Bush and Blair are not the root causes of ter­ror­ism H

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - MARK STEYN

ere’s how an early re­port

by Reuters cov­ered the

mas­sive ter­ror­ism bust

in the United King­dom. They started out con­ven­tion­ally enough just chug­ging along with air­port clo­sures, ar­rest de­tails and quotes from by­standers, but then got to the big pic­ture:

“ ‘I’m an ex-flight at­ten­dant, I’m used to de­lays, but this is a dif­fer­ent kind of de­lay,’ said Gita Sain­tan­gelo, 54, an Amer­i­can re­turn­ing to Mi­ami. ‘We heard about it on the TV this morn­ing. We left a lit­tle early and said a prayer,’ she said at Heathrow.

“Bri­tain has been crit­i­cized by Is­lamist mil­i­tants for its mil­i­tary cam­paigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prime Min­is­ter Tony Blair has also come un­der fire at home and abroad for fol­low­ing the U.S. lead and re­fus­ing to call for an im­me­di­ate cease­fire in the con­flict be­tween Is­rael and Le­banese Hezbol­lah guer­ril­las.”

Is there a soft­ware pro­gram at West­ern news agen­cies that au­to­mat­i­cally in­serts ran­dom segues in ter­ror­ism sto­ries? The plot to com­mit mass mur­der by seiz­ing up to ten UK-U.S. air­lin­ers was well ad­vanced long be­fore the first Is­raeli strike against Hezbol­lah. Yet it’s ap­par­ently ax­iomatic at Reuters, the BBC and many other Bri­tish me­dia out­lets that Mr. Blair is the root cause of ji­had. He doesn’t even have to in­vade any­where any­more. He just has to “refuse to call for an im­me­di­ate cease­fire” when some other fel­lows in­vade some other fel­lows over on the other side of the world.

Grant for the sake of ar­gu­ment that th­ese re­ports are true — that when the blood­thirsty Zion­ist war­mon­gers at­tack all those mar­velous Hezbol­lah so­cial out­reach pro­grams it drives Bri­tish sub­jects born and bred to plot mass mur­der against their fel­low Bri­tons. What does that mean?

Here’s a clue, from a re­cent Pew poll that asked: What do you con­sider your­self first? A cit­i­zen of your coun­try or a Mus­lim?

In the United King­dom, seven per­cent of Mus­lims con­sider them­selves Bri­tish first, 81 per­cent con­sider them­selves Mus­lim first.

And that’s where the re­ally valid Le­banese com­par­i­son lies. Le­banon is a sov­er­eign state. It has an ex­ec­u­tive and a mil­i­tary. But its mil­i­tary has less so­phis­ti­cat­ed­weaponry than Hezbol­lah and its ex­ec­u­tive wields less author­ity over its ju­ris­dic­tion than Hezbol­lah. In the old days, the Le­banese gov­ern­ment would have fallen and Hezbol­lah would have for­mally sup­planted the state. But non-state ac­tors like the Hezbo crowd and al Qaeda have no in­ter­est in grad­u­at­ing to state­hood. They’ve got big­ger fish to fry. If you’re in­ter­ested in es­tab­lish­ing a global caliphate, get­ting a U.N. seat and an Olympic team only gets in the way. The “sov­er­eign” state is of use to such groups merely as a base of op­er­a­tions, as Afghanistan was and Le­banon is. They act lo­cally but they think glob­ally.

And that in­dif­fer­ence to the state can be con­ta­gious. Le­banon’s Chris­tians may think of them­selves as “Le­banese,” but most of Hezbol­lah’s Shia con­stituency don’t. West­ern an­a­lysts talk hope­fully of fierce dif­fer­ences be­tween Sunni and Shia, Arab and Per­sian, but it’s in­ter­est­ing to note the num­bers of young Sunni men in Egypt, Jor­dan and else­where in re­cent weeks who’ve de­cided that Iran’s (Shia) Pres­i­dent Ah­madine­jad and his (Shia) Hezbo prox­ies are the new cool kids in town. Dur­ing the 1990s, we grew used to the idea that “non­state ac­tors” meant a ter­ror­ist group, with maybe a few hun­dred ac­tivists, a few thou­sand sup­port­ers. What if en­tire pop­u­la­tions are be­ing trans­formed into “non-state ac­tors”? Not ter­ror­ists, by any means, but at the very min­i­mum en­tirely in­dif­fer­ent to the state of which they’re nom­i­nally cit­i­zens.

