Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Conor Foley on things tangentially related to Decency

Here. Good to see that the Cohen article in question (a particularly awful one) is being systematically destroyed. In comments, various other Decent characters raise the only argument that they've got left in favour of the policy of "all belligerent stupidity, all the time" - that the jihadisses have no motivations whatever other than the establishment of an international Caliphate, and nothing that anyone else does is relevant at all to the lust for destruction which dwells in their hearts. Question for our Decent readers (and I know we have a few) do you really believe this crap?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well David T has already put his two pence worth in and expressed his view that it was all down to the dreaded Caliphate.

Pretty much all Decents have this level of intellectual sophistication when it comes to Islamism, due to the fact that they entire knowledge of the subject is based on reading Terror and Liberalism. Nick Cohen virtually admits as much.

The central problem of course with such an analysis, and that's probably too generous a word for most Decent thinking on the matter, is that Islamic violence is contingent on a whole range of complicated localised factors, and that Islamic terrorism is not inspired by a single coherent standardised worldview shared by all people who engage in such atrocities.

Many Decents such as Cohen assume that any Islamist terror attack is motivated by various obscure reasons set out in OBL speeches such as Spain holding Andalucía or East Timor ceding from Islamic Indonesia.

It takes a particularly determined stupidity to imagine that such factors underlie Islamist terror attacks in such different situations as Algeria, Israel, Madrid, London and Chechnya.

But this is mainstream (if such a bizarre cult as Decentism can have a mainstream) Decent thinking, which ,also of course involves any kind of more obvious rationales, such as say off the top of my head, Russian atrocities in Chechnya, occupation of land/human rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories, widespread hatred of US Foreign policy as revealed in numerous Western intelligence reports and reputable public opinion surveys.

It does not of course mean that the motivations of such atrocities can always be related to a real or perceived injustice but that this is often an important contributory factor somewhere in the matrix of motivations.

These things can’t ever be accepted as motivations because it would involve criticising their favoured states, and those states must always get a moral ‘get out of jail free card’ in relation to foreign policy.

Well surely more significant than 'wanting Andalucia back' at least?

But of course positing such explanations is an example of 'root causism'. A crime for which Conor, clearly a very, very brave intelligent and humane person, is clearly guilty.

Is there no end to the absurdness of Decency?

12/12/2007 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there actually any Middle East specialists, or even foreign policy specialists, among the Decents? I'm not saying you need relevant expertise before you can comment, but as bubby says above their paucity of knowledge of Islamism is quite striking, given that Islamism is virtually all they talk about these days. I suppose this might be related to the idea that actually acquiring knowledge about Islamism is a distraction from the Greatest Intellectual Struggle Of Our Time.

12/12/2007 08:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there actually any Middle Eastern specialists, or even foreign policy specialists amongst the Decents?

I very much doubt it Simon, purely for the reason that any respected Middle Eastern expert wouldn’t risk his reputation by endorsing such half arsed tosh.

I’m sure you remember that a large number of F.O. Middle East experts did actually release a position statement on the Project Decent in the M.E. and it wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement….,,1204085,00.html

12/12/2007 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course the other main Decent touchstone apart from Berman is Bernard Lewis, whom they like because, to quote the late Fafblog, they want to learn more about "this 'not-our-fault' theory - I find it strangely compelling"

12/12/2007 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

In Algeria I would guess that its probably local grievances. They had their own (very nasty) Islamic terrorists while Bin Laden was a mere international playboy. They also have their own, very nasty, intelligence services who (if memory serves, it often doesn't) ended up planning/running parts of the Islamic terrorist groups to justify their own crackdown. Now it could be Al-Quaeda and the Caliphate I suppose, but it wouldn't be my first assumption.

12/12/2007 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite so Cian.

There was always strong evidence that agent provocators from the Algerian secret services were involved in some of the most horrific massacres which were pinned on the Islamists during the 1990s. They also instituted a policy of widespread and systematic torture and repression during this period.

This of course is not to deny that many of the worst atrocities were carried out by Islamists including massacres of entire villages. Incidentally this was something which caused a split within the Islamist movement with many Islamists appalled at such actions.

When you begin to delve into the issues more deeply it soon becomes clear that all sorts of things are going on and the world is far more morally complicated than the black and white picture painted by the Decents.

It should of course be remembered that Decenets like Cohen whilst being (correctly) critical of Islamist mass terror in Algeria have had nothing to say about the role of the Algerian state security services.

Cohen is in fact is on record as saying we should in fact cooperate with such regimes and deport terror suspects to them.

12/13/2007 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there actually any Middle Eastern specialists, or even foreign policy specialists amongst the Decents?

I was going to mention Bernard Lewis, who seems to be the only historian any of them are interested in, because, guess what, he thinks Said's ideas are rubbish (Said being someone whose work they seem incapable of actually reading themselves). Well he would, because Said came later, and debunked his life's work...

12/13/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well hostility to peole who actually speak Arabic and know anything about the Middle East was a central feature of the neocon critque of the State Department and US academe. Such people are likely to go native and hence wobble on the war on terror. As Fukuyama put it "Arabists are more systemically wrong than other area specialists in the Foreign Service."
This does admittedly give a rather unusual quality to Decent analysis - reading Harry's Place on the Middle East is rather like reading a blog which obsessively covered Latin America trhrough a prism of extreme hostility to Roman Catholicism although none of it contributors had ever been there, spoke Spanish or Portuguese, or indeed had the slightest acquaintance with the history or political culture of the area.

12/14/2007 11:51:00 AM  

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