Friday, September 4, 2009

Is Islamic Terrorism Reactive or Proactive?

In the conventional politically correct narrative, terrorism is a kind of desperate activism taken in reaction to oppression or some form of action taken against it. So for example, Osama bin Laden carried out 9/11 in reaction to US foreign policy.

A Fatah or Hamas suicide bomber blows up an Israeli bus in reaction to the assassination of their leader. In reaction to their participation in the War on Terror, Spain and England suffered bombings.

Cars are torched in Paris, gang rapes happen in Oslo, rockets are fired in Lebanon, teachers are beheaded in Thailand and journalists are beheaded in Pakistan all because something made them do it.

Within this narrative, each terrorist atrocity is a reaction to a provocation that can be prevented by nullifying the provocation. So the "Reactive Theory of Terrorism" argues that if the US improves its image with Muslims, Israel gives up territory to the terrorists, England and Spain withdraw from the War on Terror-- terrorism will no longer be a problem for them.

The "Reactive Theory of Terrorism" consciously or unconsciously dominates most talk of terrorism. Reactivists push for negotiations and commonly use phrases such as "We need to explore the root of the conflict", which is Reactivistspeak for, "We need to understand what we've done to make them hate us." Reactivists further argue that fighting terrorism is essentially useless, because terrorism is itself a reaction to the measures we take against it. Kill a terrorist, and "in reaction ten more will rise in his place". The Reactivist position is that only addressing the source of the terrorists' grievances can bring peace.

But is any of that actually true? The Reactivist assumption hinges on the supposed power imbalance between the terrorists and the nations they target. They argue that since the nations have more freedom of action and more power than the terrorists do, they function as proactive players, while the terrorists react to their actions.

This conveniently fits into left wing ideas about class and their need to romanticize third worlders as "Noble Savages" who cannot originate plans of attack, but only respond to oppression. It also fits into the ideas of some isolationists on the far right.

Their understanding of the power imbalance itself however is altogether wrong. For one thing Reactivists routinely treat a terrorist group as an entity apart, while leaving their sponsor countries out of the equation.

Thus they evaluate Al Queda in conflict with the US and Europe, without adding Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE. into the equation. Just as when it came to the PLO vs Israel, the Reactivists ignored the backing of the Soviet Union and various Arab countries who stood behind Arafat. Similarly too Hamas is used as shorthand for "the People of Gaza" without acknowledging that Iran stands behind Hamas. So too in conflicts with Islamists in Europe, their organizations are treated as being entirely separate from their Saudi sponsors.
Source: Sultan Knish

H/T Gramfan

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