently rooted in human character and is therefore an independent variable in the equation of political extremism. This has been understood at least since Plato considered the “spirited” part of the soul.
The designers and practitioners of revolutionary violence, moreover, are not usually poor, disadvantaged, uneducated, or lacking in avenues for advancement. Osama bin Laden is from a wealthy family, and world-class political mass-murderers before him include the middle-class Lenin, son of a high-ranking civil servant, and the Sorbonne-educated Pol Pot. Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that such figures—who cannot be placated with economic well-being because they are motivated by a principled hatred of the West—make up only 1 percent of all political killers, we still must understand them if we are to make sense of the violence they orchestrate—and forestall it.
Ideological motivation alone is not enough to distinguish the terrorist. Many assassins have a twisted view of the justice of their cause. The killer of Martin Luther King Jr. thought his victim was a dangerous Communist. The Washington Beltway sniper had formed Black Muslim loyalties in prison. Even John Lennon’s assassin believed he was removing an evil force from the world. Common sense tells us that these lone assassins are not terrorists in the same way as al Qaeda or as past leaders and comrades in other cohesive extremist political movements.
Instead, terrorists are revolutionaries committed to killing, even to the extent of genocide, to bring about a better world as they invision it. To join this particular tribe, members must carry out acts of large-scale political murder for the sake of the ideal they share: a future society that will end all alienation, vice, and unhappiness forever by submerging the individual in the bliss of the righteous collective. This future utopia can only be brought about if the one group or force standing in the way is annihilated, for that group or force is construed as the cause of all human unhappiness, injustice, and oppression. This is a trait common to revolutionary movements from the Jacobins all the way down to the jihadists of today.
Depending on the movement and the era, the impediment to universal bliss may be the bourgeoisie, capital, the kulaks, the Jews, America, Israel, the infidel. Destroying this evil force, sometimes embodied in a nation-state, sometimes in a class or race, revolutionaries believe, will liberate mankind forever. The very violence of the deed will itself be cathartic for the “warriors,” transmuting their souls as heroic avatars of the cleansed world to come—the Communist new order, the Third Reich, the Year Zero proclaimed by the Khmer Rouge, the worldwide caliphate that will supposedly restore original Islamic purity. Whether working in the United States or abroad, today’s jihadist revolutionaries are bent on the eventual overthrow of the American government and all other liberal democracies and their replacement with a global Islamist dictatorship as little resembling true Islam as true democracy. While sometimes imitating the language of freedom and equality, revolutionary movements as far back as the Jacobins have originated in the conviction that representative government and the Enlightenment are disastrous for human dignity and can only degrade all that is virtuous and dutiful.
Only these idealists of death, the practitioners of utopian genocide, provide a category for comprehending al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, thus enabling us to distinguish political mass murder from school massacres, hate crimes, assassinations, and idiosyncratic apocalyptic rampages like Charles Manson’s “bringing down helter-skelter.” The revolutionaries’ motivation is not “terrorism,” an increasingly empty abstraction. Rather, terrorism is a means, and it is but one means toward the end of the collectivist utopia, alongside relentless propaganda, bribery, intimidation of opponents, paralegal military action, conventional warfare, charitable good works among potential converts, tactical compromises with ordinary political processes, and the ceaseless psychological conditioning of young people in the need to fight against the oppressive force supposedly blocking the people’s road to happiness, all of these integrated and directed by the blueprint for the coming new society. From Robespierre to Stalin, Hitler, Che Guevara, and Mullah Omar, they should be described for what they are—revolutionaries, whose violence today serves their belief in the world of tomorrow where THEY WILL RULE.
Today’s terrorists are aspiring tyrants. They kill in order to bring about a grim collective whose power over us all will be absolute, thereby making us “happy” by purging us of the corruption of individualism, economic well-being, free choice, female equality, and rights. And wherever such idealists of death have come to power, they have built regimes that continue to terrorize their populations in order to build the “new man.” Looking through the charters and pronouncements of groups like the PLO, the Taliban, and Hezbollah, one discovers, never far beneath the pseudo-religious surface, the language of socialism (both national and international), the levelling of classes, and the eradication of individual liberty under a monolithic dictatorship. However they may understand themselves, the jihadists, like their fascist and Bolshevik predecessors, cannot be considered true men of faith, because all three of the Abrahamic faiths deny that man can save the world through secular political action, much less through mass violence. For truly pious people, only God can redeem the world. Genuine Muslim religious authorities have consistently denounced the jihadists as irreligious. One such body in Jordan, the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, has written that “Islam does not countenance utopian ideology,” and adds, “When one can justify any act in the name of a worldly utopia, then one has passed into pure utilitarianism.”

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PostSubject: Re: It's the Ideology, Stupid   Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:12 am

I hear what you are saying about terrorists! These horrible people kill in the name of their proposed ideology - trying to destabilise the 'grip or rule' of the established ideology. How dare they? Don't these murderous wretches realise that WE ARE RIGHT AND THEY ARE WRONG - ABOUT.....WELL ABOUT EVERYTHING?

I totally agree with you that...as you say...

'From Robespierre to Stalin, Hitler, Che Guevara, and Mullah Omar, they should be described for what they are—revolutionaries, whose violence today serves their belief in the world of tomorrow where THEY WILL RULE.'

Hey wait a moment...shouldn't we add GEORGE WASHINGTON to that list? This cold hearted terrorist killing machine established a militia to take the lives of my innocent and well meaning colonialist forefathers. Damn him!! My forefathers were right in everything they did in the colonies - their governance of the colonies was unquestionable and just. Then along comes an upstart terrorist like GEORGE WASHINGTON - with his crude militia and crackpot vision of a better America and bang - there's killing a plenty!!!

Damn these terrorists with their revolutionary ideologies and visions of a better way of life. Can't they see they are so bloody wrong?
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PostSubject: Re: It's the Ideology, Stupid   Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:25 am

Neither Washington, nor his army, ever killed an innocent on purpose. Nor did he ever hold a civilian hostage. Nor did he ever drive some bomb laden horse into a building of english civilians and blow them up.

You forget your history Space. Washington's army fought the British army and we fought it in America, not in England. I think you will discover (if you do a bit of research) that Washington, in fact, fought a very civilized war. It wasn't until those Indians got involved (bless them) that Washington started using anything close to terrorist tactics to win the war. And by terrorist tactics, I mean instead of lining up on the field with bayonets and walking directly into the enemies fire, he hid in the forests and shot them as they marched. Still, he was shooting at the army, not some innocent english farmhand tending his fields.


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PostSubject: Re: It's the Ideology, Stupid   Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:00 pm

My historical understanding isn't really in question...I was responding to the post.

History...as we all know...was generally written by the victorious. History...as we all know...is all about perspective. I'm sure that Che Guevara and Nelson Mandela would also argue that they didn't target and kill innocents - but that didn't stop them being branded as terrorists. Even to this day, some people insist that they are terrorists. So excuse me if I draw a parallel between THEM and WASHINGTON...but like the original post suggests...it's the ideology, stupid.
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