The London Blasts: Media
TWO: 9 July 2005 Part 1 This is not 'a war on freedom'
This is not 'a war on
Gardner, in a long and important piece in the FT
entitled 'The west's role in Islam's war of ideas', tackles
the claim that 'the Islamist perpetrators
of that atrocity “hate us for our freedoms”.
That they loathe us for our values, for what we are and
think rather than anything we do.'
He responds, 'If
only that were true.'
Gardner goes on: 'The
most important thing to recognise is how the great democratic
wave that freed east and central Europe, Latin America and
swaths of sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades [We
will leave aside this questionable analysis - JNV] ran
into the sands of the Middle East, leaving the Arabs marooned
in tyranny. That
was in no small part because the US and its main allies
shored up local despots in the interests of stability and
'These tyrants laid waste to the entire
spectrum of political expression in their countries, leaving
their adversaries no alternative but to fall back on the
mosque. That, in turn, suited their purposes, enabling them
to blackmail their western patrons: back us, or deal with
is probably no greater single source of rage in the Arab
world than this collusion in tyranny and repression –
not even the Israel-Palestine conflict, which, furthermore,
is manipulated by Arab rulers as an alibi for maintaining
their national security states on a spurious war footing.'
overwhelming majority of Muslims do not hate us for our
freedoms. They do, however, despise
these policies and some of the more frustrated among
them are thereby prey to the siren songs of the jihadis.'
Gardner quotes opinion poll research
from the US Defence Science Board that found high levels
of hostility to the US in Arab countries at
the same time as large-scale support for democracy,
science, education and freedom. (The report 'Strategic Communications'
is a 1.75Mb pdf available from the Defence
Science Board and is further discussed by JNV here.)
The logical consequences of this analysis
are spelled out:
'the jihadis need the story of the
last 60 years to continue. They
need the US to keep shoring up tyranny and defending the
status quo. Of course, democracy alone will not resolve
the problems of the Middle East. It will, moreover, often
be antithetical to short-term stability, since it is Islamist
movements that are emerging as the region’s centre
of political gravity.'
if the west continues to collude with local despots in denying
their peoples freedom, we will lose that war of ideas.
The jihadis will enter the
Muslim mainstream, and continue their tactics of immolation.
The shared values of Islam and the west will wither.'
rightly, Gardner is placing the responsibility for
bringing this 'war' to an end on the United States and its
allies. It is our participation in and support for injustice
which fuels al Qaeda.
This is not a war of 'resentment'
In The Times,
Scruton confidently claims that the motive for anti-Western
terrorism is 'resentment' of Western 'material and political
success': 'Islamic terrorists
[sic] bomb the cities of Europe and America because those
cities are a symbol of the material and political success
of the Western nations, and a rebuke to the political chaos
and deep-rooted corruption of the Muslim world. Success
breeds resentment, and resentment breeds hate.'
When we turn to the July 2004 Zogby
International opinion poll which underpins the Defence Science
Board study, a relevant question is asked: 'what is the
worst thought that comes to mind when you hear the word
The pollsters found that 'The
issue of foreign policy in general and policy towards the
Arab people in particular are the items most frequently
cited here. Across
the board in all six countries foreign policy issues are
noted in almost 80% of the responses.
The most frequently cited are “unfair Middle East
policy,” US responsibility for “murdering Arabs”
(principally in Iraq, although US culpability for the suffering
of Palestinians is also cited), and what is perceived as
the US preoccupation with “Arab oil.” That this
is an issue across the board, is worth noting. While it
is understandable that this might be a perception in Saudi
Arabia and UAE, it comes as a surprise that this is a significant
“first thought” that comes to mind in Morocco,
Jordan, and Lebanon as well.'
There is no basis, then, for the assertion
that Muslims in the Middle East feel hatred towards the
US because of its material or political 'success'. Unless,
that is, you believe that US material and political 'success'
is based on, and synonymous with, murdering Arabs, dominating
Arab oil, and bolstering an unfair situation in the Middle
JNV welcomes feedback.
2 of Media Review
This page last updated 9 July 2005