John Quiggin at Crooked Timber: “The appeal of radical Islamism is similar to that held by revolutionary Marxism, in that it purports to wrap lots of separate struggles into a single encompassing global struggle in which victory is pre-ordained.“
He’s talking about the appeal to people who become radical Islamists – but he’s also right about the appeal to people who become radical anti-Islamists. If you’re a would-be authoritarian, it’s much easier to paint everyone involved in all the struggles as an Islamist/Communist, rather than accepting that what we’re really seeing is a set of local conflicts with a thin transnational layer on top.
In this context, the claims initially made by Russian officials, rejected by survivors, and now apparently abandoned, about 10 of the Ossetia school attackers being Arabs are understandable: it makes the conspiracy story that much more convincing. And like the Saddam/AQ links, even once they’ve been comprehensibly falsified, most people will still remember them.
Which is why I fear Dr Quiggin’s excellent two-step War on Terror guide will be ignored by the people in charge:
“What’s needed is to isolate, as far as possible, the extreme Islamists committed to an endless crusade against the West. There is no response to them except to kill them before they kill us and try to avoid doing anything that will help their recruiting.
“Meanwhile, we should deal with the various national grievances as best we can, trying to avoid making them part of a battlefront between Islam and the West.“
For those with comprehension problems, that’s “avoid making them part of a battlefront”, rather than “bomb the crap out of them until they become terrorists out of revenge”.