Juan Cole: The Time of Revenge Has Come

Roundup: Historians' Take

Juan Cole, at Salon.com (7-8-05):

[Mr. Cole is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern and South Asian History at the University of Michigan. His website is http://www.juancole.com/.]

Credit for the horrific bombings of the London Underground and a double-decker bus on Thursday morning was immediately taken on a radical Muslim Web site by a "secret group" of Qaida al-Jihad in Europe. By Thursday afternoon, as the casualty toll rose above 40 dead and 700 wounded, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw was saying, "It has the hallmarks of an al-Qaida-related attack." Although U.S. President George W. Bush maintains that al-Qaida strikes out at the industrialized democracies because of hatred for Western values, the statement said nothing of the sort. The attack, the terrorists proclaimed, was an act of sacred revenge for British "massacres" in "Afghanistan and Iraq," and a punishment of the United Kingdom for its "Zionism" (i.e., support of Israel). If they really are responsible, who is this group and what do they want?

The phrase "Qaida al-Jihad" refers to the 2001 decision made by Ayman al-Zawahiri, a leader of the Egyptian terrorist group al-Jihad al-Islami, to merge his organization into bin Laden's al-Qaida ("the Base"). The joint organization was thus renamed Qaida al-Jihad, the "Base for Holy War." (Zawahiri and bin Laden had allied in 1998.) The group claiming responsibility for the London bombings represents itself as a secret, organized grouping or cell of "Qaida al-Jihad in Europe."...

The terrorists refer to the bombings, which they say they carefully planned over a long period, as a "blessed raid." They are recalling the struggle between the wealthy, pagan trading entrepot, Mecca, and the beleaguered, persecuted Muslim community in Medina in early seventh century west Arabia. The Muslims around the Prophet Mohammed responded to the Meccan determination to wipe them out by raiding the caravans of their wealthy rivals, depriving them of their profits and gradually strangling them. The victorious Muslims, having cut the idol-worshipping Meccan merchants off, marched into the city in 630. Al-Qaida teaches its acolytes that great Western metropolises such as New York and London are the Meccas of this age, centers of paganism, immorality and massive wealth, from which plundering expeditions are launched against hapless, pious Muslims. This symbology helps explain why the City of London subway stops were especially targeted, since it is the economic center of London. A "raid" such as the Muslim bombings is considered not just a military action but also a religious ritual.

If the communiqué of Qaida al-Jihad in Europe proves authentic, the London bombings are the second major instance of terrorism in Europe directly related to the Iraq war. In March of 2004, the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (French acronym: GICM) launched a massive attack on trains in Madrid in order to punish Spain for its participation in the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, following on their bombing of Casablanca the previous year.

From the point of view of a serious counterinsurgency campaign against al-Qaida, Bush has made exactly the wrong decisions all along the line. He decided to "unleash" Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rather than pressing for Israeli-Palestinian peace and an end to Israeli occupation of the territories it captured in 1967. Rather than extinguishing this most incendiary issue for Arabs and Muslims, he poured gasoline on it. His strategy in response to Sept. 11 was to fight the Afghanistan War on the cheap. By failing to commit American ground troops in Tora Bora, he allowed bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to escape. He reneged on promises to rebuild Afghanistan and prevent the reemergence of the Taliban and al-Qaida there, thus prolonging the U.S. and NATO military presence indefinitely. He then diverted most American military and reconstruction resources into an illegal war on Iraq. That war may have been doomed from the beginning, but Bush's refusal to line up international support, and his administration's criminal lack of planning for the postwar period, made failure inevitable.

Conservative commentators argue that Iraq is a "fly trap" for Muslim terrorists. It makes much more sense to think of it as bin Laden's fly trap for Western troops. There, jihadis can kill them (making the point that they are not invulnerable), and can provoke reprisals against Iraqi civilians that defame the West in the Muslim world. After Abu Ghraib and Fallujah, many Muslims felt that Bin Laden's dire warnings to them that the United States wanted to occupy their countries, rape their women, humiliate their men, and steal their assets had been vindicated.

These claims were not credited by most of the world's Muslims before the Iraq war. Opinion polls show that most of the world's Muslims have great admiration for democracy and many other Western values. They object to the U.S. and the U.K. because of their policies, not their values. Before Bush, for instance, the vast majority of Indonesians felt favorably toward the United States. Even after a recent bounce from U.S. help with tsunami relief, only about a third now do....

Chicago political scientist Robert Pape argues in his new book, "Dying to Win," that the vast majority of suicide bombers are protesting foreign military occupation undertaken by democratic societies where public opinion matters. He points out that there is no recorded instance of a suicide attack in Iraq in all of history until the Anglo-American conquest of that country in 2003. He might have added that neither had any bombings been undertaken elsewhere in the name of Iraq.

