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July 24, 2005



Well, neither funny nor accurate. As you of course know, the people likely involved in this, though they've always wanted to attack egypt, have generally found extra motivation in Egypt's close relationship with the US, and training of members in the new Iraqi army and other steps taken in concert with the US in Iraq.


Yes, obviously the attack in Sharm al-Shaykh was because they, the "islamo-fascist" terrorists, hate Egypt's 'freedom'.


So, Sammy, while I agree with your overall attempt to ridicule the "they hate our freedom" line, in this case, it's a little different.

In the case of Sharm al-Shaykh, there is arguably a lot of freedom (for some) to be pretty unhappy about. The resorts are a pretty tough place to stomach for a lot of Egyptians (and even a lot of expats, like me). Add to that an ongoing campaign of social conservatism, and I'm not sure it'd be too much a stretch to an Islamist statement like "we don't want foreigners to keep coming here, making use of our tourism industry, bringing in smut, treating us like crap, etc..."

A couple of caveats: it's a BIG stretch from holding this attitude to blowing people up, and a deplorable one; it's also not the case that all of the "smut" coming into Egypt and purportedly degrading the morals of the youth is coming from Western countries - indeed, just ask Egyptian friends or even Egyptian strangers how they feel about the influx of Saudi and other Gulf tourists in the summer months. But my basic point is that there are a lot of people who do indeed object to the "freedoms" enjoyed by some at what is perceived to be the expense of others. I'm not sure Egypt would be a better place if the tourist industry dried up, but I can at least understand how Egyptians are troubled by what it's done to the country.


Better place?

It would unambiguously be poorer. If social purity is to be valued such that it trumps impoverishment, voila... Else, Egypt would certainly be a worse place.

However, if I may for the Father of Aardvarks, agree. Moronic comment by the Know Nothing wing of the American right. They're contemptible fools to begin with.

No Preference

I agree that the "Know Nothing wing of the American right" are contemptible fools. What's more dangerous, though, is the "Pretend to Know Nothing" right. I think our policymakers are aware that of course there's a direct link between US policies and terrorism, though they keep saying the opposite in public.

They have never been called on this. I don't know if our press is afraid or obtuse, but either way it's depressing.


Though the tone of the right may indeed be contemptible, it is also ridiculous for those on the left to point to London and assert that if only the UK was not in Iraq such an event would not have happened (conveniently disregarding the linkage to Afghanistan as well) So let us go back through time. Egypt, godless tourism and US support, London, Iraq of course, Madrid, Iraq of course, Istanbul, jewish targets so of course, Tunis ditto, Morocco, godless tourism and US support, Saudi Arabia, US support, Bali, East timor, Sept 11, the big satan and the palestinian conflict, Kenya, troops in Saudi etc..... As the list goes on and on, does it not become clear that the stated reason is just political propaganda for what has been declared as a war to re-establish and islamic caliphate, including al andalus, which requires the overthrow of all regimes in the region as a starter.

the aardvark

hummbumm.. what I've never understood (intellectually, that is - the politics are obvious) is why anyone serious would argue either one-sided case: that terrorism is *only* because of Iraq or that Iraq had *no* effect on the course of terrorist campaigns.

It seems pretty obvious to me that al-Qaeda terrorism predated the invasion of Iraq, and is rooted in an ideological enterprise which has little to do with Iraq: specifically Islamic goals, overthrowing secular Arab regimes, combatting America and Americanization, establishing their own leadership over the umma.

It also seems pretty obvious to me that Iraq did radicalize a certain number of people, help recruiting for jihadist organizations, and so forth.

It seems to me that anyone who tries to argue either extreme case - nothing to do with Iraq or only to do with Iraq - is just making a political argument, not an analytical one. That has it's place, but it's not all that useful.

the crossfader

Iraq became a rallying point sure, for a certain subset already predisposed to terrorism as politics. We are all affected by foreign policy. We all don't become terrorist. The "foreign policy" angle works because it gives terrorists and their sympathizers a patina of legitimacy that they can further exploit. Terrorism is politics as violence.

No Preference

It seems to me that anyone who tries to argue either extreme case - nothing to do with Iraq or only to do with Iraq - is just making a political argument, not an analytical one. That has it's place, but it's not all that useful.

This is true. But our media regularly feature those who claim that terrorism has nothing to do with US policies. Those who strike a balance get less attention, while those who claim that terrorism has only to do with US policies are hardly ever heard.

The theme that terrorism has nothing to do with our policies isn't confined to the editorial page. I still remember the shock of reading the first article in the New York Times Week in Review section following September 11, which made that claim based on no evidence.


Maybe in US media, those who claim US policies are to blame are hardly every heard, but in the global media that is all that is conveyed, at least until recently. More disturbing to me is that in the nineties, when there were palestinian suicide bombers, people would point to the rampant depression, the poverty, and the oppression in their lives, all true, as to why there were some who took that path. Basically that they were young people with no future. Now with literally hundreds of suicide bombings in Iraq, London, Egypt etc... it is clear that living in Gaza is not the core issue, but rather an ideology and a pervasive philosophy that has taken root in the greater middle east. This must be fought tooth and nail. I can understand palestinian rage, but an algerian traveling to Iraq to die killing iraqi policemen, pakistani traveling to Egypt to kill tourists, or british born citizens etc... for me that is beyond understanding, it is a form of totalitarianism that must be fought and defeated.


A note of clarification.

First, my comment was directed towards a certain segment of the American right - I am no leftist and rather have unfriendly feelings for most left politics. I am not blind, however, to idiocy on the right either, of which there is much in regards to the Middle East in US circles (and of course elsewhere - and vice versa).

Second, re Media and attention, rather simply controversy and posturing gain attention, all things being equal. One need not fool oneself into thinking there are any particular conspiracies, etc. It is simply the way the marketplace works. Or human nature if you prefer.

I agree with the Father of Aardvark(s), the all or nothing positions are political agitprop and posturing, not real argument or analysis. Left or Right, they are mirror images of each other and fun house ones at that.

However, I disagree with humm... that the 'global media' says anything in particular. Certain medias do, perhaps, but then the problem is hardly a unified one.

Nor do I find collapsing Palestinian suicide bombing in with the wider Salafine nihilist phenomena anything but a political rather than analytical statement. Palestinian terror came out of its own roots, and remains there - and those roots are indeed poverty and desperation. Palestinians, however, are not the same or part of some "Borg Terror" or whatever. That is lazy gittish thinking. Sadly, the real connexion is in the rhetoric. The 'success' of the Palestinians, at the rhetorical level, clearly helped sell a concept that was regarded as abhorent merely 10-15 years ago among even radicals. The poison of unintended consequences from intellectual justification.

Abu Sinan

Just another way of showing us how well Bush is doing on the war against terror. By their reckoning the most people dying, the more we are winning. The last couple of weeks have seen us winning a lot.

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