Mumbai? Blame America

Dorthy Rabinowitz takes issue with the “blame America” crowd, specifically Deepak Chopra, and their attempt to lay the Mumbai terrorist attacks at the feet of the US.

How the ebullient Dr. Chopra had come to be chosen as an authority on terror remains something of a mystery, though the answer may have something to do with his emergence in the recent presidential campaign as a thinker of advanced political views. Also commending him, perhaps, is his well known capacity to cut through all sorts of complexities to make matters simple. No one can fail to grasp the wisdom of a man who has informed us that “If you have happy thoughts, then you make happy molecules.”

In his CNN interview, he was no less clear. What happened in Mumbai, he told the interviewer, was a product of the U.S. war on terrorism, that “our policies, our foreign policies” had alienated the Muslim population, that we had “gone after the wrong people” and inflamed moderates. And “that inflammation then gets organized and appears as this disaster in Bombay.”

All this was a bit too much, evidently, for CNN interviewer Jonathan Mann, who interrupted to note that there were other things going on — matters like the ongoing bitter Pakistan-India struggle over Kashmir — which had caused so much terror and so much violence. “That’s not Washington’s fault,” he pointed out.

A couple of points about what Ms. Rabinowitz has to say here. My first thought was “why is Chopra even being consulted on this by CNN?” Other than having a connection to the area, what is it that lends Chopra the expertice necessary to make such an assessment? Or is he, in fact, simply – and I use that term purposely – going the easy route knowing he’ll get a significant amount of agreement, both tacit and overt, from a certain segment of our country?

We’ve seen the same sentiment advanced repeatedly in the comment section of this very blog as it pertains to just about any crisis found in the world. It is a simplistic formula which requires no deep thinking, but instead – much like the global warming argument – provides a convenient single source for all the world’s problems without ever having to delve into the real reasons underlying certain crises and situations.

The method is to craft the argument in such a way that it ignores the more probable reasons (but reasons much more difficult to resolve) something may have happened, happily condemn the US as the lone super-power – and therefore the most likely “cause” of the problem – and be assured that about 80% of the world will nod sagely and agree.

Just listen to a UN debate on just about anything and you’ll see this method in action on an almost daily basis.

But, in this particular case, what about the fact that India and Pakistan have been mortal enemies for decades? What has that to do with the US? And what about the alleged ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) ties to this group? Is that a failure of US foreign policy?

Rabinowitz makes an even more general point:

Nowhere in this citation of the root causes of Muslim terrorism was there any mention of Islamic fundamentalism — the religious fanaticism that has sent fevered mobs rioting, burning and killing over alleged slights to the Quran or the prophet. Not to mention the countless others enlisted to blow themselves and others up in the name of God.

Of course not – this is a fundamentalism fueled by the oil rich Saudi kingdom’s decision, decades ago, to fund and help establish the extremist Wahabbist sect of Islam all over the Muslim world. To quote a certain pastor, this is the “chickens” coming home to “roost”.

However, Chopra’s Rx is for the US to address issues he contends are the “root cause” of the problem – “humiliation,” “poverty,” “lack of education” and apparently something the US has caused or for which it is responsible. Of course “humiliation” is a matter of perception (and cultural perception at that). Poverty and lack of education haven’t been caused by the US or its foreign policy, but instead by policies of both the particular governments within the Muslim world and the Muslim religious leaders (sometimes indistinguishable one from the other) of those same countries.

As anyone who has lived in the real world knows, you can’t solve problems beyond your control. Is anyone suggesting that Saudi Arabia, for instance, couldn’t wipe out poverty within whatever time-frame it chose to do so? Of course not. Would anyone suggest that Saudi Arabia would allow the US to do that, or establish secular education institutions in the Kingdom? Of course not. Chopra’s issues are a smoke screen the left loves because it allows them to ignore the real reasons for this spate of terrorism.

If only we’d change and do the things we have no ability to really do, everything would be all right.

Interestingly, as we study the terrorists there we find they’re not much different than those we’ve seen here- like Bill Ayers. In many cases they come from middle class or privileged backgrounds, are well educated (9/11 hijackers, for instance) and have somehow become subverted to a cause for which they conclude anything, to include violence and killing, is warranted to advance that cause. It is more a matter of gullibility than poverty. More to do with a willingness on the part of the terrorist to accept the warped premise on which the terrorist cause is based than lack of education. When you’re offered a “get out of jail free” card – such as a promise of paradise for martyrdom – and you believe that to be the “truth”, it’s easy to be gulled into martyrdom, regardless of one’s financial or social status.

And while it may be the “Great Satan” which is held up as the be all and end all of evil by the terrorists, if it wasn’t the US, it would be somewhere else used as such. As George Orwell taught us in “1984” tyrants need external enemies on which to focus their adherents rage – a rage the power-broker then carefully nurture. The external enemy also makes it easier for the committed to ignore the inconsistencies within the ideology (religious or secular) to which they’ve committed themselves.

Purposeful cynical manipulation isn’t something new in this world. Terror sects based in those techniques have existed for centuries (surprisingly, without even the existence of US foreign policy). To pretend that an external entity can “fix” what are obviously cultural, political and institutional problems within a particular religiously based sphere of the world is, on its face, absurd.

But it is a popular one for the unthinking among us.

Instead of putting the blame for terrorism where it squarely belongs, the simplistic notion that we’re the blame is much easier to swallow because it offers a false solution which is much easier to accomplish than the real solution. You see, we can change “us”. And when that doesn’t work – and it won’t – we can change again. And while the world continues to blow up around us we can continue to consult “experts” like Chopra who can redirect our effort one more time. Maybe he’ll eventually suggest national martyrdom as an antidote to US foreign policy and “fix” the problem for all time.

As you can imagine, 80% of the world would nod and agree.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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