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February 22, 2005

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Would it not be fair to say that those who mark barbers for death are not "guerillas" but terrorists?

No, it would not be fair, nor correct, since they seem to be guerrillas and terrorists. Would it not be fair to say that they are not carbon-based bipedal lifeforms but mammals?

informative post. thanks.

    Extremism is also growing because of an ideology called political Islam. The basis of political Islam is the rejection of secularism and the belief that the mosque and the state should be completely intertwined. Unfortunately, history has shown that when politics and religion are completely intertwined, disaster results.

Mr. Dobson on line 1.

No, it would not be fair, nor correct, since they seem to be guerrillas and terrorists.

And that is why I call them "insurgents", because they spend no small amount of time terrorizing the civilian populace. If bin Laden blows up the WTC and then takes up arms against the Northern Alliance, he's still a terrorist, and so are those who have murdered Iraqi barbers. They have crossed the line from guerillas to terrorists.

CB:

There is no relevance to sitting around and debating whether to call them guerrillas (which they are), terrorists (which they are) or insurgents (which they are). You seem to believe that there is some moral weakness in even using the term guerrillas (which there isn't). It doesn't mean they are not terrorists, nor does it weaken resolve to oppose them if that term is used.

I would stir the pot about the source of the nature and power of wahhabism with the following. My understanding of its old historical roots is an extremism of small Bedo tribal groups trying to survive, even though the enemies initially were other muslims (turks or rival tribes). So they were intolerant of everyone as one means of holding the small group together in the face of long odds.

Second, its an old story that people under some degree of oppression resort to extreme ideologies as one tool to fight back. Hence the conflation of communist ideology and nationalism in the fight against colonial powers or tyrannical oppressors (of course, ending up replacing one tyranny for another).

Muslims have been fighting aginst colonialism and also a sense of inferiority to the West for a very long time. Its no surprise that this extremist religion has gained traction in that fight.

Thanks for the link to apparently more moderate muslims fighting this extremism.

We seem to be argueing past each other. "guerrilla" is not a hagiographic term. Your point is only applicable against agencies like Reuters that have decided that the word terrorist doesn't apply, or more pointedly to someone making an individual judgement that these anti-Sweeney Todds are decidedly not terrorists. But it doesn't apply broadly -- "terrorist" is correctly descriptive in some ways "guerrilla" isn't and vice versa, so it's not worth sweating over.

Nope, no Bin Ladden over there," said Mr. Bush, as another picture showed the leader of the free world looking under a couch. "Maybe under here," he continued to more laughter.""

From:
"How Do You Lose the Man Who Killed 3000 Americans at Work?" and the ever favorite, "What Excuse Can You Use to Kill 100,000 Iraqis?" and "How to Avoid Saudi Arabian and Pakistani Rage For Capturing the Man Who Killed Thousands of Americans?"

A most informative post, thank you.

NeoDude,

I'm with you... let's invade Pakistan and go get him.

You seem to believe that there is some moral weakness in even using the term guerrillas (which there isn't).

As long as they're strictly attacking military targets, the term guerilla is just fine.

Westone: I'm with you... let's invade Pakistan and go get him.

Unfortunately, George W. Bush isn't on your side in this. He thinks Pakistan is a model of democracy.

Neo,

"How Do You Lose the Man Who Killed 3000 Americans at Work?"

Lose, as in we had him and then lost him?

Jes,

Model of democracy? Quote?

As long as they're strictly attacking military targets, the term guerilla is just fine.

The thing is, throughout history, guerillas rarely restrict themselves to military targets. Whether we're talking about the Contras, the Viet Cong, the Irgun, the French Resistance, etc., stories abound of attacks on civilian targets. The nature of asymmetric warfare practically requires this sort of behavior, since direct attacks on military targets are largely futile.

Mr. Bush said Pakistan can be a model for other Muslim countries, as they seek to move toward democracy. cite

"As long as they're strictly attacking military targets, the term guerilla is just fine.

What's a military target? Seriously. It's a much harder question than it looks. Was Dresden a military target?

Off topic.. A while back we had this loooooooong thread about Bush supposedly failing at PR/diplomacy. Good thing euros don't have to worry about such things:

WHEN JOHAN VANDE LANOTTE, Belgium's Vice Prime Minister, goes to the toilets today, he finds the urinals in the offices of his ministry decorated with stickers. They show an American flag and the head of George W. Bush. "Go ahead. Piss on me," the caption says

and

For those who missed the
"subtlety" of the urinal stickers, Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian minister of Justice and one of the Socialist party's most powerful figures, let go during prime time on Sunday evening, as Air Force One was about to land in Brussels. "I would rather have had John Kerry visiting us," she said on television. When the interviewer asked whether it was not undiplomatic to say so, she answered: "No. That is how I feel about it.

Jes,

Ah! Any difference between He thinks Pakistan is a model of democracy and Mr. Bush said Pakistan can be a model for other Muslim countries, as they seek to move toward democracy?

"There is no relevance to sitting around and debating whether to call them guerrillas (which they are), terrorists (which they are) or insurgents (which they are)."

