Category Archives: Terrorism

Violence breeds violence. When will we finally learn that?

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their relatives. Just as they are with the millions of victims that western terrorism is responsible for, by unlawful use of force and wars of aggression.

Since the terrorist deeds hitting us are, beyond reasonable doubt, induced and provoked by our violence, there is a self-evident way to counteract them: stop our own crimes.

We should instead try the Chinese – peaceful – way to conquer the world: by aid, trade and investments.”

I posted those words on the NYTimes Readers Comments to an article about the Manchester attack, with to date not one “Recommend” from readers. On the other end of the list, with almost 700 Recommends, one finds the following sentences:

“When my son heard about this horror, he looked at me and said ‘Why, Mommy? Why would somebody do such a thing?”

“in the end I just said, ‘I don’t actually know. I don’t know why.'”

“we all so desperately want this to stop and we don’t know how to make it end.”

One can’t blame this woman since she is misinformed by our media like most of us. But on the other hand it should’t take much imagination to picture oneself in the same situation as a fellow human being in the Middle East, in countries torn apart by the merciless war machine hitting them from “the free world”. And if thinking alone doesn’t work, the Internet is abundant with testimony from the suffering people.

Take the interview with the Yemeni boy in his lower teens who had lived in the U.S. and moved back to his village, where he managed to convince his countrymen that America was a fair country. Then came a drone-strike killing innocent people, and all his efforts were in vain. They then naturally hated the U.S. and lived in constant fear of the drones, praising cloudy days because drones can’t fly then.

Or take the bombed wedding parties (at least eight such U.S. bombings since 2001, according to The Nation), together killing more people than all terrorist attacks in Europe in the same time-span. The human beings we threaten with immediate death are more eligible to “don’t know how to make it end” than we are. The only response some of them can think of is terrorism (they are in other words just as vindictive as many U.S. citizens after 9/11). These are just minor examples, the number of killed in Iraq alone exceeds one million by now.

It seems impossible that their terrorism will achieve any productive goal whatsoever. It will just induce even more atrocities from “the free world”, provoking further terrorism, in a never-ending loop. Contrary to what the woman above thinks, there is a simple way to break this loop: stop our violence!

Europeans and their offshoots in America have for 500 years dominated the world with military power. We have killed millions and millions of poor, innocent people through the centuries (besides shortening the lives of hundreds of millions through economic suppression.) Violence has worked as far as the western well-being is concerned. For those at the wrong end of the club it has been detrimental in all aspects. The new terrorism by the oppressed is a clear sign that our violence doesn’t work the way it used to.

China has demonstrated a way forward, we just have to achieve the same cultural and rational level as them. It should be easy: see and learn! A new era is dawning, as long as we can prevent the lunatics from incinerating the globe into nuclear ashes, or clean the planet from human beings through a climate catastrophe.

And yes! We can!

Violence at the end of the road?

It seems as if the background and the motives for the driver of the truck in Nice two days ago are still unclear. He may perhaps have been a socially troubled castaway, abandoned by his wife and just bursting with senseless violence. But possible ties with known terrorist groups are obviously searched for by authorities. And today ISIS took credit for the bloodbath, with their contorted sense of PR.

Assuming that he is a madman acting on his own, it appears that my comments yesterday on the roots of terrorism are irrelevant in his case. But does that make our societies totally free from guilt? The notion that we have to accept an outcome like this in any community is in itself a proof of something dysfunctional. In a society where we all cared for each other no one would have been pushed to the limit like this disturbed driver in Nice. There would have been solutions for his and other people’s grievances of all kinds.

Violence as such has obviously decreased in the world over a long period of time. But individuals committing atrocities on such a large scale as we see nowadays was formerly unheard of. Apart from jihadist motives there are obvious reasons for grievances and unrest. The watershed in recent history was the takeover of the world economy by “the masters of mankind” under the banner of neo-liberalism, bending the class struggle sharply in favor of the wealthy, leaving the majority to struggle with deteriorating living conditions. The situation can be caught in one telling picture: the obscene fact that 70 individuals own and control more resources than half of the world’s population.

Terrorist groups have also expanded their activities, and the reasons are seemingly self-evident. They have clearly had enough of western violent encroachment into their lands, their resources, their everything. Neo-colonialism has come to the end of the road, a fact clear at least for everyone with their heads screwed on. Continued violence will be self-defeating in more ways than one.

The future belongs to countries that follow the present Chinese example: conquer the world peacefully by means of investments, aid and cooperation.

Self-perpetuating terrorism – ours and theirs

And now also Nice…

Summer in Sweden will not take off; it’s chilly and the sky is shedding tears. Our weather matches the situation in the world these days. Shootings and bombings everywhere, perpetual wars, millions on the run from one devastated country to another, richer societies creating barriers to stem the flow coming towards them. How crazy have we become as a species?

