By Amir NOUR
Convinced that terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, is unacceptable and unjustifiable, member States of the United Nations were finally able to adopt, on September 8, 2006, a common approach within the framework of the “United Nations global counter-terrorism strategy ». But, ten years later, the “international community” has yet to agree on a consensus definition of the common enemy, which continues to grow and expand, thus inflicting devastation and untold misery, mainly to the States and the peoples of the Arab and Muslim world.
However, in a bitter irony, and in total defiance of established historical truths, these very victims and their majority religion -Islam- are accused by some of the crime of sponsoring transnational terrorism, hence jeopardizing international peace and security.
But who is really to be held liable for the birth and expansion of the phenomenon of violence in modern times, against the consequences of which a number of visionary thinkers like Malek Bennabi and Eric E. Hobsbawm had yet forewarned the world a century ago already?
The opinions exposed in this paper on this burning topic aren’t expressed by Muslim officials or thinkers. They are those of Westerners, at different levels of authority and moral and political responsibility, representing the obverse and the reverse of the terrorism medal, and pointing out the historical responsibility of some Western governments They are representative of a “politically incorrect” voice whose echo is barely audible in the middle of the media tumult skillfully orchestrated by the new “self-righteous”.
Terrorism, Islam and treason of the clerks
Recently, magistrate Vincent Sizaire, author of the book titled “L’Imposture sécuritaire”, explained that the characterization of terrorism is more about political calculation than legal hermeneutics, since it is necessarily the result of a process of balance of power and political assessment, at the end of which the powers to be tend to apply it in a more or less discretionary manner to a particular criminal rather than another. Sizaire highlights how it is problematic, today, to use the same term to refer to activities undertaken by fanatical and obscurantist groups, and to actions of political opponents of authoritarian regimes.
Therefore, there can obviously be no question for the need to put forward a new definition of this concept, one less equivocal. Indeed, it should be pointed out that, to date, no one definition of terrorism has gained universal acceptance. Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman identify 109 different definitions. The United Nations still can’t find an agreed upon definition among its member States since December 17, 1996, date of adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 51/210, by which it was decided to create a special Committee to develop a comprehensive convention on international terrorism. It’s so controversial a debate that, according to Oliver Libaw, even in the United States -where the “Global War on Terror” was launched in 2001- “it turns out that no one is all that sure just what ‘terrorism’ is”.
Thus, the future still looks bright for the famous and often-cited claim that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. Never mind! For one school of thought in the West, terrorism, barbarity and intolerance are consubstantial to Islam as a religion. Consequently, in the face of the “crazy Muslim zealots” who “see progress as an evil, tolerance as a weakness and pacifism as a sin”, and “call for murder and destruction”, resistance and relentless struggle are to be opposed within a “long Fourth World War”, akin to those waged by the “Free World” against fascism and nazism during the First and Second World Wars, and against communism during the third world war, presumably completed with the end of the cold war in 1989.
Nothing seems to shake the certainties of the proponents of this “dominant thought” often described as neoconservative, mainly conveyed by Western and Israeli think tanks, and relayed by their powerful mainstream media. And it would be pointless to remind them, for instance, that in the absence of a comprehensive international convention on terrorism-a result of the lack of a consensus definition that should be distinguished from the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination and which should include “State terrorism”- Arab and Muslim States have developed their own legal instruments within their regional groups; that in the 1990s, a country like Algeria fought alone against terrorism -before a suspicious international silence- that cost her more than 200,000 deaths and economic losses estimated at more than $ 30 billion; that 95% of lives lost to “terrorist barbarity” are to be found among Muslims; that the highest official authorities of Islam have condemned without appeal both the ideology and actions of terrorist groups; and that the overwhelming majority of Muslim populations reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as confirmed by statistics provided by Western survey institutes and agencies themselves.
In his time, Julien Benda denounced the “betrayal of the clerks”. More recently, Pascal Boniface pin the “intellectual counterfeiters” who bear a heavy responsibility in “the place occupied by lies in the public debate”. He targets in particular those who tend to equate Islam and terrorism by referring to “fascislamism” and contribute to nurture a neoconservative approach that thrives in the West since the 9/11 attacks.