George Bush is sure to try to use the London bombings to rally the American people to support his policies. If Americans look closer, however, they will realize that Bush's incompetent crusade has made the world more dangerous, not less.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Not withstanding Mr Friedman' erudite commentary and his reference to Arabic terms ,as written in English by a , seemingly, non Arabic speaking author , whose real meaning this same Mr Friedman seems not to know since he failed to indicate its English translation or at least its rough equivalent for readers less versed in Arabic than himself...a few simple questions beg to be asked!

Did it or did it not occur to the UK government , and to the the British Parliament which supported it, that the British coinvasion of Afghanistan and Iraq is bound to cause retaliation ?
Did it or did it not occur to both that to some people their coreligionists' lives are precious and killing them is bound to call for revenge?
Did it or did it not occur to Mr Friedman that his calling them "terrorists" is not sufficient reason for them to refrain from retaliation nor desist from revenge?

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/18/2005


I have to disagree. My point is not that Islam was tolerant, as we understand the word today, but that by large it was far less opresive than medieval christianity. And no, I disagree, Islam in southern spain was very tolerant of jews and christians. Both groups were prosperous and were accepted in a very rich culture by the way (compared with the darkness and utter barbarism of catholic spain. Just see the Alambra and compare it with spanish medieval castles...). I also have seen you havent explained how Nestorian Christians survived in Iraq until the date and managed to coexist with muslims (you think Tareq Asis charge in Hussein government was casual?) You claim that Islamic vanished many christian communities: true. But at least christians communities existed inside Islamic countries, while I never saw the contrary in medieval Europe.

My point anyways is not to say that Islam is "a religion of peace". Of course they used the sword to advance their purpose and of course they persecuted other religions. My point is that all this hardly implies that Islam advocated a brutally intolerant and ignorant theology as the one our modern day fundies preach (as medieval christianity was far more enlightned than our modern day xian fundies).

My point is also, I will add, that christianity became a more tolerant religion INSPITE its history while Islam became more intolerant one, even if it was far more tolerant than christianity in the past. Is not that christianity or Islam are religions of peace: is that historical developments favored one to become secularized and the other not. But history is not finished yet, and as today the West is in the top, tommorow it can fall, as Islam did...

N. Friedman - 7/17/2005


A few points. One: Islam in Andalusia was not remotely tolerant, even by its time. There were, in fact, some Jews and some Christians who cooperated with the Muslims and were able to accomplish much. But to call that society tolerant is to overlook that it was a slave society that had harems, that conducted continuous slave raids into Europe and razzias in an effort to further Islam's conquests. And, for the average non-Muslim, life stunk.

Two: regarding the dhimma: in fact it was universally applied but not all dhimma are identical and not all places followed its strictures literally at all times. But, overall and for the most part, the dhimma was applied.

Three: Islam, if you ask Irfan Khawaja, is in its essence salafist. He has a point as early Islam, once it had the capacity to conquer, behaved as salafists today call for people to behave.

Four: Jews, overall, had a better life under Islamic rule than they had under Christian rule. No question about that. Christians, under Muslim rule, largely vanished under Muslim rule so it is difficult to argue that Christians had it very good. Note: where are the Christians of North Africa other than in Egypt? Where are the Christians of Arabia? Why are Christians small minorities in places like Egypt when, at one time, Christians were, by far, the majority? What about the Christians in that main center of Christianity, once called Constantinople - home of Eastern Christianity - but now called Istanbul and largely devoid of Christians? I can assure you it was not Muslim kindness which caused the near extinction of Christianity in the Muslim regions. It was, instead, the thousand little cuts from the dhimma, plus the massacres and famines, the forced enslaving of Christians, the deportations, etc., etc.

By the way, your example of life for Copts is contradicted by the evidence. Christians never lived a life "in cooperation" with Muslim under Muslim rule. Christians live and, in some instances, prospered but the arrangement for non-Muslims under Islam was, universally, one of contempt.

