Monday, February 26, 2007

Subversive thought for the day: "violence, ethics and community"

I'm home in bed with the flu and trying to use the time to catch up on some reading, so this afternoon I've been reading "British Muslims, multiculturalism and UK foreign policy: ‘integration’ and 'cohesion’ in and beyond the state" by Shane Brighton and published in the most recent edition of the journal International Affairs.

Brighton makes an interesting comparison between the "sanctimonious violence" of al Qaeda (building upon the work of Faisal Devji), and particularly of the unconnected, or only marginally connected, London bombers and the interventionism of British foreign policy under Blair. His point is not one moral equivalence at all, but rather how the two parallel in seeing action as a way of producing community.

For the terrorist the action is not just the destruction they cause, but their own "martyrdom" in the process. This ultimate demonstration of faith is to will the global community of believers, the Ummah, into being: their action will serve as a catalyst for this community. All very Nietzschean. This understanding comes from Devji's attempt to comprehend Jihadi violence that at times seems de-politicized (i.e. the US troops are out of Saudi Arabia but bin Laden doesn't appear to be giving up) and nihilistic. The acts of terror are not solely, or perhaps not at all, instrumental; so when a suicide bomber in Iraq fails to inflict serious casualties, this is not necessarily a "failure" in his eyes (wherever they landed) or in those of his masters, because they see the act of sacrifice as a political act of community building in itself, regardless of the reaction of the targeted. It might be sick and wrong, but it definitely isn't illogical.

On liberal interventionism, Blair outlined this long before 9/11 in his 'Chicago Speech' of 1999 made as NATO continued to bomb Serbia. He argued for an international community of values based on universal human rights and that this community would be evidenced by a willingness to intervene. Liberal interventionism is of course not a new idea, going back to arguably to Kant, but despite the first President Bush's optimism for a new world order of internationally guaranteed (enforced?) peace after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, much of the the 1990s saw a flight from the idea of intervention. Europe and the US stood aside to watch the Bosnian massacres, all haunted by different ghosts: for the British it was the ghosts of Northern Ireland, for the Americans its was the memory of dead soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, for the Germans its was WWII. The actors watched Bosnia writhe in agony for five years, only pausing briefly to consider how to resolutely do nothing about a shorter and even worse slaughter in a small African country that previously no one had heard of. At the same time only human rights and womens groups had much to say about the imposition of a medieval and externally funded theocracy on the people of Afghanistan.

It was against this background that Labour's foreign policy in waiting was formed ready for when they came power to in 1997. Did interventionism work in creating a community? Perhaps it did, and Britain was central to that. The Blair government rescued a failing UN mission and country in Sierra Leone by sending the Paras; Blair kept pushing Clinton to do more on Kosovo and this dragged the rest of the NATO allies along with them, a process that continues to this day with the NATO mission in Afghanistan; with the St. Malo accords Britain and France were central to creating some EU ability to exert military force as we have seen since in the Congo. Brighton discusses in the domestic setting the recreation of "secular liberalism as a 'fighting creed'" but it is in some ways also applicable to the international: the international support for Afghanistan, demonstrated most clearly in all the NATO allies except the USA trying to invoke Article V on mutual defence on September 12th, showed that this forward motion, the action of intervention, could promote a community. It carries on even today, post-Iraq, in ideas like the Canadian sponsored "the responsibility to protect".

But like all communities, the community of interventionism was not invulnerable. Indeed it was rather brittle and the war in Iraq has broken it. Of the many tragedies of Iraq, this is one of the greatest: that many will take away the lessen that to intervene is inherently misguided, and people in future wars or civil breakdowns will die because of this.

