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Does U.S. Foreign Policy bear any responsibilty for the rise of Islamic Extremism

Does U.S. bear any responsibility for the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism?

  • Yes, total

    Votes: 5 12.8%
  • No, none at all

    Votes: 11 28.2%
  • Well, some but not much, far more important is...

    Votes: 9 23.1%
  • It is mainly the U.S.'s fault but there are other factors, such as...

    Votes: 12 30.8%
  • About as much as any of these...

    Votes: 2 5.1%

  • Total voters
    39

freethought6t9

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I have posted this poll in order to address a very serious question. Namely the one above. It is in response to a debate I was having on a different thread where I met a most strange, and at least to my mind, illogical perception of events currently taking place in the world today, namely the War on Terror. The question had been put to me; what has America ever done that was so wrong that it deserved this, and it was followed by a list of some 60-odd terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalists. Despite the obvious brutality of the crimes, I was taken aback by the question, as the questioner had just a few posts earlier listed a number of crimes and interventions that the U.S. had perpetrated that were sure to inflame the Arab population.

So I decided to respond, and after dredging up just a few policies of the United States as well as vague economic dealings and human rights abuses by U.S. client states, I decided to do a little (and I do mean little) research. Basically I typed U.S. middle east intervention into google and clicked on the first result. Try it yourself or just use this link, I thoroughly recommend the piece;

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-159.html

Now I am sure those of you responding may have some problems with the article, so first a little background, the CATO Institute, in case you are unfamiliar with it, identifies itself as dedicated to ideals of limited government, individual liberties, free markets and peace, at least that much is evident from the web-site. Therefore I would conclude they would be given a conservative/libertarian label in the U.S. and Europe or simply liberal, or perhaps neo-liberal in of the world. Certain ambiguities of their background and funding are not satisfied by examination of the web-site. It is certainly relevant to say that Richard Mellon-Scaife, Rupert Murdoch and the Coors Foundation are involved in the Institute, either through funding or as in Murdoch's case by serving as a board member, quickly establishing fears that the Institute is a corporate lobbyist masquerading as libertarian. A harsh assessment to be sure.

The Institutes policies on social security, welfare, medicaid and taxation, as well as the size of government and it's role in regulating business radically differ from my own, nevertheless the article I have posted, I found to be extremely interesting although a few of the conclusions differed from my own. Nevertheless, based on the Institutes background and policies I would expect the only one's to be screaming bias, would be those on the left.

Now, onto the article itself, as I said earlier, this poll is in response to an earlier debate I had, and I was asked to supply examples of what the U.S. has ever done to cause the rise of such religious fundamentalism. Well I believe this article contains many such examples, and at the same time ignores others. The accusation of omissions that I would charge the article with are firstly, the lack of analysis of the impact of U.S. economic policy in the region is in my mind almost criminal, but as the title of the article is a critique of foreign policy, perhaps this is not strictly relevant, although a case can I suppose be made that these omissions are in respect to the nature and ideology of the Institute. There are references to deals made in the post-war era, but these deals are never clearly explained, and the economic impact to the populations are not examined at all. This I would argue is a major effect of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

A far more serious lack of emphasis is put upon humanitarian crises caused by U.S. or U.S. backed actions in the region. Again vague references are made in some places, such as Iran and most certainly Israel, but they are largely ignored in the article, which examines in far more depth the political implications of U.S. intervention. Again, I would say that this is a major effect of U.S. foreign policy and one that is most certainly not ignored by the peoples of the region.

The third omission, is perhaps quite explainable in terms of the context of the piece, and may in some ways explain the other curious omissions in the analysis, namely, the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. Explainable perhaps, because of when it was written. Just after the end of the Gulf War and before Islamic Terrorism had taken on any kind of domestic significance in the U.S., i.e. it was before September 11th, although the exclusion of information pertaining to CIA training and funding of the 100,000 mujahideen is bizarre to say the least. It could account for the other omissions as their was as yet no need for extensive research into the attitudes of the general population, although repeated warnings are made of problems in the future due to what was then current or recent policy decisions. I would thus argue that the article contains relevant lessons for the current climate, as well as an exhaustive account of U.S. foreign policy, the naivete inherent in it as well as the negative impact of it on U.S. image throughout the region.

What is stressed in the article is the fear of the strong feelings of nationalism in the region and U.S. attempts to suppress this sentiment. A significant example (in my opinion) is Iran, where the U.S. intervened to overthrow a strong nationalist government with a right-wing and violent dictator. This regime was eventually overthrown by the now infamous Islamic Revolution, at which time President Carter described previous U.S. intervention i.e. the arming and support for the recently ousted regime, as 'ancient history'. I believe it is this laissez faire attitude to U.S. interventions, and accepting no responsibility for their own actions that has led to the disassociation of previous (and even current!) U.S. policies from the rise (in significance at least) of Islamic terror. I would argue that it is this strong sense of nationalism (perhaps a reason for less invasive Soviet policies) that the U.S. has sought to curb that is where organisations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are able to provoke such strong support in the region.

