When I first read this boneheaded New York Times article, “The Mystery of the Insurgency”, which asks why the insurgents act like terrorists, all I could say was “duh.”
They’re not insurgents, they are terrorists, and if the Times hasn’t figured that out by now, they are, in the Darwinian sense, way too dumb to live.”
Christopher Hitchens has more patience than I do (which says a lot) and he takes the time to carefully and precisely dismember this pathetic article:
On many occasions, the jihadists in Iraq have been very specific as well as very general. When they murdered Sergio Vieira de Mello, the brilliant and brave U.N. representative assigned to Baghdad by Kofi Annan, the terrorists’ communiqué hailed the death of the man who had so criminally helped Christian East Timor to become independent of Muslim Indonesia. (This was also among the “reasons” given for the bombing of the bar in Bali.) I think I begin to sense the “frustration” of the “insurgents.” They keep telling us what they are like and what they want. But do we ever listen? Nah. For them, it must be like talking to the wall. Bennet even complains that it’s difficult for reporters to get close to the “insurgents”: He forgets that his own paper has published a conversation with one of them, in which the man praises the invasion of Kuwait, supports the cleansing of the Kurds, and says that “we cannot accept to live with infidels.”
Ah, but why would the “secular” former Baathists join in such theocratic mayhem? Let me see if I can guess. Leaving aside the formation of another well-named group—the Fedayeen Saddam—to perform state-sponsored jihad before the intervention, how did the Baath Party actually rule? Yes, it’s coming back to me. By putting every Iraqi citizen in daily fear of his or her life, by random and capricious torture and murder, and by cynical divide-and-rule among Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. Does this remind you of anything?
Of course, Michael Moore’s insurgent Minutemen have already murdered a journalist who called them “terrorists”, so I doubt that the New York Times will take Hitchens’ advice.
Still, History and Mystery is a good read.
* Carl Oglesby is the former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the group that spawned the terrorist “Weathermen”.
SDS members also rationalized this more frequent civil disobedience and resistance on the ground that the “Establishment” fails to listen when protests are “merely verbal.”45 At the 1967 convention, SDSers were extremely hesitant to endorse an anti-war march. Secretary Carl Davidson gives the reasons for this hesitancy: “Marches are just not enough. They won’t stop this war. More important, they won’t stop the military-industrial complex, the powerful institution that decide the fate of people in this country.”… Members also began reading Marxist historians such as William Appleman Williams, who viewed the U.S. as an imperial power with an history rife with imperialistic ventures. …Talk of violence did not meet with much resistance among the SDS’s ranks. Many members wanted to see results that were not being accomplished by their peaceful marches and sit-ins.53 The SDS of 1967 had forgotten, or chose to ignore the statement made in the Port Huron Statement five years earlier in which the SDS found violence to be “abhorrent” because it transformed a human being or a group of people into a “depersonalized object of hate.”
..In an SDS pamphlet titled “Cuba v. US Imperialism”, the SDS lauds the Cuban Revolution for its “freshness and anti-dogmatism, its version and firmness in the fight with imperialism.”57 Through their admiration for revolutionaries, and their movement from peaceful protest to resistance, the SDS began their metamorphosis into a more radical and defiant revolutionary organization.
Oglesby blames the turn to violence on the FBI, of course.
I mention him because Oglesby also wrote this letter to the New York Times, which they printed without comment:
By combining the antiwar movement with the counterculture, Bai ignores the fact that S.D.S. was destroyed by an enormous but still incompletely understood campaign of federal penetration and disruption. From 1968 through the early 1970′s, part of that campaign was the F.B.I’s counterintelligence program, Cointelpro. Unknown numbers of federal undercover agents were involved, and it wasn’t long before S.D.S. leaders began to sense the government’s presence. Their anger, panic and naïveté helped lead to the dissolution of S.D.S., as the organization’s members began retreating into the secret terrorist cells of the revolutionary group known as the Weathermen.
As a national leader of S.D.S. (I was its president in 1965 and 1966 and a member of its governing body through 1972), I must say that what this experience demands of today’s Democratic Party is that it confront its own passivity. The current mess in Iraq is one result of this passivity. Other such messes — Iran? Syria? Korea? — will almost certainly follow as the national defense budget continues to soar and the military establishment continues to lock up its control of foreign policy.
So, what non-passive action is being proposed here?