No, We Shouldn’t Kill Everyone from a Particular Religion
Without going down any rabbit holes about who carried out the Boston bombings (you can go down some here if you’d like) – or bringing up previous Chechen terrorist frame-ups (by the Russians) – I’d like to take one contrarian view …
Specifically – right after 9/11 – Americans murdered a number of people because they “looked Muslim” … even though they were actually from a completely different religion.
Yesterday, a Muslim woman with an infant was attacked by someone blaming Muslims for the Boston terrorist attacks.
There is also a remote possibility that rogue fundamentalist Christian military personnel could start a nuclear war against Muslim nations.
Many are writing that the Boston bombers – Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev – were devout Muslims.
If they were – in fact – the Boston bombers, then we are all for taking them out by any means necessary. And we have no hesitation in giving them the death penalty if they are convicted in a court of law.
However, we congratulate the FBI for taking terrorist # 2 alive. After all, we can gain much more valuable intelligence from a terrorist in custody than a dead terrorist.
I am not Muslim. But – in an attempt to minimize the wave of anti-Muslim violence which may unleashed, people might want to note that Tamerlan looked more like a Westernized hustler than a devout Muslim:
(that’s his Mercedes in the background).
And Dzhokhar looks somewhat Westernized as well:
Similarly, the 9/11 hijackers used cocaine and drank alcohol, slept with prostitutes and attended strip clubs … but they did not worship at any mosque. See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and this. Hardly the acts of devout Muslims.
More importantly, Muslim scholars tell me that Islam prohibits the killing of innocent civilians. So terrorists are not true Muslims. Those claiming they are committing terrorist acts as Muslims are as credible as the Norwegian murderer or Timothy McVeigh trying to say they were following Christians values.
As we’ve previously noted:
If we ban mosques because some Muslims are murderers, we should also ban churches because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian.
Indeed, we should also ban synagogues because some Jews commit terrorism (see second bulleted paragraph).
Of course, anyone who sees their religion as the “good guys” and the other guy’s religion as “evil” is living in a cartoon.
As Christian writer and psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explained, there are different stages of spiritual maturity. Fundamentalism – whether it be Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu fundamentalism – is an immature stage of development.
[Remember that Adolph Hitler professed to be a Christian, and churches in Nazi Germany mainly supported Adolph Hitler’s unjust fascist policies. And Christian, Jewish and Muslim governments all carry out terror against their own people … and then try to blame it on the other guy.
There are peaceful, contemplative Muslim sects – think the poet Rumi the poet and Sufis – and violent sects, just as there are contemplative Christian orders and violent Christian sects. ]
Indeed, a Christian fundamentalist who kills others in the name of religion is much more similar to a Muslim fundamentalist who kills other in the name of his religion than to a Christian who peacefully fights for justice and truth, helps the poor, or serves to bring hope to the downtrodden.
The war on terror is largely a religious war. [Just today, a new report shows that the Air Force uses Christian and Old Testament teachings to justify the launch of nuclear weapons.]
As I pointed out in January:
Conservative Christians were the biggest backers of the Iraq war …
One of the top Pentagon officials involved in the Iraq war – General William Boykin – literally:
Sees the “war on terror” as a religious war between Judeo-Christian civilization and Satan, with Islam of course cast in the latter role.
Jeremy Scahill describes Boykin as:
A Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence under Bush. Boykin was part of Donald Rumsfeld’s inner circle at the Pentagon where he was placed in charge of hunting “high-value targets.” Boykin was one of the key U.S. officials in establishing what critics alleged was death-squad-type activity in Iraq.
Boykin’s crusade is also important because one of his assigned jobs was:
Speeding up the flow of intelligence on terrorist leaders to combat teams in the field so that they can attack top-ranking terrorist leaders. It can easily be speculated that it is this urgency to obtain intelligence, and an uncompromising religious outlook backed by a [crusader] mentality, that has led to the lower echelons in the US military to adopt Saddam Hussein-like brutalities.
As Scahill notes:
What’s more, the center of this evangelical operation is at the huge US base at Bagram, one of the main sites used by the US military to torture and indefinitely detain prisoners.
The bottom line is that – while torture was ordered by the highest level Bush administration officials in order to create a false link between 9/11 and Iraq – it seems like many of those who enthusiastically rallied around torture looked at it, literally, as a religious crusade.
As I wrote in 2009:
According to French President Chirac, Bush told him that the Iraq war was needed to bring on the apocalypse:
In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:
“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”…
There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam’s Iraq was the fulfilment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.
And British Prime Minister Tony Blair long-time mentor, advisor and confidante said:
“Tony’s Christian faith is part of him, down to his cotton socks. He believed strongly at the time, that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil, making lives better.”
