Democracy and Terrorism in the Middle East

I think in all of the 9/11 attacks only eight people under the age of 18 were killed. Reprisals will be merciless.

Haven’t they already been since 9/11? It’s just been a never ending circle of terror attacks (by an ever shifting set of groups) and then merciless reprisals by the US military and our allies. The ME and Afghanistan has been destabilized and millions of children are dead, sick, orphaned, hungry, maimed, or displaced. The reaction will just be yet another round of violence, which is largely act on civilians, especially those already vulnerable to violence.

And round and round we go, just to prove that we’re “right” and it never ends.


The way I think about it, “the West” has been inflicting its own brand of terror upon the Muslim world for centuries – if not millennia. This creates fertile breeding ground for megalomaniacs to brainwash impressionable people into doing their bidding and killing others.

“‘The West’ bombed your home and killed your family and friends. You can make things right by killing them and their family and friends. You may think your life has no meaning, but God has a plan for you and by following this plan your life will have meaning and you can be regarded as a hero!”.

This can be a very attractive proposition to someone who needs an outlet to direct their anger and frustrations. ISIS knows this and they are quite savvy and sophisticated in their recruiting. I remember reading a year or so back about how they even publish a professionally produced glossy English language magazine.

ETA Here it is:

I only see this getting worse and not better and everybody needlessly suffers as a consequence.

It definitely seems to be more acceptable to outwardly blame Islamic terrorism, but there’s plenty of dehumanization and pushing of stereotypes in the media when it comes to crimes committed by minorities. Whether it’s overt or unconscious, it’s definitely there.

One can only wish. I certainly don’t see this happening any time soon.


Observers count the civilian deaths in the ME and Afghanistan to be likely beyond a million since '03.

One Million Dead. And still we wonder why chaos reigns and how could certain people be capable of such senseless violence.


This afternoon, as the PM strolled through hospital wards, I wondered what I’d tell her if I were a nurse or doctor working there. I think it would be something along the lines of “remember these people, next time you sit down to play secret wars in this or that country”.

‘We’ broke 4 massive countries in the last 15 years, just because ‘we’ could. Until ‘we’ stop playing Empire, people on all side will get more and more ideological ammunition to do Bad Things in the name of retribution.


Reprisals will be ineffectual, sadly. They’re politically driven, not solution-oriented with any sense of honesty.

Idiots blow themselves up. There are plenty of unhappy idiots, waiting to be groomed to enact this kind of atrocity.

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Fair enough, though one can be hispanic and white, yeah?[quote=“Mister44, post:109, topic:101402”]
And while he had mental health issues, the PCP in his weed didn’t help.

Of course, drugs are often used to deal with undiagnosised or under treated mental illnesses. [quote=“Mister44, post:109, topic:101402”]
One would think the media would have latched onto that, but I dunno.

They often do, true, but not this time, apparently. [quote=“Mister44, post:109, topic:101402”]
I don’t know if the Media is complicit to spin a narrative, or if they just go with what will cause the most outrage and eyeballs.

Whether it’s purposefully or not, it still is a major contribution to the problem.

You could also look at what else was going on nationally at the time that made it less of a national story. [quote=“Mister44, post:109, topic:101402”]
The cynic in me connects the dots that the media doesn’t want to focus too much on minorities when violence happens to avoid demonizing them and perpetuating stereotypes

Do you watch the local, nightly news? Especially near major metropolitan areas, they are often filled with stories of poc committing crimes, and often poor people, too. It’s better than is used to be, granted, but it’s still an issue.[quote=“Mister44, post:109, topic:101402”]
I just wish we could live in a world where we can condemn certain people when bad things happen, and even certain groups in some situations, but not let it bleed into placing the blame on larger groups, whole religions, or countries or cultures.

Sure. But we don’t. We live in this world, where we have people flattening and simplifying stories that are often more complicated. All we can do ourselves is to be vigilant of that and to vote with our viewership. Tune into news outlets that don’t trade in that kind of simplification and that gives you as much background as possible on the news.

I don’t know about millennia. Well into the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was still a powerful force in regional politics, in some ways right up to the first world war. Much of this really stems from interwar era. Lenin releasing the documents in 1919 about how the West was going to carve out spheres of influence in the middle east pissed people off. But then again, powers in the region kept aligning with the British, French, or later the US to further their own interests. [quote=“wait_really, post:111, topic:101402”]
Observers count the civilian deaths in the ME and Afghanistan to be likely beyond a million since '03.

And that’s not even full casualties or those displaced (and children bearing much of the brunt of all of this, with their entire lives uprooted, if not ended). And I suspect it doesn’t include places like Yemen or Somalia or Pakistan, where drone campaigns continue and where (in the case of Yemen) we just spent over 100 billion to ensure that the Saudis can continue their path of destruction.

And what are those solutions? Because no one seems to be willing to say that maybe we need to stop destroying other countries and killing people there is a major part of it. Our policies are giving people who want to carve out a space of power for themselves the perfect recruiting tool. The only solution the leaders in the west are putting on the table is ever more endless war, which is making them richer, but killing people, fueling an angry, terroristic response, which results in more deaths here. These are not people reacting to nothing. Until we can understand and push for political changes, this cycle will continue until we’re all living in an authoritarian police state, where we’re all seen as targets and more people are drawn into acts of terrorism to try and make change.


Yeah, ok. Millennia is an exaggeration. :slight_smile: However, considering the original Crusades happened nearly 1000 years ago, there’s definitely a long and storied history of violence against Islam from Western forces.

(And before anybody jumps in and says, “well what about Islamic expansion!” or whatever, yes, there’s plenty of blame to go around.)


Sure, the crusaders carved out some kingdoms in the middle east and held them for a while. But I’d say that there was much more military and political parity. And of course, at least one of the crusades involved sacking Constantinople, held by the Eastern church.