Some argue that it is Islamic principles that are being twisted into a hatred of the West and specifically America, I would argue that the intense sense of victimisation felt by the middle eastern inhabitants has been used a means of shoring up support for increasingly radical Islamic clerics and organisations. After all the Saudi Royal Family do not recieve popular support at home yet the only substantive difference between them and Al Qaeda are a pro-American stance. Perhaps it is the thought of basic freedoms, self governance and even a sense of social justice that causes the Arab populations to support these terrorists. What I would also stress is that the Arab sense of victimisation is not unfounded, and there are legitimate grievances. Some are outlined in the article, the primary purpose of which is to show to some extent the harm U.S. foreign policy does, and from a fairly uncontroversial (to the right at least) source. I don't know what kind of reaction an Amnesty International or Oxfam report would provoke on this thread, but I have had negative responses in the past.

The U.S.-Israel connection is also crucial,as is the sense of victimisation felt by Israelis, largely a fabrication as they are far and away the most powerful nation in the region, certainly the only nuclear-equipped and now with the worlds only super-power providing back-up. Indeed as this report shows, the Soviets were crucial in halting Israeli aggression, although the veiled blackmail attempts of Israel alluded to in the piece are at times contradicted by the actions of Kissinger, Reagan and others.

Altogether though, I think the piece is fairly honest, if missing detail in crucial areas, I also think that it can be reasonably assumed that Islamic terrorism, and specifically 9/11 can be said to be an effect. Causality dictates that these effects must have causes, and I think this analysis can go a long way in identifying at least some of these causes. How much of an effect these policies have had in creating the circumstances in which 'terror breeds' is what we are here to discuss.

All evidence is welcome, I do in no way wish to confine the debate to the content of one article, I myself may post more articles in the hope of encouraging meaningful and informed debate.
 

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http://www.isreview.org/issues/15/blood_for_oil.shtml

I have posted this article to try to at least begin to elaborate on the intense humanitarian crisis U.S. intervention creates, the thousands dead due to Israel, the repressive regimes backed by the U.S. and the military superiority that U.S. backing guarantees, whether in the case of Israel it is over Arab neighbours, or in the case of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, superiority over its own population as police states have effectively been created by the U.S.

To argue that the U.S. did not know the effect its own policies would have is pure folly. It is an argument that has been made and I would point to these articles as a valid refute on this argument. The U.S. has always acted in a way to suppress strong Nationalist movements in the area, in fact this article clearly states that U.S. support for Islamic extremists was simply another attempt to curb Arab Nationalism. This is certainly true of Saudi Arabia, and is also the case in terms of Israeli support for Hamas in an attempt to weaken the PLO, whose overiding ideology was and remains one of Palestinian/Arab Nationalism.

Once again, the humanitarian crisis is not thoroughly examined, but more emphasis is placed on this than in the previous, more scholarly work. And as in the previous article, economic effects are largely unexamined, although crucially they are not ignored as they were in the CATO policy analysis. There is a brief statement regarding the corruption of the House of Saud, but in my opinion it is all too brief and confined to comment only in regard to Saudi Arabia.

In terms of an examination on real economic conditions in the area, it is important to look, not at GDP or national debt, but unemployment, state benefits such as fundamentals like education and healthcare. Perhaps the best source I have come across is the 9/11 commission, which examined these indices at great length, in a hope of further understanding how terrorism breeds. I would also recommend "Why Do People Hate America" and "American Dream, Global Nightmare", both by Merryl Wyn-Davies and Ziauddin Sardar, exhaustive analyses of the effects of U.S. foriegn and economic policy as well as Globalisation and the far reaching implications to ordinary people all around the world.

In order to even begin to understand the "terrorist threat" surely we must look at the conditions which allow it to gain support, if this is not done, then we can never reasonably expect to reduce terrorism, especially if the U.S. and other allies in the "War on Terror" do not stop committing terrorist atrocities.
 

cnredd

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When I got to this part of the article sourced above...I admit I stopped reading....we've found an answer...

