“England made Abdulmutallab”

Some uncomfortable truths from David Frum.

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18 thoughts on ““England made Abdulmutallab”

  1. “They should monitor mosques closely and maintain detailed databases on their Muslim youth populations.”
    In 1984,
    When England went to war….
    Can anyone provide an example in history where this type of authoritarian action has resulted in
    a) less violence in the long term
    b) no systematic abuse of the target demographic which, in almost every instance in history, has led to more violence.
    I mean, I know it’s hard to get exact figures since this is always done in secret. Either by shithole dictatorships or by democracies too embarrassed to admit what they’ve become.
    But surely somebody can point me to a society where a certain group of people was subjected to living under this type of oppression and things turned out better in the end.
    My counter example would be quite fitting.
    This is what the English did in Ireland (combined with collective punishment and summary executions naturally, dear boy).
    They managed, with ever increasing force, to transform a scattered movement for better living conditions into an armed resistance, culminating with a few decades essentially defining modern terrorism.
    But it’s obvious though that Frum’s real point is that this is absolutely, positively, NOT related to US foreign policy in any way, which is not in any way a threat to the whole world and that he definitely does not need to reconsider any of his positions on that.

  2. That what I like about you, Dara. You’re as predictable as a snake-handling West Virginia Pentecostal — only where the Pentecostal sees Beelzebub behind all evil you see America.

  3. Bruce,
    First of all, calling snake-handlers predictable people is a strange use of the word and may go a long way to explain your world view.
    Secondly, I don’t see America behind all evil but they certainly seem to right in front of a lot of it. Almost as if it’s being directed specifically at the country for some reason.
    Can you please explain why American flights are still being targeted? Surely with the ever increasing security, terrorists should be picking easier targets all things being equal. Tourists are certainly making that choice.
    Why is it that they still have a hard on for the stars and stripes as opposed to Sweden if it’s not because of foreign policy? What is it that takes place within your own borders that has such a profound effect on people living half a world away?

  4. You mean like today — “Blast rocks Malmö nightclub” http://www.thelocal.se/24310/20100111/
    Or a couple of weeks ago — “No suspects in attack against Malmö Mosque” “http://www.thelocal.se/24160/20100102/
    Or last year — “A female television journalist for Sweden’s TV4 channel was seriously injured after a bomb exploded when she went to open the front door to her apartment. Stockholm police believe the attack was a deliberate terrorist act against the journalism community in Sweden.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_2009

  5. You asked why terrorists “still have a hard on for the stars and stripes as opposed to Sweden.”
    The answer is that they don’t necessarily. Sweden, especially Malmö, is not immune. For example, here’s a blog report on an incident that supposedly happened a week, or so, ago:
    “The security police blew up a suspected bomb factory in Malmö New Year’s Eve. Two men were arrested. According to the charges, the bomb was to be used for an attack against Copenhagen Airport.
    The raid was conducted before midnight Wednesday. The police got tips that bombs were being prepared in an apartment on Smedjekullsgatan in Malmö.
    Säpo, the Swedish Security police, raided the address.” http://islamineurope.blogspot.com/2010/01/malmo-airport-bomb-plot-foiled.html

  6. “But it’s obvious though that Frum’s real point is that this is absolutely, positively, NOT related to US foreign policy in any way, which is not in any way a threat to the whole world and that he definitely does not need to reconsider any of his positions on that.”
    Dara, could you elaborate? Exactly what aspects of American foreign policy create this supposed “threat to the whole world?” And while you’re at it, let’s have your best “root causes” exculpatory narrative on behalf of Islamic terrorism.

  7. Mike,
    “Threat to the whole world” was recycled from Frum’s article. The point that I was making is that he is simply throwing down cover for his own positions and that particular paragraph of his, which I adapted, was the most prominent example of it. Of course, I mentioned America so obviously the blinders went on, but it really had little to do with the argument.
    You and Bruce seem to equate any discussion that considers contributing factors as exculpatory.
    The “root cause”, in my opinion, is that certain people have nothing to live for and have a convenient target to blame for that.
    That target is sold to them by some crazy imam.
    My thinking is that the presence of the military makes this an easy sell, and I think that the history of oppression that I alluded to above bears that out. Nobody seems to want to touch on my main criticism of Frum, i.e. he advocates actions that have never caused anything but the opposite effect of what he claims to want.
    For West Virginian snake handlers you need to conjure up Beelzebub with the fire and the brimstone and the eternal suffering. You need Sunday school and bible study over years to instill the “devil” in their minds.
    Modern military weapons really expedite the process. I mean, think of the chapters of Revelations that could be excised in favour of this picture:

