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Links and thoughts about Islamist terrorism - Input Junkie
November 16th, 2015
10:22 am


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Links and thoughts about Islamist terrorism
Daesh is a many-splendored insult. Since the essay is long and somewhat rambly, have a summary. The English language press has been inexcusably sloppy, saying it's a mysterious Arab thing or getting the details wrong.

Daesh is an acronym of what ISIS calls itself. In English, acronyms are a neutral matter of convenience, and I think anyone who insisted on using a full name rather than a common acronym would seem excessively fussy. In Arabic, acronyms are not common usage, and using one is a slight. I'm a little surprised that members of Daesh work so hard to be hated and yet can have their feelings easily hurt, but that's humans for you.

In addition, Daesh sounds like a fantasy creature like a genii from the pre-Islamic dark ages. I wouldn't mind having some more detail about this.

Better yet, Daesh is just one letter off from a word that means trample. One of the things the English press has been getting wrong is to claim it's a conjugation.

People have been saying for a while that terrorism is a result of poverty, and I've been saying for a while that it isn't-- we should all be as poor as bin Laden, and there are all those engineers who become terrorists. Some of them have jobs and families. I'd been thinking people whose lives are in fairly good shape become terrorists because they have some sort of meaning deficiency. Here's an essay on the subject.

On the other hand, some terrorists are desperately poor, and money from Daesh is the only way they can support their families.

Part of the problem is economies which were destroyed by the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. It turns out that Chalabi was running the debaathification program, and he was using it for revenge.

Anyone know of any science fiction about aliens wrecking human societies by supporting destructive factions?

I don't think everything is the US's fault. Bin Laden had much more freedom of action than most people. He had wealth, and he wasn't answerable to stockholders or voters. He could have spent his life on whatever rich Saudis do (build big fancy houses? work in the family business?), but he didn't.

I knew about the attacks on Beirut because they were on Google News, which is not exactly an obscure source. On the other hand, it was reported more as Daesh vs Hezbollah rather than something everyone should mourn.

I think part of the difference in press reporting is that a big attack in Europe is surprising while there have been a lot of attacks in the Middle East. It's probably a good thing to have more emotional parity.

For what it's worth, NPR had an interview this morning with a man from Beirut who was more emotionally affected by what happened in Paris than what happened in his own city. I take this to mean that people are very apt to be influenced by what they're told to feel.

More generally, I think we don't know what to do about Daesh, so what we're doing is telling each other what to do and what to feel. What's more, we really don't know what policies would work, so we're got room to get really angry at those irresponsible fools who aren't doing the completely obvious thing.

It might help to stop supporting Gulf states if they insist on supporting terrorists.

Have an essay about who it's easiest to hate. Reserve some time, it's long and interesting.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1074774.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

(11 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 04:39 pm (UTC)
I prefer IS. ISIS and ISIL are regional subdivisions of it, and not very important to differentiate from the perspective of the ordinary American.

To understand what's happening, it's important to recognize that in their home areas, IS and Boko Haram target anyone who isn't of their own persuasion, including other Muslims. The claim that religion has nothing to do with the attacks is ludicrous, but the alternative isn't that Islam as such is to blame; It's a particular interpretation of Islam which seeks to dominate the Islamic world and intimidate the rest of the world. It rests largely in the Wahabi sect, which Saudi Arabia protects while brutally punishing anyone who supports liberal views. The US government doesn't offer even the mildest criticism of Saudi Arabia.

I think the organizers and the people who carry out the attacks have very different aims. The organizers are good at playing on grievances against the West, including highly legitimate ones. The people who conduct the attacks are often recruited through those grievances, but the people running IS are after power in their own countries, rather than revenge against the West. They're aware that attacks like the one in Paris will just result in more military attacks in the Mideast and rhetoric against Islam — and that's exactly what they want, since it will get them more recruits. They thrive on instability.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
I might be over-doing it, but I think this is mostly a Muslim vs. Muslim fight, with terrorism in the west as collateral damage.

Edited at 2015-11-16 05:39 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:November 18th, 2015 07:57 pm (UTC)
ISIS and ISIL are regional subdivisions

Minor quibble: they're not - "Syria" and "Levant" are the same place. What you're saying is basically like saying the US Army and the American Army are regional subdivisions.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 05:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this link roundup. I've been mostly offline the last several days and it's good to have these points for diving in.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
Blogging this, thanx
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Overthrowing Saudi Arabia sounds like a good idea on paper but it's not going to be replaced with a democracy, it's going to be replaced with yet another secular authoritarian quasi-republic like pre-war Syria or Egypt in Russia's sphere of influence.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 07:57 pm (UTC)
Pressuring Saudi Arabia to stop supporting terrorists isn't the same thing as overthrowing their government, or at least I hope not.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 08:50 pm (UTC)
Deal with the secular authoritarian quasi-republics first.
[User Picture]
Date:November 16th, 2015 10:15 pm (UTC)
The problem is in significant part that the House of Saud and the Wahabbis are committed to mutual support; there was a deal struck, and the one supports the other. They keep each other in power, and use that as a home base to increase influence abroad.

Which means that the Wahabbi doctrines - which feed Daesh and AQ and a couple of other things - are basically financed by Saudi oil, and always have been.

Without an acknowledgement of that bargain in the heart of Saudi politics - that the Wahabbis will have influence and control over the holy sites and control over how religious texts are translated and a few other things, and in return will keep the House of Saud in power - there is no hope of change.
[User Picture]
Date:November 17th, 2015 12:00 am (UTC)
I will call them Daesh henceforth, and spread the word. As noted, they're not a State, they're a gang of criminals, and according to most Muslims, they don't represent Islam either. Also, they don't like to be called 'Daesh', so that gives it a nice little tang.

"Anyone know of any science fiction about aliens wrecking human societies by supporting destructive factions?"

Well, there's Conspiracy from Star Trek: TNG - Test To Destruction by Keith Laumer - Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell.... none of which fit the bill exactly, but the closest that spring to mind.

I have to agree with the 'stop supporting Gulf states', especially Saudi Arabia. Freeze their assets and stop selling them weapons and technology until they stop paying and arming the enemies of the West. By the same token, we ought to stop supporting Israel until they stop the Palestinian genocide. Ideally, we'd wean our economy off fossil fuels and get the hell out of the Middle East entirely, because we don't do any good there. For over a thousand years, every time the West has meddled in mid-Eastern politics, it's led to nothing but trouble for all concerned.

[User Picture]
Date:November 17th, 2015 02:08 am (UTC)
There may be something in Lessing's Shikasta books (The Sentimental Agents?) about a more advanced society wrecking a less advanced society through inept efforts to help.
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