Monday, December 01, 2008

Blaming America

Dorothy Rabinowitz has a devastating column about how Deepak Chopra popped up on CNN to blame America for the terrible Mumbai terrorist attacks.
What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that "our policies, our foreign policies" had alienated the Muslim population, that we had "gone after the wrong people" and inflamed moderates. And "that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay."

All this was a bit too much, evidently, for CNN interviewer Jonathan Mann, who interrupted to note that there were other things going on -- matters like the ongoing bitter Pakistan-India struggle over Kashmir -- which had caused so much terror and so much violence. "That's not Washington's fault," he pointed out.

Given an argument, the guest, ever a conciliator, agreed: The Mumbai catastrophe was not Washington's fault, it was everybody's fault. Which didn't prevent Dr. Chopra from returning soon to his central theme -- the grave offense posed to Muslims by the United States' war on terror, a point accompanied by consistent emphatic reminders that Muslims are the world's fastest growing population -- 25% of the globe's inhabitants -- and that the U.S. had better heed that fact. In Dr. Chopra's moral universe, numbers are apparently central. It's tempting to imagine his view of offenses against a much smaller sliver of the world's inhabitants -- not so offensive, perhaps?
It takes a seriously twisted world view to pivot immediately to finding a way to blame America for terrorists storming hotels and other soft targets to gun down people innocently going about their business. Rabinowitz ties this view to the handwringing over a report that the majority of people in the Middle East think that 9/11 was a put-up job done by the United States and Israel.
The noteworthy point here was the writer's conclusion that the U.S. itself was to blame for the power of these beliefs. "It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre," Mr. Slackman allowed. But that would miss the point that the persistence of these ideas represents the "first failure in the fight against terrorism." A U.S. failure? Nowhere in the extended list of root causes here was there any mention of the fanaticism and sheer mindless gullibility that is the prerequisite for the holding of such beliefs.

Its very ordinariness speaks volumes about this report. A piece written with evident serenity, the perversity of its conclusions notwithstanding, it's one emblem among many of the adversarial view of the nation that is today entrenched in the culture. So unworthy is the U.S. -- an attitude solidly established in our media culture long before the war on terror -- that only it can be held responsible for the deranged fantasies cherished in large quarters of the Arab world. So natural does it feel, now, to hold such views that their expression has become second nature.
I'm with Mark Steyn who argues that the source of the terror is a radical Muslim ideology that seeks to impose itself on the world at the end of a machine gun. We're fooling ourselves if we ignore this and try to search for some other cause or, even worse, find ways to blame ourselves.
What's relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, New Orleans. All you need is the manpower.

Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan's deeply sinister spy agency ISI had its fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you'll find local lads and wily outsiders: That's pretty much a given.

But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It's the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground.

You're sitting in some distant foreign capital but you're minded to pull off a Bombay-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological front organizations. You've already made landfall.

It's missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That's a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them.

The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology.
Read the description of how the terror progressed in Mumbai and you realize how little prepared the city was for any sort of concerted attack.
The two gunmen moved along two separate paths toward the station's main entrance, firing as they walked. They met virtually no resistance, even though several dozen police officers are usually deployed at the station. "They were killing the public, and the police just ran away," says Ram Vir, a coffee vendor whose stand is near Platform 8.

B.S. Sidhu, head of the Railway Protection Force for the Mumbai region, says that while some officers tried to fight back, there was little his force could do. Most police officers at the station -- as they are throughout India -- were unarmed or carried only bamboo sticks known as lathis. More than 40 people, including three police officers, were killed in just a few minutes, authorities said. The wounded survivors screamed for help amid acrid smoke, piles of slumped, bloodied bodies and spilling suitcases.
Gee, you think arming policemen might be a good start?

It's a horrific story of how these terrorists went methodically from location to location shooting people.
On the 20th floor, the gunmen shoved the group out of the stairwell. They lined up the 13 men and three women and lifted their weapons. "Why are you doing this to us?" a man called out. "We haven't done anything to you."

"Remember Babri Masjid?" one of the gunmen shouted, referring to a 16th-century mosque built by India's first Mughal Muslim emperor and destroyed by Hindu radicals in 1992.

"Remember Godhra?" the second attacker asked, a reference to the town in the Indian state of Gujarat where religious rioting that evolved into an anti-Muslim pogrom began in 2002.

"We are Turkish. We are Muslim," someone in the group screamed. One of the gunmen motioned for two Turks in the group to step aside.

Then they pointed their weapons at the rest and squeezed the triggers.
These are not rational people who decided that they were just fed up with Bush or America. It makes no difference to them that America has elected a president who had a Muslim father.

India will have to wake up and think about arming its police and making sure that its military knows how to fight such terrorist attacks. And we'll all have to rededicate ourselves to fighting this radical ideology and the terrorists it inspires.