    Just put a caption saying “This, everywhere” and you’re done.
    If that was where you lived, what exactly would you think of the people responsible?
    You wouldn’t see them as a threat that needed to be eliminated?
    So my view is that every time that happens, you’re fomenting more terrorism. I say that because if my family died in a strike like that and I had no legal recourse, I would strongly consider building something similar and marking it return to sender, and I’m a comfortable and happy yuppie.
    The history of terrorism is that story again and again. An entity larger than yourself threatens people and they figure out a way to outmaneuver the behemoth. Whether that’s blowing up a restaurant or assassinating an archduke depends on the situation.
    You have to accept that it’s going to happen and that as the knowledge of modern weapons becomes more widely disseminated the attacks could grow much worse (somewhere a terrorist is having a wet dream about achieving the effect shown in the picture above).
    You have to mitigate it as best as possible and I just don’t think that your side is up to having that discussion because you’re too emotionally attached to some ideal or another.
    Or maybe it’s not emotions and you really do think you can bomb people into not being angry at you, which would be decade spanning idiocy.

  8. I should clarify…
    “An entity larger than yourself threatens people and they figure out a way to outmaneuver the behemoth.”
    I don’t want to suggest in any way that these people aren’t evil Pyrrhic imbeciles who are hurting themselves and their cause as much as their victims. But from their point of view (the only one that they possess), they are fighting the “good fight”.

  9. Shorter Dara: People aggrieved over American foreign policy resort to terrorism. Ergo, America causes terrorism.
    You can prove almost anything using this kind of logic:
    Defeat in the Spanish American War weakened the Spanish govenment, which eventually enabled Franco to seize power. Ergo, America caused Franco.
    America tipped WWI against the Central Powers. Defeat in WWI resulted in political and economic chaos in Germany, which resulted in Adolf Hitler coming to power. Ergo, America caused Hitler.
    Defeat of the American-backed government of South Vietnam enabled Pol Pot to come to power in Cambodia. Ergo, America caused Pol Pot.
    Etc.

  10. By referring to what I’m saying as “This logic”, are you suggesting that the motivation of revenge is some sort of ethereal thought exercise as opposed to being one of the driving forces of history?
    You kill someone’s brother, you make an enemy. If you kill their whole family, there’s a good chance that they’ll be coming for you in whatever way they can because they have nothing else left.
    The Hitler example is interesting though. Perhaps we could tie it back to the original subject:
    The drastic measures imposed against Germany, and hence Germans, after WWI was in the justifiable spirit of what Frum was suggesting should be done to Muslims in England, except of course that they haven’t gone to war as a group.
    The important result was not Hitler, but a populace ready to stop being rational and follow Hitler. He was able to sell them a hostile identity that was a direct response to the oppression.
    His schtick was essentially “You’re screwed. These people screwed you. Follow me and you’ll never be screwed again.” He was able to firmly back up his first two points and that bought him credibility on the third and a lot of leeway in how to make it happen.
    Imams around the world are running the exact same scam. Every place that an American bomb has exploded is a place where they have the first two points locked down. No need for fire and brimstone and stories about how evil the US is, they just point to the crater where people scraped out the meager remains of their relatives and everyone nods. Some small percentage of their audience will be completely sold.
    Will this still happen if the US stopped cold? Yes, they’ll just go back to fire and brimstone.
    But you think that you can kill all of the Hitlers and I think you’re creating many more little Eichmanns who can and will wait for the next Hitler to come along.