After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Britain and France drew the boundaries of the new states in the Middle East with absolutely no input from the people of the region. All promises of Arab independence the British had made to various local leaders during the First World War were scrapped. At the 1919 peace conference, when the victorious powers sat down to divvy up the spoils, foremost in their minds was the need to keep the region divided and thereby easier to control:

Private oil concerns pushed their governments (in the national interest, of course) to renounce all wartime promises to the Arabs. For the oilmen saw only too well that oil concessions and royalties would be easier to negotiate with a series of rival Arab states lacking any sense of unity, than with a powerful independent Arab state in the Middle East.1

Britain took the areas that became Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. France took Syria and Lebanon. Each state was then handed to local kings and sheiks who owed their position to British tutelage. Kuwait was handed to the al-Sabah family. After he was promised a united Arab republic, the Hashemite King Hussein was awarded Jordan. Britain gave Ibn Saud Saudi Arabia--the only country in the world named after its ruling family. France put Lebanon in the hands of the Christian minority.


Everything....EVERYTHING...that was done between this time and now was...
a)because of this...
b)was done with Europe's blessing...

"Yes, but Europe much more so..." would have been my option....
 

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Modern spread of Wahhabism
Wahhabism is the official form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. In 1924 the Wahhabi al-Saud dynasty conquered Mecca and Medina, cities holy to Muslims, creating the Saudi state. The spread of Wahhabi Islam has been facilitated by Saudi oil revenues; Saudi laypeople, government officials and clerics have donated many tens of millions of dollars to create Wahhabi-oriented religious schools, newspapers and outreach organizations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabism

Pretty silent until the early 20th Century...

Wonder why...

Could it be because Britain GAVE control to the "Wahhabi al-Saud dynasty"?

Great call there...

"Here Mr. Patient!...Have the keys to the asylum!"
 

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So, when you say, you stopped reading, is that because as soon as you found one quote that would absovle America totally of any blame, the need for further information became irrelevant.

And your reference to Saudi oil revenues as responsible for the rise of Wahhabism is not only directly connected to western foreign policy, but also an attempt to confine once again the narrows of debate. Islam is extremely splintersd and attempts to link all extremism to Wahhabism have no firm foundations. In fact in the very entry you posted the salafi say Al Qaeda and Osama are not one of them!

But of course, to blame Britain for everything is fine is it, but America can recieve no blame atg all for it's support of Wahhabism and their encouragement in its spread during the 20th century. Read the articles and then tell me this is the case.

We, or more importantly I am not talking about actions in the pre-War era, it was an entirely different world, America was not present on the Global stage, Britain and France were dominant. If this were still the case, I have no doubt that the title of this poll would be; Does European Intervention bear any responsibility for the rise of Islamic extremism?, but this is not the case, the geo-political landscape of the middle east and more importantly the whole world has changed dramatically, not only in the Post-War era. but perhaps more crucially, in the past 15 years. Doubtless continued support for the Sauds was important, but far more important was the formation of Israel and the wars and conflicts this has provoked. Now once again you will be able to respond with a quote blaming it all on the British or French. Of course we were key architects of the betrayal of the Arabs and the formation of the Jewish state. But your blunt protestations of U.S. innocence ignores the underlying subtleties of the situation. One of the reasons I liked this article was a valid attempt to ascertain the personal and political motivations behind policy.

And of course your whole argument disregards the last 50 years of conflict, aggression, mass murder, poverty, repression, military coups, starvation and other such atrocities and human rights abuses. All payed for courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, and at great profitability to the American businessman, the natives? f**k them.
 
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cnredd

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freethought6t9 said:
So, when you say, you stopped reading, is that because as soon as you found one quote that would absovle America totally of any blame, the need for further information became irrelevant.
Now if THAT were a true statement, why would I write THIS to the question...Does U.S. Foreign Policy bear any responsibilty for the rise of Islamic Extremism?

"Yes, but Europe much more so..." would have been my option....

That's pretty far from "absovle America totally of any blame".

Stopped reading MY post a little early, too?:2wave:

Even further on, you write...But of course, to blame Britain for everything is fine is it

How about THIS one?...But your blunt protestations of U.S. innocence

Which, through my option, is NOT what I've done!...Please stop twisting....
 
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And the third option would be yours. Well some, but far more important is..., you see, this answer signifies your belief that although there is some influence, there are far greater influences. I don't think I had enough time to come up with every possible answer to the question si I used the three dots, ..., to ask for elaborations, instead of writing "please elaborate" after all of the options. Of course you could just click 'no', it would logically follow your thinking.
 
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freethought6t9

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I was simply pointing out fatal flaws in your logic. Stop arguing about the debate, and start debating the issue.
 

cnredd

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freethought6t9 said:
I was simply pointing out fatal flaws in your logic. Stop arguing about the debate, and start debating the issue.
What part of "Yes" in my option,"Yes, but Europe much more so..." are you having a problem with?
 

freethought6t9

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Which part of "stop arguing about debate and start debating the issue" don't you understand.
 