Please understand. I am not anti-Muslim. I am, instead, for understanding Islam as it really is: which is not a religion of peace and not a religion which ever offered tolerance to non-Muslims. Rather, it is self evident that Islam is a religion which offers meaning and purpose to its adherents and a religion which, to accomplish that, does often look to violence and does not remotely value the lives of non-Muslims. I do not claim that Islam is unique in using violence or in devaluing other. On the other hand, Islam's language is, in its way, among the most violent and, moreover, it is the relgion which, today, most looks to violence to advance the purposes of the almighty. And, frankly, Islam is unique in offering a universal call to arms, called Jihad, to advance the rule of Islam.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/16/2005

N Friedman:

I agree that by today standards, Islam was hardly a tolerant religion. I mean, by medieval standards it was. Actually you cite dhimna, yet we know it was not applied in all parts of Islamic Empire (that went from India to Spain!) equally. While in places like Iran or Arabia, Islam certainly very severe with jews, in others the law was far more tolerant (specially the califate of Cordoba in Spain and at least during some time during Bagdad splendor). You can compare how islam treated Jews in Spain in comparison with the way the catholic inquisition and Spain Kings dealed with them (they were expulsed from spain and their properties seized by the crown at the end of the XV century).

Christians also were far more tolerated, and many communities of christians have coexisted with muslims for centuries (coptic christians in Egypt and even some form of nestorian christians in Iraq, until the date..not that muslim comunities were tolerated in medieval christian countries on the other side).

Anyways my point is not to say that Islam is a great tolerant religion. My point is that is just a ridicoulous ahistorical pretention to think that Islam of medieval times is the same thing of what our modern Whabists preach. Is like saying that modern christian fundamentalists share the same logic than medieval christianity, just cause both are very intolerant of other religions and heresies.

N. Friedman - 7/16/2005


Islam, including early Islam, is a fascinating religion. However, by today's standards, it was not tolerant in any way you or I would understand. And, I might add, it is not all that different than Wahabbism, which is an attempt to recreate that early Islam.

By the standards of its time, perhaps Islam was tolerant in that it did not simply kill off all the people who inhabited the places conquered. But to call the arrangement employed by Islam to deal with those conquered tolerant, is, I think, merely to adopt the Islamic interpretation of history.

In fact, the dhimma arrangement was more or less the same arrangement employed by the Byzantine Empire to suppress Jews. And, in that context, no one calls the arrangement tolerant as it was not intended as such. And calling that sort of arrangement when employed against both Jews and Christians suddenly tolerant because the new master is Muslim is, to me, absurd and contrary to fact.

In fact, the Muslims were conquerers who employed religion as a pre-text to conquer. They plundered and starved those conquered, forced large numbers of the conquered into slavery, massacred those who refused to cooperate and forced those who cooperated but refused to convert, to enter into a dhimma (i.e. a treaty of concession).

I trust you are aware that particularly in the early empire, the jizya paid by the dhimmi was rather substantial. And so was the land tax. And the restrictions soon thereafter imposed made the oppressive humiliating. Those restrictions included restrictions on clothing worn and animals that could be employed for transportation and on arms for self-protection and the inability to offer a defense when struck by Muslims was humiliating by any standard. And the refusal to accept testimony in court from a non-Muslim against a Muslim meant that non-Muslims were at the whim of the Muslims.

So, no, I think you are mistaken.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/16/2005

This is incredible. So I guess Hitler agresions were "legal", cause he was authorized by the nationalsocialist law? (And give me a break..I am not saying that the US is the same than nazi Germany. Just using an extreme example to poit how idiotic is to pretend that a legal internal authorization comming from an agresor country is the same than an international legal justification for the agresion).

And no, the UN didnt fail to enforce its own resolutions. The resolutions may have authorized force ONLY if Iraq did not comply with the inspections, and Iraq was complying. The US claimed anyways that Iraq had WMD, and tha was not true. And no, the US was not justified into believing that they could be right, they LIED about it just to get their invasion.


I don´t know what the Intifada has to do with this. Maybe it will be relevant if Iraq was a country with a mayority of americans reclaiming their right of self determination against a minority of arabs that have taken their land and imposed them an arab state on their soil? Don´t you agree?

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/16/2005

Edward, I was responding to the article you posted of Bruce Thornton, not the one of the National Review. And yes, the guy in that article. And I stand by my comments. Yes, there is a hell of difference between whabhism and early Islam, not only for that little historical fact you cited (without shame) that whabisms is just a recent invention in Islamic history, but for the simple fact that Islam was a billion times more tolerant than what whabhism can dream to be (as you noted, whabism is just some sort of fundamentalism, and like all fundamentalisms, a very poor form of "return" to the begginings...).

I also stand on my point that the guy who writes this article is pretending that "western civilization is judeo-christian" against the evil muslim jihadists:

"The murderers we call terrorists are traditional jihadists, as much as were the first Islamic armies that swept away the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman civilizations of the Mediterranean"

Idiotic nonsense. Not simply cause Europe is a largely secularized continent, but cause Islam does not form a civilization as it did in the past...mainly a group of disperse nation states without any power or cohesion.