Mr Burton, who was often described as Mr Blair’s mentor, says that his religion gave him a “total belief in what’s right and what’s wrong”, leading him to see the so-called War on Terror as “a moral cause”…
Anti-war campaigners criticised remarks Mr Blair made in 2006, suggesting that the decision to go to war in Iraq would ultimately be judged by God.
Given that the Iraq war really was a crusade, the fact that the Pentagon is now saying that it may have to leave troops in Iraq for another decade shows that the crusade is still ongoing under Obama.
As we noted in 2010, Arab terrorists are not actually motivated by religion at all:
University of Chicago professor Robert A. Pape – who specializes in international security affairs – points out:
Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn’t to blame — the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.
Wait, what? That can’t be right!
But as Pape explains:
Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.***
New research provides strong evidence that suicide terrorism such as that of 9/11 is particularly sensitive to foreign military occupation, and not Islamic fundamentalism or any ideology independent of this crucial circumstance. Although this pattern began to emerge in the 1980s and 1990s, a wealth of new data presents a powerful picture.
More than 95 percent of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation, according to extensive research [co-authored by James K. Feldman – former professor of decision analysis and economics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and the School of Advanced Airpower Studies] that we conducted at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Terrorism, where we examined every one of the over 2,200 suicide attacks across the world from 1980 to the present day. As the United States has occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, which have a combined population of about 60 million, total suicide attacks worldwide have risen dramatically — from about 300 from 1980 to 2003, to 1,800 from 2004 to 2009. Further, over 90 percent of suicide attacks worldwide are now anti-American. The vast majority of suicide terrorists hail from the local region threatened by foreign troops, which is why 90 percent of suicide attackers in Afghanistan are Afghans.
Israelis have their own narrative about terrorism, which holds that Arab fanatics seek to destroy the Jewish state because of what it is, not what it does. But since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon in May 2000, there has not been a single Lebanese suicide attack. Similarly, since Israel withdrew from Gaza and large parts of the West Bank, Palestinian suicide attacks are down over 90 percent.
Some have disputed the causal link between foreign occupation and suicide terrorism, pointing out that some occupations by foreign powers have not resulted in suicide bombings — for example, critics often cite post-World War II Japan and Germany. Our research provides sufficient evidence to address these criticisms by outlining the two factors that determine the likelihood of suicide terrorism being employed against an occupying force.
The first factor is social distance between the occupier and occupied. The wider the social distance, the more the occupied community may fear losing its way of life. Although other differences may matter, research shows that resistance to occupations is especially likely to escalate to suicide terrorism when there is a difference between the predominant religion of the occupier and the predominant religion of the occupied.
Religious difference matters not because some religions are predisposed to suicide attacks. Indeed, there are religious differences even in purely secular suicide attack campaigns, such as the LTTE (Hindu) against the Sinhalese (Buddhists).
Rather, religious difference matters because it enables terrorist leaders to claim that the occupier is motivated by a religious agenda that can scare both secular and religious members of a local community — this is why Osama bin Laden never misses an opportunity to describe U.S. occupiers as “crusaders” motivated by a Christian agenda to convert Muslims, steal their resources, and change the local population’s way of life.
The second factor is prior rebellion. Suicide terrorism is typically a strategy of last resort, often used by weak actors when other, non-suicidal methods of resistance to occupation fail. This is why we see suicide attack campaigns so often evolve from ordinary terrorist or guerrilla campaigns, as in the cases of Israel and Palestine, the Kurdish rebellion in Turkey, or the LTTE in Sri Lanka.
One of the most important findings from our research is that empowering local groups can reduce suicide terrorism. In Iraq, the surge’s success was not the result of increased U.S. military control of Anbar province, but the empowerment of Sunni tribes, commonly called the Anbar Awakening, which enabled Iraqis to provide for their own security. On the other hand, taking power away from local groups can escalate suicide terrorism. In Afghanistan, U.S. and Western forces began to exert more control over the country’s Pashtun regions starting in early 2006, and suicide attacks dramatically escalated from this point on.
The first step is recognizing that occupations in the Muslim world don’t make Americans any safer — in fact, they are at the heart of the problem.
But surely Pape and his team of University of Chicago researchers are wrong. Surely other security experts disagree, right?
The top security experts – conservative hawks and liberal doves alike – agree that waging war in the Middle East weakens national security and increases terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this and this.
As one of the top counter-terrorism experts (the former number 2 counter-terrorism expert at the State Department) told me, starting wars against states which do not pose an imminent threat to America’s national security increases the threat of terrorism because:
One of the principal causes of terrorism is injuries to people and families.
And its not only war in general as an abstract concept. The methods we’re using to wage war are increasing terrorism.
This is not a question of being a “Muslim-sympathizer”. I am not a Muslim …. This isn’t about religion at all.
Its all about being practical in protecting our national security.