Sunday, August 13, 2006

Newsnight opens the door a chink

Professor Robert Pape, who has analysed the motives of hundreds of suicide bombers, said on Newsnight (BBC Television news analysis show) that their motives are not religious. Instead, the bomber harbours a deep resentment that the country he or she is attacking has an unwanted and unjust presence & influence on the land with which the bomber emotionally identifies.

Professor Pape said this view was not popular with western leaders, but was compellingly supported by his reseach (he has a book - link here).

On another recent Newsnight programme, a speaker from the radical muslim group Hizb ut Tahrir unreservedly condemned alleged british suicide bombers, but agreed that his organisation stood for the restoral of the caliphate across the middle-eastern Sunni community.

Recall that Osama bin Laden's original justification of al Qaeda attacks was the American military presence in Saudi Arabia, home of two of the sacred sites of Islam.

Thought experiment. The west gets its tanks off the lawns of the Sunni umma in Iraq, Afghanistan and ceases support for regimes in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi etc. What is the likely outcome as desired by radical Islam?
  1. An (oil-fuelled and very rich) caliphate built along Taliban lines adhering to Wahhabi doctrines across the middle-east.
  2. An exterminatory war against Israel, which could go nuclear.
  3. A powerful force polarising muslim communities in every European country with sizeable muslim populations (at least England, France, Spain, Italy) and bent on imposing sharia law locally.
  4. Secularised Turkey is in real trouble.
  5. Spiralling Sunni-Shia antagonism leading to wars of religion.
Perhaps the west, which had the benefits of the renaissance and the enlightenment (which were absolute, and not relative advances for humanity), has some responsibilities not to let this outcome occur by default, even putting aside the material interests of the economics of oil and those of national security?

I think I'm saying that the easy option to let these guys have what they want is worse than the current policy (flawed as it is due to over-reliance on hard power; incompetent execution; and the wilful disregard of the need of Palestinians for a viable state, regardless of the concerns as to who would end up running it).