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Well as one of the few Muslim posters on this board I believe that the main problem in the M.E. are the Arab "Uncle Tom" leaders......that explains why all the countries in that region spend more money on defense than health care or education....because they dont give a crap about their people....Now the West bears some of this responsibility because in many cases they set up these leaders and continue to support them even when the citizens of those countries try to "oust" those puppets it is also seen as Western Hypocracy especially when Western Leaders get on the World stage and speak of freedom and rights for all and still yet support these Uncle Tom's ....but for Arabs to concentrate their efforts at the West directly instead of at these leaders is futile and will never work (IMO)




peace
 

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But surely you see that while the West are still supporting these 'uncle Toms' as you call them, brutal dictators as others do, then there can be no chance of the local populations doing anything, any attempts to break free of Western influence are met with invasion, and the waging of proxy wars. These policies continue to the present day.

The Iraqi insurgency in Iraq is attributed to Al Qaeda, but this is in direct response to a foreign occupation, so once again I think this is simply a perversion of Arab nationalism by Islamic extremists. The official line on the insurgency has little credibility though. At times it is an Al Qaeda war, at others it is remnants of the Ba'ath party and at others it is simply representative of a larger Sunni wish to remain in power. It is in it's 'death throes' one month, and it's deadliest phase in the next. We are supposed to believe that increases in violence prove that the insurgency is losing and also to believe that Iraq requires long-term commitment. At one point it was estimated (by Rumsfeld I believe) that the insurgency would last over a decade. This level of doublethink required by the U.S. population is impressive but they have proven up to the task, remarkably so. I also think a strong case can be made in assuming that the insurgency has been stirred up by invoking nationalist pride, not religious extremism. This has been an added benefit to the jihadists.
 

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I should clarify that I don't think the tactics of Al Qaeda will work in the long run. But history has proven that in order to rid yourself of the extremist minority, you need to help repair relations and listen to grievances of the moderate majority. This is how progress in Northern Ireland was made, and it is how progress in Israel will move forward, as well as the wider world.

Iraq should prove that you cannot simply kill a resistance movement, as the harder you crack down, the more fierce the resistance becomes. True, it can be successfully crushed by imposing a totalitarian level of government control, i.e. a police state, but I think we can all agree that we don't want this. So what can be done?
 

ban.the.electoral.college

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I am working on reading your sources. And, I just wanted to say thank you for trying to raise the bar, yet again. I think it is safe to say that many people here lack the ability to engage in discussion as well as you, myself included. But, thank you again for having faith and engaging effort to dig deeper into the roots of problems without being hypercritical. I'll get back to you once I have done a little bit more research... so far this looks like the best thread/poll I've yet to stumble upon.
 
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Surenderer said:
Well as one of the few Muslim posters on this board I believe that the main problem in the M.E. are the Arab "Uncle Tom" leaders......that explains why all the countries in that region spend more money on defense than health care or education....because they dont give a crap about their people....Now the West bears some of this responsibility because in many cases they set up these leaders and continue to support them even when the citizens of those countries try to "oust" those puppets it is also seen as Western Hypocracy especially when Western Leaders get on the World stage and speak of freedom and rights for all and still yet support these Uncle Tom's ....but for Arabs to concentrate their efforts at the West directly instead of at these leaders is futile and will never work (IMO)peace
Yes, but why did we and do we support these leaders? Answer: In the past it was to stop the spread of communist expansion I see no reason to apologize for this, and now it is because we have to stop the spread of radical pan Islamic fundamentalists who, as in Iran, would claim to be a movement to free the people but in reality would set up just another dictatorship under the guise of democracy, which would be by far more of a danger to stability in the region, I see no need to apologize for this either. I think the solution is for the west to increase the pressure on the existing leaders to enact more democratic reforms. As King Hussein of Jordan has said to the rest of the region: "The Mid-East is changing either change with it or this change may be forced upon you." This was not an exact quote but catches the basic gist from what I can recall from memory.
 

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Trajan Octavian Titus said:
Yes, but why did we and do we support these leaders? Answer: In the past it was to stop the spread of communist expansion I see no reason to apologize for this, and now it is because we have to stop the spread of radical pan Islamic fundamentalists who, as in Iran, would claim to be a movement to free the people but in reality would set up just another dictatorship under the guise of democracy, which would be by far more of a danger to stability in the region, I see no need to apologize for this either. I think the solution is for the west to increase the pressure on the existing leaders to enact more democratic reforms. As King Hussein of Jordan has said to the rest of the region: "The Mid-East is changing either change with it or this change may be forced upon you." This was not an exact quote but catches the basic gist from what I can recall from memory.
I think you have oversimplified the problems and solutions, for the sole purpose of stating your opinion. I think there were more reasons to supporting these regimes than the "cold war"/preventing the spread of communism. Care to elaborate a little?
 

freethought6t9

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Trajan Octavian Titus said:
Yes, but why did we and do we support these leaders? Answer: In the past it was to stop the spread of communist expansion I see no reason to apologize for this, and now it is because we have to stop the spread of radical pan Islamic fundamentalists who, as in Iran, would claim to be a movement to free the people but in reality would set up just another dictatorship under the guise of democracy, which would be by far more of a danger to stability in the region, I see no need to apologize for this either. I think the solution is for the west to increase the pressure on the existing leaders to enact more democratic reforms. As King Hussein of Jordan has said to the rest of the region: "The Mid-East is changing either change with it or this change may be forced upon you." This was not an exact quote but catches the basic gist from what I can recall from memory.
I think the phrase that sticks out most to me is "set up just another dictatorship under the guise of democracy", but that's a discussion for another day.