We have already addressed this issue of Islam as a mobilizing and unifying scarecrow in the West. We have reported “a dangerous semantic shift that we constantly observe since the fall of the Berlin Wall: from ‘counter-terrorism’ actions, we jumped to war against ‘Islamic terrorism’, and then to the fight against ‘Islamic extremism’ “. And we have, inevitably, raised the following question: “Are we soon going to abandon superfluous adjectives and hypocritical euphemisms to openly claim the war against Islam itself ?”. Since then, time and events seem to have proved us right…
Responsibility of the West regarding transnational terrorism
Some people believe that radical Islamism and jihadism are not an exclusive “creation” of the West. To think otherwise, they argue, would be to overestimate the Western influence in areas where many other local and international factors have contributed to their development over a long period of time. That is certainly right, and so is the fact that certain misguided policies pursued by Western powers, particularly by Anglo-Saxon countries, have greatly contributed to the emergence and expansion of these phenomena, especially since the iconic events of 9/11 and their disastrous ‘by-products’: the Afghan and Iraqi military expeditions.
This view is shared by Mark Curtis, who documented in a book the collusion of the United Kingdom with Islamism since the last century. Based on reliable documentation and government archives, he dissects an aspect of British foreign policy, which has remained curiously ignored or deliberately obscured by the mainstream media. This collusion, he says, has “a long history which has contributed not only to the rise of radical Islam itself, but also to that of international terrorism, which the new strategy of national security of the UK Government has designated as the biggest threat to the country”, and that the highest ranking officer of the British army has identified as “the fight of our generation, maybe our Thirty Years’ War”.
Curtis says that the share of responsibility of London in the emergence of the terrorist threat goes well beyond the impact its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had on a few individuals. The most important fact in this story is, according to him, that the successive labour and conservative governments have, for decades, connived with radical Islamic forces, including terrorist organizations. They have, sometimes, trained and financed them in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives, with a view to desperately preserving what was left of British power and influence internationally, mainly in areas considered as sensitive but where it was no longer possible to impose their will and interests unilaterally or by relying on other local allies.
The role of the United States of America
In his book published in 2005, Robert Dreyfuss meticulously documents the American role in this “Devil’s Game”. Drawing on archival research and interviews with policymakers and officials of the CIA, the Pentagon and the State Department, he analyzes the consequences of “sixty years of misguided efforts” on the part of the United States in order to dominate the economically and strategically vital Middle East region. Dreyfuss argues that America’s historic alliance with the Islamic right is greatly to blame for the emergence of Islamist terrorism. He concludes by stating that “far from promoting democracy and security”, this policy, which continues to this day, “ensures a future of blunders and blowback”.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of the late U.S. President J.F. Kennedy, also considered the long history of the violent interventions of his country in the region. He explains in a long article in “Politico” magazine why we should look beyond convenient explanations of religion and ideology and examine instead the more complex rationales of history and oil “and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores”. He also describes how “over the past seven decades, the Dulles brothers, the Cheney gang, the neocons and their ilk have hijacked that fundamental principle of American idealism and deployed our military and intelligence apparatus to serve the mercantile interests of large corporations and particularly, the petroleum companies and military contractors that have literally made a killing from these conflicts”.
Moreover, a Foreign Policy Journal article tells us that the White House had made the decision to support the armed radical Jihadists in Syria (that would later emerge as ISIL and Jabhat Al-Nusra) despite the warnings of the intelligence agencies, which provided for the advent of the Islamic State. This amazing information was confirmed by former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Lieutenant General Michael Flynn –after he resigned from his post in April 2014, much to everyone’s surprise- who was previously the Director of information for the Center of command of special operations and, in that capacity, had the main mission to hunt down Usama Bin Laden and dismantle Al-Qaeda.
It is worth noting that this piece of information and other related revelations have been reported in a documentary film broadcast by ARTE-TV channel, which explains “how, from Bush to Obama, America has left prosper the blind terror that Daesh took over”. In this film, former members of the intelligence community, representatives of U.S. forces in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and terrorism experts trace, with supporting evidence and archives, the thirteen years of “the lost war on terror”.
Last but not least, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the GOP nominee, Donald Trump, said that he meant exactly what he had declared previously in Florida, when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS”. And when the conservative radio show host, Hugh Hewitt, tried to clarify Trump’s position by saying he understood him to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace”, D. Trump objected, declaring “No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton”.
In his latest book, French philosopher Michel Onfray states that “terrorist Islam” was partially created by the bellicose West. Denouncing what he calls “contemporary colonial wars” conducted by some Western countries including France, he argues that Islamic regimes only started to threaten the West once, and only once the latter had indeed threatened them by brutal force.