Is there really any similarity in these two seemingly diametrically opposed ideas of community? If there is, it isn't in that they both require action to come about; it is the specific form of that action - violence. Having been politicized in the 1990s - watching Bosnia, Rwanda, Chechnya, Kosovo, Zaire/Congo unfold - I remain sympathetic to concept of liberal interventionism in a way those just a few years younger than me politicized in this decade, basically post-9/11, tend not to be. But we shouldn't shy away from what interventionism means: it means the use of force - violence - one hopes in an effort to minimise a potentially worse wrong. There is an inherent brittleness in the support for that willingness to use force that comes from the danger that Kant saw, of the eternal liberal war for a better world. There is likewise, and fortunately, the same brittleness in the support that the Jihadis have in Muslim communities worldwide: when they are seen as a resistance fighting the oppressor all is well and good, but when violence steps over a certain line - Zarqawi's bombings of the hotels in Amman, the village massacres of the Algerian Civil War, the slaughter of foreign tourists in Luxor by al-Gamaa Islamyyia , sectarian car bombings in Baghdad - then their support also falls away. Perhaps there is a hopeful sign in there somewhere.

9 comments:

Strategist said...

There's a police saying: "Run to a fire, walk to a fight". We should approach intervention in the same way. Perhaps the lesson to take away is that intervention is inherently misguided if it is not carefully considered beforehand.

Ten years ago I was all in favour of intervention, and I was involved in a particular situation where intervention was very successful. I am less sanguine now about the wisdom of intervention generally, for a number of reasons, including that many conflicts are just too intractable. Often, intervention just makes things worse, or postpones the day of reckoning.

KGS said...

The Western community of "liberal interventionism" was indeed brittle before the 2003 Iraq war, with its back being broken, in part, by France's unwillingness to vote "oui" on any new UN Security Council resolution that would plainly define UNSCR 1441's "serious consequences", as well as the defiant Franco-German axis', the driving force behind EU policies and the current "ankle biting" against US interventionalism inside Iraq.

The Iraq war is not the cause for its decline, on the contrary, it's the ascendance of conservatism's policy of "realpoltik" in liberal circles on the Left. Maintaining the "status quo" is now seen as being central to any policy formulated by Europe (and the US Left) vis-a-vis the Arab/Muslim world. It is typified in the Left's wide spread approval of the ISG's report on Iraq, with the Baker plan now becoming a part of US/Iraq policy towards Syria and Iran.

The Europe-Arab Dialogue remains one of the key catalysts in making conservatism's realpoltik an attractive option for Europe, it also happens to dovetail nicely with the views of the cultural relativists ("no need to get all hot and bothered over cultural differences, no matter how depraved") who have taken up camp within the halls of the European Left, and appear to willing to accommodate anything that crosses their path.

Concerning the support for jihadism by the Muslim community. While at times "brittle", it manages however to recover with amazing speed, which is quite the contrary to the support liberal interventionalism enjoys in the West. The Muslim community never truly gets enraged (for long) over Muslims killing Muslims, which has been shown repeatedly by their lethargic response to the hundreds of thousands of Muslims killed during the past 20-30 yrs. It's only when the "infidel" spills Muslim blood that will get them going.

That more than anything else, "harpoons the comparison" between the two communities, which can be explained by the drastic differences in the government and social values of both communities. "This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper" (TS Elliot: "The Hollow Man").

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I'm sorry, the more I read the Bat Yeor "Europe-Arab dialogue" stuff, the more bizarre it seems. It's the flip-side to the 9/11-inside-job conspiracy theories. She (or her supporters) pick a few real events, and then suggest unprovable secret deals were done in the background - deals and agreements that of course there are no records of for anyone to consult. Anyone who has a working knowledge of how the EU works (or doesn't, more to the point) would find the theory laughable. The idea that say, the current President of Poland would be bound by a deal the French made in the 1960s just suggests to me that people need to take a course on decision making in the EU. Clearly you are convinced, but I'm afraid it looks ridiculous to me. Presumably this is because I have fully accepted my dhimmi status and am waiting for a handout from some mysterious oil sheik. Hopefully he has it in Euros so I don't have to pay the exchange costs...