I suspect you don't really believe that or you wouldn't mind if I called the terrorists all the time.

"What's a military target?" Barbers definetly are not. People in voting lines defintely are not.

Good one.

I'm sure this has been linked here before, but anyway: Yemen seems to make progress in the right direction based on theological arguments.

Italics, stop!

Good post.

Stan, Ah! Any difference between He thinks Pakistan is a model of democracy and Mr. Bush said Pakistan can be a model for other Muslim countries, as they seek to move toward democracy?

Not a lot that I can see, no. In any case, the point I was making to Westone is that he will receive no support from President Bush about wanting to invade Pakistan and find Osama bin Laden: not only does Bush not consider Bin Laden all that important, he also likes/approves of Pakistan.

Jes,

he also likes/approves of Pakistan.

I guess UN/Euros liked/approved of Saddam cause they were willing to work with him.

By the way, I looked at your cite and then looked at the actual transcript. The word "model" doesn't occur even once. Hm.


I'll leave the Wahhabism to people with more direct knowledge, but I think you are slightly off-base to ascribe the "barber attacks" to the insurgency/terrorists/guerillas as a whole. We have long known what the NYT noted in passing yesterday:

">http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/21/international/middleeast/21sabotage.html?ex=1266642000&en=c2f470121e9a0211&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland">yesterday:

The shadowy insurgency is a fractured movement made up of distinct groups of Sunnis, Shiites and foreign fighters, some of them aligned and some not. But the shift in the attack patterns strongly suggests that some branch of the insurgency is carrying out a systematic plan to cripple Baghdad's ability to provide basic services for its six million citizens and to prevent the fledgling government from operating.

In other words, there are (at least) three different groups (outside Islamicists, Sunnis, and Shiites), some of which may be more accurately described as terrorists and others as guerillas: the goals of the outside fighters are likely not the same goals as the insurgent Sunnis. This "barber attack" thing strikes me as related more to Islamist fundamentalist groups and likely unrelated (in the sense of "not planned by the same people") as the attacks on Iraqi policemen, attacks on infrastructure or attacks on Americans.

Tarring all the insurgents with the same brush as a result of this impedes our ability to understand the insurgency, and figure out a way to defeat them.

dmbeaster, you may have to revise your theory. Saudi Arabia was never colonized. In fact, the geographic area of S.A. that was ever occupied is very small. The power base of the Wahhabis, and the al-Sauds for that matter, is in the Nejd, which was absent of any foreign influences.

I think the people going around killing barbers are the same people Saddam was oppressing into modernity.

Bush has liberated them from Saddam and given them the freedem to kill barbers. Nice.

ken,

Saddam apologist! Sweet.

Stan: I guess UN/Euros liked/approved of Saddam cause they were willing to work with him.

Quote?

By the way, I looked at your cite and then looked at the actual transcript. The word "model" doesn't occur even once. Hm.

True. What Bush actually said was:

"One of the interesting lessons that the world can look at is Pakistan. You see, there are some in the world who do not believe that a Muslim society can self-govern. Some believe that the only solution for government in parts of the world is for there to be tyranny or despotism. I don't believe that. The Pakistan people have proven that those cynics are wrong. And where President Musharraf can help in world peace is to help remind people what is possible."

Yeah: Musharraf reminds people that it's possible to take over the government via a military coup and run faux-elections to retain power. Why Bush would think that reminder helps in world peace is a mystery to me.

Jes,

Quote?

Quote what? That UN/Euro's wanted to play Saddam's little game for an eternity?

And where President Musharraf can help in world peace is to help remind people what is possible."

Bush is talking about world peace or in another words - Musharraf's cooperation vs Al Qaeda.

Besides, Bush stole the election, so why do you even care what he says?

Did you miss the part of every military briefing for the past year when the military said that there are numerous components to the insurgency -- Ba'athists, foreign terrorists, ordinary criminals, Iraqi anti-Shi'a extremists, tribal revenge killers, etc.?

If so, I'll be happy to fill you in.

Because otherwise, you're accusing the U.S. military of negotiating with terrorists.

There are also some important distinctions between the groups you cite there. Some of them are secular, some of them are liberal Islamic. El-Fadl is interesting because he is trying to develop a framework for a democratic Islam that isn't wholly secular but is rather underpinned by Islamic values. I happen to think his model is more realistic and less likely to provoke the kind of fundamentalist backlash to the current secular regimes.

Stan: Quote what? That UN/Euro's wanted to play Saddam's little game for an eternity?

I found you - very easily - a quote showing that Bush approves of and endorses Musharaf's regime (though Bush seems to think, rather oddly, that Pakistan is a democracy).

Find me an equivalent quote from the prime minister or president of a European country approving of and endorsing Saddam Hussein's regime. In short, put up or shut up, Stan.

Bush is talking about world peace or in another words - Musharraf's cooperation vs Al Qaeda.

That's not what Bush is saying in the passage I cited, though. He's saying that Pakistan is a model for other Muslim countries moving towards democracy...

