Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In Tal Uzair

I can understand fighting for what is yours. If someone comes to take your land, your stuff, your wife, whatever, I can understand fighting, and even killing, them for it. Understanding is not approval, but it means that I don't find that entirely alien.

I can understand that defending what is yours gets tied up with your religion, and that of the person you are defending yourself against. The conflict in Iraq is largely driven by economic and political considerations, but the political factions in question are sectarian. Northern Ireland could be analysed in the same way: fundamentally, it was a struggle for control of resources, and it was resolved -- in so far as it has been resolved -- when the factions involved found a way to share the resources. The religious aspect of that dispute -- and I think of the dispute in Iraq -- was simply a way to create banners. I do not think that most people are fuelled by hatred of other people just because of what they believe (although they may use that as their excuse for fighting over resources or power).

But I cannot understand killing other men simply for their beliefs, where those beliefs do not affect you one iota. And to kill yourself in the process!

That's fucked. There's no other word for it, at least, none that I know of.

Where factions struggle over resources, negotiation is possible. The fighting is, generally, simply an extension of the political process. But where men decide other men and women must die simply because they do not share their beliefs, there is no negotiation. Indeed, this is true of any case in which men decide others must die simply for being different.

Of course, it's possible that these men have aims I haven't understood, and that they saw their actions as part of a larger political struggle. I am hoping so, because I cannot imagine a sadder story for a man's life than "he gave his life in the cause of wiping out Yezidis".

Yes, I know that they believe that this will please their god, and that that is worth more than the human record. But dude, if that pleases your god, your god is even more fucked than you are. And gods, of course, are outcomes of men, not the other way round.


At 10:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you have not really understood what a terrorist is or why they do things.

Iraq was a relatively prosperous country prior to the "gulf war" in 1990-91, they were roughly as wealthy as Australia. No, it wasn't perfect there, and there was inequality, even genocide against the kurds, with corruption galore. They had also only recently recovered from their war with Iran. But they were relatively well off.

Compare that to today, where, after years of US-sponsored sanctions, they lost almost all of their wealth (their oil), and didn't get enough food, so that millions of people died of starvation. Even before the 2nd Iraq war, Iraq had become a third world nation, one of the poorest countries on earth. And this was before the USA decided to invade, destroyed millions of houses, killed many people, and then stuck around afterwards to try to force them to have the kind of government that the USA wants them to have.

Now, imagine that you're an Iraqi. You'd be left with 3 choices:

1) Flee the country, and hope that you don't get discriminated against because of this idea that USA has pushed out that all arab muslims are terrorists.

2) Stay put and put up with it, probably involving sucking up to the Americans, knowing that in doing so you are going to be targetted by Americans who might think you're suspicious anyway, and also by terrorists who think that you're betraying them.

3) Fight against the invaders, in an attempt to try to win freedom for your country.

A lot of people became terrorists because they feel like they are forced in to that situation. It is going to suck for them any way that they go, but at least that way they are giving it a fighting chance. It might not work, it might kill innocent people, but overall long term it might mean something.

Terrorism is only violent protests. That's all that it is. Greenpeace goes on board whaling ships and ties themselves to the ships, while a terrorist organisation goes further and blows up that ship.

Terrorists are people so desperate that they are prepared to murder, and even commit suicide, in the hope for some justice.

Why do people do it? It should be bleeding obvious to anyone with a conscience.

At 1:51 am, Blogger Don said...

This event and your reaction to it is why I think of religious devotion as the greatest threat to Mankind. Wait till these people get their own WoMDs. As the otherwise blinkered commenter above said, they ain't exactly Greenpeace.

At 9:20 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Anonymous, I find it hard to believe you actually read what I wrote. I am contrasting the purposeful pursuit of terrorism as a political action, which is understandable, with terrorism simply as an expression of difference, which is not.

At 10:41 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If someone comes to take your land, your stuff, your **wife**,"

You wish! LOL.

At 5:19 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

Mrs. Zen??!!!

Nice to meet you!

At 7:49 am, Blogger Don said...

BTW, the attack on the Yezidis was political anyway. Al Qaeda has found their support eroding in Iraq from both their killing of Iraqi Muslims and the tide turning against them as a result of the recent so-called surge. Yet they still need more bloodshed to continue to hammer away at US and UK public opinion. So they chose a group no one really cares about, a group apart from the mainstream. The act was in service of the desire to remove the occupiers, and going about it the usual way, i.e. counting on US/UK disgust at the carnage, but with the advantage that slaughtering Yezidi is politically safer than slaughtering Sunni or Shia.

At 1:56 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Don, I'm not sure about that. It's a sensible reading of it, but I'm not at all convinced that AQ's actions are always sensible! Zawahiri and OBL are coherent, and their gameplan is not only understandable, but has also worked, but the guys in Iraq seem a lot closer to the takfir types in Egypt.


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