If you read the original source you will find that Soviet itervention was minimal in the region, either simply supplying arms with no political pay-offs when the U.S. would not oblige as was the case in Egypt. Or acting in a peace-keeping role (although never acually mobilising) to try to halt Israeli aggression. The one major intervention, Afghanistan, was undoubtedly an unlawful act of aggression designed to increase Soviet influence in the Middle East and a fatal error. Even in this case the U.S. claim to have drawn the Soviets into an "Afghan trap" and were organising and funding the mujahideen (many of whom had been attacking the country from Pakistan for years) fully a year before the Soviet invasion.

So I think the assumption that the U.S. and yes, Europe, were intervening to halt Soviet expansion has many flaws, crucially the Soviet ambivalence in the region. Personally I think the attitude of the Soviets and much of Europe was that overt intervention and aggression would cause more problems than it would solve and inflame and aggravate the highly nationalist population. The U.S. gave little regard to such subtleties and continued upon a plan of hostility,aggression and repression that has indeed inflamed and aggravated the highly nationalist population and caused far more problems than it has solved.

Finally, your remark about halting the spread of Islamic radicalism and violence spawned from it is perfectly valid. I assume this is the purpose of the 'War on Terror', not to infact end Terrorism, or even those who use terror as a tactic, but Islamic Jihadists who use terror as a tactic. To this end, it is reasonable to ask what are the living conditions which spawn such monsters; what is the political landscape of the region, the economic condition, education and many other highly important indices that measure the socio-economic welfare of the population. I think an examination of these indices is highly relevant, because after all it is very rare that citizens of an afluent and rich country turn on the rulers in such a ferocious manner. There are exceptions certainly, but they must surely compromise a minority of such crimes.

If you look at the important indicators of socio-economic health in the middle-east the results are not good, not good at all. As well as frequent food shortages in certain areas, the economic welfare of Muslims is very poor. Unemployment is skyhigh, illiteracy and lack of education are also found, poor healthcare, low life expectancy, high infant mortality, an AIDS crisis ravaging MENA countries and the lack of basic human and civil rights. Added to the high level of violence in parts of the region, this makes up for a very grim living situation, and perhaps you can already see why Islamic Jihadism is gaining influence in such influence, an illiterate, uneducated, unemployed cross section of young men hostile to the signs of overt foreign infiltration and it's detrimental effects on their society are easy pickings for any form of radicalism whether it is Germany in the 30's or the third world.

Communist radicals, fascist radicals and Islamic radicals have been surfacing for decades, in many regions and the U.S. hasn't and still doesn't care which of the latter two it supports in a quest for profit. This has long been the brunt of U.S. foreign policy, the overriding consideration has always been the bottom line, and in the Middle East that has only ever meant one thing;

"If the chief natural resource of the Middle East were bananas, the region would not have attracted the attention of U.S. policymakers as it has for decades"

"Sheldon L. Richman, "Ancient History: U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly Of Intervention" - (Sheldon L. Richman is senior editor at the Cato Institute)
 

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I also wish to point out that whatever miseries and tragedies that have been inflicted on the citizens of Arabic countries have been visited tenfold upon the wretched and utterly miserable Palestinians. Even the most wretched apologist cannot, in my country anyway, fail to commiserate with their plight. The lack of any basic amenities, civil rights, human rights and even basic social infrastructure in some 'communities' as well as being easily one of the worst victims of U.S. backed aggression and ignored for the large part by most of the world. Can the formation of an organisation such as the PLO nor be easily understood and accepted? Well I think so but for so long they were completely marginalised, and the Palestinian Authority continues to be marginalised.

We can only hope that recent progress in this area may lead to at least a reduction to violence. Perhaps I am too cynical, but I am worried about the current political situation in Israel, a possible further shift to the right and my concern that it may lead to renewed Israeli aggression. It is possible that current dissent within the Likud Party is not shared by the Israli voters and Netanyahu's prospective bid for power will lead to naught As ever, I live in hope.
 

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14 responses to the poll, but only 5 posters, including myself. Very disappointing.
 

