JP. O’Mally writes a review in the Times of Israel of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Age of Jihad: Islamic State and the Great War for the Middle East:
LONDON — In the closing sentence of Patrick Cockburn gives a chilling warning to his readers.
“The demons released by this age of chaos and war in the Middle East have become an unstoppable force.”
Amidst the larger analysis, Cockburn identifies suicide terror as a key factor in making Jihadi warfare unstoppable.
While the Middle East has been far from stable in the 100 years since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Cockburn argues that the territory has now entered into an unprecedented phase: civil wars across the region where Sunni fundamentalist jihadis play a leading role.
“What people often miss about [Sunni] jihadism is that if you have a suicide bomber it allows you to organize with great military precision a very powerful weapon,” says Cockburn. “That’s one of the reasons why IS (Islamic State) dominate the opposition in Syria and Iraq — because they are all lead by suicide bombers. They are fighting people who have air power and sophisticated equipment. But suicide bombing is the lethal precision that allows them to break through.
Cockburn, like many who now acknowledge the danger to the West of this apocalyptic weapon, lays much of the responsibility at the feet of the West, led by Bush, for the impact of their invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, for our misunderstanding and wrong-headed meddling in situations we don’t understand, interventions that worsened matters in the Arab world so badly, that by the “Arab Spring,” the blow to the political system that should have brought on democracy, instead led to the collapse of many, if not all Arab political structures in the face of this ferocious Jihad.
The book is entirely focused on Cockburn’s period in Muslim nations, in the aughts. The narrative literally starts not with 9-11, but with Bush’s response to that attack in Afghanistan. There is no mention in the book of the growing spread of suicide terror to Europe, even though Bataclan occurred almost a year before publication. And there is nothing on Israel where it all started.
And yet, precisely during the time Cockburn was a correspondent for the Independent in Jerusalem (1994-1999, “the happy years” of post-Zionism), suicide terror first emerged, as it were, right under his nose.
The Road to Martyrs’ Square: A Journey into the World of the Suicide Bomber (2006), by Anne Marie Oliver, Paul F. Steinberg, describes the operational matrix of Hamas in the 199os and early aughts (turn of the millennium, outbreak of global jihad), and how they perfected an apocalyptic, genocidal war narrative that sanctified suicide attacks.
David Cook’s Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic, spans the 9os and the early aughts, and places that Hamas apocalyptic discourse into a larger framework of global jihad, with its enduring hatreds for any sign of autonomy from infidels.
The dominant (hegemonic?) Western discourse in the early aughts read matters very differently. Apocalyptic was out, suicide terror was in, very “in”. Cockburn’s profession of journalists so badly misinformed the West about the most successful movement of jihadi suicide terror (Hamas, Hizbullah), that when it popped out of the Trojan Horse in October 2000, he and his colleagues identified their use of suicide terror as an act of resistance: One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. Could it have something to do with genocidal preaching? “No. Why do you ask?”
Indeed, lethal journalism exercised so powerful an impact in portraying the Jenin “Massacre” (April 11-16, 2002), that the “progressive,” “anti-war” movement took to the streets to cheer on the jihadis who target hateful Israel, while not realizing that they too are targets. Oriana Fallaci denounced demonstrations against the “Jenin Massacre” that glorified the jihadis.
…in Italy… a procession of individuals dressed as suicide bombers who spew vile abuse at Israel, hold up photographs of Israeli leaders on whose foreheads they have drawn the swastika, incite people to hate the Jews…” [April 17, 2002 ]
Dark shades of Independence Day when the dancers welcomed the alien vehicles just before being pulverized by them.
No indicator here that Cockburn recognizes the prior intelligence failure, this time by members of his own journalistic profession, who had led Westerners – and many of them thought-leaders – to such astoundingly foolish misreadings and misunderstandings of the first, concerted suicide terror attack on a Western target, namely Hamas. No sign of awareness of the role that this Western misreading of the Oslo Jihad as a resistance movement against Israeli oppression, may have been a costly mistake. No sign of recognition that their journalism might have inspired the suicidal self-parody of Western infidels shouting “We are Hamas” and “Death to Jews” in the capitals of Europe, and brilliant pacifist theorists embracing Hamas as fellow fighters in an “anti-imperialist” alliance. No sign, at least so far, that the wave of lethal journalism that hit the world in during the Oslo Jihad, may have played a key role, in the suicidal folly in their own culture, which cheered on the advent of this most terrible weapon.
In fact, Cockburn’s tenure as chief correspondent for the Independent in Jerusalem, coincides with precisely with the first successful deployment of this Jihadi apocalyptic weapon, under the zealous leadership of Hamas in the 1990s), exploding on the 21st century as a defining characteristic of the clearly misnamed “Al Aqsa Intifada” better understood as the Oslo Jihad.
Realizing that suicide terror was a weapon in a global war on (autonomous) infidels (like himself, and Israelis) might have tempered some of Cockburn’s criticism of Israel – “the devil we know” as he puts it – for “clamping down on dissent” in the 1990s. After all, he was looking at a society trying to protect itself from this demon that he now sees everywhere, and this occurred, a rough decade before the behavior he focuses on. For him, and his Israeli friends like Uri Avnery, the Israelis are just bullies and tribal supremacists. How much healthier might England be today if it had not engaged in an orgy of own-goal Moral Schadenfreude about Israel over the decade and a half, and instead realized Israel was on the front line in a war that targeted them as well?
It would be interesting to see how Cockburn treated Hamas then, as well as how he responded when that apocalyptic enemy got cheered in the infidel capitals of Europe. One can claim these fools in suicide belts were lunatics (they were), but they expressed the Global Progressive Left’s Zeitgeist: cheer on the Palestinians, shout imprecations on the Israelis.
Patrick: Have you ever asked yourself why you and your colleagues so misread the conflict about Israel, that your readers welcomed the central weapon that targets us all, autonomous infidels, in the 21st century? #ASDO21C
Or is that down the memory hole of mistakes you’d rather not reconsider?