We hold life as an invaluable gift, and rightly so. We who happen to live should feel extremely lucky since it’s almost improbable that only (and precisely) we are given a life in this endless universe. And we mostly do cherish life intensely; at least we protect our nearest and dearest from dying, with all our might.

But we are certainly not consistent. The lives of people we call enemies or whom we dislike for some reason whatsoever are not at all sacred for us. Against them we might stage what we call a war, and then feel free to kill them indiscriminately.

My US online media outlet illustrated this one-sided moral after the Orlando shootings. For days they expressed their deep grief and their heartfelt compassion with the victim’s families and friends. It was clear that they considered the lives of the killed human beings very dear and that the perpetrator had committed an unforgivable deed. Back to back with such a sacred celebration of life one could then read a call for the US to send more deadly weapons to the rebels in Syria to make them capable of ending more lives.

Our mainstream opinion is not just inconsistent but also shoddy racist. And Swedish media don’t deviate from that main stream. The horrible shootings in Paris and Orlando were covered broadly and in detail, and with warm compassion with the victims. A much worse bombing in Baghdad was just mentioned quite briefly and with demonstrative lack of empathy. Realizing this, one Kareem Rahaman wrote on Twitter: “More deaths in Iraq in the last week than Paris and Orlando combined but nobody is changing their profile pics, building colors, etc.”

If we look for a rational behind this discriminatory thinking we don’t find any. It’s not nearness: Orlando Florida is more than double the distance from Stockholm than Bagdad. Is it religion? Hardly, since a large majority of Swedes don’t care about Gods and prophets and probably would be just as much unsettled by the many fundamentalist Christians in the US as by any Muslim. Is it the color of skin and hair? OK, then it’s racism and that’s not rational. And besides: a number of the Orlando victims were black people.

Basically it’s a matter of politics (usually not rational in a deeper sense either). Initially the West made Muslims their enemies for colonialist reasons. We mostly beat them to a pulp, stole their assets, rearranged their territories, in short subjugated them under our will (Iraq is a textbook case). Eventually, and far from surprisingly, they started fighting back. And that’s where we are today.

US and Britain made the most arrogant and ignorant move when they launched the completely illegal and thoroughly immoral war of aggression against Iraq, whereby setting the entire region on fire. The horrible upturn of Muslim terrorism is a clear-cut product of western terrorism, the latter so far much worse. We may just look at the instructive roots of ISIS.

The leader of ISIS – al Baghdadi – was initially an insignificant young theologian; “contemporaries of al-Baghdadi describe him in his youth as being shy, unimpressive, a religious scholar, and a man who eschewed violence” (Wikipedia). How he developed from this quiet status to the world’s most feared and hated terrorist is illustrative of the methods by which to create enraged enemies. He simply witnessed the grotesque assault by US troops on Fallujah, where patients were thrown out of hospitals and innocent people killed randomly. That experience transformed him completely, just as western violence on the whole creates innumerable other terrorists.

President Holland of France said yesterday that he will go to war against terrorism. If he hasn’t a completely new concept it will continue to be a war to promote terrorism, both theirs and ours.

When will we learn that war is complete idiocy?

“When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?…”

129 brutally killed in Paris: western media on fire. 43 brutally killed in Lebanon: the usual short notices in our media. 1,000,000 killed in Iraq: the root of the evil seldom mentioned.

Bernie Sanders cursed in church during Saturday’s Democratic candidate debate by saying that ISIS was created by the Iraq war, although it should be self-evident for anyone with an IQ above 30. It means that only top level reactionary pundits, journalists and politicians can ignore such a clear fact. Sanders’ outspoken view on this topic may very well be what disqualifies him as a candidate for the Democrats (if not all his other less housetrained opinions do). Implicitly he says that the Paris massacres can be put on Bush’s and Blair’s account (as war criminals).

When will we learn? For 500 years European powers have sought to subdue the entire world with military power. Initially these immoralities may have had some profitable effect for Europe. Assets of all kinds – technology, raw materials, slaves – could be stolen and enrich the masters of the world. At the same time the subdued countries could be withheld, their often superior products banned from competition by trade barriers and their own cultures undermined from within.

If this immoral behavior once could be said to work – for us – that is since long not true. The conquered colonies back then had no weapons that matched ours, which was the decisive factor, but that’s not how it works today. We can no longer intimidate people with threat and use of violence: they can hit back in all kinds of ways, and they do. If we don’t rise above this imperialist thinking once and for all, we can look forward to perpetual massacres from all sides: a mutual suicide and destruction that will end our era as masters of the world.

As we are pathologically fixated on killing as a means to achieve power, a country such as China is conquering the world behind our backs with peaceful and constructive methods, such as trade deals and all kinds of contribution to development, not least important infrastructure projects.