And yes, this guy is playing with barbaric medieval imaginary:

"The next few weeks will show whether the British have advanced as far down the road of dhimmitude as have the Spaniards, who responded to the murder of their citizens not with the force and resistance their ancestors showed for seven centuries, but with fear and appeasement."

In other words, his model is medieval spain, a kingdom that expulsed jews, supported inquisition and acted in a warmongering way in the name of the catholic church (and later persecuted protestants with ferocity, not to mention pagans in the empire they build in America). Wich in the end is the model that many of the Bush supporters will love to see implanted in the US: a wormonging theocratic and intolerant model. So sorry spanish voters think in a more civilized way...

Ah yes, to conclude: the war WAS BASED ON LIES. Repeating them is simply nonsense. Nor Russian, nor French, nor any other inteligence service in the world "knew" Iraq had WMD. Conservatives can mentally masturbate repeating that lie, it will not make it true. Actually, not even the CIA had evidence that Iraq had WMD. Bush administration manipulated the inteligence reports to manufacture its case against Iraq. You even used false information as it happpened with the niger uranium affair, remember?

Edward Siegler - 7/15/2005

What is the "hell of difference" between modern-day Islam and that of 1,000 years ago? If your argument rests on the fact that Wahabbism didn't exist back then then you don't understand Wahabbism - it's purpose is to RETURN to the Islam of 1,000 years ago, not to supplant it with something new. That would be seen as a heresy.

It is the Muslims who view Europe as a Christian entity, not the largely secular Europeans themselves. Hansen argues that Western civilization, of which Christianity is one part, is what defines Europe. It's ridiculous to argue otherwise.

As far as the "primitive appeals to some medieval past", recall that Spain only abolished its monarchy in 1975.

In addition to the Americans, the French and Russian intellegence services all believed that Iraq had WMDs. In any event, the war was based on 23 reasons that did not all depend the existence of WMDs. To say that the removal of one of the world's worst tyrants was a "fiasco based on lies" is in itself dishonest. And to run away from a war as a result of a terrorist attack is in fact evidence of weakness. That the war is an unpopular one doesn't change a thing in this regard.

N. Friedman - 7/15/2005


Islam is a beautiful religion that has much to offer. Among the things it offers is great meaning to its followers. And clearly, a great civilization was spawned by the religion.

Among the things commonly preached by those who believe in Islam - and not just by the Wahabbis - is that the world has a Manichean divide between, on the one hand, the dar al-Islam (realm of Islam) and the dar al-harb (realm of war). Classical Islamic theology teaches that the harbis (i.e. those from the dar al-harb) seek to destroy Islam and are at war with the dar al-islam and that the the dar al-harb is rightfully controlled by Muslims. Moreover, classical Islam teaches that it is encumbant upon (i.e. it is a religious duty of) the Islamic community to bring the rule of Islam (i.e. Muslim law known as Shari'a), by means of Jihad or Da'wa (i.e. persuasion), to the dar al-harb.

If you do not believe me, read what Ibn Khaldun, the great Muslim historian, writes about the topic. Or read what Bernard Lewis write. Or read what Ibn Warraq writes. Or read what MJ Akbar writes. Or read what Ignaz Goldhizer writes. Or read what countless other people with expertise about Islam write.

I have not said that there is a "clash of civilizations" although such may, perhaps, be the case. I have merely described one of the doctrines which Muslims preach if they follow classical Islamic theology. Clearly, the Jihadis of today - those we call terrorists - believe in the Manichean divide and the need to employ Jihad against us, etc., etc.

So, I do not understand your point.

Mark A Newgent - 7/15/2005

The intifada was not authorized by the UN either but some see that as a legal and justified war. Give me a breal Sergio. Also please tell me exactly what lies were told to justify this war?

Edward Siegler - 7/15/2005

Davis seems to be assuming that there is a rational strategy behind the terrorist attacks. Like you, I don't quite see this. If the terrorists do not want their attacks to be bad enough to incite a truly drastic military response by the West as Davis says, then they will refrain from using WMDs once they have access to them. This is an assumtion that I would never make.

Edward Siegler - 7/15/2005

Serigio is assuming that the UN is the only body that can determine whether a war is "legal" or not.

Scott Michael Ryan - 7/15/2005

LOL...actually it was a Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq - and this makes the US occupation of ANOTHER country legal - as far as US Constitutional law is concerned. The act was significant in that it did not require the President to obtain UN Security Council authorization.