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freethought6t9 said:
14 responses to the poll, but only 5 posters, including myself. Very disappointing.
Ahh, give it time. You've got change the title to something shocking in order to rouse interest (you know I am extremely guilty of this). However, It is probably better that way, so as not to attract too many jarheads and the like. Anywho, you got me on a research tangent (thank you) And, I found an interesting article on the myths of terrorism. I thought you might be interested in reading it. So:

http://www.dflorig.com/terror.htm
 

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That was a very good article and it raised some excellent points. The first to my mind was the effect of U.S. intervention in the Islamic states themselves. As was covered in the CATO policy analysis, support was given to Islamic extremists like Al Qaeda and Hamas in an effort to curb Arab nationalism. As this article contends, a well equipped, well funded and well organised elite, dissatisfied with current regimes and power structures is necessary to any viable resistance. Well I would contend that through U.S. support for Islamic fundamentalist regimes, specifically Saudi Arabia, and the vast amounts of money paid to the elite in these states, the U.S. continues to fund terrorism to this day. Another factor that cannot be overlooked is U.S. organisation, funding and arming of an Islamic terrorist army. The Mujahideen had not been organised for more than two years before thet assassinated President Nasser in Egypt, one of the chief sponsors of its formation. The U.S. has never retained any sort of control with the Mujahideen yet funding and training continued throughout the 80's. Once again, the U.S. has become a key architect in the long build-up and rise of Islamic terrorism.

The second point is the need for an impoverished and repreesed population too desperate to care for anything except their own prospective and almost mythical freedom. It is not surprising that little acceptance of U.S. imported goverment is found in the region, as the U.S. is viewed (correctly so) as a leading participant in their continued misfortunes. So in light of U.S. involvement in the dominance of Islamic extremism as an ideology in the region, and their total suppression of Arab and Persian nationalism is it strange that it has become a cause of horrific violence in the region;

"The elite provides the ideology that motivates the desperate individuals to act with unrestrained violence."

So with U.S. support for this elite, and the desperate situation most Arabs live in, is this rise in Islamic Jihadism not in fact logical, and in no way a historical aberration from similar circumstances? With an uncaring and harsh ruling elite, bitter and hostile opposition within the elite, and an increasingly desperate and weary majority, isn't violent revolution the norm? Notable examples include Gandhi, Martin Luther King (the revolution was social rather than political) and few others, none in my mind. Perhaps recent demonstrations in the Ukraine and Lebanon, but there were democratic forms beforehand, so I don't think the comparison is altogether accurate.

The main thrust of the piece, in regards to the roots of terrorism is almost exactly the theory outlined by Orwell in '1984', in the textbook supplied to Winston by O'Brien ostensibly written by Emmanuel Goldstein, leader of the Brotherhood, an 'underground resistance' invented by the Party, the reason for this invention was to uncover incompatible thought although in my mind the only purpose it could serve was for the torment and torture of poor souls like Winston.

The theory raises the point that revolution and social change is never initiated by the mass of the population, workers, labourers, farmers, what we would call the working class, what Orwell or 'the Party' referred to as the Proles. It argued to a basic three-tiered hierarchical model of society, in terms of 1984 this would be the Inner Party at the top, in real terms this would refer to the ruling elite, whether it is a monarchy, dictatorship, corporate oligarchy or any ruling minority. The second tier, what may include in real world terms the middle class, intellectual class, the rich or affluent (but not the ultra-rich) and other prominent cross-sections that are still subservient to the ruling elite. In 1984 this would be the Outer Party, which was totally ideologically and socially dominated by the Inner Party. Finally comes the bottom tier, what will usually compromise the vast majority of the population. In 1984 they were the 'proles' or proletariat as defined by Marx, in real-world terms this would simply be the working class. In the book the proles are subject to fairly unsubtle propaganda and never ending War, but generally ignored as they are easily convinced to accept the harshest of measures and cut backs with little or no resistance. In fact Winston observed they seemed rather happy in their situation and little talk of revolution was found. Ignoring easy comparisons to the current situation in the U.S. we will move on.

According to the theory, the only way the ruling elite can be toppled, is when the middle class becomes disenfranchised, bitter and openly hostile to the ruling elite. Only then can the 'proles' be convinced by these hostile elements to rise up against their cruel oppressors. Once the rulers are toppled the architects of the revolution, the once disenfranchised middle class, or at least the faction which orchestrated the revolution, assume power, and continue rule of the proles, albeit with a different ideological system in place. In some cases the difference in ideology is radical, as was the case in the Oktober Revolution, and the formation of the Soviet Union The difference between communism and imperialism was radical in any case, the difference in structure between Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union was less so. The American Revolution can be described in similar terms, despite an apparently massive ideological difference, the power structure within the colonies remained virtually unchanged.

The relevance of the model to the Arabic states is perhaps already clear. The hierarchical model outlined in Goldsteins book can be relevantly applied to the Middle East. The top level occupied by the U.S. itself. A ruling elite imposing it's will on another minority. The middle tier can accomadate many factions of Islamic and middle-eastern society. These would include the Israeli government, the House of Saud, the terrorist networks created by the C.I.A. and others. Despite the apparent sovereignty of many of these governments I would still argue that they are wholly subservient to U.S. elite interests. Whether this is in the form of acting as a local 'bobby on the beat' as was the case with Iran and Iraq, is the case with Israel and may once again be the case with Iraq, or with the furnishing of Western oil demands as is the case of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and others. I would also contend that the presence of a desperate and weary minority is also well met in the region.

So is there a faction of the middle tier that has become disenfranchised with the Ruling elite, that which to topple them and replace them as the ruling class? Well of course there is. That is the problem isn't it. And I would argue, as many others far more informed than I have, that this bitter element of society has succeeded in;

"Converting economic deprivation and political repression of a people into individuals willing to take terrorist action requires a political elite with an articulate ideology that links the plight of desperate people to a definable enemy target."

On the whole, I would say that the socio-economic circumstances in the middle east and the geo-political situation are directly applicable to Goldsteins model. Whats more I would say that the mobilisation of the disenfranchised 'middle class' has been greatly facilitated by the 'follies' of U.S. foreign policy.

Although not directly linked to this thread, comments in the article posted by by Ban provide fascinating insight into direct comparisons between 50's McCarthyism and anti-communism as a contemporary and widespread political ideology in the U.S and the current political climate. The condemnation of liberals and peace protestors as terrorist sympathisers is almost laughably identical to their condemnation as communist sympathisers and 'pinkos'. At least it would be funny if it weren't so indicative of how far the U.S. citizenry have really travelled on the road to enlightenment and social justice in the past 50 years.
 

ban.the.electoral.college

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:cool: I wish half of my posts were half as good as yours! freethought6t9, you never cease to amaze me with your articulate writing and keen insight. Hat's off to you my friend!
 

freethought6t9

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If only anyone else were reading it. <sigh>
 

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And to further add to the conservative pro-business credentials of the CATO Institute, their Natural Resource Director was just on the Factor arguing in favour of price gouging in the face of disaster. What a great way to benefit American citizens.

Free Markets rule, yeah?
 

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freethought6t9 said:
I have posted this poll in order to address a very serious question. Namely the one above. It is in response to a debate I was having on a different thread where I met a most strange, and at least to my mind, illogical perception of events currently taking place in the world today, namely the War on Terror. The question had been put to me; what has America ever done that was so wrong that it deserved this, and it was followed by a list of some 60-odd terrorist attacks perpetrated by the Islamic fundamentalists. Despite the obvious brutality of the crimes, I was taken aback by the question, as the questioner had just a few posts earlier listed a number of crimes and interventions that the U.S. had perpetrated that were sure to inflame the Arab population.

So I decided to respond, and after dredging up just a few policies of the United States as well as vague economic dealings and human rights abuses by U.S. client states, I decided to do a little (and I do mean little) research. Basically I typed U.S. middle east intervention into google and clicked on the first result. Try it yourself or just use this link, I thoroughly recommend the piece;

http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-159.html

Now I am sure those of you responding may have some problems with the article, so first a little background, the CATO Institute, in case you are unfamiliar with it, identifies itself as dedicated to ideals of limited government, individual liberties, free markets and peace, at least that much is evident from the web-site. Therefore I would conclude they would be given a conservative/libertarian label in the U.S. and Europe or simply liberal, or perhaps neo-liberal in of the world. Certain ambiguities of their background and funding are not satisfied by examination of the web-site. It is certainly relevant to say that Richard Mellon-Scaife, Rupert Murdoch and the Coors Foundation are involved in the Institute, either through funding or as in Murdoch's case by serving as a board member, quickly establishing fears that the Institute is a corporate lobbyist masquerading as libertarian. A harsh assessment to be sure.

The Institutes policies on social security, welfare, medicaid and taxation, as well as the size of government and it's role in regulating business radically differ from my own, nevertheless the article I have posted, I found to be extremely interesting although a few of the conclusions differed from my own. Nevertheless, based on the Institutes background and policies I would expect the only one's to be screaming bias, would be those on the left.

Now, onto the article itself, as I said earlier, this poll is in response to an earlier debate I had, and I was asked to supply examples of what the U.S. has ever done to cause the rise of such religious fundamentalism. Well I believe this article contains many such examples, and at the same time ignores others. The accusation of omissions that I would charge the article with are firstly, the lack of analysis of the impact of U.S. economic policy in the region is in my mind almost criminal, but as the title of the article is a critique of foreign policy, perhaps this is not strictly relevant, although a case can I suppose be made that these omissions are in respect to the nature and ideology of the Institute. There are references to deals made in the post-war era, but these deals are never clearly explained, and the economic impact to the populations are not examined at all. This I would argue is a major effect of U.S. foreign policy in the region.

