Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Counter-Jihad 3.0: Old updates available for download...
My previous posting, The CJM: Counter-Jihad Mainstream, discussed the phenomenon of the normative softness of the Counter-Jihad (such as it is), whereby a tough exterior against Islam remains analytically incoherent when routinely coating a nougaty softness toward Muslims in general.
The CJM seems to be using an outdated operating system, "CJ 3.0", still promoting or implying notions it should have shed long ago -- such as, just to take one example, a tendency to be distracted by the ostensible diversity of the Muslim world. Thus it finds in the "Kurdish resistance" or the "Iranian people" or the "Egyptian reformers" (under al-Sisi) -- not to mention in a growing number of "Better Cops" (Muslims who seem to be reformist because they seem to be criticizing Islam) -- supposed evidence that Muslims can be good people and useful partners in a brave new world against Islam.
One eructation of this tendency from the CJM almost knocked me off my chair the other day, as my coffee spit-take barely missed my computer screen. It was ensconced in the latest Hugh Fitzgerald essay, in which he is agreeing with Trump's recent statement that the War on Iraq was a "big, fat mistake". Here's what Hugh wrote:
Many people in the Bush Administration felt at the time that Saddam Hussein surely must have had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, that is, with Al Qaeda. They appeared not to realize that Saddam Hussein was a secularizing Baathist, as antipathetic to Al Qaeda as Al Qaeda was to him.
After all these years of banging my head against the CJM, I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised to see this -- like seeing Bill Gates in a selfie taken this morning using a clunky 1989 Wang desktop computer. I wanted to reach through my screen and take a hold of Hugh's spats and say, "Dude, that's so 2003...!" Seeing someone as astute & informed in Islamoliteracy as Hugh demonstrate such a retrograde lapse in his LCPOI (Learning Curve on the Problem of Islam) is dismaying.
Significantly, but no surprise, only one commenter among the 210 comments even noticed this problem. He lodged two good and informative comments there worth reading (with links worth following up) -- here and here -- while the only other Jihad Watcher to even notice these two comments demonstrated a grievous lack of comprehension.
First of all, there is evidence that at the very least, Saddam Hussein in his final years was becoming more devout in his Sunni Islam. As this report, for example, notes:
Over time this internal security mission [of Saddam's elite secret police, the Fedayeen] became increasingly about enforcing the Islamic law. Saddam had begun Islamizing his regime in the late 1980s, and intensified this in the early 1990s, attempting to create a synthesis of Ba’athism and Salafism to buttress his legitimacy. Saddam had begun Islamizing his foreign policy as early as 1982-83, making alliances with all manner of Islamist terrorists, thousands of whom came to Iraq for training in the 1990s, where they attended camps run by the Fedayeen. In the Fedayeen—connected to the global Islamist terrorist movement, combining elements of Ba’athism with an increasingly-stern Salafism—is a microcosm of the Saddam regime’s mutation into the Islamic State (ISIS).
As I mentioned above, the one Jihad Watcher who pointed out this problem had only one response to it, and that response missed the point terribly with a spasm in favor of Muslims (i.e., detaching their pathology from their Islam):
...that’s an interesting point about the Fedayeen, not sure how devout they were in islamic terms, but they certainly showed how people, of any race or creed, will unite to defend and fight against what they see as unjust aggression.
Furthermore, the article quoted above about Saddam's turn toward more Islam is being generous, and assuming Saddam was not always a devout Sunni Muslim modern Sultan -- for, it depends on how one defines "devout". If devout necessarily implies a conformity to "Salafist" behavior and rhetoric, we can suddenly release millions of Muslims from our suspicion (including Saddam, Qaddafi, Mubarak, Sadat, Nasser...). And then when any of said Muslims in addition indulge in behavior and rhetoric that seems to follow other, non-Islamic ideologies or worldviews ("Nationalism", "Baathism", "secularism", "Marxism", etc.), this helps reinforce the need and bias leading one to conclude those particular Muslims must "really" be motivated by something other than Islam. And, finally, of course, what's underpinning all of this is an anxious need to avoid the prospect that all 1.Whatever billion Muslims on the planet are involved in a psychotically supremacist expansionist ideology with a desideratum for world conquest pursued through a symbiosis of violence and stealth -- and to try to find some "other way" out of this horrible problem (as Sam Harris has done, thanks to his new partner, Maajid Nawaz).