And its not just Europeans and the 'American left' who are looking for stability first in the middle east; the US govt. is backing rapidly away from democracy promotion in order to bolster the Sunni authoritarian leaders who also see Iran as threat (see Maria Ottoway's piece in this weeks Foreign Policy for example). The fact that the King of Saudi Arabia is a king is suddenly of less importance than the fact that he doesn't like Iranians. This policy could be dhimmitude, or more likely people are realising the blindingly obvious that when you realise that you are in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

KGS said...

I believe it's grossly unfair to characterize Bat Ye'or's work as something being akin to a 9/11 "inside job" conspiracy book. Due to Ye'or's "extensive documentation" which details the path European leaders have embarked on from the mid 60's until the present day, I find it rather hard to dismiss "Eurabia" with a toss of a hand.

We would have to be willing to dismiss the present day encroachment of Islamic imperialism upon Europe's shores, in much the same way the West has chosen to dismiss what Islam has done throughout its history. That being, over a long period of time, turning Christian lands in the Levant and southern eastern reaches of Europe from "dar al-harb into dar al-Islam".

We would have to be willing to dismiss the fact that, over the centuries, states that have been intimidated by Islam (through war, or threats of war) have made far reaching political, economic and financial agreements with Muslim states and/or empires in order to stave off hostilities. That these agreements bound the non-Muslim states into making more than favorable economic trade agreements in the Muslim states' favor, as well as the payment of taxes and the taking in of immigrants.

We would have to be willing to dismiss dar al-Islam's global view as well as its incredible patience. Are we to also dismiss the intensive ties between Europe and the states of the Levant that have developed since the 70's, that has led to the open doors immigration policies of France, Germany, Holland, Sweden and Britain ect? Ye'or has spent years documenting the "Eurabia process", its policies made behind closed doors in the most undemocratic of ways, which will have far reaching consequences for the future of Europe.

The only reason I can think for wanting to dismiss Ye'or's thesis outright, is due to the implications that her book raises. What a scary thought that we're screwed.

P.S., if not for the Left's almost unanimous disaproval for taking out Saddam, Baker's realpoltik would not be making a comeback

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I'm sorry Kenneth, but your comment on Britain's "open door" immigration policy to the Arab world just makes me think you know very little about Britain. I don't claim so much specific knowledge about the other states, so I won't speak for them, but the idea is pretty ludicrous - that "we" are a victim of their "imperialism". As an American you don't have much to answer for beyond the Philippines (and to native Americans perhaps), but perhaps you should remind yourself of why there are people of Pakistani descent or Jamaican, or Indian, or Bangladeshi etc etc living in the UK!? If the muslim world (a ridiculous idea in itself) has some grand plan for the take over of Europe, they really are sneaky as getting colonized, controlled and divided by European powers for a number of centuries really is taking "deep cover" to new extremes!

And how can she extensively document something the whole idea of which is that it was secret and no written records were made of? And you didn't actually explain how the President of Poland is obliged to go along with a plan that was cooked up when a) he was still a child and b) his country was part of the Warsaw Pact?

Does dhimmitude come under he co-decision mechanism of EU policy making? Does qualified majority voting apply? Or is it reliant on the unanimity within the European Council? Presumably it will be the latter as selling out your nation to foreign powers would be a pillar II decision?

If someone can answer these types of questions I might be able to take Bat Yeor a bit more seriously.

KGS said...

Toby,

You said:
"I'm sorry Kenneth, but your comment on Britain's "open door" immigration policy to the Arab world just makes me think you know very little about Britain. I don't claim so much specific knowledge about the other states, so I won't speak for them, but the idea is pretty ludicrous - that "we" are a victim of their "imperialism". As an American you don't have much to answer for beyond the Philippines (and to native Americans perhaps), but perhaps you should remind yourself of why there are people of Pakistani descent or Jamaican, or Indian, or Bangladeshi etc etc living in the UK!?"

