Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Empire, Jihad, and Choice

Writes Charles Featherstone, of LewRockwell.com:

"We are at war with Muslims, but not all Muslims. In fact, the struggle is only with a small number of Muslims who have not only embraced a revolutionary political ideology, but have chosen to act on that belief. (And we would likely still be at war even if we gave them everything they wanted.) Our failure to properly appreciate that, to drive ourselves to a frenzied panic, to mull genocide as the answer to our problem, to fear we will lose when clearly we will not, is to create an existential dilemma where none exists...

To target nation states or whole communities ... in response for the actions of single individuals acting on behalf of a completely voluntary, non-state revolutionary group is the height of foolishness.

It also proves we've met an enemy we can't bomb. And the folks who run the Pentagon don't know what to do with enemies except bomb them."

In the aftermath of September 11, one of the most difficult questions I've had to deal with in criticizing the American Empire was the issue of terrorism and jihad. The debate was framed- quite deliberately - by the Emperor himself, in the nonsensical terms of "you're either with us, or with the terrorists."

But how about, "none of the above"? Being opposed to a gang of Muslim fanatics trying to re-create a VII (or XI?) century jihad with XXI-century technology did not, does not, and should not mean siding with the abomination that has murdered the American republic and possessed its cadaver. Or vice versa: just because George W. Bush and his minions have fabricated a danger that would justify their imperial adventure doesn't mean a danger does not exist. It just isn't the danger they are carping on about.

It is not "terror" itself the Empire claims to be - or should be - fighting. After all, terror from the skies, or the threat thereof, is its preferred method of keeping the rest of the world in line. The enemy here is the fanatical jihad movement, nurtured by that very same Empire as a weapon against the USSR back in the 1970s (in profound ignorance of jihad and Islam in general). It has since become loose, feeding on hatred over the real and perceived outrages against Muslims, beginning with the first Gulf War in 1991 and continuing with the "genocides" in Bosnia and Chechnya.

(As an aside here, the oft-used argument in America that punishing the Serbs for "genocide" against the Balkans Muslims would demonstrate the good will of the West is cynical. There would be no gratitude from Muslims, Balkans or otherwise, for something they consider America's obligation. I mean, who ever gets praised for doing what is expected of them? Furthermore, the fanatical Muslims will never be pleased by anything the "Crusaders" do. The whole "appease the Muslims by kicking the Serbs" thing is as stupid as it is irrational.)

Anyway, once the Empire invaded and occupied Iraq - using the same pattern of aggression established with Serbia - things got a bit more complicated. Among the Iraqi insurgents who have made life hell for the occupiers are both patriots and bona fide terrorists. The Empire, understandably, blurs the distinction - and if history is any indicator, the terrorists (who are more determined to inflict, and accept, death) will eventually overwhelm the patriots, if they haven't done so already. But my guess is that most Iraqis shooting at Americans are fighting for the same reason anyone fights invaders: "they are over here."

One can - and should - oppose both the Empire and the jihad on moral grounds. Both seek to impose ideas and interests by force, and are impervious to reason. Neither has any respect for life, liberty or property. The "with us or against us" is a choice between two evils. I don't have to choose evil at all - and neither do you.

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