That the UN failed consistently to enforce its own resolutions in the case of Iraq - and such enforcement would clearly be impossible with the presence of France and Russia on the Security Council - was no doubt a driver of this resolution.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/15/2005

Ah, more of the same old idea that this is a "clash of civilizations" nonsense. Anybody who studies history should know that there is a hell of difference between the whabist ideology that inspires Al Qeada and the islam professed by the muslims 1000 years ago (where such whabist ideology didnt even exist). And anybody with just the most basic understanding of history, should know that is ludicrous to see the west as a religious unity (christendom), specially when in Europe (and yes, specially in Britain) we have seen a dramaic falling in religious observance an advance of secularism since the last 3 centuries.

Not to comment the primitive appeals to some medieval past, as the ones the article makes to spaniards (yeah, by the way they should reinstall the inquisition and the monarchy!). That is ok for fanatics, not for people who pretend to be rational. And please, cut out that stupid inuendo that Spain was "weak" cause they voted socialists into power after Madrid terror attacks. People were massively against the war in Iraq (a fiasco based on lies) since Aznar sold the country to American interests...and they got really angry when Aznar tried to lie to them about the people responsible for those attacks (he tried to blame ETA against all the evidence, who pointed to islamists). Instead of bashing spain, you should show your respects for a country who actually punish liars in power...oh well, who cares, after all you defend Bush and his cronies (including Blair).

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/15/2005

Ah, more of the same old idea that this is a "clash of civilizations" nonsense. Anybody who studies history should know that there is a hell of difference between the whabist ideology that inspires Al Qeada and the islam professed by the muslims 1000 years ago (where such whabist ideology didnt even exist). And anybody with just the most basic understanding of history, should know that is ludicrous to see the west as a religious unity (christendom), specially when in Europe (and yes, specially in Britain) we have seen a dramaic falling in religious observance an advance of secularism since the last 3 centuries.

Not to comment the primitive appeals to some medieval past, as the ones the article makes to spaniards (yeah, by the way they should reinstall the inquisition and the monarchy!). That is ok for fanatics, not for people who pretend to be rational. And please, cut out that stupid inuendo that Spain was "weak" cause they voted socialists into power after Madrid terror attacks. People were massively against the war in Iraq (a fiasco based on lies) since Aznar sold the country to American interests...and they got really angry when Aznar tried to lie to them about the people responsible for those attacks (he tried to blame ETA against all the evidence, who pointed to islamists). Instead of bashing spain, you should show your respects for a country who actually punish liars in power...oh well, who cares, after all you defend Bush and his cronies (including Blair).

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 7/15/2005

LOL...so an US senate authorization makes the ocupation of ANOTHER country legal? I didn´t knew that US senate was the final arbiter of what is legal in the world. I thought the US senate only legislated in the US. Me and my silly ideas.

Of course the war was illegal (it was NOT authorized by the UN) but also one justified with all sort of lies.

Scott M Ryan - 7/14/2005

I believe that both yourself and Victor are right in the sense that your points are not mutually exclusive and they have, at their core, the wish to spread radical Islam.

Islamo-fascism is a particularly difficult foe for the West, given or tradition of tolerance and freedom of expression. This, coupled with the rise of the “multiculti” mindset among our “elites” (you listening Juan?) that celebrates all other cultures above ones own, may result in our undoing over the long run.

Scott M Ryan - 7/14/2005

Cole is a Bush hating crank - and not too careful with his facts either.


N. Friedman - 7/14/2005


A good article about which I do not agree. I think we are dealing with people merely doing what they were taught, from childhood, to believe they should be doing. Which is to say, they are merely attempting to spread the realm where Islamic law governs.

They are violent, as necessary, because the doctrine calls for violence, where necessary, to achieve the goal.

Edward Siegler - 7/13/2005

July 08, 2005
The Same Old, Same Old . . .
An anatomy of the London bombing.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

The British may react very differently than the Spanish did after Madrid — by doing nothing rather than by retreating from Iraq.

In the corrupt West these days, that is something.

We all know the score of this war now in the near four years since September 11. The London bombings should remind us how the old tired game works.


Failed states in the Middle East — autocratic, statist, unfree, intolerant of women and other religions — blame the West for their self-inflicted miseries. Sometimes they are theocratic, like the late Taliban or the current Iranian mullahs. But more often they are dictatorial like the Syrians, Pakistanis, Saudis, or Egyptians, who all, in varying degrees and in lieu of reform, have come to accommodations with the terrorists to shift popular anguish onto the West and the Jews.

That is the Petri dish of Islamic fascism, an evil that will only disappear when the dictatorships that allow it or nourish it do as well. Whether the jihadists are in Iraq, the United States, or Europe, they all share a sick notion that someone else (the decadent Western oppressor and unbeliever) is responsible for their own poverty and backwardness rather than the fundamentalism, corruption, bias, and intolerance endemic to the Middle East.


