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WEIRD SOUNDING NEWS:
Renunciation and Escalation: Conflicting Tides in the Terror WarThursday, 17 July 2008
The fact that the Terror Warriors in Washington and London are trying to turn Islamist renunciations of terrorism into another prop to justify their own violence does not lessen the development's importance in the real world.
As we noted here last year, "an important development has been taking place in the real "war" on terror -- not the profit-making, fear-and-domination machine of the Bush Administration's devising, but the genuine struggle to quell the violence of Islamist extremism. Yet despite the great potential of this breakthrough, an overwhelming majority of Americans have never heard of it. Certainly it has not been featured -- or even mentioned -- by the corporate press and government PR engines in the United States. And why not? Because it is a breakthrough toward peace -- and peace, as we all know, is not boffo box office."
Britta Sandberg has a new article on this topic at Salon.com, updating the developments since the spark for last year's story: the stunning renunciation of violence by one of the co-founders of al-Qaeda, the Egyptian doctor Sayyid Imam al-Sharif. Sandberg focuses on a former Libyan terrorist, Noman Benotman, as an example of the trend, and also notes the fatwa against violence issued this spring by the hardline Deoband faction:
Sandberg also notes the founding of UK-based group, the Quilliam Foundation, set up by former militants. But this group is more problematic than Sandberg allows in her story. It is now heavily backed by the UK government, and some of its members have simply converted their Islamic extremism into anti-Islamic extremism. Recently, its most high-profile adherent, Ed Hussain, who wrote a best-selling book about his turn from extremism, was instrumental in sabotoging an important UK conference examining "the diversity of Muslim art and culture" in Britain and drawing moderate, mainstream Muslim forces into a greater political and social engagement, as Seamus Milne notes in the Guardian:
But plans for government ministers to take part were scuttled by attacks from Hussain and the Tory party and press, who claimed that some of the event's organizers "had had links with Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood, though the details are contested," as Milne reports:
But "sponsorship of clients and stooges" is the lifeblood of Anglo-American policy, and has been for decades. British and American leaders have never been interested in genuine engagement with other political or cultural viewpoints; they want acquiesence, obedience – or else. And as wholesale purveyors of political violence, they much prefer dealing with violent extremists – either by supporting them or fighting them (or, as in Iraq, doing both at the same time) – than coming to terms with more moderate forces who seek peaceful accomodation of diverse interests within society. That's too much like hard work.
Still, the fact that the Terror Warriors in Washington and London are inevitably trying to turn Islamist renunciations of terrorism into another prop to justify their own violence does not lessen the development's importance in the real world. To be sure, this renunciation trend is in no danger of turning into a movement of satyagraha. Most of the Islamists renouncing terrorism against civilians still support the idea of open armed conflict against those "directly attacking Muslims." And as we noted last year:
But not, as noted above, among the Terror Warriors. Again, last year's observations still hold true:
Of course, the emphasis on the "Bush Faction" in the preceeding passage is a bit misleading. Because the "War on Terror" is not simply a Bushist operation; on the contrary, it is enthusiastically embraced by the entire bipartisan Washington establishment. For example, Barack Obama has made it a linchpin of his national security strategy, especially with his intention to escalate the conflict in Afghanistan, which he calls a "war we have to win": words that should chill the blood of everyone who recognizes the implications of such an open-ended commitment. For if we "have" to "win" in Afghanistan – if defeat is not an option (just as Bush and McCain say of Iraq) – then what won't we do to secure that victory"? After all, Obama has pledged himself to what has become the most sacred, bipartisan principle of American foreign policy: no president should ever take any option "off the table." [For more on this, see Arthur Silber's devastating essay, Songs of Death.]
What a strange pass we have come to: a founder of al Qaeda has taken extremist Islam's most potent weapon "off the table" – while the would-be heirs of Jefferson and Madison adamantly refuse to forego anything -- even the threat of nuclear terror -- in an endless global war that has already killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people.
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on July 17, 2008.
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