What Al Qaeda Wants
Henry Porter makes the case in the Guardian that, unlike with the IRA, Al Qaeda cannot be negotiated with or even debated on civilized terms: A couple of weeks after a man had attempted to blow up hundreds of young … Read More
Henry Porter makes the case in the Guardian that, unlike with the IRA, Al Qaeda cannot be negotiated with or even debated on civilized terms:
A couple of weeks after a man had attempted to blow up hundreds of young women at a London nightclub, it makes you quite proud to see the clubs and pubs in London full of people enjoying themselves. As I watched, a voice at the back of my mind asked: 'What the hell is al-Qaeda on about?' Which is not such a dumb question because most of the standard answers concerning Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan do not explain the terrible level of violence that the four men jailed last week – all of whom had benefited in some way from the Britain's hospitality – planned for their fellow citizens. The Middle East may seem to provide convincing pretexts but we shouldn't for a moment believe that withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq and a settlement in Palestine would stop al-Qaeda. For one thing, there is a devotion to cruelty, a blood lust if you like, among the extremist sects of Islam which seems to go way beyond the desire to gain certain political goals or religious goals. Look at the way Arabs are being killed by al-Qaeda in the Anbar province of Iraq or at the murders of barbers in Basra, or the decision by an Iranian court to order a 43-year-old woman named Mokarrameh Ebrahimi to be stoned to death for adultery, which Amnesty International says 'beggars belief'.
Of course, this should be self-evident by now. But it isn't. Still we hear that Islamists are reverse-engineered foreign policy analysts and that if the U.S. did things like pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan and dismantled its air strips in Saudi Arabia (done, by the way), Bin Laden would call off his goon squad and retire to quiet life of the sharia-saturated mind. Never mind that Al Qaeda seems more preoccupied with the goings-on in Pakistan and Nigeria, over which the U.S. has precious little sway (it takes Gen. Musharraf to ask Bush to stand down on killing known jihadists, and to do so for Musharraf's own political "stability"), and that a caliphate is, by design, a theocratic imperium whose origins preexist secular republicanism.
From now on I'd like the obverse of Porter's argument the Burnt Pot Roast thesis, for it amounts to the same collapsible logic: if only the wife didn't ruin the dinner, her husband would stop beating her.