Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bombs Bursting in Air and Underground

Originally uploaded by alcibiades.
Condolences to the Brits on the horrific terror attacks they suffered this morning.

Christopher Hitchens on the London Bombings:
My son flew in from London at the weekend, and we were discussing, as we have several times before, why it hadn't happened yet. "It" was the jihadist attack on the city, for which the British security forces have been braced ever since the bombings in Madrid. When the telephone rang in the small hours of this morning, I was pretty sure it was the call I had been waiting for. And as I snapped on the TV I could see, from the drawn expression and halting speech of Tony Blair, that he was reacting not so much with shock as from a sense of inevitability.

Perhaps this partly explains the stoicism and insouciance of those Brits interviewed on the streets, all of whom seemed to know that a certain sang-froid was expected of them. The concrete barriers around the Houses of Parliament have been up for some time. There are estimated to be over 4 million surveillance cameras in the United Kingdom today, but of course it had to be the Underground—"the tube"—and the good old symbolic red London bus. Timed for the rush hour, and at transit stations that serve outlying and East London neighborhoods, the bombs are nearly certain to have killed a number of British Muslims. None of this, of course, has stopped George Galloway and his ilk from rushing to the microphone and demanding that the British people be removed "from harm's way" by an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.
David from Harry's Place writes a powerful letter in reply to a Brit claiming Blair is responsible for today's bombing because of his Iraq policy. Typical. Many of us feel we are going to be inundated with claims like this in the days ahead.

Here's a sample:

Perhaps you think that Islamism is the same thing as Islam. Perhaps you think that it is some form of national liberation struggle, or a reaction against imperialism or Bush's failure to sign up to Kyoto.

It is not.

Radical Islamism - in its most important strain - is a political doctrine which was developed principally by two arab thinkers in the first part of the 20th century - Qutb and Banna - who were deeply immersed, not in the culture of the middle east, but in the theoretical perspective of the European romantic movement. It is not an alien, exotic or even really an "oriental" doctrine. It is directly inspired by the same intellectual currents which gave rise to romantic nationalism in the 19th century, and fascism in the mid 20th century.

You might think that its main aim is to oppose military action in the middle east.

It is not.

Its main aim, explicitly, is to restore the Caliphate, abolished by Ataturk when modern Turkey was established. It is not an anti-imperialist movement. It is an imperialist movement, yearning for an imagined golden age which it hopes to recreate.

Qutb saw the primary enemy, not as the foreign policy of Western states, but as Modernity: and in particular materialism, liberalism, and democracy. This is the primary reason that London has been bombed: not because it has "attacked muslims" but because they fear that materialism, liberalism and democracy are damaging to the values which Islamists hope to promore: piety and submission to the will of god.


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