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The Innocent and the Enemy

Thursday is book day at Telos. We use this time and space for posts about books, authors, and all sorts of writing, considered in light of the sorts of questions that are at home at Telos. As with all our blogs, you are invited to post a comment. If you have a book review that you’d like to post here, or some other comment on the worlds of writing, drop a line to us at telospress@aol.com.

Ayman al-Zawahari responded in an audio interview to the question, “Excuse me, Mr. Zawahri, but who is it who is killing with Your Excellency’s blessing the innocents in Baghdad, Morocco, and Algeria?” with the answer: “We [Al-Qaida] haven’t killed the innocents, not in Baghdad, nor in Morocco, nor in Algeria, nor anywhere else.”

He did however leave room for collateral damage: “If there is any innocent who was killed in the mujahedeen’s operations, then it was either an unintentional error or out of necessity.”

Meanwhile, Le Monde reports that Zawahari regards the United Nations as “the enemy of the Muslim world.” He also assured his public that there would be attacks on Jews (NB: not Zionists) inside Israel as well as outside. In his words, “We promise to our Muslim brothers that we will do all we can to strike the Jews in Israel and abroad, with the help and blessing of God.”

And all this brings to mind Carl Schmitt’s comment in the closing lines of Theory of the Partisan:

In 1914, the nations and governments of Europe stumbled into World War I without real enmity. Real enmity arose only out of the war, when a conventional state war of European international law began, and ended with a global civil war of revolutionary class enmity. Who can prevent unexpected new types of enmity from arising in an analogous, but ever more intensified way, whose fulfillment will produce unexpected new forms of a new partisan?

The theoretician can do no more than verify concepts and call things by name. The theory of the partisan flows into the question of the concept of the political, into the question of the real enemy and of a new nomos of the earth.

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