True and again, there was much more parity involved than there is now. Hence the reason why some many terrorists are in fact terrorists, because they aren’t in control of standing militaries that can stand up to the US or NATO.

But both are long enough ago that the historical echoes from them are pretty faint. We need to look at more recent history, of colonialism and various reactions to that, including secular and religiously oriented ones to really understand what’s happening. The destruction of alternatives like Pan Arabism was really cutting off our nose to spite our face, but at the time, we told ourselves “well, at least they aren’t commies like Nasser.”


You’re not quite wrong, but I’d argue the reification of two civilizations like that is part of the mistake.

The West are the Americans and post-revolutionary French and Byzantines and Normans. The Muslims are the modern Syrians and Seljuks and Fatimids and Umayyads. Cultures centuries apart and contemporaries who completely despised each other become part of the same entity; we forget all their conflicts as disputes of the past, but not those which happen to be against the other entity, which are enshrined as part of the ageless combat of the two universal soldiers.

The people in the Middle-east should not be seen the terrifying horse archers attacking cities that, by now, are a lot more like they were than we are. By the same token we should hope to stop being seen as the Medieval crusaders, both by other countries and by ourselves. Not to say we haven’t inherited a lot from that past, but those are some of many dead fights between disappeared kingdoms, and I don’t think we do ourselves favors pretending these particular ones are fought without resolution to this day.


Sure, and in my defense I want to note that I was intentionally using sweeping and general statements (hence my use of scare quotes in various places) for the sake of brevity and clarity.

I fully recognize (and would hope the general BB populace would also recognize) that there’s far more depth and nuance here than anything I could clumsily convey in a couple of ranty stream of consciousness paragraphs.


As somebody who lives about twenty miles away from Sandy Hook, I can tell you that quite a few people in the Americas would object to being referred to as Western culture, and would consider that itself to be an act of imperialism. Traditions here go back much farther than the Normans or the nation states of France or the UK (or the US). Being occupied by people from Western Europe is a whole other problem.

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How exactly has the ME been destabilized? Who did the destabilizing? Sometimes it’s to find weapons of mass destruction and sometimes it’s because it’s Arab spring time.

But isn’t on of the tenets of democracy to spread democracy? Libya, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Syria are all either democratized or in the process of.

The First Crusade began only after parts of Europe had been occupied by Islamic forces for 384 years. By the time the Crusades were considered to have begun, Islamic armies had already laid siege to Rome several times, and had gained control of the Alps to the point of cutting off any land travel between Italy and France. Really, the history of Europe between 711 and 1683 is largely about the incursions and repelling of Islamic armies. Islamic raiders were going as far as Iceland to plunder and take slaves.
But while most Europeans see all that as ancient history with little relevance to modernity, the people setting off the bombs at concerts do not see things that way. Whatever your politics are, it is helpful to at least try to understand the issues from the perspective of the other side, and to remember that not everyone has short memories.
For those of us with European heritage, our ancestors left quite a few signs that they did not want such things forgotten. Above me as I write this is a painting of “The assumption of the Virgin”. Although it was painted two centuries after the reconquista, Mary is shown standing on the Crescent of Islam. Europe is covered with paintings and statues with such elements.
I know this is heavy on history and light on current events in Manchester, but there are a lot of people in Europe and the US who really do think that the conflict between Islamic and Christian cultures was started by George Bush.


Quite right. In fact it was conflict with radical Islam that occasioned the first debates in the US about whether to have a blue-water navy. In 1785 Jefferson reported to Congress that he had tried to persuade ’Abd al-Rahman, the emissary of the Pasha of Tripoli to stop attacking US shipping and enslaving US citizens. He said that America wanted peace, but the answer he received was… “No, we want war. We have a holy book called the Quran which says that we must enslave the United States because it is an infidel state. …”
[edit for better quote]
“the Ambassador answered us, that it was founded on the law of their great Profet: that it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their Authority were sinners: that it was their right & duty to make war upon them whenever they could be found, & to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; & that every Mussalman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”


One person’s democracy is another person’s authoritarian state glossed with a thin veneer of sham elections…


[quote=“kkaishakunin, post:140, topic:101402”]
either democratized or in the process of

[quote=“kkaishakunin, post:140, topic:101402”]
Libya[/quote]Still a mess.[quote=“kkaishakunin, post:140, topic:101402”]
Egypt[/quote]Stuck in Thermidor.[quote=“kkaishakunin, post:140, topic:101402”]
Yemen[/quote]Invaded by a reactionary dictatorship. [quote=“kkaishakunin, post:140, topic:101402”]Syria[/quote]Bashar Al-Assad doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so nope.

With the arguable exception of Iraq, all of your examples are bogus. You could at least have mentioned Tunisia, the only real successful case.


Er no - evangelism is a tenet of Christianity (and hence Islam), not of democracy. Pluralistic democracy respects minorities and the will of others as much as majority and the will of oneself. If the people of this or that country should prefer to be ruled in a different way, a democratic country would respect that. Arguing its case in the open, maybe, but not with weapons and aggression; that’s the democratic equivalent of beating up a political opponent.

This technique of spreading parliamentary democracy by force was born with Napoleon, who hijacked revolutionary ideals of brotherhood and equality for his imperialistic foreign policy. He had similar success as what currently enjoyed by US in the Middle-East, i.e. very little.

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Is this actually a true statement from the Pasha, or is it the convenient deployment of Orientalism to justify a desired-for navy to an American populace who would know no better?

I mean, I’ve no doubt that could have been Muslim leaders with this attitude, but then again, in many cases Muslim leaders were much more accommodating of other beliefs, even outside of the Abrahamic traditions.