  11. “Of course, I mentioned America so obviously the blinders went on, but it really had little to do with the argument.”
    I can’t let you off the hook on that one.You said that American foreign policy was a “threat to the whole world.” You meant it, so why not defend it? I want to hear your case.
    “The “root cause”, in my opinion, is that certain people have nothing to live for and have a convenient target to blame for that.
    That target is sold to them by some crazy imam.”
    Except that we know many Islamic extremists come from well off, or at least non-impoverished backgrounds. Many are also well educated. As Hassan Butt, the second generation British Muslim reformed terrorist fundraiser pointed out in a 60 Minutes interview in 2007, many of the most generous donors to Islamic terrorist groups were successful British Muslims. Prominent businessmen, doctors, community leaders.
    I could quote other passages from your earlier comment, but to summarize, you’re simply providing a quasi-defence for Islamic fundamentalist violence by citing the universal, trans-cultural human instinct to retaliate violently when attacked violently.
    That’s all well and good, but you fatally undermine that proposition when you totally ignore the mass killing, on the millions scale, that Muslims have inflicted on their fellow Muslims over the past several decades. Violent Muslim deaths inflicted by The Great Satan, on the other hand, are miniscule by comparison. If we use your rationale for Islamic extremism, we should be seeing a near complete preoccupation with regional and national internal jihads and blood feuds across the Muslim world, with any score settling directed at the U.S. being something less than an afterthought.
    But that isn’t what we’re experiencing. In fact, we’re experiencing the exact opposite, and that’s the kind of insane, mind-numbing hypocrisy one would expect from a Medieval culture and society with a lengthy history of tribal and religious based genocidal behaviour. Blaming the U.S. for this murderous lunacy is as preposterous as it is a travesty.

  12. I typed out a response, but lost it and now I don’t care.
    Long story short, my comment was about Frum, not America.
    “Threat to the world” was his phrase and I only used it to illustrate what an epiphany of convenience that article was.
    American foreign policy is more of a threat to America’s well being than the rest of the world. I explained the reasons in my first comment. You can’t put the hammer down on people and expect them to roll over.
    This is the reason why terrorism itself will not succeed to change our societies in the long run and also why bombing other countries makes more enemies, not less.
    Good luck with history on your position. My original challenge to produce evidence of these tactics doing anything but exacerbating the situation remains.

  13. “Long story short, my comment was about Frum, not America.”
    No, it was about both, but I’m wearily familiar with your stubbornness when it comes to admitting the obvious. Oh well, maybe some other time…
    “American foreign policy is more of a threat to America’s well being than the rest of the world. I explained the reasons in my first comment.” You can’t put the hammer down on people and expect them to roll over.
    This is the reason why terrorism itself will not succeed to change our societies in the long run and also why bombing other countries makes more enemies, not less.”
    That sounds awfully contradictory to me, Dara. If terrorism isn’t a significant threat “in the long run,” then the allegedly ill-conceived foreign policy that you attribute to the U.S. can hardly be as counterproductive to America’s well being as you imply.
    “Good luck with history on your position. My original challenge to produce evidence of these tactics doing anything but exacerbating the situation remains.”
    Since Hitler has already been inserted into this discussion, let’s start with the obvious one. The Second World War. “Putting the hammer down on people” resulted in the defeat of Germany, Italy, and Japan, with the end result being three of the modern world’s most prosperous democratic civil societies. “Putting the hammer down” prevented all of the Korean peninsula from becoming the planet’s largest concentration camp. “Putting the hammer down,” ended Serbian ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo, although the process was initiated far too late in the case of Bosnia. And finally, no discussion of this subject matter is complete without pointing out how many hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved in places like Rwanda and Darfur, if western democracies had been willing to “put the hammer down.”
    Even in situations where countries have limited success while using military force to fight back against insurgencies or terrorist movements, it is ridiculous to suggest that there is any other alternative when faced with “evil Pyrrhic imbeciles.”

  14. “If terrorism isn’t a significant threat “in the long run,” then the allegedly ill-conceived foreign policy that you attribute to the U.S. can hardly be as counterproductive to America’s well being as you imply. ”
    It depends on the price tag Mike. If you’re paying incrementally more to address a situation and you’re actually achieving the opposite result, something has to give.
    There’s a key difference that you miss between your examples and what’s happening now. All of your examples were belligerent states looking to expand their position.
    Frum doesn’t want to topple the UK, he wants to make a distinction between one neighbour and the next and apply a different standard. The only way to accomplish that is force and intimidation.
    The fight in Iraq and Afghanistan is not about beating a central government empowered by the people, it’s now about subduing a subset of those people directly using an army.
    In a region defined by colonial divide and conquer strategies, this is what we’re left with, except without the old British standby of simply executing anyone who causes trouble. Life was so much easier for an occupier before that damn main stream media.
    Now we’re left with dumping (literally) tons of money on questionable allies and creating a security force that will always have the taint of foreign interference to the locals but, ironically, can’t be trusted by us anyway.
    It’s like some perversion of communism where it’s “to each according to his ability to intimidate”.
    That will be the legacy, a thug culture where the same skill set that we’re supposed to be eliminating is reinforced by reward and self propagated by its resulting violence.
    The most ironic possible outcome is that Xe starts outsourcing to its previous hotspots and $50/day Iraqi mercenaries end up pointing carbine rifles at unemployed American vets the next time New Orleans takes a dip.
    But you seem sure that eventually, the old lady will ingest something that gets the damn fly out.

