Matthew linked to a documentary called Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West. You can watch the entire film (about hour) in clips here. [Watch for the jihadi rap to Sean Paul beats in part III–I couldn’t make that up].

Matthew writes: There is no excuse for hiding from the reality of the world, right now. No excuse.

I agree. Although we disagree quite a bit (agree as well on subst. points) about what that reality is.

The film is wide-ranging but the main thrust of which is Radical Islam is a monolithic global threat to Western Civilization–it is the new Fascism (Islamo-Fascism)–and most importantly it is a religious (not political or politico-religious) ideology.

Some thoughts on the film. First what it covers well.

1. Makes the distinction between Radical Islam and Islam itself.

2. Some good background on the relationship between the Grand Mutfi of Jerusalem and Hitler. There was a strong connection between the two. And the propaganda tools of the Nazis flowed into the Arab world and anti-Semitism is rife, in fact omnipresent, in Arab (and larger Muslim) society. The Germans, for the Arabs, were allies–the Arab’s enemies were the French, British, and Russians who had colonized the Middle East. The Nazis were for the Arabs the destroyers of their enemies. Also good info. on the ways in which Nazi indoctrination techniques have been co-opted by these groups (esp. with youth soldiers).

3. Sad and awful imagery of the pathetic nature of Arab media and the pervasiveness of anti-Semitic, anti-Western propaganda. Also the reality that Arab propaganda is guided primarily by corrupt autocrats–mostly Sunni–who use the propaganda as the only outlet in police states. No dissent of the government is allowed; hence all problems are the fault of a conspiracy by the West and Zionists.

Major flaws:

1.Radical Islam as such does not ex-ist. There are Islamists or Islamisms. The problem, from both a theoretical and certainly from a military-political pov, is that you would never unite your enemies. The entire strategy is divide and conquer. Why would we give reason for groups who certainly have connections and similiarities but also massive differences/agendas to be so intimately linked. It is the West (one monolith) versus Radical Islam (another). Why do this?

al-Qaeda is not the Muslim Brotherhood is not Hezbollah is not SCIRI is not the Mehdi Army is not the Taliban, is not the Algerian Front, is not Hamas is not PLO is not Iranian Ayatollahs, and on and on and on.

These groups often hate each other as much, if not more than the West. Bush’s foreign policy and use of terms like Islamo-Fascism only brings these groups together. They are dangerous; that is why we need to keep them as separate and in-fighting as much as possible.

2. My mind the biggest flaw of this line of argument. Suicide bombing ALWAYS takes place under political occupation. ALWAYS. Of course this Islamist version gains an extra credence from within the Islamic tradition.

Who uses suicide bombings?
–Iranians when they were fought/occupied by the Iraqis.
–The Palestinians. Especially if they still consider all of Palestine as occupied territories and not just the West Bank and Gaza (another post to come on that point)
–Taliban: Afghanistan occupied by NATO/US Troops.
–Tamil Tigers (Sri Lanka–want an independent Tami homeland….not Muslim)
–Hezbollah Lebanon 1983: Occupied by Israelis. Majority of suicide bombers were actually atheists Marxists, even a few Chrsitians under the umbrella of the Shia militant group.
–Sunni Iraqis: Occupied by US Forces and view Shia as Iranian agents (govt, army, police)

But then you may ask what about 9/11 or the attacks on European targets? The British subway attacks for example were carried out by British Muslims, born and raised. They aren’t occupied by a foreign power. These groups, not without some validation, see themselves as unaccepted by the larger society. They feel they live under an occupied foreign regime. French Arab youth as well.

And who committed the 9/11 attacks? Saudis and Egyptians. Saudi Arabia where American forces were stationed and Egypt (who along with Israel) receives over 90% of US foreign aid. Whose regime only stands and has stood becasue of US armaments, moneys, training, etc. The notion that Arab rulers are usuerpers and occupiers of Muslims and therefore Muslims can kill their Muslim rulers comes from Sayid Qutb, bin Laden’s greatest intellectual-theological influence. But even here bin Laden is in the minority of minorities; the vast majority of radical Islamists, who are themselves only the smalest minority (like 2%) of Muslim populations, want to overthrow their own governments not the US.

3. Islamo-fascism. While there are links between Arab and Nazi propaganda this film makes some ludicrous claims. Walid Shebat, former PLO terrorist says that radical Islamism is more dangerous than Nazism becomes Islamism is a religious doctrine. It is God who calls people to jihad not the Fuhrer, he says.

First off Nazism, at least among Hitler’s inner circle was a religion. That was the whole point. It was a religion of the return to pre-Christian Germanity. See the films on Hitler and the Occult. SS Leader Heinrich Himler envisioned the SS on the model of the warrior class of Brahmanical Hinduism–his favorite text was the Bhagavad Gita. They practiced vegetarianism and animal care as religious articles of faith.

