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Reader comment on item: [William Blum and] Al-Qaeda's Leftist Brigade

Submitted by a Filipino liberal (Philippines), Jan 30, 2006 at 04:10

Finally... and I'd been wondering when it would be William Blum's turn to be blasted. You see, his book, Rogue State, was the very first book to enlighten me on the US of A's true motives and actions. It's an old book, actually (first publication 1999, with an updated version published after 9/11) that's why its good that it's finally getting noticed. I got it in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq. My initial support of the US in the wake of September 11 had turned to mild, and then stronger, disapproval of its actions when they somehow used the terrorist threat to invade Iraq.

This invasion is a case in point. The hawks in Washington used two main reasons to justify the war: Saddam's possession of WMD and Saddam's connection to bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Of course, we all know what happened next. After the invasion, both theories were totally disproven, as not only did the most extensive search of Iraq by hundreds of American and international inspectors for months turn up not the slightest trace of WMD (no parts for weapons or chemical, biological, or nuclear stores were ever found, much less a complete weapon), but no demonstrable link between Saddam's government and Al-Qaeda was ever discovered. In fact, the opposite was true: The two men actually disliked each other. Fundamentalist bin Laden versus secular Saddam.

So what did the US do after this? You'd expect any normal human beings, after not one, but both of his justifications were disproven, to immediately apologize or at least suffer public embarassment, loss of face, or even shame. But instead the US, with its customary shamelessness, arrogance, and inability to feel remorse, guilt, or even admit wrongdoing, tried another trick. They tried to change the topic (Don't you hate it when you're having an argument with someone and he tries this on you?). After their first reasons had been disproven, the US suddenly switched to "Saddam is a dictator and we had to put him down", and "We want to reform Iraq to a democratic form of government and help its people". These excuses, of course, were obediently snapped up by the right, who were probably getting a little nervous over their earlier mistake. Now they could say that they were trying to remove a dictator and restore democracy. Well, this is partly true. Saddam was anti-American, after all, which gives the US a self-interested reason to remove him (which, to me, makes it more believable). But that isn't the main reason. Saddam Hussein was a socialist dictator. The main US problem with him wasn't the "dictator" part, but the "socialist" part. For if the US were really against dictators, then they would never have supported the likes of Pinochet, Ferdinand Marcos, and Suharto. On the other hand, the socialist Salvador Allende, who was overthrown in a CIA-supported military coup led by General Pinochet, was democratically elected and widely supported by the populace. (though I suppose not so much by the upper classes). Other main reasons were: the large oil reserves in Iraq, which the wicked Saddam had nationalized and removed from the control of US and British multinational corporations, and the desire for a greater presence in the Middle East, in the form of military bases, governments close to the US, spy stations, etc, beyond the sizable American presence in Saudi Arabia.

Anyway, I digress. The point is... I'm glad his books are getting so much publicity. In the face of this publicity, the right can no longer resort to its usual method of ignoring or downplaying the attention, so they have to resort to the much less effective means of attacking Blum and his books, which, incidentally, also increases publicity.

I was surprised, too, by his saying that he was not repulsed, and actually glad, that bin Laden endorsed his book. After all, his stance is not so much that the US is wrong and the terrorists are right, but that the US is no better than the terrorists; thus, both sides are wrong. (Of course, even this more moderate view will not satisfy the conservatives, who think they're always right and they're opponents are always wrong) Blum must have radicalized even more over the past few years.

However, he did make some very good statements. He said, for example, that "I would not say that bin Laden has been any less moral than Washington has been". Indeed. Why, exactly, should the US be any more moral than Al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda has bombed innocent civilians. The US has done so too, and with far greater damage. Al-Qaeda has spread hatred of the West and a belief in Islamic superiority. The US right-wingers have also spread hatred of Muslims, and a belief in Western superiority. Al-Qaeda wishes to reestablish the ancient Islamic caliphate, which covered North Africa on the Atlantic coast, in a belt up to Indonesia and the southern Philippines. The US, on the other hand, wishes to extend its hegemony over the entire world. Americans, of course, would be the last to admit that the US has done wrong in the past. I understand. It's entirely natural, after all. It's hard to believe your country has been evil, especially if that country has prided itself on being a beacon of morals and freedom. Blum knows this, as he said in Rogue State that "suggesting a moral equivalency with terrorists... never fails to incite American anger".

In conclusion... Even I was shocked and amazed when I first read the book, and I thought that the carefully footnoted evidence of the US's hypocrisy, arrogance, and wrongdoing could convince anyone. I know now that I was wrong, and naive besides. As George Lakoff said in his book "Don't Think of an Elephant!", facts and truth are not enough to convince people, contrary to what most liberals naively thought, especially if the people you have to convince have the force of religion on their side. Religious conservatives call liberals blasphemers, but in fact they are the real blasphemers, because they twist their religion's teachings to agree with their own beliefs (to fit their frames, Lakoff would say). For example, the New Testament condemns greed, selfishness, materialism, and excessive wealth, why, then, is George "tax cuts for the rich" Bush, an avowed pious Christian, so obviously pro-rich?

Look at Rogue State logically. With the wealth of US actions recorded in the book, there are only three ways to look at it: A. They[the actions] are not true, B. They are true, but they are right, or C. They are true, and they are wrong. Now, considering the footnotes and careful study Blum employed to write this book, and the wide variety of sources and proofs, the answer cannot be A. And personally, I don't think there is any justification for many of the things mentioned in the book, so the answer cannot be B, either. And that leaves us with only one option: Letter C.
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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