The Fertile Grounds for ISIL Terrorism

This article presents statistical estimates of ISIL support in the Muslim world, based on Pew data covering 42 percent of the total global Muslim population on favorability of four terror organizations, to be well compared with ISIL: Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, and al Qaeda, and the favorability of suicide bombing. It is assumed that these data (average support rates) reflect the true, but unknown, rates of ISIL support, which will be at somewhere around 17 percent of the entire global Muslim population. The article analyzes mechanisms that contribute towards ISIL favorability, such as anti-Americanism, the hatred of the State of Israel, and the advance of violent Islamism. Finally a comparison of the evolving terror scene with the conflict in Northern Ireland is also outlined.

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The Obsolescence of Anti-Imperialism:

Despite the approaching mid-term elections and the criticism of the Bush administration’s conduct of foreign policy, the left—domestically and internationally—has had a hard time in articulating an alternative positive vision. “Not Bush” only gets you so far: sooner or later a substantive alternative is needed to give opposition credibility. Facing turmoil (to say the least) in the Arab and Islamic world, what foreign policy would be preferable? Evidence demonstrates that neither “UN” nor “EU” is a believable response. But the problem is deeper than the pragmatics of current diplomacy.

The left (and liberal) imagination would prefer to cast the confrontation with Islamic extremism or, yes, Islamic fascism, as a matter of imperialism and “anti-imperialism.” The terminology constitutes a treasured legacy of the left, not only from Lenin’s account of imperialism and capitalism (which then permitted him and his successors to mask Soviet Russian expansionism as somehow “anti-imperialist”) but also from a more honorable resistance in the US and Europe to imperial expansion of the late nineteenth century.

In the meantime, anti-imperialism is today’s last hurrah of the traditional left. Having given up nearly all of its other principles, especially in the phase of multiculturalism and post-modernism, it drapes itself in the anti-imperialist flag as a way to remember its glory days. Hence the grotesque sight of the (extreme) left celebrating the reactionary forces of Hezbollah (ask about the role of women or the status of free unions).

The problem however is that the theory of anti-imperialism—probably insufficient already a century ago—is simply irrelevant today. Exactly which natural resources are being fought for in Afghanistan, that fabled land of plenty? Which advanced capitalist company really needs to export its “surplus capital” to the Sunni triangle? And which is the national liberation movement that leads Sunni to kill Shi’a in Pakistan?

None of these conceptualizations of empire and anti-imperialism is adequate to the current situation, which is very explicitly being driven by something else: either an ideological-religious fanaticism or, on a deeper cultural level, a desire for death. Let us consider the account most recently televised by our compatriot and now Al-Qaeda operative Adam Gadahn, otherwise known affectionately as “Azzam the American.” Gadahn, who has been sought by the FBI for several years aired an address on on September 2. In it he articulates aspects of the Islamic-fascist critique of the West and, as has been widely reported, called for conversion to Islam. . . . 

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Arab Moderates Criticize the Notion of a “Hezbollah Victory”: “What is Enlightenment” in the Arab World?

One of the features of the historical totalitarian regimes was the refusal to concede losses or defeats. In part this reflects ideological blinders, a refusal to recognize reality—or to test one’s views against reality—as was the case with the last Minister of Propaganda under Saddam, who claimed the American forces had been repelled, even as they were entering the capital. In addition, this inability to admit to defeat functions as ideology, a way to coerce support to movements or regimes, which promote themselves as victors in order to cement loyalty. Finally, the insistence on maintaining the appearance of victory despite losses reflects a willingness to sacrifice both resources and people: no matter how many have been killed, the totalitarian PR apparatus calls it a win. It is callousness in the face of suffering.

Hezbollah’s declaration of victory follows these patterns. While it is true that the Israelis were not able to oust Hezbollah, neither did Hezbollah achieve its goals—which is only a “victory” if the standard is dumbed down far enough. Journalistic echoing the credo of a victory amplifies Hezbollah ideology, but the claim just does not match reality. Sober and moderate voices in the Arab world are beginning to point that out. To the extent that this blog has made the argument regarding “Islamic fascism,” it is equally important to take note of the critical analyses within the Arab world itself. . . . 

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Cradle to Grave: Hezbollah Children

In the debates during and after the recent war in Lebanon, supporters of Hezbollah have tried to represent it as a deliverer of social welfare and not as a terrorist organization. Let us leave aside the question as to why a social welfare organization would be armed to the teeth and dwell for a moment in order to consider the claim itself and its theoretical/political implications. The utopia of the social welfare state has been phrased for a more than a century in terms of providing benefits to its client-citizens “from cradle to grave.” In other words, the whole life course would become an object of state administrative practices. This bureaucratic apparatus logically necessitates some level of intrusion by the state into the private sphere of family life: care-taking, starting with the cradle, means a politicization of the nursery, and so forth. Hence Hayek’s anxieties that even a modest social state would not stay modest for long and set out on a “road to serfdom.”

To talk about Hezbollah as only a welfare state is an apologistic misrepresentation, akin to discussing Hitler in terms of managing unemployment and building the Autobahn (the way the press praises Hezbollah for its Iran-bankrolled big-spending in the Lebanese reconstruction). Hezbollah is however like a “welfare state” in the Hayekian sense: leveraging its resources and political clout to extend a tyrannical control over the private sphere. This is nowhere more evident than in the fate of the Hezbollah children.

Hezbollah children Hezbollah children

The intrusion of Nazi ideology into nascent pan-Arabism in the 1930s in fact included the establishment of youth movements modeled on the Hitlerjugend, and the lynchpin in this connection was none other than Baldur von Schirach, the leader of the Nazi youth program. This sort of fascist politicization of youth therefore has a long history, but Hezbollah has taken it to new heights. Its message to the Lebanese is evidently this: the price for the social welfare benefits is sacrificing your children. The content of Hezbollah’s welfare state practice is to accelerate the itinerary from cradle to grave: straight from the cradle, into the grave.

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