Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why They Hate Us, Revisited

Dean Godson, in a terrific op-ed in yesterday's Times of London, takes apart the ridiculously simplistic argument that Islamist rage against the West is primarily a product of the Iraq war:

Chatham House has other recent “form”. Last year, it produced a report blaming Iraq for giving al-Qaeda a boost. No doubt Iraq has boosted al-Qaeda recruitment. But Iraq is a very long way from being the only source of radicalisation. One of the most interesting stories of the year that received scant attention in the British press was last week’s remarks by Jean-Louis Bruguière, the chief French investigating magistrate for terrorism. He revealed that France had averted three significant Islamist plots over the past 18 months, including attacks on the Paris Métro and Orly. Algerian Islamists were teaming up with veterans of Iraq. So would opting out of Iraq, as President Chirac did so dramatically in 2003, really have reduced our vulnerability?

Elements of the Muslim population are in so febrile a state that almost anything can send them into a tailspin. This year a minority of British Muslims has been offended by many things — from cartoons in obscure Danish newspapers to McDonald’s logos.

One of the biggest losses of 2006 was Colin Cramphorn, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, who died tragically young. After 7/7 Cramphorn did as much as anyone to bring the communities together. He told me with dismay that an appreciable number of radicalised young Muslim men in Leeds believed that the London bombings were invented by the Jewish-dominated media. Why? Because they did not see any bodies being pulled up from the Underground!

Too little of this complexity — and even medieval dottiness — comes across loudly enough in the media. The parochial media classes reflexively prefer to blame Mr Blair. No wonder the Prime Minister, writing in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, expressed such frustration with the willingness of much of the Fourth Estate to indulge the propaganda of the extremists.

The anti-Western attitudes of Islamists and many other Muslims are not based on rational analysis of our actions: Rather, they are the product of an intellectual culture and worldview that is awash in xenophobia and conspiracy theories.


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