The Chinese cannot be intimidated. Their prime principle of foreign policy is non-interference in other countries internal affairs. When the West someday reaches the same level of political maturity, war will become a rarity.

Until then we have to sit with jaws dropped and watch our profit fixated business leaders and their bought politicians handle a dysfunctional economic system which funnels obscene wealth to a few at the expense of the majority and their need of fair living conditions and a decent society.

Sweden joining NATO? More fuel on the fire?

The Ukrainian conflict has given the Swedish reactionaries a God-send opportunity to revive the dear old Cold War, demand more money to the military and insist on Sweden joining NATO. Russia has finally become a threat to our existence again; we’re back in the good old days! Never mind that Russia hasn’t the conventional military resources necessary to harm Sweden in any way and of course nor the slightest intention or motivation to do so. It doesn’t even want any part of Ukraine (except the thoroughly Russian Crimea, where a large military base threatened to be captured by NATO).

There is still a slight majority of Swedes not wanting a NATO membership, but the propaganda machinery works on all cylinders to change that. After a public debate recently on the subject one propagandist (in Dagens Nyheter) dismissed his opponents with the ironic sentence: “There is obviously a kinder universe where there is no need for NATO. I wish I had a visa that allowed me in there”.

That self-delusion is breath-taking; most universes must be kinder than NATO’s, as we learn from scanning just briefly over the records achieved by this military alliance. During its relatively short existence one or more members of this organization has accomplished a number of things, such as:

  • waging numerous illegal, immoral and horrible wars with millions of innocent people killed
  • overthrowing a large number of democratically elected governments, usually because they wanted to implement some social reforms to help ordinary people and the poor
  • replacing these overthrown governments with dictators, often military ones, sometimes of more or less Nazi character
  • supporting other dictators economically, militarily and politically – as long as they obeyed orders, not bothering if they tortured and harassed their populations
  • subjecting a country like Cuba to more terrorist attacks than any other country has suffered
  • training and equipping death squads in vassal states to kill politicians, union leaders, priests and anyone else with the wrong kind of ideas

Let’s save some space and halt there. If this happens to be the flip side of the coin, what about the positive achievements by NATO that this journalist considered self-evident?

We learned already in school that NATO was established to counter the “Soviet empire” and its ambition to conquer the whole world. We have had some scholars trawling through Lenin’s voluminous writings to find a sentence revealing the Communist goal of spreading over the entire globe. (There was of course no need to distinguish between Soviet foreign policy and Lenin’s speculations in the philosophy of history.)

“The Russians are coming!” vindicated all the horrible actions that NATO countries undertook. The fact that the Russian crimes against other nations, at least before the attack on Afghanistan, were completely insignificant compared to NATO’s was easily concealed.

During the first Cold War every sane person realized that the Soviet Union had no interest whatsoever to move beyond the borders of the Warsaw Pact, and no capability to do so. The threat faced by the whole world was that of nuclear obliteration, a horror that sooner was enhanced by NATO expanding its power. That “the Russians are coming” was a fake pretext for the existence of NATO was bluntly revealed by its own leaders when the Soviet Union disappeared. Instead of then dissolving NATO, it was enlarged and expanded!

NATO-countries once created the mujaheddin that later procreated into even tougher Muslim groups who like Frankenstein’s monster turned against their creators. Then with a couple of meticulously brainless wars the whole Middle East was set on fire and we got the ultimate terrorists, IS (and subsequently today’s flood of refugees over Europe).

For every terrorist killed ten more are enrolled, nowadays from every corner of the world. It means that there is no permanent solution to the problems to be achieved by violent means (Russia is wrong there too). A giant reconciliation is the only way out. The way to get there is nowhere in sight today. Probably we will have to await a totally intolerable situation before anything can turn around. But the human capability to use the brain has historically achieved the most unbelievable things, and everything is possible!

My collected reader’s comments to NYT articles

Follows a collection of commentaries I’ve made in the New York Times Reader’s Comments section on different articles (mostly for me keeping track of them myself). They’ll be accessible as long as NYT keeps the links alive, I suppose.

31 January 2015. A comment on the vaccine debate that followed the recent outbreak of measles in U.S.:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/as-measles-spreads-in-us-so-does-anxiety.html?comments#permid=13989276
-.-.-.-

25 March 2015. On signs of increasing poverty albeit growing wealth in the society (Sweden) as a whole:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/opinion/how-poor-are-the-poor.html?comments#permid=14521337
-.-.-.-

30 March 2015. On the horrific number of deaths in China during the Mao era, which we constantly are reminded of, compared to the even larger mortality caused by capitalism in India – which we very seldom hear of:

http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/cambodian-historians-call-for-china-to-confront-its-own-past/?comments#permid=14562852:14581199
-.-.-.-

