Apropos my prior post, Salon unleashed a wholly predictable response to the Atlantic article about ISIS. Haroon Moghul doesn’t even really address any of Wood’s points. Instead, his argument is the standard Chomsky and Greenwald philosophy:
1) Everything bad in the world is America’s fault. Everything. 2) It is heresy to discuss anything besides point 1.
Moghul starts by describing how most Muslims hate ISIS. I don’t understand why he feels this is a point of contention, because Wood never says anything to dispute this. The Atlantic article talks about how ISIS hates all Shiite Muslims, for instance, and murders them wholesale whenever they can. They also even hate most of their fellow Sunni Muslims — if you don’t toe the ISIS line exactly, you are a heretic who deserves to die. The vast majority of ISIS victims have been Muslim. Of course other Muslims hate them.
But then he goes on to the predictable argument that America is to blame. The point of this thinking, as Chomsky himself elides, is that ISIS came about only after Dick Cheney’s bungled Iraq war led to a power vacuum, which created a space in which terrorist groups may work. And all ISIS recruits are motivated solely by a just rage at America for colonialism, racism, and all the rest. We all know the argument full well: It is repeated ad nauseum on every college campus, and it is one that has been in force since Vietnam. Everything is America’s fault. How dare you talk about anything other than how awful Americans are?
There is no denying that Cheney’s war was an awful mess that made things worse. But to say “America created ISIS” ignores, first of all, that much of ISIS is not in Iraq at all. It occupies much of Syria, which became a warzone due to the events of the Arab Spring — uprisings that Obama actually supported. Furthermore, even if Cheney had not toppled Saddam from power, there is every reason to suspect that Saddam would have been swept aside by the Arab Spring — or, failing that, lost control of much of the country the way Bashar al-Assad has. Either scenario would have represented fertile ground for ISIS.
But the larger argument of these guys goes beyond Cheney’s war and says America really is responsible for LITERALLY EVERYTHING bad in the Middle East. This is the fundamental argument for the foundational text for the far Left’s foreign policy: Edward Said’s 1978 diatribe “Orientalism.” Why are Arab governments bad? American colonialism! Why are Arab countries fractitious and never able to get their crap together? American racism! And so forth.
If a Leftist lecturer has a theme of anything besides “We have met the enemy and he is us,” then they’re a crappy Leftist.
Now there is one other elephant in the room that needs to be discussed, and this brings us to the roots of the Left’s idea of foreign policy. The state of Israel, which was created by Britain (not America) and the UN, became one of America’s only allies in the critical region (the other being Turkey). This is important because the Soviets dominated the other countries (again, not America, yet Russian colonialism never earns even a breath of condemnation from the Greenwalds and Chomskys of the world), and they hatched endless plots and intrigues to discredit and destroy Israel in order to gain complete control of the world’s oil supply. And, as we all know, the USSR found no better tool than the Palestinians, a certain Palestinian scholar named Edward Said rose to prominence, and the rest is history.
Yes, I really am saying that some people are blaming America for ISIS in 2015 because of Soviet-sponsored academic propaganda from the 1970s.
But the thing about this sort of reflexive anti-Americanism is that it is actually racist against Arabs. Writers for Salon portray them as eternal victims, dumb and cattlelike puppets in America’s wars, never able to come up with any strategy or plot or idea on their own without American prompting. In this view, Arabs are about as morally capable as your average 5 year old and America exists as their abusive parent. Are some extremist Arabs forming a terrorist group? Blame America. Dictator terrorizing his own people? Blame America. Libya collapsing into chaos and anarchy? Blame America. Because Arab people have absolutely no agency of their own.
Enough is enough with this racist twaddle. ISIS happened because some Muslims (Arab or otherwise) are evil scum, same as any other grouping of people. Some Americans are evil scum, some Japanese are evil scum, some Rotary Club members are evil scum. ISIS has a very particular bent informed by Islam, yes, but as I talked about last post, these particulars are less important than the primitive, emotional draw it gives for a certain type of evil person, comparable to the draw of the Nazis in Germany circa 1930. Arabs and Muslims are capable of their own bad decisions. Same as Germans. Same as Americans.