The previous two pieces have established the following:
- Tony Blair is ideologically-motivated to impose his worldview and toolset that he has tested with despotic, authoritarian regimes.
- The report produced by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (henceforth “Institute”) has Blair’s neocon ideology shaping its poor methodology, from the way it targets Muslim organisations, to how it establishes, in a deeply totalitarian fashion, its categories or “spectrum of extremism”.
In this piece, examples from the report will be used to demonstrate how the various “extremism” categories identified in the report come together to protect elements of the state and associated actors from scrutiny and police the views of citizens by rendering them potentially terroristic.
Western foreign policy is something that western governments do not like talking about. It comes to the fore when highlighting the “brave Muslims” who fought for “our freedoms” during World War I and conveniently omitting the slaughter of Ottoman Muslims demanded of them. Or when Western leaders, like David Cameron explicitly try to refute the notion that foreign policy has anything to do with terrorism and fail miserably.
A similar trend of avoiding Western antics in the Middle East exists when discussing ISIS. The press and political rhetoric has often focused on the religious characteristic of the enterprise, often ignoring the foundations of ISIS, which rest upon former US detained, “bitter” nationalist, secular Iraqi Ba’athists who have adopted the garb of religion to amass control. The relevance of Western policies and escalation of violence in the Middle East is regularly demonstrated in the use of orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits in their propaganda videos – something even Obama noted when he described Guantanamo as an “enormous recruiting tool for extremists”. To this end, it is difficult to envisage a glorified gang with a religious twang forming without the provenance that was the neoconservative foreign policy in Iraq. Even Tony Blair had to chokingly admit that there are “elements of truth” that the Iraq invasion helped feed the rise of ISIS.
In short, to deny anger and violence resulting from Western foreign policy in the Middle East is a delusion designed to whitewash Western militarism and its often catastrophic consequences.
“We will be absolutely clear about the people and groups we will not deal with because we find their views and behaviour to be so inconsistent with our own.”
~ Counter-Extremism Strategy document
Following on from my previous blog, I take brief look at the Counter-Extremism Strategy which has been published to much neocon fanfare and celebration. Most of the measures have been either already implemented unofficially, or announced as upcoming proposals. I have covered these parts in detail in the following blogs:
In short, it’s the usual inevitable neoconservative mix of Machiavellian fear (“dangerous”, “poisonous”, “harmful”, “threat”, “extremists”, “Islamists”!), double speak (protect freedoms by curtailing them/“targeted powers” which are “flexible”/claiming “not about Islam” but advancing only “liberal” Islam), and irrationality (the Strategy is based on the PM’s assertions rather than empirical evidence, whilst conflating crime into the extremism discourse), not to mention implicit association with negative cultural practices with Islam and Muslims (or the phantom menace that are the “Islamists”), adding to the stigmatisation of the Muslim minority.
Any additional points? There are few which twiddled my whiskers as they say. Below is my elucidation of those points.
“There should be no ungoverned spaces…” – Prevent Strategy
David Cameron’s speech was textbook neoconservativism. It was characterised by the need to manufacture an enemy for the state to court a form of fear-based nationalism, which enables warring and a resultant neocon-shaped society founded upon principles of fascism and increasing authoritarianism.
A “Greater Britain”, a Neocon Britain
It is certainly interesting to note that a “Greater Britain” for Cameron “begins by making the case for strong defence”. It echoes neocon hawks William Kristol and Robert Kagan’s “remoralisation of America” which requires a hegemonic foreign policy. There was much veneration of the global militarism in Cameron’s speech directly tied to the “greatness” of Britain and national identity. For war, an enemy the “nation” can relate to and remain in fear of, is required. In other words, an identity based on the “other” through fear is the Machiavellian recipe for a Straussian “closed society” shorn of individual liberty and freedom.
Approaching the weekend, news reports have focussed on the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. At the time of writing, the attack in Kuwait which targeted a Shia mosque killing 27 worshippers, has been claimed by ISIS. In France, the perpetrator decapitated his boss, and caused an explosion at a gas factory. His motivation is not yet ascertained. In Tunisia, a lone-gunman rampaged a beach killing 15 British nationals. He is believed to be linked to ISIS.
Innocent people have been killed and my heart sincerely goes out to the bereaving families.
The politics, however, sadly continue. Those who committed these atrocious acts had a motive and an agenda to fulfil. Such tragic events are also exploited by those who can trace their ideological inspiration to the architects of the disastrous Iraq War, which has undoubtedly escalated the violence and instability in the Middle East. David Cameron in his address in response to the attacks, like George Bush, stated that the terrorists opposed “peace, freedom and democracy”, thus directing the attack on “British values” and therefore the nationalism that has been aggressively architected over the past year. The rhetoric, once again, draws heavily upon Michael Gove’s book, Celsius 7/7, along with its false assumptions: just as Bush was patently wrong in his characterisation of the motivations Al-Qaeda (they hate our freedom), so too is Cameron. Boris Johnson notably urged London to be “vigilant” on the Underground as Parliament prepared to pass a motion for airstrikes targeting ISIS back in September 2014. And just as there is a conspicuous absence of 7/7-style terrorist attack in Britain before the Iraq war, foreign policy, will continue to play its part in exacerbating violence.
Crosspost by Ben White
Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.
Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him.
Three weeks ago, a CIA drone operating over Yemen fired a missile at a car carrying the teenager, and two others. They were all incinerated. Nor was Mohammed the first in his family to be targeted: drones had already killed his father and brother.
Since president Barack Obama took office in 2009, the US has killed at least 2,464 people through drone strikes outside the country’s declared war zones. The figure is courtesy of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which says that at least 314 of the dead, one in seven, were civilians.
Recall that for Obama, as The New York Times reported in May 2012, “all military-age males in a strike zone” are counted “as combatants” – unless “there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent”.
It sounds like the stuff of nightmares.
John Ware followed up his propaganda aired through the British Bias Corporation with a piece in the Independent. This piece sought to address, it seems, some of the contentions raised in my critique. It is only fitting I return the favour.
His documentary was an attack on Islam, and so is his continued assault in his article. Labelling his proxy that is Shaykh Haytham al-Haddad as a person fitting the government’s definition of a “non-violent extremist”, Ware attacks, for instance, the mainstream Islamic ruling on the prohibition of music. In doing so, he attacks a juristic ruling shared between the spectrums of Islamic theology from the Sufis through to Salafis and the Shi’a. If any definitive evidence was required that the “extremism” discourse is criminalising Islamic beliefs, look no further.
Ware continues with other snippets of “damning” quotes which have already been clarified by Shaykh al-Haddad himself. There is one particular aspect which is worth addressing. Ware seems to have a problem with a Muslim believing in the superiority of the “law of Allah”. A person of religion wouldn’t be a believer if he did not believe in the primacy of his Book. To highlight this as evidence of some form of “extremism” is absurd and minority discriminatory. David Cameron, slightly overselling himself, once called the Tory party, the “Torah party” . Is he too an extremist? The Beth Din Court, as alluded to in an earlier blog, has previously asserted the primacy of Judaic law over British civil law stating that,