3 April 2015. Another complete imbalance in our fields of interest: our laser-like scrutiny of terrorism carried out by others, compared to the forbearance with our own, much graver and deadlier terrorist activities:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/world/africa/garissa-university-college-shooting-in-kenya.html?comments#permid=14598017:14604023
-.-.-.-

9 May 2015. This article appeared simultaneously in NYT and Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), not surprisingly. It’s that kind of text our propaganda model loves: a Russian author who more or less regrets that his country defeated Nazi Germany in WWII. He just thinks that one oppression was replaces by another, obviously unaware of the Nazi’s Generalplan Ost which aimed at exterminating most people in Russia and enslaving the rest. This was not some high-flying Nazi plan or empty threat, it was implemented from day one of the German invasion. The existence of the special Sonderkommando with the explicit task to exterminate Jews, Communists and other unwanted humans was the terrible evidence of that reality.

One could have hoped that NYT and DN had been kind enough to save the poor ignorant (or just propagandistic) author from his embarrassment, but the temptation to publish his sentimental excesses was maybe to overwhelming. As some Readers’ Comments point out, the article was also a slap in the face on Putin and Russia, on the very day, sacred for Russians, of commemorating the death of 27 million people which Russia had to sacrifice to defeat the most atrocious and inhuman ideology in all history: Nazism.

An interesting difference: Dagens Nyheter didn’t open its comment section on this article, as opposed to New York Times. This is one reflection on the difference in effective freedom of expression which is taken much more seriously in the U.S. than in Europe. My comment, like some other critical ones, was listed as “NYT Pick” by the editor, another sign of openness for critique. But on the other hand: the propaganda gain was taken home by the printed article. (I suppose that the reader’s comments are mostly read by the commentators themselves.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/09/opinion/mikhail-shishkin-how-russians-lost-the-war.html?comments#permid=14915384
-.-.-.-

11 May 2015. A comment on one of Paul Krugman’s many enlightened columns in NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/11/opinion/paul-krugman-wall-street-vampires.html#permid=14932711
-.-.-

17 May 2015. An article on the prospects for western economy after the last collapse, with discussions about singularities, neglecting the overall picture.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/upshot/dont-be-so-sure-the-economy-will-return-to-normal.html?comments#permid=14975427

To fight terrorism by intensely nurturing it

Last week the usually very mainstream Swedish public service television made an embarrassing gaffe in an interview with the Israeli Ambassador to Sweden. The reporter asked: “Do the Jews themselves have any responsibility in the growing Antisemitism that we see now?” to which the Ambassador immediately answered: “I reject the question altogether. There is no place for such a question to be asked.” He was immediately supported by media in general.

The reporter obviously confused Antisemitism with critique of Israeli politics, a rather ignorant mistake. Antisemitism as such is of course irrational expressions of unfounded emotions, often accompanied by paranoid notions. Hitler’s view is archetypal as he considered Jews to be the lowest kind of existence, hardly human at all, and at the same time a phenomenal force that threatened to conquer the whole world (a type of madness that even couldn’t be called illogical, it would be too kind).

With a small adjustment the reporter’s question would have been more than appropriate: “Does the Israeli government have any responsibility for the increasing terrorism that we now see?”. Questions with corresponding significance could also be directed to many western governments and media. The more so since their reaction now to ISIS military actions and terror operations are dazed: where did these monsters come from?

Noam Chomsky, who has studied the proper documents in depth, reports that US intelligence already prior to the war of aggression against Iraq warned that terrorism would increase in case of such a war. They were more than correct: terrorism mushroomed seven-fold. From then on it has just continued growing.

When it all started is almost a semantic question. The roots can be followed centuries back when the Europeans started to conquer and oppress the rest of the world, with its off-shoot USA eventually taking over the main role as the bully. The only territories in which the conquerors in any sense succeeded were in those where the indigenous people were almost completely wiped out, such as North America. In other areas the imperialists generated a lasting hostility, more or less violent.

After WWII imperialism step by step hit back at the imperialists. It became too costly to uphold, and neo-imperialism came instead, meaning total dominance without occupation but also requiring constant military threat and frequent wars. The oppression created resistance forces and liberation movements fighting for national sovereignty and freedom. From the 1980s most violent actions performed by “rebels” began being labeled “terrorism”.

The present terrorism in the Middle East has a simple genealogy. USA created the Mujaheddin to fight the Russians in Afghanistan. Out of these groups evolved the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Then USA invaded Iraq which intensified recruitment to these terrorist armies. It so happened that an initially unobtrusive religious scholar named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi witnessed the horrible US attack on Fallujah, an experience that is said to have turned him into a dedicated militant. Today he is head of ISIS.

For every terrorist killed by western forces more than one new terrorist is mobilized. Is it pure lack of mathematical knowledge that make some decision makers believe that even more bombs and killings will solve the problem?