Besides, Bush stole the election, so why do you even care what he says?

Threadjack attempt noted.

Wonderful post, lots to think about. I don't think Saudi Arabia has to be a former colony in order to see Islamic extremism as a form of nationalism. There is, in the cultural memory of the Middle East, the legacy of the Crusades. I think we underestimate its importance since it has nothing to do with us. My point is that the Islamic culture of the region is one that has been at best undervalued and at worst demonized for many many years so that the people of a particular country can have a sense of greivence without an experience with colonization.
Part of fighting terrorism is the literal fighting part. However, since religiously motivated or nationalistically motivated terrorists seem to thrive on martyrdom, literal fighting is, in the long run, ineffectual. The fight has to take place in the marketplace of ideas, too.


What does "Our swords are thriving for x" mean anyway? Thriving? For? Huh?

Surely that must be a translation error or type for "thirsting", right?

Stan: Musharraf's cooperation vs Al Qaeda.

I suspect that there's far less cooperation going on than you think, Stan. There's a lot of lip service, but there are so many bin Ladenites in the Pakistani military and intelligence that I think "the hunt" is mostly smoke and mirrors. How many times have we seen the announcement beforehand that they're on the verge of capturing some major figures, only to have the "slip away?"

Just P.R.

double-plus-ungood: What does "Our swords are thriving for x" mean anyway?

I was wondering the same thing.

... Pakistan ...

It has been an open secret for years now that the Taliban have been living and even recruiting in Quetta. The Asia Times has reported quite a bit on it.

A quick Google of "quetta taliban" today leads to a disturbing article: Pak 'most anti-US country': CRS

Notwithstanding its cooperation with the US in the war against terrorism, Pakistan is probably the "most anti-American country" in the world right now, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The assessment of the depth of Pakistan's anti-Americanism is attributed by K Alan Kronstadt, who is in charge of analysing Asian affairs for the CRS, to a "senior expert."

I think that Pakistan must be playing games again, which would explain why the U.S. is making a show of selling Patriot-2 missile defense to the Indians.

Happy Jack:

You are not quite correct about the Saudis and colonialism, depending on how you (or the wahhabis) defined Ottoman Turk control of Saudi territory.

But in any event, my brief blurb meant to refer to the broader appeal of wahhabism outside of its cradle -- that its extremism appeals to other muslim peoples subject to colonialism. My understanding of its earlier origins is that it was a religion of marginalized tribes in the arabian peninsula struggling against more powerful outside forces. Hence its extremism and penchant for distrusting all outsiders, even if they were muslim. Here's the Saudi version of this history, which makes this point, so this is not the anti-wahhabi interpretation.

Islamic culture of the region is one that has been at best undervalued

It seems to me that the crux of the problem is that Islamic culture of the region has been undervalued by some of the, well, people of the region.

Isn't that the whole issue here, that Western is culture "corrupting" women to expect equality, men to desire a clean-shaven face and everyone to worship as they please? That some of those who are bothered by that are using violent methods to attack the sources of the "offending" culture instead of simply letting people decide for themselves?

No, No, No, I like the way Bin-Laden attacked from Pakistan and/or Afghanistan with Saudi money and we go after Iraq.

That was cool. Really, it was decisive and showed moral character.

9-11 seemed to change the laws of logic as well.

You know, I could have sworn we did a few things in Afghanistan, as well. Then again, my memory's not what I think I remember it used to be.

"Would it not be fair to say that those who mark barbers for death are not "guerillas" but terrorists?"

Would it not be more accurate to say the guerillas are employing terrorist tactics.

Personaly I salute the LA Times for correct use of the English language, when people are willing to corrupt language for political/propaganda purposes we should be on our guard.


Since the discussion has turned to the Saudis, I'm glad that the Bush administration is taking this up with the Saudis. Not.

You know, I could have sworn we did a few things in Afghanistan, as well.

An interesting question -- which would count as a threadjack so I don't necessarily suggest answering it here -- is whether we accomplished a meaningful net change, however defined.

Crionna, I, of course, have the kind of values which lead me to think people should be able to dress as they like, worship as they like etc. The question is the relationship between nationalism and terrorism,ie when people start getting all rigid about how their neighbors dress, is it because they perceive a threat to their own identity? The very interesting book, the Nineth Part of Desire, begins when a female reporter's secratary voluntarily veils herself, much to the consternation of the Western reporter. It turns out the secretary's decision to become more consrvative in the practice of her religion was a highly nationalistic decision. She would be bewildered by your suggestion that she was undevaluing her religion. the whole point, to her, was to increase the value in her life of her religion in order to separate herself and define herself as different from the West, and more truely Islamic.
To our eyes this is awful, like watching someone decide to become a slave. From the secretary's point of view it was liberation from Western cultural dominance and a return to true Islamic culture. She thought Western values degraded women and that there was freedom in the privacy of a veil. She also felt empowered by her participation in a movement larger than herself. I think we need to understand this if we are going to understand the cultural forces behind the increase in Islamic fundamentalism.

lily,

That is one wise post, thanks.

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