First of all, I am well aware of the history of British colonialism, -- its demise in America is celebrated "across the pond" every July 4th -- and that present day British society reflects its colonial/imperial past. That Britain's capital has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism greatly reflects it's more than lackadaisical attitude that has fostered the growth of extremist groups on British soil.

The turning of the "blind eye" to radical imams and other dangerous elements entering into Britain has seen a rise of fundamentalist attitudes in British Muslim youth. That Britain is a chief western exporter of jihadis is well known, causing great concern in France an the US as well as in Israel. That there is both great denial and reluctance in British government to acknowledge the dangers its British multi-culturalism is creating, is as troubling as it is ironic, since the UK is presently allied with the US in the War against Islamist Extremism.

Mayor Ken Livingston is a prime example of an important British official, of which Agn├Ęs Poirier (French feminist) states: "whose idea of multiculturalism both acknowledges and condones segregation" (for Muslims). Supposedly "separate but equal" with an ironic twist, the majority having its rights further encroached by the minority as time passes. [She refused to attend her "token seat" at the recent debate between Livingston and Pipes in London, because Hindus, Jews and Christians weren't allowed their own private prayer facilities,...Muslims were]

You said:
"If the muslim world (a ridiculous idea in itself) has some grand plan for the take over of Europe, they really are sneaky as getting colonized, controlled and divided by European powers for a number of centuries really is taking "deep cover" to new extremes!"

Your statement reflects an urge to ignore Islamic history and the workings/character of Islam, that since its beginnings, has never stood still. Interestingly enough, "colonialism" and "divide and rule" are only mentioned in connection with Christian Europe, what about the Islamic Middle East? It's as if one should assume that many of the present day Islamic states were never Christian at all? Islamic imperialism, not unlike Christianity of the Middle Ages, spread then, as it is still being spread now, and at times very violently and with a great degree of intimidation.

The majority of the Islamic Middle East was under control of the Ottoman's, it was the Turkish Empire's disastrous decision to ignore Britain's advice to "stay out of the WWI conflict", that led to the dividing up of the ME. In choosing to side with Germany, the Ottoman's wrongly believed that they would be increasing their land holds, in comparison to just "holding on to what they already have" if they listened to the Brits. While it's true that over the centuries, the Brits and the Russians had "nipped at the periphery" of the Turkish Empire, the French in the Maghreb and the Italians elsewhere, that in itself hasn't lessened the Muslim desire for a resurgence of Islamic superiority in today's world, whether its a jihadi or mainstream Muslim.

A Muslim/Arab world flush with petrol dollars is reasserting itself once again, what is so conspiratorial about that? You would have to shelve Islamic history in order to prove what has happened in the past 30 - 40 years between Europe and the Arab Muslim ME as being "an anomaly". "Deep cover", ....no, it was an inevitability.

You said:
"And how can she extensively document something the whole idea of which is that it was secret and no written records were made of? And you didn't actually explain how the President of Poland is obliged to go along with a plan that was cooked up when a) he was still a child and b) his country was part of the Warsaw Pact?"

That the meetings took place with no keeping of the minutes, should in itself be cause of great concern. Ye'or's meticulous documentation of statements made prior to these meetings and afterwards, as well as policies made and put into practice is more than enough to draw concrete conclusions. That Europe is hungry for states to increase its own wealth and clout has little bearing on whether other member states' leaders are on board with the Europe-Arab Dialogue, its a process, and that means over a time period, as states become more immersed in the EU project, eventual consolidation with joint EU policies will be prove inevitable.

You said:
"Does dhimmitude come under he co-decision mechanism of EU policy making? Does qualified majority voting apply? Or is it reliant on the unanimity within the European Council? Presumably it will be the latter as selling out your nation to foreign powers would be a pillar II decision? If someone can answer these types of questions I might be able to take Bat Ye'or a bit more seriously."

