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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Mary Habeck makes a good point

Via Lawrence Auster in FrontPageMagazine

When trying to explain the Islamists' global campaign of mass murder, both liberals and conservatives, despite their fierce mutual disagreements, make the same underlying mistake.

People on the anti-war left believe that Al Qaeda attacked us because we're imperialist, or because we're racist, or because we don't do enough for Third-World hunger (yes, there are people who actually believe the hunger argument; most of them are Episcopalians).

By contrast, many people on the pro-war right, especially President Bush, believe that the Islamists hate us for our freedoms, opportunities, and overall success as a society.

In other words, the left believes that the Islamists hate us for our sins, and the right believes that they hate us for our virtues.

Both sides commit the same narcissistic fallacy of thinking that the Islamist holy war against the West revolves solely around ourselves, around the moral drama of our goodness or our wickedness, rather than having something to do with Islam itself.

A very different perspective on the Islamist challenge comes from Mary Habeck, a military historian at Yale University. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation on August 13, Habeck said that the various jihadist groups base their war against non-Moslems on the Islamic sacred writings, particularly the Sira, which, unlike the Koran, tells the Prophet’s life in chronological sequence.

Using Muhammed as their model, the jihadis live and think and act within paradigms provided by the stages of Muhammed’s political and military career. According to Habeck, this internally driven logic of Islam, and not any particular provocation, real or imagined, by some outside power, is the key to understanding why the jihadis do what they do.

. . . . For example, the terrorists who murdered 190 people in Madrid on March 11, 2004 did not target Spain because of its involvement with the U.S.-led Iraqi reconstruction; the group had been planning the Madrid attack for two years, going back to before the American invasion of Iraq. They attacked Spain because it was the Near Enemy—a formerly Islamic land that they hoped to win back for Islam.

Similarly, regarding the all-important question whether the Wahhabist Osama bin Laden would have been willing to work with the secularist Apostate Saddam Hussein in an attack on America, Habeck says it is entirely possible, because bin Laden believes that his primary enemy is the Greater Unbelief, the United States, and therefore in the short term he would cooperate with an Apostate such as Hussein. Then, after America had been finished off with Hussein's help, bin Laden with the enhanced power and prestige gained from that victory could redirect the jihad back at Hussein and other Moslem Apostates.

Point well taken. ESSENTIAL reading.