As I noted back in 2009, even the harder-nosed Lawrence Auster showed signs of succumbing to this asymptotic twitch, when he cited a reader's supposedly expert analysis of terrorism. I here quote that excerpt at length:
...as witness his [Auster's] uncritical swallowing, without any skepticism expressed, of a commenter on his blog, one “Ken Hechtman” who makes a string of assertions and rather elaborate inferences without providing a shred of proof: among the most egregious being—
The MEK is a breakaway faction of the old Iranian Communist Party. After the coup of 1953, they figured out Marxism wouldn't sell in Iran without a green coat of paint on it, so they put one on, thin and transparent though it might be. They are no more Muslim than you are. One of the give-aways is how much they hate the Sadrists in Iraq. The Sadrists really are the Marxist-Muslim fusion that the MEK pretends to be.
As a dryly beleaguered William F. Buckley told Phil Donahue after the latter perorated with some elaborate explanation (coincidentally regarding the taking of American hostages by Iranians in 1979) : “It would take a team of philosophers to unscramble that.”
Hechtman’s biggest fault here is to assume that any group of zealously political Muslims could ever possibly become so thoroughly un-Islamic that their Islam is just a “green coat of paint” on their real motivations and aspirations. The rest of his assertions are amusingly recherché and, more importantly, unsubstantiated. To call the Sadrists a “Marxist-Muslim fusion”, for example, is preposterous: indeed, the “Marxist” part of their militia group is precisely what is a “coat of paint” (here, a red one) covering their fanatically politico-apocalyptic Islam, and most of the time they don’t even bother to apply new coats when the old one starts showing signs of wearing away. And Hechtman’s implication that the relative Marxism or lack thereof of either the MEK or Sadrists had any relevance to their ongoing mutual animosity is a tendentious attempt to inject Marxism into the facts, when the more reasonable explanation for that animosity was that the MEK wanted to overthrow the post-1979 Iranian regime and allied themselves with Saddam Hussein in order to do so, while the Sadrists had a legacy of being cruelly oppressed by Saddam and as regards the Iranian regime, at worst only had cool relations with them but were not bent on overthrowing them.
Secondly, the whole little bundle of factoids wrapped up in that deceptively plausible but unverified intelligence briefing from Ken Hechtman is swallowed uncritically by Auster and given pride of place in his discussion section...
Not only that, but ten years earlier, Hugh Fitzgerald was writing stuff on Jihad Watch that already showed intelligent signs of skepticism about such ostensibly para-Islamic Muslims:
Despite being ostensibly “secular,” the Ba’athist regime — which owes its origin to the desperate attempt of Syrian Christians to concoct an ideology that would be an alternative to naked Islam (Michel Aflaq, the founder of Ba’athism, converted to Islam on his deathbed; his life was one of pathetic dhimmitude,while his Communazi Ba’athism did little, really, to defang Islam)– whenever necessary made appeal to Islam (Saddam Hussein’s use of the Battle of Qadassiyah, the Koranic inscription put on the flag, the Qur’an written using his own blood, etc.–like that other “secularist,” Nasser, Saddam Hussein, was Muslim through and through in his essential attitudes — simply one who wanted to start with a unified Arabdom rather than aim for a worldwide Caliphate a la Bin Laden).
As well as this, in 2007, about the supposed moderate Muslim leader of Egypt, Anwar Sadat:
...when the Egyptian Copts testify as to his malevolence toward them, perhaps some in this country will begin to re-think their great and baseless admiration for Sadat. He was only admirable by comparison with the usual stratokleptocrats who ran Egypt, the demagogue Nasser before him (with his pan-Arabism being merely a subset of pan-Islamism, suitable for that earlier, pre-OPEC pre-Muslim-immigration-to-Europe age), and the quietly corrupt thick-necked Mubarak, with his celebrated Family-and-Friends Plan.
Sadat was a devout Muslim. Of course he was no friend of the Copts. Has everyone forgotten how the Coptic Pope, Shenouda II, went into voluntary internal exile as a sign of protest against the policies of the Sadat regime? No one made anything of this, no one paid any attention to this, because it didn’t fit the pre-fabricated narrative of Saint Sadat.
Has Hugh taken one step forward, two steps back? Has his asymptotic psychology forced him to take the fork in the road that leads back to a more "nuanced" approach to the diversity of Muslims? It's probable, given that the psychological & cultural pressure exerted by the visceral antipathy Westerners have to the idea of condemning an entire Brown People of over a billion often turns out to be a stronger force than the growing realization of the full catastrophe of Islam on the part of the Counter-Jihadist on his ongoing Learning Curve.
Hence, the Counter-Jihad Mainstream has developed to accommodate that pressure through a subculture of mutual reinforcement whereby they can pat themselves on the back for being oh-so tough against Islam, while in between the lines hedging their bets on the problem of all Muslims.