It was EEC policy making that founded the Europe-Arab Dialogue in the first place as a means to counter US foreign policy as well as safeguarding its own pipeline to the ME's oil. That the EAD has found its way inside EU foreign policy making in regards to how Europe views the Middle East, proves just how elitist the EU has become. These issues are not openly debated inside Europe, and most certainly not here in Finland. The whole idea behind the EAD and Eurabia enjoys an unanimity amongst the political and academic elite, with the latter even handing over its Arabic/ME language dept. to natives of the region, becoming Occidentalize in name and in deed.

"Woe to Orientalism,"...edward Sa'id is smiling.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

"That the EAD has found its way inside EU foreign policy making in regards to how Europe views the Middle East, proves just how elitist the EU has become."

How has it? By what mechanism? How can you prove this? You're making assertions not offering any facts. You don't seem to understand how EU systems deal with foreign affairs issues. So again - why would the President of Poland, for example, an arch-conservative catholic some how have an interest in agreeing to a supposedly 40 year old French policy to Islamize his country? Do you understand what unanimity means in EU structures?

KGS said...

Toby:
"How has it? By what mechanism? How can you prove this? You're making assertions not offering any facts. You don't seem to understand how EU systems deal with foreign affairs issues.

I understand enough to know that the EU was officially established in Maastricht; in the "Treaty on the European Union" (TEU) in 1992, with the "three pillars of the European Communities (EC), a Common Foreign Security Policy and the Cooperation in the Fields of Justice (CFSP) and Home Affairs (JHA) forming its base. the Maastricht treaty specified a collective defintion of its foreign relations and security, with the JHA establishing common rulings pertaining to asylum and immigration policies.

The "mouth piece" of the Euro-Arab Dialogue is the Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation (PAEAC), and according to Ye'or:

"it was already interwoven within the European parliaments, as well as being representated in the European Parliament and in EC structures pre-dating the EU. The combination of a powerful Eurabian lobby with a compliant European political, media and educational system produced throughout the EU uniform political thinking "PC", so implacably opposed to any divergent openent. Dissenters were harshly censured in universities, books and the media."

In 1995, another instrumental mouth piece for Eurabism was the European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Co-operation (MEDEA) established at Brussels to contribute to cooperation, stability, and development in the Mediterranaen basin, as well as to improving Euro-Arab relations [source; MEDEA's own website] It aimed at mainly to promote: 1.) the exchange of information and ideas among politicians, academics, journalists, and concerned NGO's form both sides; and 2) the communication of research findings to opinion and political decision makers, particularly members of parliament. [source: MEDEA's own website]. That the prime focus of these joint Euro-Arab agencies is exclusively aimed at Europe, and not the Arab League states proves that the venture is predominatly ...."a one way street."

"Toby:
"So again - why would the President of Poland, for example, an arch-conservative catholic some how have an interest in agreeing to a supposedly 40 year old French policy to Islamize his country? Do you understand what unanimity means in EU structures?"

Like I already said:
"That Europe is hungry for states to increase its own wealth and clout has little bearing on whether other member states' leaders are on board with the Europe-Arab Dialogue, its a process, and that means over a time period, as states become more immersed in the EU project, eventual consolidation with joint EU policies will be prove inevitable."

There are still major differences between "new and old Europe" as the Iraq war showed, but in time, they'll come around ...or leave. I still can't help but notice your lack of enthuisiam to discuss Islamic imperialism, and how its traditional religious viewpoint of the"dar al-harb" hasn't changed over time. The Islamic principle of "land for peace" is as valid today as it was when Mohamed was fighting the pagan and Jewish tribes in the Saudi peninsula.

KGS said...

One more note, the French as well as the other Eurabian apologists do not wish for the eventual Islamization of Europe any more than a staunch Polish Catholic.

That is not even being considered as an option either by the Eurabiasts or by Bat Ye'or herself. Have you even read her book? If so, it should be self evident that she (Ye'or) is explaining the "fools errand" the Eurabians are embarked on.

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