Saturday, January 10, 2015

Like 9-11, the Paris massacre is not about "Us"

Just as in the aftermath of 9-11, the endless commentary following the Charlie Hebdo massacre all seem to be reworkings of George W. Bush's "why do they hate us?" speech with its long list of our democratic virtues and the perpetrators' lack of the same:
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
The western commentators then and now, just as Bush himself did, mostly ignore the elementary, basic, central, core truth in next paragraph of his speech:
They want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
That is really what this is all about. What Al Qaeda and ISIS want is quite simple and our role in their getting it is merely instrumental.

Coming from a culture as self referential as ours it is very difficult to get our minds around the idea that neither Al Qaeda or ISIS care a fig about our "values" as lived in our countries, they care about their values as lived in their countries... This is not about "us", it is about "them" and our values and our power are to be exploited to change those "existing governments".

If these attacks cause anti-Muslim sentiment in western countries, so much the better... France's Marine Le Pen and Germany's Pegida movement are some of radical Islam's most valuable western assets as they prove to the masses of "Muslim countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan" the Islamist message that their unelected rulers are collaborators with the enemies of their religion and culture.

Thus, we in the west are only tools, levers, in their struggle to take power away from rulers such as the Saudi royal family, who Islamist activists see as apostate, libertine, puppets and tools of western kafirs (unbelievers), and then taking power from them, create a Islam-wide caliphate with its capital in the holy city of Mecca toward which devout Muslims pray five times a day.
As the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of Muhammad's first revelation of the Quran (specifically, a cave 3 km (2 mi) from Mecca), Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam and a pilgrimage to it known as the Hajj is obligatory for all able Muslims. Mecca is home to the Kaaba, by majority description Islam's holiest site, as well as being the direction of Muslim prayer. Mecca was long ruled by Muhammad's descendants, the sharifs, acting either as independent rulers or as vassals to larger polities. It was absorbed into Saudi Arabia in 1925. Wikipedia
At bottom both 9-11 and the Paris massacre are both examples of what 19th century anarchists called  the "propaganda of the deed" and "we" are not the target audience, the people of Saudi Arabia are.

As I wrote in a previous post a few days ago:
Saudi Arabia is the home of Mecca and Medina. No Islamic Caliphate could pretend to represent all Muslims without controlling the two holiest sites of Islam. Obviously conquering Saudi Arabia would have to be ISIS's final goal as it has always has been Al-Qaeda's... and there is wide, popular support for their views in the country.
Since Osama bin Laden was killed, and more importantly since ISIS has been able to carve out something alarmingly like a sovereign state in Syria and Iraq, Al Qaeda was looking rather washed up.

With the attack in Paris and at the cost of only three of their "mujahedin", they have been able to push ISIS clear out of the headlines worldwide and regain some of their previous relevance... western media are only the echo chamber. And there are quite a few eager to listen. There are probably many people in Saudi Arabia, who are applauding the Charlie Hebdo killings and they and not westerners are Al Qaeda's real audience.
There is a broad category of Saudis who agree with the extreme interpretations of religion and the call to jihad espoused by Osama bin Laden, and they're also in agreement with Bin Laden's political perspective — accusing the Saudi royals of being puppets of the West, attacking the U.S. for support of Israel and its invasion of Iraq, opposing the U.S. troop presence in the region. There is a significant section of Saudi public opinion that is supportive of Bin Laden. Time
All that stands between the Islamist and power in Saudi Arabia are the Saudi royal family and again, as I said in my previous post, the gerontocratic Saudi royal family is at a critical juncture:
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is suffering from a lung infection and has been breathing with the aid of a tube, Saudi officials have said. The monarch, who is said to be aged about 90, was admitted to hospital on Wednesday for medical checks. King Abdullah, who came to the throne in 2005, has suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years. His age and condition has led to increasing focus on the issue of the Saudi royal succession. Crown Prince Salman, who is in his late 70s, is next in line to succeed the king, though questions remain over who will follow. BBC News
Here are a couple of clippings to give you a clear idea of what is at stake for the world economy of having the world's largest oil producer in the same country as Mecca and Medina:
Saudi Arabia has 16% of the world's proved oil reserves, is the largest exporter of total petroleum liquids in the world, and maintains the world's largest crude oil production capacity. U.S. Energy Information Administration

Light crude oil receives a higher price than heavy crude oil on commodity markets because it produces a higher percentage of gasoline and diesel fuel when converted into products by an oil refinery.(...)The largest oil field in the world, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar field, produces light crude oils Wikipedia
If Islamists took over Saudi Arabia and, for example, mined the oil fields, making western military intervention impossible, then ceased pumping oil... it would be hard to imagine the knock-on effects to the world economy and to world peace.

Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr once famously said that "shouting fire in a crowded theater" couldn't be considered "free speech". This is certainly not an invitation to government censorship, but rather an invitation to our using some simple common sense at perhaps the most critical juncture in the 21rst century to date.  DS


stunted said...

Mr. Pfaff, at , is informative, as always, on this very topic.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I came here to see what you were saying on it and all I see is someone deep in denial about what he himself does. If radical Zionists acted out like some radical Islamists do, we could easily be chanting "Soy David Seaton", David. Think about it. Sometimes things are just what they seem, not part of a complicated plot. All terrorists are not geniuses. Sometimea attacks on journalists are attacks on journalists. They have been happening allover the world an awful lot lately.

Anonymous said...

P.S. to my last comment. I thought of a better example that might help you to see what I was saying. What if Obamabots in his first campaign acted out like some radical Islamists do? Don't you get the idea of trying to frighten journalists into toeing a certain line with terrorist attacks? They weren't saying anything to Saudi Arabia, David, they were sending Western journalists a message. It's just that simple, it's not a plot that needs deconstruction. You're actually insulting them that you're so dense as tp not get the message, or to think that they must not mean what they meant to say.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Sorry Art, but this really is not about "US", for Al Qaeda, Western journalists insulting the Prophet are "a gift from heaven", as are the Israeli settlers tearing up Palestinian olive groves etc. Here is an article by my favorite columnist William Pfaff that will set you straight: