Sunday, May 13, 2012

American military officer hands Al Qaeda victory

Often on this blog I have pointed out the strange common ground of radical Islamists and anti-Muslim extremists. Both agree that there are no moderate Muslims. Both think 'true' Muslims are violent, intolerant and extremely conservative. Both argue that Islam is incompatible with modern secular society. Both insist that Islam is locked in an ancient struggle with the Christian/secular West, that compromise is impossible and that the conflict can only end with the total destruction of one party. Both say that we are already at war, the Islamists arguing that the American-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq represent a war on Islam, the anti-Muslimists arguing that terrorist attacks and European Muslim ghetto riots represent a war on the West.

I have argued that sensible people of any religion or nationality should work hard to undermine these narratives. At the moment the vast bulk of Muslims are just going about their lives, and of no threat to anyone else. This is a problem for groups like Al Qaeda, whose power relies on their ability to stir up popular support.

To give an Irish comparison, after the 1920s civil war in Ireland the losing side gradually came into the political system, eventually forming a popular political party that would dominate the rest of the century. A few of the old rebels, however, never accepted the Irish state as it was. These Irish Republican Army veterans continued attacks on the Irish and British forces over the following decades, but their importance was dwindling. Irish people were increasingly accepting the legitimacy of the new state, making the IRA less and less relevant. They needed a spark, something that would enrage the Irish, fill them with a sense of desperation and disillusionment with the political system, convince them that only violent rebellion could solve their problems.

That spark came in the 1960s. In Northern Ireland the Catholic (who mostly identified with Irish nationality) minority had been long oppressed by the Protestant (mostly identifying with British nationality) majority. In the 1960s Catholics formed protest marches based on the black civil rights marches in the US. The Protestant-dominated police cracked down on these marches and tensions began to boil over into riots and disorder. The London government sent the British Army into Northern Ireland, but Catholics soon claimed that the Army were persecuting them instead of defending peace and justice. In 1972 the Army opened fire on a protest march, killing 14 people, who were perceived by Catholics to be peaceful, unarmed protestors. Here was the IRA's spark. Bloody Sunday convinced many Catholics that only violence would succeed:
Edward Heath, prime minister at the time, acknowledged the catastrophic consequences, telling Lord Saville's inquiry: "The tragic deaths in Londonderry on 30 January 1972 outraged the Catholic community, increased support for the IRA and destroyed the prospect of a political initiative." ...John Kelly, whose brother Michael was killed by the paras, believes Bloody Sunday poisoned the ensuing years. "There were queues to join the IRA after that day," he recalled in 2005 when the Provisional IRA finally decommissioned its weapons. ...Edward Daly was the priest whose role in Bloody Sunday – waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he attempted to escort a dying victim past excited paratroopers – is commemorated to this day in Derry's murals. In his memoirs, Mister, Are You a Priest?, Daly, now a retired bishop, said what he described as the "murders" cast a lingering shadow. "Countless young people were motivated by the events of that day to become actively involved in armed struggle and, as a direct result, joined the Provisional IRA," he wrote. "Many former paramilitary members have gone on record stating that they first became actively involved in the wake of that Sunday. I am not at all sure about how I would have reacted, had I been a teenager and witnessed those same events." Those he later visited in prison often explained that their involvement in republican violence was a response to Bloody Sunday.
Al Qaeda need an equivalent, some especially awful atrocity by Western powers on Muslims to justify their claim that the West is at war with Islam, and that Muslims must rally around to defend it. ...Or they could just get an American military officer to admit to it. Enter Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley, who lectured at the Defense Department's Joint Forces Staff College, and who openly urged American military to consider a total war with Muslims. Dooley agrees with Al Qaeda that there are no moderate Muslims, that Islam has been fighting (Western) 'civilization' for 1,300 years, that Islam is so intolerant that it should no longer be tolerated. He suggests considering nuclear strikes on Mecca. He agrees with Al Qaeda that the reforming, liberal Muslims are not 'true' Muslims.
This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. Islam must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.
Here that, Muslims? Bin Laden was right all along!

This is a disastrously foolish statement, that kicks the feet from under the millions of Muslims working to build more liberal and democratic regimes in their countries, by labelling them heretics, and by confirming the radical Islamist belief that they are naive to the American threat. It empowers the extremists who will claim to have been saying this all along. Thankfully the military has condemned the course and tried to distance itself from it. With Norwegian anti-Muslim mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik in court at the moment and this foolish officer advising nuclear war against Muslims, it's time to start taking seriously the anti-Muslim movement. Breivik shows that they can be dangerous in their own right, Dooley shows the danger they pose in strengthening the hand of Islamist radicals. Let's stop proving Al Qaeda right.

3 comments:

  1. Well said, Shane. The radicals in all camps can't understand this simple logic because they are themselves too far out on the extremes to see the middle ground the majority of us want to inhabit. It is so refreshing to hear your sane views amid hateful vitriol.

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  2. Thanks very much Tahera, glad you enjoyed that.

    Also, sorry if posts have their formats a big garbled over the next while, Blogspot has changed how the site looks and I'm still getting used to it :(

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  3. No worries...I know I will enjoy reading your write-ups regardless!

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