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[Nettime-nl] Re: Islamic Jihad, what is next?
felipe rodriquez on Sat, 15 Sep 2001 06:28:56 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] Re: Islamic Jihad, what is next?

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-----Original Message-----
From: felipe rodriquez [mailto:felipe {AT} xs4all.nl]
Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2001 2:21 PM
To: Brian Holmes; nettime
Subject: RE: <nettime> Re: Islamic Jihad, what is next?


Thanks for your respone and questions.

> Why do you say this global ideological and religious conflict begins with
> the Gulf War, and not the Iranian revolution?

The Iranian revolution was an important turning point in creating Islamic
consciousness. And it is probably the source of many organizations and
movements. Other historic events have also contributed to the shaping of
hatred and anger in the Islamic world; the creation of Israel, the
occupation of Jerusalem, the massacre of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra
and Shatila refugee camps, and the continuing US corruption and coercion of
autocratic rulers in arab countries.

The reason I placed the start of this conflict at the Gulf War, is because
this is where Bin Ladin points to as a motivation for his declaration of
war. He, and other Islamic scholars and activists, believe that the presence
of US forces in Saudi Arabia represents a hostile occupation of the Holy
Land. It is what is mentioned in the Fatwa that Bin Ladin co-authored, and
it is what he refers to in his declaration of war on the US and their

> Could you expand on your statement that "a growing group of Islamic
> scholars and activists feel that... most Muslim nations are victims of
> neo-colonialist exploitation by the capitalist western world?"

One has only to look at the success of organizations like Hizbollah and
Hamas to understand this. These organizations combine radical anti-western
ideology with practical social support systems and religious doctrine. We in
the West see these organizations as radical terrorist organizations. Yet in
the Arab world they are respected by many people, because of the practical
social services they provide, and because they have broken the image of
impotence and victimization of Muslims in their struggle against Israel and
the West.

But we do have to be careful in how we assess this; the Islamic world is not
a unified front. There are many groups and many different opinions. There
certainly are a lot of moderate Muslims that reject violence, and strongly
protest against terrorist activities. Yet we can also not deny the fact that
there are organizations in the Islamic world that believe they have no
alternative but to radicalize.

Maybe neo-colonialism was not the best word to use, others would call it
imperialism or globalisation. There is no denying the fact that the US and
its allies have played many geopolitical games in the Middle East, with the
intention of stabilizing and controlling the region. The US had solid
economic reasons to do so, but these where selfish reasons with the ultimate
goal of protecting its own interests and the interests of its allies. The
Gulf war was not initiated because one nation invaded another, but because
of the economic motivation of maintaining stable oil supplies. If Kuwait and
Suadi Arabia where not such important elements of the global economy, they
would most likely have been left to their own devices to fight Iraq.

Going back in history we need to realize that the economic foundation of
western society, and the enormous prosperity we have today, have their
origin in conquest and colonization. The ways in which the western world
engages in colonization have changed, but the concepts and goals have stayed
the same. And it is this process of colonization, or imperialism, that has
caused millions of people to live in impoverished conditions. A fertile base
for religious and ideological activism.

There are many instruments that the Western world uses to engage in
neo-colonialism. Economic persuasion and coercion, overt military activity,
diplomatic sanctions, and covert intelligence activities are the most
important of these instuments. Diplomatic sanctions have left the population
of Iraq starving, economic persuasion and coercion have created incredibly
wealthy minorities and large masses of people that live in poverty. Covert
intelligence activities have led to the assassination of a great many
people, and has created violent organizations that served the geopolitical
goals of the moment.

One of the complaints of the mujahedin in Afghanistan is that the US backed
them with money and equipment to fight the Russians, but when the Russians
retreated in disgrace all US support was cancelled and the mujahedin was
left to its own devices to fight the local communist regime. Similarily in
Lebanon minority factions such as the maronites where supported by Israel
and the west, with the goal of dividing and ruling that nation. These
selfish and respectless manipulations in foreign policy are the principle
causes of agression in the arab world, and Islam is the banner under which
this protest manifests and unites.

> Who believes
> that, and where do they make their opinions known? How do they
> analyze this
> neocolonialist, capitalist exploitation?

There is a substantial body of literature that adresses this topic. Edward
Said, Robert Fisk and Noam Chomsky have written a lot about this. Of a more
anecdotal nature are numerous articles in the arab/english newspapers and
websites. It would take me several hours to compile an adequate list of
sources, I do not currently have several hours to do so.

> Your prescription for facing this situation runs directly opposite to the
> reasoning of someone like Robert Kagan, ironically of the "Carnegie
> Endowment for International Peace," who wrote in Le Monde and the
> Washington Post that, just like after Pearl Harbour, the US should now
> ignore all those who say it somehow had a hand in creating the conditions
> for the attacks, it should not seek to resolve any mysteries, but instead
> retaliate massively and victoriously, against one or several countries if
> need be.

Ofcourse there is a feeling that some sort of retaliation is needed. But
against who are we going to retaliate ? The US military's awesome war
machine is capable of destroying any nation in the world, but it is not
capable of destroying ideas. The US and its allies have demonstrated its
military proficiency in Iraq, Serbia and Panama. But it has also
demonstrated its incompetence in Somalia and Vietnam, where it was
confronted with non-traditional warfare. The enemy in this case is not a
state, it is a diverse group of radical Islamic organizations and
individuals that have their origin in various nations around the world. The
US and NATO war machine is not prepared for that kind of enemy.

Modern western warfare doctrine is based on preservation of life; in the
Gulf war only a few American lives where lost, in Serbia the only losses
came from accidental plane crashes. How do we fight diverse organizations
that are based around the world, and that are willing and able to recruit
martyrs that sacrifice their lives as human bombs ? How many soldiers and
civilians can the US afford to lose before anti-war protests start gaining
momentum ?

Irael has been fighting terrorism for decades, and what has it achieved ?
Israel has by far the largest track record in fighting terrorism. It has
assassinated hundreds, if not thousands, of known terrorists around the
world. Is Irael a safer place today than it was twenty years ago ?

What success has Russia achieved in its war against Islamic Chechen freedom
fighters ? Russia destroyed Grozny, killed a great many people, yet they're
still there trying to defeat these warriors, losing more and more Russian
soldiers along the way. Remember how President Putin promised that the war
in Chechnia would be swift and precise, and would only take a few months ?
That was two years ago. Russia has the second most powerful war machine in
the world, and unlike the US it is willing to lose many soldiers to win a
conflict. And what has it achieved in Afghanistan and Chechnia ?

Putin made the same promise as Bush is making today; "make no mistake, we
will hunt and destroy these terrorists". I say we should remember
Afghanistan, Chechnia, Vietnam, Somalia and Israel. There is little hope the
US can win this war; but when it starts it, it must go into this with open

It is not unlikely that the US will invade Afghanistan, with the aim of
arresting Usama Bin ladin and prosecuting him in a US court. It is also not
unlikely that once there the US will face the same problems as Russia has
faced in Afghanistan and is facing in Chechnia, and will be humiliated by a
sticks and stones army that defies conventional warfare doctrine. A war
against these radical Islamic organizations will not be fought in some
remote place; we may send armies to these remote places, but we will be hit
where it hurts most; at home. We attack them in Afghanistan, they attack
Washington or Rome. We blow up some insignificant Taliban army base, they
blow up a large hospital in the US. As I wrote in my original article,
retaliation is a mistake at best, and in the worst case it could be


	Felipe Rodriquez

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