For his part, Pierre Conesa, former senior official in the Ministry of defense, said that his country “is paying a high price for a war that is not its own”. In this regard, he cites the example of the intervention in Libya where France has “done on its own account what Bush did in Iraq, which is destroying a regime and leaving behind chaos it has no ability to manage”.
In Syria, especially during the period when Laurent Fabius was the head of the Quai d’Orsay, this dubious interventionist policy resulted in total support to the rebels fighting against Al-Assad regime. Believing that the departure of the latter “is only a matter of weeks”, Fabius said in August 2012 “Bashar Al-Assad would not deserve to be on Earth”. And in December of the same year, reacting to Washington’s decision to place Jabhat Al-Nusra on its list of terrorist organizations, he declared: “All Arabs were fiercely against” the American position “because, on the ground, they (the elements of Al-Nusra) do a good job”.
In conclusion, we would like to invite the public to ponder the wisdom of a thinker who once said that in the past weapons were manufactured to wage wars, but today wars are manufactured to sell weapons.
Yet unfortunately, it has to be recognized that the rhetoric on the “clash of civilizations”, constantly and tirelessly repeated by some since the end of the cold war and the subsequent disappearance of the “indispensable enemy”, seems to have achieved the objective assigned to it, chiefly by those who benefit from and pull the strings of the perpetuation of conflicts all over the world. This rhetoric has thus produced a dangerous “clash of fundamentalisms’, which is updating the notions of “revenge of God”, “Crusades” and “Jihad”, and adding new ones such as “islamofascism”. The consequence of this dramatic turn of events is illustrated, on the sought and obtained ground of confrontation, by a “clash of barbarities”.
In today’s increasing international turmoil, nobody should be blind to the fact that the biggest danger associated with this change is that since the end of the second world war, the world has entered the age of the “supreme weapon” –the atomic bomb- and other weapons of mass destruction, and that extremists on all sides are promising and fervently promoting a “Cosmic War” for “the triumph of Good over Evil”. For some of them, it is a religious war, the ultimate war prior to the Apocalypse or the end of the world, whose theatre of operations one party sets in “Armageddon” and the other in “Dabiq”, both places situated in the Levant, comprising Syria which is being today put to fire and sword…
Isn’t it insane to believe that our civilized world is unable to find a path other than the one leading toward Mutually Agreed Destruction?
* * *
- Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book “L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot” (East and West in time of a new Sykes-Picot”, Alem El Afkar, 2014. ↑
- In Le MONDE Diplomatique, “Une notion piégée: quand parler de terrorisme ?” (A Tricky notion: When to talk about terrorism?), August 2016. ↑
- A. Schmid & A. Jongman, “Political Terrorism“, 1988. ↑
- O. Libaw, “How Do You Define Terrorism ?“, ABC News Network, October 11, 2015. ↑
- C. Friedersdorf, “Is One Man’s Terrorist Another Man’s Freedom Fighter ?”, The Atlantic, May 16, 2012. ↑
- Norman Podhoretz, “World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism”, Doubleday, 2007. ↑
- 2015 Global Terrorism Index report shows that terrorist attacks are concentrated in just five countries with a Muslim majority: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, totalling 78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks; the West is remarkably safe from terrorism as 2.6% ‘only’ of terrorist deaths occurred there since the beginning of the 21st century (excluding the 3,000 deaths from September 11, 2001, this proportion falls to 0.5%). ↑
- In our book “L’Orient et l’Occident…”, op. cit. ↑
- M. Curtis, “Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion With Radical Islam“, Serpent’s Tail, 2010. ↑
- R. Dreyfuss, “Devil’s Game: How The United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam“, Metropolitan Books, 2005. ↑
- http://www.politico.eu/article/why-the-arabs-dont-want-us-in-syria-mideast-conflict-oil-intervention/ ↑
- B. Hoff, “Rise of Islamic State Was a Willful Decision“, 7 August 2015. ↑
- Titled “Du 11 septembre au Califat: l’histoire secrète de Daesh” (From 9/11 to the Caliphate: The Secret History of ISIS), August 30, 2016. ↑
- Tal Kopan, “Donald Trump: I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally”, CNN, August 12, 2016.↑
- M. Onfray, “Penser l’Islam” (Thinking Islam), éditions Bernard Grasset, Paris, 2016. ↑
- See: “Les attentats sont la suite logique des bombardements” (Attacks are the logical result of the bombings”, Le Temps, July 16, 2016. ↑
- See B. Collombat and J. Monin’s investigation: “Daesh: Autopsie d’un monstre” (ISIS: Autopsy of a Monster), November 20, 2015. ↑