February 15, 2006

Watching "Watching America" I

Watching America is a news aggregator and translation service taking a distinctly leftish view of the world press, translating and assembling it for convenient consumption. It's a useful exercise in getting out of the self-congratulatory praise fest that is the constant danger of our narrowcast, niche, new news world.

It's scary what's out there, though.

Take this bit of foolishness by Linda Mcquaig in the Toronto Star

Take the question: Why are there so many suicide bombers in the Muslim world?

Of course, there's a rote answer to this that we hear all the time: Muslims have a culture of death; their blind rage against our freedom leads them to sacrifice their lives to spite us.

Another explanation - one you rarely hear - is that they're blowing themselves up to fight military incursions into their lands. (In this sense, they're not that different from people throughout history who sacrificed their lives to defend territory against foreign armies.)

One person who's been saying this - and getting little attention - is Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Based on the comprehensive databank he's developed as director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, Pape concludes there's been a strategic goal common to nearly every act of suicide terrorism in the past 25 years: "To compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland."

There's one problem with the construction. Muslim suicide bombers believe that any formerly muslim land is muslim land forever. Spain must become muslim as must the Balkans and central Europe up to the gates of Vienna. These maximalist demands are non-negotiable. The suicide bombers will keep coming until they are met. Only then will they negotiate peace and safety with the rest of the world, after further concessions, of course.

Afghanistan was supposedly taken because we needed a stable government that would protect a pipeline to bring natural gas to the south asian market and possibly for export further. Unseating the Taliban who had provided Al Queda with sanctuary as they plotted and executed a plan to kill thousands of americans has nothing to do with it. It's all about the oil (or in this case, natural gas).

The reality is that a pipeline likely will be built as the security situation improves but the motivation is exactly backwards. We encourage pipelines to transit through shaky regimes we like in order to stabilize them with transit fees. We acquired the responsibility for gifting Afghanistan with something better when we justifiably ejected the Taliban.

Today, Afghanistan is in desperate need of money to replace poppy cultivation one of its few economic success stories. Pipeline income can be part of the long-term success story of removing Afghanistan as the #1 source of raw materials for heroin production.

Admittedly, it is hard to get a good handle on motivations, especially for projects that are likely to last decades and have already been around at least a decade. This is a sword that cuts two ways though. When the US might have good, honorable motivations or dastardly, power hungry ones, a commentator has a choice over which motive to assign (or just present them all and let the reader decide). It's something of a test of the writer. Linda Mcquaig exposes herself as an unabashed partisan by excluding the alternatives and just assuming the worst motivation on the part of the US. It is anti-americanism in full flower.

Posted by TMLutas at February 15, 2006 01:20 PM