Sunday, February 21, 2010

Joseph Palermo, A Hundred Years of War.

This is a very hard hitting article showing how in part actions by the US itself helped foster Islamic extremism. He might have mentioned the US support for jihad against the Evil Empire in Afghanistan as well! There is a lot of blowback involved in what is happening. As Palermo points out a lot of the actions of the US such as drone attacks are themselves a form of terrorism. Of course acts of states or at least of the good states are never terrorist by definition. This is from the Huffington Post.

Joseph A. PalermoAuthor/Associate Professor of History

A Hundred Years of War

Are we really supposed to get excited and rejoice in the targeted assassination of enemy leaders? President Obama might end up making things worse for the opposite reasons Liz and Dick Cheney tell us. He's so unsure of himself in military matters he's leaving the big decisions to shortsighted generals.

Drone attacks are terrorism too. Killing entire families, including women and children, in the "border" areas of the "AF-PAK" theater to hit one "militant" or "extremist," without charge or trial, repeated countless times. This kind of thing is a recipe for a hundred years of war.

Al Qaeda didn't exist inside Iraq until the United States invaded. The U.S. toppled the apple cart away from the traditional Sunni (mostly secular) elites toward untested (mostly religious) Shia elements (tied, ironically, to Iran). In the 1980s, blind Cold War logic led the secular U.S. in Afghanistan to aid some of the most backward Sharia-law practicing fundamentalists.

Imperialism choked off many Islamic countries' secular resistance movements leaving only the mosques where political activity could survive. Power reinforces certain religious brands over others, like right-wing Christian evangelism in the United States or right-wing Shia fundamentalism in Iran. But powerlessness can also reinforce religious brands. (It's no surprise that the Iranian revolution of 1979 became Islamicized given that the Shah wiped out any viable secular movements for social betterment).

Since 1945, the U.S. has supported a fundamentalist theocracy in Saudi Arabia. If the problem with Al Qaeda is that they hate the West for "religious" reasons then why do they also hate the government in Riyadh? A U.S.-supported theocratic dictatorship hoarding oil wealth for a tiny elite. Here is where Osama bin Laden gets to appear honorable because he renounced his elite station in life to fight jihad. He even released a video recently citing global climate change, and the United States' disproportionate contribution of greenhouse gases, as yet another reason to hate the infidels.

People resisting occupation whether they believe in God, Jehovah, Allah, or the Great Spaghetti Monster in the Sky will resist with what's readily available. In the current context that means I.E.D.s, suicide bombs, and car bombs, the newly improved and perfected instruments of urban guerrilla warfare we can thank certain U.S. and U.K. leaders for making a permanent fixture of 21st Century life.

The invasion of Iraq was the greatest terrorist recruitment program ever. It destabilized one of the most important big cities in the Arab world. It fueled pan-Arab nationalism as well as jihad against the West. It caused a sectarian bloodbath because of the jolt given to power relations by external military force.

People are brutalized for decades and then we're "shocked" -- "shocked" -- that the brutalized people turn around and behave brutally themselves. Bitter, long-term power struggles have been unleashed in the heart of the Middle East and in South Asia. They certainly will not be resolved because of some drone attacks and targeted assassinations. The only thing these desperate actions accomplish is to further radicalize and Islamicize people who would otherwise much rather peacefully coexist. How long can the U.S. go on ignoring the underlying social and political causes of "terrorism?" Nobody wants to acknowledge that there might be grievances on the other side that need to be looked at. We couldn't hear it nine years ago after 9-11, and we still can't hear it now. Ostrich-like we bury our heads and push forward.

Books & More From Joseph A. Palermo

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