A far more serious lack of emphasis is put upon humanitarian crises caused by U.S. or U.S. backed actions in the region. Again vague references are made in some places, such as Iran and most certainly Israel, but they are largely ignored in the article, which examines in far more depth the political implications of U.S. intervention. Again, I would say that this is a major effect of U.S. foreign policy and one that is most certainly not ignored by the peoples of the region.

The third omission, is perhaps quite explainable in terms of the context of the piece, and may in some ways explain the other curious omissions in the analysis, namely, the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism. Explainable perhaps, because of when it was written. Just after the end of the Gulf War and before Islamic Terrorism had taken on any kind of domestic significance in the U.S., i.e. it was before September 11th, although the exclusion of information pertaining to CIA training and funding of the 100,000 mujahideen is bizarre to say the least. It could account for the other omissions as their was as yet no need for extensive research into the attitudes of the general population, although repeated warnings are made of problems in the future due to what was then current or recent policy decisions. I would thus argue that the article contains relevant lessons for the current climate, as well as an exhaustive account of U.S. foreign policy, the naivete inherent in it as well as the negative impact of it on U.S. image throughout the region.

What is stressed in the article is the fear of the strong feelings of nationalism in the region and U.S. attempts to suppress this sentiment. A significant example (in my opinion) is Iran, where the U.S. intervened to overthrow a strong nationalist government with a right-wing and violent dictator. This regime was eventually overthrown by the now infamous Islamic Revolution, at which time President Carter described previous U.S. intervention i.e. the arming and support for the recently ousted regime, as 'ancient history'. I believe it is this laissez faire attitude to U.S. interventions, and accepting no responsibility for their own actions that has led to the disassociation of previous (and even current!) U.S. policies from the rise (in significance at least) of Islamic terror. I would argue that it is this strong sense of nationalism (perhaps a reason for less invasive Soviet policies) that the U.S. has sought to curb that is where organisations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are able to provoke such strong support in the region.

Some argue that it is Islamic principles that are being twisted into a hatred of the West and specifically America, I would argue that the intense sense of victimisation felt by the middle eastern inhabitants has been used a means of shoring up support for increasingly radical Islamic clerics and organisations. After all the Saudi Royal Family do not recieve popular support at home yet the only substantive difference between them and Al Qaeda are a pro-American stance. Perhaps it is the thought of basic freedoms, self governance and even a sense of social justice that causes the Arab populations to support these terrorists. What I would also stress is that the Arab sense of victimisation is not unfounded, and there are legitimate grievances. Some are outlined in the article, the primary purpose of which is to show to some extent the harm U.S. foreign policy does, and from a fairly uncontroversial (to the right at least) source. I don't know what kind of reaction an Amnesty International or Oxfam report would provoke on this thread, but I have had negative responses in the past.

The U.S.-Israel connection is also crucial,as is the sense of victimisation felt by Israelis, largely a fabrication as they are far and away the most powerful nation in the region, certainly the only nuclear-equipped and now with the worlds only super-power providing back-up. Indeed as this report shows, the Soviets were crucial in halting Israeli aggression, although the veiled blackmail attempts of Israel alluded to in the piece are at times contradicted by the actions of Kissinger, Reagan and others.

Altogether though, I think the piece is fairly honest, if missing detail in crucial areas, I also think that it can be reasonably assumed that Islamic terrorism, and specifically 9/11 can be said to be an effect. Causality dictates that these effects must have causes, and I think this analysis can go a long way in identifying at least some of these causes. How much of an effect these policies have had in creating the circumstances in which 'terror breeds' is what we are here to discuss.

All evidence is welcome, I do in no way wish to confine the debate to the content of one article, I myself may post more articles in the hope of encouraging meaningful and informed debate.
I'm sure there are many people who think that the United States could bring peace and democracy to the Middle East only by supporting Islamic fundamentalists. These are the same people who continue to whitewash terrorism worldwide.

A fanatical and evil ideology must be opposed everywhere, and the line must be drawn where apologists are most vocal. If terrorism is explained sympathetically in Israel or Iraq, condemnation of events in London or New York means nothing.

Terrorist action that we see around the world and perpetrated in the name of Islam is not mere hit and run tactics against western powers. The scores of militant groups that exist throughout the Islamic world, from Algeria to Indonesia, are not freedom fighters. Their objective is to establish Islamic states in the image of their version of Islam, and impose their will on the rest of us. The Islamic apologists are only fooling themselves if they think the terrorists are fighting for freedom and liberty.

Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
 
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