Sheobat also says that Islamism is more dangerous than Nazism because Islamism exists around the world, in numerous majority Muslim countries. So therefore there could be multiple Germanies. However, outside of sub-Saharan Africa and the possibility of Egypt or SA falling, there are no Islamist regimes in the world. And the ones who are are not the world premier industrial and technological power as was the Third Reich.

George Bush is not Winston f—ing Churchill. This is not 1935.

And even if you want to go that route, which is imbecilic if you ask me, but ok, here goes. Who is completely missing from this documentary and all this talk of Islamo-fascism, Hitler, anti-Semitism, and radical Islam?

I’ll give you a hint: Churchill, Roosevelt are both in the film–but which other Yalta-member was not? Joseph Stalin. The Soviets. It’s only this Western democratic mythicism that says that the Anglo-American alliance won the day and the 20th century is only about the rise of liberal democracies. The West would not have won without millions of Soviet deaths and a frigid winter bogging down the Nazis in Russia.

We did not defeat the Nazis without the later evil commis. So who are our comrades today?
Iran–think about it. Iran is our Soviet Union. The Nazis then are the Sunni Islamist Jihadis. The Shia are the Soviets, Ahmadinejad is our Stalin not our Hitler as a result. Like the Soviets they are going to get a nuclear weapon “against our warnings.” So deal with them like we did with the Soviets–use them to beat the Nazis, contain, and let the fluctuation bring them down.

4. The influence is only a one-way street. We only hear about the talk of global radical networks and never ask how all that media technology got there in the first place for them to exploit? The radical Isamists constant refrain of America wanting to take over the world is a perverse way of explaining a half-truth (twisted though): namely that globalization is coming with a force to the Sunni world as the latest phase of Western influence or colonialsm depending on your pov and that the Arab culture/religion is not ready to handle the social dislocation that is resulting. Plus the West is unready to give space for the growth pains the ME needs to go through in order to enter the modern world. Iraq is the primary example of that reality.

5. The carciaturization of anyone who thinks they are other influences at work than Islamic reigoin as Michael Moore/Neville Chamberlains. You gotta be better than that.

No reference to the history of nations with natural resources like oil and diamonds almost always becoming failed states, from Africa, Latin America, to yes the Middle East. No reference to the history of colonialism. No reference to the work on the politics of suicide bombing. No reference to the massive dislocation the world over experienced by the influx of globalization.

[All that and I really do not like the over done-fear mongering documentary music.]

Psychologically and intellectually the movie strikes me as paradoxically quite soothing emotionally. It creates a whole climate of fear yes, there is this global enemy lurking in the shadows ready to destroy the West, they are the new Nazis. But since they are the new Nazis there is an element, a major assumption (and a wrong one!!!) I see pervasively on the right, that we know how to beat this enemy.

Nevermind we forget about the Soviets, like I said before. The view assumes that once we all get together and finally recognize the enemy for what it is, we will triumph.

THAT IS PRECISELY NOT THE CASE. The whole lesson to be learned from Iraq and Afghanistan is that the US Army has not yet learned how to fight localized (not GLOBAL) insurgencies, criminal gangs, within failed states. Global guerillas that is.

Their whole point is fragmentation, breaking down order, supporting cronies–not world domination like Hitler no matter what they say. Their rhetoric is what it is, their actions are much more important.

Hezbollah is not taking over Lebanon it is destroying Lebanon. It is a product of not even a failed state but no state to begin with really. This is the defining issue of the post Cold War world, the breaking down of the colonially imposed lines of nation-states. The wars around the globe are sectarian strife (former Yugoslavia), inter-religious conflict, etc.

[Look for the few clips from a Prof. from West Ontario Salim, who they unfortunately don’t follow up on, but who talks about failed states and non-state actors….}

It is actually in that sense darker than these prophets of doom lead us to believe. The real quesiton is how to fight, reconstruct, bolster failing states, and promote development in order to isolate these radical and unconvertible elements as much as possible.

The Nazi analogy is so awful because these guys do not wear uniforms. There is no Fuhrer, there is no German nation. There never will be an Islamic Caliphate. There is therfore no total victory. There will never be an “end” to this–it is a Long War. Not a four year one. It is degrees of victory, no peace accords or all the rest.

Published in: on October 31, 2006 at 12:50 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] The left with its emphasis on rationality sees stupidity as the great evil to be undone–particularly through education.  More mythic-based sides of the right overestimate the efficacy of myths and therefore whenever they sense a looming/powerful non-ours myth rising they tend to over inflate and hype a threat, turning what is often a possibly dangerous situation into a multi headed beast of Satan.  The recent fear-mongering Obsession (which is making the rounds again for the election, which I have seen and commented on here). […]

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