Expat(ish) said...

Some thoughts, though not about the ever hackful Deepak Choopra....

We really need to amend the concealed carry laws in NC (and other places) to help make this sort of attack more costly.

Right now if this were to happen while I was at the grocery I'd be able to fire back. True my concealed carry gun only carries six rounds and is not the scariest caliber but it'd be something. Fifty people who can do that in a crowd of 100 could stop this dead. No pun intended.

But if it happened at my kids school or at the Blues Festival - nothing to fight with but my hands.

They're having a lock-down test at my kids school today. They crowd into a corner and turn off the lights in the classrooms. And wait. That's fine, but I'd add that the teacher needs to pull out her 38 Special and take a stance towards the door.

I'm a bit frustrated.


Skay said...

We ignore this ideology at our own peril.

They intend to spread Islam by force-inch by inch.

toadold said...

India has gun laws and a policing attitude similar to that of the UK.
While a violent country, A large portion of the populace holds to a belief in re-incarnation.
Also given the level of poverty, arming its general populace while prudent would be difficult unless the government underwrote the cost of firearms.
I bet right now that in the UK there are some brighter politicos feeling a down their legs. A number of the police who qualified to be armed have turned in their cards after a number of politicians hung them out and gave them no support after they used their firearms.
India will change though because their economy can't take a business loss. Especially given their need to grow their economy before their demographic bomb of old people and shortage of women goes off.
War insurance for both Pakistan and India will drive up the costs of export goods and this will be especially hard on Pakistan.

Bill B. said...

Really? The Bush doctrine of "Attack, subjugate, and occupy two muslim countries" has no effect whatever on the way muslim countries view us, and causes no desire for revenge?

I am surprised someone would seriously suggest that ill-considered violent actions have no consequences.

You can argue that they are wrong to hate us for destroying the countries of their co-religionists, but to argue that Bush's attacks did not generate hatred of Americans seems so ... I don't know, so blind.

And fiery comments about how we would have less violence if we were all armed to the teeth are spectacular! Well done that man.

Pat Patterson said...

As a good example of well-thought out control one must look to DC and Puerto Rico. Both either ban the ownership of guns or require strict permit proceducres. But some how they have homicide rates that are 3 1/2 to 6 times greater then some of those backward states that are, "...armed to the teeth." Also noteworthy is that the highest homicide rates in the US are in those cities that have a solidly entrenched Democratic majority looking out for our best interests.

Skay said...

" Also noteworthy is that the highest homicide rates in the US are in those cities that have a solidly entrenched Democratic majority looking out for our best interests."


New Orleans has always been run by Democrats. We all know that it now has one of the highest crime rates in the country.
Surprise, Surprise.

Bill B. said...

Elementary school mistakes about cause and association can probably be remedied, if there is the desire and ability to learn.

How ironic to see people here passionately advocating that more guns equates to a safer society. This is within hours of two unlicensed "concealed carry" idiots shooting each other to death because of an argument. In a toy store. A few weeks before Christmas. But no, certainty is certainty.

Expat is convinced he is safer when he can brandish a gun. Skay is afraid of the Islam menace. What year do you think they will bring the revolution and take over your home town, Skay...? Toadold is worried about armed policemen quitting in London. Perhaps he should be more worried about the unarmed, innocent man that those policemen shot dead without the slightest justification on a tube train full of other commuters?

Pat Patterson said...

So two guys that were in criminal possesion of concealed weapons indicates what...? Nothing really because the states that have the strictest laws have the highest rates of violent gun-related crime. Since Bill B obviously believes that possesion of a gun indicates a propensity for stupidity then I suppose he would have no argument in disarming the police and the military as large groups tend to take on the intelligence of its least smartest member.

Plus a guy that keeps running, is identified as dressing similarly to the bombers from the day before and heads into a tube station and then confronts a policeman by refusing to provide identification must bear some of the blame. And no criminal charges were ever brought against the police and the were cleared of any culpability. Yes, in a perfect world no accidental shootings would ever occur yet until then when confronted by a policeman it might be wise to stick your hands in the air and cooperate. Or does Bill B expect armed men to simply say that they are sorry for creating a disturbance by being approached by a group of underweight rent-a-cops with bamboo switches. What is amazing about the railway shootings in Mumbai is that some of these guards did indeed attempt to stop the terrorists with whistles and the bamboo switches I mentioned earlier. That is courage!

In fact it appears that because several of the policemen who chased Menezes were not armed and were relying on rigid procedures that naturally failed in the rush of events. They in turn had to call for armed police who rushed to the scene just as a wrestling match between Menezes and a plainsclothes officer was going on in the aisle of the train. And if some of the reconstructions are correct then Menezes was not only resisting but had managed to pin the officer to the floor and begin hitting him.

johnny t said...

