Saturday, January 5, 2008

Leon Klinghoffer Was Not Killed By "Islamo-Fascists"

So the Republican candidates degenerated into an undignified squabble tonight during the NH debate, in which they argued over whether al-Qaeda’s strategy is a reaction to American foreign policy or a logical consequence of Islamic jihadist ideology. (It couldn’t possibly be both.)

Participants drew on some rather strange supporting examples, including Giuliani who threw out Leon Klinghoffer’s name in a long list of Americans who supposedly fell victim to Islamic jihadism since the 60s. His reference of course is to the 69-year-old Jewish disabled tourist singled out for execution by Palestinian terrorists who hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985.

It would be unfortunate if voters accepted Giuliani's interpretation of events, since this example not only doesn’t work for his argument (since the crucial aspects of US foreign policy to which al-Qaeda is said to be a reaction predate the 80s anyway) but contains a serious factual distortion. The Palestinian militants who hijacked the Achille Lauro were nationalists, not jihadists.

Nationalist terrorists use methods such as hostage-taking and suicide attacks against a regime from whom they are seeking independence, or against third parties whose attention they are hoping to attract to their cause. There are many such movements, including the Irish Republican Army, the ETA in Spain, and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka; many of the world's nationalist terrorist groups happen to be or to have been Muslim-majority, such as the former KLA in Kosovo, the Chechen rebels in Russia in the early 1990s, and the former Palestinian Liberation Organiazation. Such groups have specific territorial and political ambitions and use terrorism strategically to achieve these aims; many have no intention of creating an Islamic state upon victory. They differ markedly from salafi jihadists who are as interested in sowing global disorder to bring about an Islamic caliphate according to some millennial ideal - or, perhaps, simply to get into paradise.

This is a pretty important distinction for a commander in chief to understand, particularly if he’s preparing to set forth a political agenda that includes “keeping the US on the offensive in the war against Islamofascim” as your defining “principle.” (This was in response to a video question by President Bush.) Giuliani, for one, doesn’t know the difference between a jihadist and a nationalist willing to use terrorist methods who also just happens to be Muslim.

Then again, none of the other candidates called him on it, so…

1 comment:

Cleitus the Black said...

I should most strongly urge my distinguished colleague and all readers to do their part in stamping out the abominable practice of the current Administration in seeding the already deplorable literary landscape of the English language with invented words such as "islamo-fascist". Trundle off to your nearest library and look it up, if you don't believe your wise old Uncle Cleitus - "islamo" is not a word. It's simply an insulting and lazy slur thrown out by ignorant politicians and repeated by their media lapdogs until even otherwise distinguished academics have accepted it as part and parcel of the lexicon. I, for my part, shall have nothing to do with the first syllable of this latest mutation of what was already a bastardized, barbarian tongue (oh, for the halcyon days of Greek, Latin, and the Romance languages!) - but as for the right side of the hyphen, that little word "fascist" - I most heartily recommend you take a look at how the current American regime stacks up when judged by the 14 criteria of fascist regimes as defined by Dr. Laurence Britt.

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