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Moebius's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Moebius

I've been among the "New Atheists" long before the term was even developed and eagerly read Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens as soon as their books were released. I agree that the tactic of suicide bombing is specific to Muslim fanatics (not counting Kamikaze pilots of WWII) and that the ideology of political Islam is as absurd and dangerous as political Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.

However Thomas Friedman's assertion that Muslim "humiliation" is the result of anger because other nations have advanced while Islamic states have stagnated is wrong, simplistic and patently offensive to thinking people. The individuals who choose to martyr themselves (which is how they view it) do so for real grievances that we in the West would be wise to acknowledge. The three primary grievances that these suicide murderers believe they're fighting for include:

1. Western expansion into Arab territories for geopolitical influence and control of vital resources.

2. Western support for corrupt and brutal Arab regimes ranging from the family dictatorship of Saudi Arabia (the "good Taliban") to the secular dictatorships of Jordan and Pakistan and the dictatorship in all but name in Egypt.

3. Perhaps most importantly, the political and economic support for the apartheid conditions in Palestine and the brutal Israeli occupation that has resulted in 750,000 refugees, tens of thousands killed and thousands more arrested without charge.

These three factors are then mixed with extreme religiosity that purports Islam to be the most perfect and true belief system and a conviction that these killers will be rewarded in the afterlife. The best way to combat this on the ground is, not through military force, but through police action. There is no central hierarchy that can be dismantled because the individuals only share common motivations but no shared infrastructure. However, police tactics will ultimately fail as "new recruits just keep sprouting" if we don't address the larger motivations. If we're serious about stopping terrorism the best way to go about it is to eliminate the base of support for terrorists.

Obviously addressing these concerns will do little to reduce the civil war in Iraq with Sunni and Shia antagonism so firmly entrenched (and exaggerated as the result of colonial policies and Sunni brutality under Saddam Hussein's regime). But if we seriously engage these political grievances we will, not only support Western rhetoric of justice and fairness, we will undermine many of the reasons people see suicide bombing as the only solution.

For more information about these issues I'd recommend Robert Fisk's reporting in the London Independent, Norman Finkelstein's "Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict" and Noam Chomsky's "Middle East Illusions."

Wed, 04 Jul 2007 09:09:00 UTC | #50845