In WWII we didn’t care much whether in fighting Bushido some thought we were in a war against Buddhists. We weren’t, and that was enough.

We knew the enemy were Nazis, not simply Germans, and didn’t froth and whine to prove that distinction.

But not now.

To criticize Islamic fascism is supposedly to be unfair to Islam, so we allow on our own shores mullahs and madrassas to spread hatred and intolerance, as part of our illiberal acceptance of “not offending Islam.”

It is not that we don’t believe in Western values as much as we don’t even know what they are anymore. The London bombings were only a reification of what goes on daily with impunity blocks away in the mosques and Islamist schools of London.

The enemy knows that and thrives on it. That refuge in religion is why imams shout that “Islam doesn’t condone such things” — even as bin Laden has become a folk hero on the Arab Street. Jihadists sense that even here at home more Americans are more concerned about a flushed Koran at Guantanamo Bay than five Americans fighting for the Iraqi jihadists or Taliban sympathizers in Lodi, California.

As long as there is not any price to be paid for Islamism, either by governments abroad or purveyors of its hatred in the West, the propaganda works and the killing will go on. But when a renegade Saudi Prince, Pakistani general, London imam, or Lodi mosque leader screams out to the jihadist, “Stop that before those crazy Americans really do go to war,” the war, in fact, will be over and won.


Terror is the signature of the Islamist: hit, back off; hit, back off — hoping in a few years to erode the will and nerve of affluent and leisured Western countries.

Bin Laden has so far only made one mistake: He took down the entire World Trade Center rather than the top floors, and had the misfortune of having George Bush as president. Thus he lost Afghanistan and ended up with democratic reform from Iraq and Lebanon to the Gulf and Egypt. Train bombings in Madrid and bus explosions in London, like the carnage in Iraq, are preferable, since they are enough to terrify and demoralize the Westerner but not quite enough to knock sense into him that only military resistance and victory will save his civilization.

So the attacks will never quite be of such a stature to convince Western voters that one more such explosion will destroy their societies. The trick is instead to wage war insidiously, incrementally, and stealthily to avoid an overwhelming response. A cooling-off period in between 9/11 and 7/7 in which Western apologists, pacifists, and Islamist sympathizers go to work is essential for the terror to continue.

Second, the denial of culpability is equally critical: a Syria, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia must always be able to profess that it deplores terrorism, and that to its knowledge no jihadists are in transit on its territory; bin Laden & co. are not in its country; and its royal family are not funding killers. Within Europe itself, a madrassa that indoctrinates directionless youth, or an imam who shouts hatred to his audience, must always simultaneously when called upon “condemn” terrorism, and then seek victimhood when the rare scrutiny of an outraged public nears.

Finally Western self-loathing and guilt is essential: A fascist agenda of the jihadist — religious persecution, gender apartheid, racism, militarist autocracy, and xenophobia — all that must be embedded deeply within the postmodern landscape of the oppressed. A non-Christian and non-Western “other” can mask his venom only through victim status, grafting his cause to the same exploited groups that seek from Western society benefaction and compensation.


The jihadists expect that Westerners will slink out of the Middle East, allowing fascist fundamentalists to gain control of half the world’s oil and thus buy enough weapons to blackmail their way back to the caliphate.

Destroying Israel, killing Christians in Africa, running Westerners out of the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia, or Bali, all that is mere relish. In Europe, the goal for the unhinged is the creation of another al Andalus; for the more calculating it is enough intimidation and terror to carve out zones of Muslim sanctuary, where millions can live parasite-like, within the largess of Western society, but without its bothersome liberal agenda of freedom and equality, in hopes of implanting the universal law of sharia.

So here we are. Even though the killers profess revenge equally for Afghanistan (the so-called “right” war), they expect Westerners to scream “Iraq.”

Even though such bombings are predicated on infiltration, careful stealthy reconnaissance, and long sojourns within London, expect cries of anguish and worrying about the stereotyping of Middle Eastern males.

Look for the same scripted crocodile tears and “concern” from the Middle East’s illegitimate leaders, even as much of the Islamic Street takes a secret delight in the daring of the jihadists, and the governments sense relief that the target was Westerners and not themselves.

Anticipate Western leaders condemning the terrorists in the same breadth as they call for “eliminating poverty” and “bringing them to justice” — as if the jihadists and their patrons are mere wayward and impoverished felons.

In the short term, Bush and Blair will appear as islands in the storm amid an angry and anguished public. But as 7/7 fades, as did 9/11, expect them to become even more unpopular, as the voices of appeasement assure us that if they just go away, maybe so will the terrorists.