Certainly we can never suppose to blame America. We're the guys in the white hats. But we can wonder why the cache left behind by the terrorists contained U.S. dollars.

Pat Patterson said...

It's not unusual even today some almost exactly 1,000 years later to find the graves of the soldiers of Arminius with small hordes of Roman gold coins. Since the the German tribes had no coinage it made perfectly good sense to have in their possesion currency that could be assayed and spent anywhere. That certainly doesn't mean that these Germans were in the pay of Varus at Teutoberger Wald.

Skay said...

Bill B

The link that I posted had an article about the doctors in India who were involved with the victims commenting about the horrible and shocking torture endured by the American Jewish couple before their death-along with others captured and killed there.

I think that the Muslim radicals are still waiting for the right opportunity in this country. They have told us what their goal is--they continue to tell us and I take them at their word.

Bill B. said...

You are more likely to be right occasionally, Pat if you stop imagining what I believe, and stop inventing thoughts that I "might" have.

I personally own three guns. It's also clear that encouraging people to carry concealed weapons, and use them in public in the event of disagreements would lead to more violence not less. Particularly true for the emotionally-stunted people who populate the right wing authoritarian supporters of this site.

Pat Patterson said...

I'm not to sure how I can "imagine" how someone else thinks especially since they merely repeat, unsourced of course, the latest old wive's tales. Especially since in this particular thread not once did I allude to anything I thought you might believe but rather responded to what was said.

And how is one to respond to the claim of a tubeful of passengers when according to news stories once the struggle began the train was evacuated and the only people left in the train were the initial unarmed contacting officer, Menezes and the Special Branch armed officers.

I'd actually give more credence to your point of view if it didn't seem to be constantly based on left wing sloganeering and the modern version of pamphleteers. If the facts are wrong then the argument that follows is simply a non-starter. Even if the conclusion may have merit. And this constant use of sock puppetry with sloppy mistakes of which puppet is arguing something is dishonest and more than sad.

Bill B. said...

Your account of the Menezes death, shot by police is inaccurate in all major details, Pat.

Try getting your news from the BBC, instead of neocon blogs.

Pat Patterson said...

It appears my original response has disappeared in honor of the Great God 404. However after trying to find Bill's link I went to the BBC site and looked at their reconstruction of events in 2007 and the testimony from the ongoing inquest. The Thames Department investigation having already cleared the police but recommended certain changes.

The only thing I might change is that there is legitimate doubt about whether Menezes heard the command to stop from the first then second undercover and unarmed police men who had followed him for a few miles.

But duting the actual shooting, which is the reason there are only the police reports to go on, is that two things occured. Most passengers admit to hearing not only the first officer identify himself and the struggle but also the second officer yell for people to get off the car. When the armed Special Branch officers came in both doors with drawn weapons everybody else left quickly.

Toadold accurately described a major problem that has become a minor one regarding the armed units. An officer from before the bombing had actually been charged with using his weapon, even though within policy, because he was being attacked by a drunk with a baseball bat(who say's we don't export things?). Quite a few of the officers in the Thames Dept. turned in the firearm authorizations and an entire class of potential armed officers refused to finish the course. They were upset that the original officer had used his weapon within department rules but pressure was brought by the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, that resulted in criminal charges being brought though eventually reduced to civil charges.

What sane person wouldn't quit if they were told that the rules they followed as sworn police were not enough to protect them from charges if their is enough publicity.

Bill B. said...

Thank you for correcting your inaccurate information, Pat.

There wasn't a "struggle". A crowd of plain clothes policemen burst into a train, shouted something, and shot dead an unarmed man traveling to work.

Pat Patterson said...

Now you are simply lying as Menezes and the first undercover policemen identified as Hotel 3 had wrestled and then fallen to the floor between the seats. When the armed uniformed officers boarded through the open doors they pulled the two men apart. Menezes was shot and Ivor was handcuffed and lead away as he was also dressed in a similar fashion to the original subject of the chase, Osman, until he was identified. Osman was one of the suspects still at large and who was later convicted of murder in an English court.

It should also be noted that what public testimony there is was based on what the passengers heard. Which would indicate that they were not in the train car as Bill keeps claiming.

Tom TB said...

The evidence that armed citizens are a deterrent to suicidal murderers has been proven again and again. They only target "gun-free zones".

Bill B. said...

Pat -- can you link to some reliable news story that supports your belief that there was a lengthy struggle that ended only when a contingent of uniformed policeman entered the train, and pulled the protagonists apart.

And then for some reason, having done that, shot the victim dead.

I'd like to see where you are getting that story from. Thanks.

Pat Patterson said...

I already stated that the description came from a BBC reconstruction of the shooting that they did in 2007 and the various articles published concerning the inquest that is currently ongoing. plus the police report that cleared the police of culpability. Do your own research which seems scant as of yet.