I've been studying terrorism in the Muslim world ever since the first attack on the WTC in 1993.  I had been watching events in the Middle East long before.  On 9.11 I told a colleague that this was the works of al-Qaeda even before the second plane hit the towers. 

The reaction of the American administration was puzzling.  Though they knew very soon that this was the works of bin Laden, they shifted the focus on Iraq as soon as possible.  I came to understand that this was inspired by a group of idealistic neoconservative radicals within the government.  Their analysis might have been correct but when policy plans were drawn, it didn't take into account every aspect of the confrontation.  The Iraqi population was not really cheering.  They hated Saddam but opposed an occupation that in their eyes was a thinly veiled robbery of their oil wealth.  This, combined with the sudden release of the secularism of Saddam's state, was a gift to al-Qaeda that soon flourished in the province of Anbar.  al-Qaeda has been ejected from the province but it is still there in Iraq, while there was no such thing like Muslim extremists under Saddam. 

I don't like this cruel tyrant at all but what came after didn't really serve the purpose.  A new generation of battle hardened fighters was groomed in the Iraqi cities.  Some of them continue their deadly mission abroad already.  They look for the big clash of civilizations.  They are not afraid of it because God will reward them for their sacrifices, so they believe.  They know they can do it because it happened before, in the '80s in Afghanistan though this was a proxy war of the Americans against the Soviets.

This belief is hardly contradicted in the Muslim world.  The perception there is that the West unleashed a campaign to destroy Islam, the fastest growing of the big religions.  This view is supported by many clerics and commentators.  Paradoxically, the liberation of the media in many Muslim countries helps to spread this view. 

It is fascinating that the other major crises the world is facing, are linked to this big clash of civilizations.  The dependence of oil from volatile countries in the Gulf helps the terrorists and extremists almost directly.  Oil also is why we face an ecological crisis that pushes earth to the brink of disaster.  The poor economic strategy of the precedent American administration after 9.11 ('I don't ask for sacrifices, just go shopping' and an interest rate of 1% for more than a year) was laying the solid basis for a major financial and economic crisis that would hit the US and the world when the last president was singing his swan's song. 

Not Muslim extremism but the poor and ill advised answers to it are putting the world in danger.

moreandless moreandless
56-60, M
May 5, 2010