Sunday, 12 May 2013

Why Glenn Greenwald Rationalises Jihadist Terrorism.

A certain Mr Gunnison has challenged my view that Glen Greenwald is responsible for rationalising terrorism. He states bluntly
Can you put your finger on, and link to, a statement he's made which justifies the suggestion that he holds US foreign policy alone to be the sole causative agent for "jihadist violence" against the US?
Yes, it is possible to quote Greenwald's position in this sense exactly. As here,
In the last several years, there have been four other serious attempted or successful attacks on US soil by Muslims, and in every case, they emphatically all say the same thing: that they were motivated by the continuous, horrific violence brought by the US and its allies to the Muslim world - violence which routinely kills and oppresses innocent men, women and children..
The claim that Mr Greenwald has rationalised terrorism stands. The claim they are acting "rationally" is a rationalisation, as if they were involved in a form of asymetric warfare with attainable goals. And no ideology or aims of their of their own.

The fact is that jihadists suscribe to ideologies. There is almost no mention of their ideology in what Mr Greenwald writes At the moment, nobody knows exactly what the motivations of the Boston Bombers is. Do you ? Or is it a predictable response ?

Just because they claim that US foreign policy made them resort to terrorism is to take at face value the legitimacy of their seething rage and anger. It does nothing to understand that with the Boston Bombings were carried out by deracinated Chechens.

If anything, most Chechen terrorism has been aimed at Russia. For the obvious reason that it was Russia that fought a war with Chechnya and not the USA. But Greenwald merely accepts that US foreign policy in Afghanistan would lead Chechens to bomb Boston.

As regards Mr Greenwald rationalising of terrorism as a rational response ( it's never justified but merely "explained" etc etc ) it is true it's a conscious choice to resort to terrorism.

But terrorism is the method by which jihadists wish to punish the civilians in a democracy for not doing enough to stop their governments pursuing foreign policies they do not like. Other Muslims who are angry do not murder civilians.

Yet a conscious choice can be a reflexive reaction based on nihilistic anger and hatred. This is precisely why the idea of intentionality is important in this debate.

Then Mr Greenwald sententiously lectured me after I challenged him on his rationalisation thus,'s natural for people to want to view their own side as good and noble and the designated enemy as evil and savage: every population in every war is trained to think in such tribalistic terms. No war could be sustained without this propaganda: Our violence is noble and Theirs is evil.
It is simply not natural for Chechens to want to mass murder citizens in Boston when the USA has not even attacked Chechnya. If the premises of Greenwald were taken seriously, then the USA could just as well retaliate by intentionally murdering Muslims everywhere.

It would just be, well, retaliation, would it not? Another form of mass murder that they might as well indulge themselves in without any attempt at all to minimise civilian casualties. The outcome of such logic is universal pyschopathology.

But of course such considerations were of no consequence to Greenwald who then argued against my position with an tone of airy condescension,
...none of this is relevant to the discussion. Regardless of its motives, the US is continuously killing innocent people in multiple countries around the world, and the results of that behavior (returned violence) are both predictable and rational.
To Greenwald it is central to the discussion even if you want to frame the debate only in ways that suit the 'Chomskyite' propaganda that wish to peddle. There is nothing "predictable" about terror attacks ( um, did he predict the Boston Bombings ? ).

The random psychopathological nature of terrorist attacks is part of the reason they call it terrorism. It is meant to instill terror. Al Qaida's original demand was US troops out of Saudi Arabia. The US is in Afghanistan not to kill Muslims but for geopolitical reasons.

To suggest that jihadist terrorism is merely a form of retaliation ( both predictable and rational ) is a rationalisation based on not taking Islamist terrorism seriously on its own terms and comes close to remaining aloof from the violence with a certain callous indifference.

Which contradicts his very real concerns about the futility and bloodshed caused by Drone Bombing. Even so, if jihadist violence were mere retaliation, then that would not explain why irate Serbian nationalists after the Kosovo War in 1999 did not try to bomb Britain.

Nor why there have been no terrorist attacks in Poland, a staunch ally of the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq. And the reason is that there virtually no Muslim minorities in such countries of whom a minority have been taught to detest Western Civilisation entirely

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