Hence, that statis­tic: seven per­cent of Bri­tish Mus­lims con­sider their pri­mary iden­tity to be Bri­tish, 81 per­cent con­sider it to be Mus­lim. By com­par­i­son, in the most pop­u­lous Mus­lim na­tion on the planet, 39 per­cent of Mus­lim In­done­sians con­sider them­selves In­done­sian first, 36 per­cent con­sider them­selves Mus­lim first. For over four years now, I’ve been writ­ing about a phe­nom­e­non I first en­coun­tered in the Mus­lim ghet­toes of the Nether­lands, Bel­gium and other Euro­pean coun­tries in the spring of 2002: sec­ond- and third­gen­er­a­tion Euro­pean Mus­lims feel far more fiercely Is­lamic than their par­ents and grand­par­ents.

That’s the is­sue: pan-Is­lamism is the most pro­found chal­lenge to con­ven­tional ideas of cit­i­zen­ship and na­tion­hood. Of course, if you say that at the av­er­age Ivy League col­lege, you’ll get a big shrug: Mod­ern mul­ti­cul­tural man dis­dains to be bound by the na­tion-state, too; he prides him­self on be­ing un citoyen du monde. The dif­fer­ence is that, forWestern do-good­ers, it’s mostly a pose: they may oc­ca­sion­ally swing by some Third World bas­ket­case and con­de­scend to the na­tives, but for the most part the mul­ti­c­ulti set have no wish to live any­where but an ad­vanced West­ern democ­racy. It’s a quin­tes­sen­tial piece of leftie hum­bug. They may think glob­ally, but they don’t act on it.

The pan-Is­lamists do act. When they hold hands and sing “We Are The World,” they mean it. And we’re be­ing very com­pla­cent if we think they only take over the husks of “failed states” like Afghanistan, So­ma­lia and Le­banon. The Is­lamists are very good at us­ing the prin­ci­pal fea­tures of the mod­ern mul­ti­cul­tural democ­racy — le­galisms and vic­ti­mol­ogy — to their own ad­van­tage. The United King­dom is, rel­a­tively speak­ing, a non-failed state, but at a cer­tain level Her Majesty’s Gov­ern­ment shares the same prob­lem as their op­po­site num­bers in Beirut: they don’t quite dare to move against the pan-Is­lamists and they have no idea what pos­si­ble strat­egy would en­able them to do so.

So in­stead they tackle the symp­toms. Ex­cel­lent in­ves­tiga­tive work by MI-5 and Scot­land Yard foiled this plot, and may foil the next one, and the one af­ter that, and the ten af­ter that, and the hun­dred af­ter those. And in the mean­time a thou­sand in­cre­men­tal in­con­ve­niences fall upon the cit­i­zen. If you had told an English­man on Septem­ber 10th, 2001 that within five years all hand lug­gage would be banned on flights from Bri­tain, he’d have thought you were a kook. If you’d told an English­woman that all liq­uids would be banned ex­cept milk for new­born ba­bies, which could only be taken on board if the adult ac­com­pa­ny­ing the child drinks from the bot­tle in front of a se­cu­rity guard, she’d have scoffed and said no-one would ever put up with such a lu­di­crous im­po­si­tion. But now it’s here. What other changes will the Is­lamists have wrought in an­other five years?

Ab­sent a de­ter­mi­na­tion to throt­tle the ide­ol­ogy, we’re about to wit­ness the un­rav­el­ing of the world.

Mark Steyn is the se­nior con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor for Hollinger Inc. Publi­ca­tions, se­nior North Amer­i­can colum­nist for Bri­tain’s Tele­graph Group, North Amer­i­can ed­i­tor for the Spec­ta­tor, and a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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