  15. “The most ironic possible outcome is that Xe starts outsourcing to its previous hotspots and $50/day Iraqi mercenaries end up pointing carbine rifles at unemployed American vets the next time New Orleans takes a dip.”
    Dara, if I thought you had a sense of humor I’d think you weren’t serious.

  16. “It depends on the price tag Mike. If you’re paying incrementally more to address a situation and you’re actually achieving the opposite result, something has to give.”
    I don’t agree that the U.S. is “achieving the opposite result.” The absence of a repeat of 9/11,or anything remotely close to it, is evidence of that. I guess it comes down to whether you believe the U.S. and the western world have a choice here. I don’t see that we do. We either defeat these monsters, (and make no mistake, that defeat must be as much a military defeat as it is a “hearts and minds” conversion…) or we pay a God-awful price for failing to do so, somewhere down the line.
    “There’s a key difference that you miss between your examples and what’s happening now. All of your examples were belligerent states looking to expand their position.”
    The fact that my examples involve belligerent states is irrelevant. If this is a predictable, universal human response, as you assert, then the nature of the conflict, be it full blown state on state war, civil war, or guerilla insurgency, is irrelevant. Your argument rests on the premise that the primal human compulsion to retaliate violently when attacked violently, renders military force into a counterproductive tool to defeat a threat. History has repeatedly shown that this isn’t the case, particularly when war is pursued until one side has had the crap completely kicked out of it. The urge to retaliate continues among the surviving popuation of the losing side, but the urge to continue membership in the “survivor” club is obviously much stronger, resulting in an end to hostilities.
    “Frum doesn’t want to topple the UK, he wants to make a distinction between one neighbour and the next and apply a different standard. The only way to accomplish that is force and intimidation.”
    Subtlety is certainly lacking from Frum’s articulation, and I don’t agree that “detailed databases” should be kept on Britain’s Muslim youth. He is right, however, on the need for dogged intelligence gathering and monitoring of radical Islamic elements in Britain. Largely because it has allowed political correctness and moral relativism to run amock, Britain now holds the unenviable status of being the most at-risk western democracy in terms of the terrorist threat posed by its own Muslim citizens.
    I recall a senior British intelligence officer, about a year or so ago, making the starkly grim statement that British intelligence agencies were monitoring approximately one thousand separate radial Islamic groups and cells as potential terrorist entities.
    “The fight in Iraq and Afghanistan is not about beating a central government empowered by the people, it’s now about subduing a subset of those people directly using an army.”
    First off, that subset needs subduing, and “Evil Pyrrhic imbeciles” usually won’t allow themselves to be subdued any other way. However, as I mentioned earlier, when the application of military force in a conflict becomes very one-sided, even the surviving imbeciles and their supporters among the population eventually cut their losses.
    That’s what we’re seeing in Iraq now. The insurgency has been defeated, in that it is now primarily reduced to a bomb-setting movement, incapable of bombing at anywhere close to its peak, and almost completely incapable of attacking American troops (Exactly one U.S. soldier has been killed by hostile fire in Iraq over the past two months).
    “That will be the legacy, a thug culture where the same skill set that we’re supposed to be eliminating is reinforced by reward and self propagated by its resulting violence.”
    Not surprisingly, I see a much different outcome.
    At the very worst, provided the U.S. (and probably some NATO allies) stay in Afghanistan for at least another decade, as I expect they will, any “thug culture” that remains will be infinitely more benign than that imposed by the Taliban. There will be no “self propagating resultant violence” once the Taliban have been defeated, just as there wasn’t any in Japan, Germany and Italy once their ability to wage war had been destroyed.

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