It is our task, each of us according to our station, to speak the truth to all these falsehoods, and remember that we did not inherit a wonderful civilization just to lose it to the Dark Ages.

©2005 Victor Davis Hanson

N. Friedman - 7/12/2005


Interesting article.

Edward Siegler - 7/12/2005

July 9, 2005
Jihad Is Knocking
Another Episode in the War between Christendom and Islam
by Bruce Thornton
Private Papers

The slaughter in London is another grisly wake-up call that likely will go as unheeded as earlier ones. Already the standard narrative is being trotted out: evildoers created by what the New York Times predictably called the “root causes of terrorism”: autocracy, or economic stagnation, or Palestinian suffering, or globalization's dislocations, or Western historical sins, or the war in Iraq (the cause will depend on the political prejudices of the pundit) have “hijacked” Islam and distorted its peaceful message. And now they are using Islam to justify murder in order to further their own ambitions or dysfunctional psychic needs. Given this explanation, so the story goes, we must be careful not to demonize all Muslims and assure them that we respect their religion and culture. The tale is then wrapped up with fierce threats against the terrorists and protestations of admiration for Islam.

Believing this delusion requires that one ignores fourteen centuries of Islamic jihad against the West, a war of conquest and colonization ratified by centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Indeed, what we call Islamic radicals are in fact Islamic traditionalists; it is the so-called “moderates” — those wanting to compromise Islam so it can coexist with Western ideas such as secular government, separation of church and state, and human rights — who are the radicals and innovators. The terrorists are simply fulfilling the traditional and orthodox command of their religion to battle the infidels who resist the revelation of Mohammed and the global socio-political order mandated by Islam.

Listen to one of the most respected and influential of Muslim clerics, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, on the legitimacy of jihad: “It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of people of Dar Al-Harb [the Domain of Disbelief where the battle for the domination of Islam should be waged] is not protected. Because they fight against and are hostile towards the Muslims, they annulled the protection of his blood and his property." (See Andrew Bostom:).This interpretation is entirely consistent with fourteen centuries of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, which in turn is based on the Koran's injunction to “slay them [infidels] wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter . . . . Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.” And this jihad is to continue “until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.”

Islam's divinely sanctioned entitlement to global domination explains the symbolic value of the London attacks: one day after London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympics, and right in the middle of the G8 summit in Scotland. For both the Olympics and the G8 represent a global order that rivals Islam, one based on Western ideals and institutions, a social and political order in which Islam has no exalted position but is simply one religion among many. And, we should add, a global order whose notions of individual rights and secular government are incompatible with Islamic law.

So much is obvious — facts of the historical record. Yet listen to a respected historian in a conservative magazine: “Muslim holy wars (“jihads”), as taught in the Koran, were first and foremost a personal inner struggle for moral purity” and only secondarily a war against infidels. So all those Muslim armies that conquered the Christian Near East, North Africa, Egypt, Spain, Sicily, the Balkans, all that plunder, slaughter, rape, enslavement, kidnapping, and destruction were only the “secondary” jihad. How could such blindness to the obvious, masquerading as sophisticated “tolerance,” not arouse contempt in the minds of our adversaries? They tell us over and over that they are waging jihad in order to establish the global hegemony of Islam, and we tell ourselves that these Muslims don't understand their own religion. Millions and millions of Muslims all over the world cheer for the jihadists and support them materially and psychologically, millions idolize bin Laden and celebrate the murder of Westerners, but we tell ourselves that they are a minority of confused souls whose minds have been addled by poverty or autocracy or anger over the Palestinians.

In any conflict it's a good idea to take seriously the motives the enemy professes and not rationalize or explain them away in terms of your own cultural assumptions. The murderers we call terrorists are traditional jihadists, as much as were the first Islamic armies that swept away the Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman civilizations of the Mediterranean. They are not going to be bought off with votes, a free press, more cable channels, Wal-Mart, or any other material good that to us constitutes the good life. They are fighting for a spiritual cause, the establishment of Islam as a global order in fulfillment of the will of Allah, and the reduction of all those who will not become Muslims to dhimmi, inferiors who acknowledge the superiority of Islam and the rightness of their subjection to it.

The next few weeks will show whether the British have advanced as far down the road of dhimmitude as have the Spaniards, who responded to the murder of their citizens not with the force and resistance their ancestors showed for seven centuries, but with fear and appeasement. As for us, we'd better discard our illusions that the jihadists, as Thomas Freidman put it, are “a cancer within the [Islamic] body politic” and accept instead that jihad just may be a vital organ. Then maybe we can see this war for what it is: one more episode in the long struggle between what used to be called Christendom and a religion of aggressive conquest and colonization.

©2005 Victor Davis Hanson

Mark A Newgent - 7/12/2005

The Iraq war was not an illegal war as Mr. Cole says. See the congressional authorization to enforce the UN Security Council resolutions concerning Iraq.

mark w bauerlein - 7/11/2005

For another alternative to Cole, see


N. Friedman - 7/10/2005


Which term(s) requires translation for you?

N. Friedman - 7/10/2005


Which act was the Bali bombing revenge for? And what about the bombing of the resort in Kenya? What did the Kenyan's do? And what about the attempt to fly planes into the Eifel Tower in Paris? What did France do? And what about the visitors to Luxor, Egypt? Why did the Islamists leave to mutalate the bodies and leave their filthy message in the heads of the victims? And what about the attempt to blow up a chemical factory in Jordan? What did Jordan do wrong?

Your friends like to blow things up because they hope to gain power. And, yes, they may have chosen London because London sides with the US. Then again, they may have chosen London because there are a lot of Jihadis who make their homes in London and, thus, London was familiar territory. Or, they may have chosen London because of their ignorance of British history which the Islamists read as weak so that they might force Britain to change sides.

Really and truly, who knows and who cares? In the end, the goal of the Jihadis is power and, in such aim, lots of people have and likely will continue to die. And, to think otherwise is to live in dreamland.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 7/10/2005

Did it or did it not occur to Mr. Baker to actually read the perceptive and shrewd essay by Victor Hanson that was cited by Mr. Friedman above?

Did it or did it not occur to Mr. Baker that, upon reading Hanson's essay, his whining and irrelevent comments eerily demonstrated precisely what Hanson listed among the intellectual failings of jihadists, Ba'athists, radical Islamists and their coddlers and supporters?

William A. Henslee - 7/10/2005


William A. Henslee - 7/9/2005

I copied the item from a news story yesterday but failed to pull the citation at the time. My mistake. You could probably find it with a Lexis-Nexis search on his name.

William A. Henslee - 7/9/2005

I copied the item from a news story yesterday but failed to pull the citation at the time. My mistake. You could probably find it with a Lexis-Nexis search on his name.

N. Friedman - 7/9/2005

If you wish to read a good refutation of what Cole writes, read this article: "AND THIS IS WHY THEY DID IT," by Amir Taheri, at http://www.benadorassociates.com/article/16672 .

I note that razzias, termed ghazava by Taheri, have a long history. They were used extensively against Europeans during the time when Arabs were dominant in the Muslim regions (e.g. against France from Andalusia) and into Southern Europe by the Ghazi (i.e. from the Ottoman Empire). And the origins of the use of razzias/ghazava are accurately described above by Cole. Which is to say razzias, which we term terrorism, goes back to the days and had the blessing of the Prophet.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 7/9/2005

When Cole claims that al-Qaida and its suicidal types launch attacks against so-called "centers of paganism, immorality and massive wealth, from which plundering expeditions are launched against hapless, pious Muslims," he piously and pitifully ignores the fact that every single terrorist attack on Americans or on American property since 1983 (with one exception) have been undertaken by Muslims most of whom are well-educated, well-traveled, and inspired either by Ba'athism (a genuinely fascist ideology) or Wahabism (a genuinely recationary ideology).

Cole's refusal or inability to grasp the nature of those vicious totalitarian ideologies will forever place him (and you) at the margins of policy making.

John Chapman - 7/9/2005

If you think Cole's "facts" are easy to refute why haven't you done so? Enlighten us.

Sanford Robert Silverburg - 7/9/2005

Do you have a citation for the interview in the Portugese magazine?

Charles Lee Geshekter - 7/9/2005

Cole's "facts" are easy to refute.....it's the theories about those "facts" that are far more complex.

When embittered and isolated scholars like Cole simply emit vapors, then general put downs are quite appropriate and necessary.

Mike Hodas - 7/9/2005

Why don't you (HAMBY and GESHEKTER)refute Juan Cole's facts? You both just resort to general put downs in place of concret arguments.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 7/9/2005

Comapred to the hyperbolic, hoarse angst of Juan Cole's meaningless diatribe, Mr. Hamby's comments are indeed rational and evidence-based.

No quibble here.

William A. Henslee - 7/8/2005

This terror bombing may be more a start of a religious war to take over the world than a simple matter of revenge for British participation in Afghanistan or Iraq. After all, governmental institutions or the military would be better suited for revenge.

Radical Muslim cleric Sheik Omar Bakri issued a chilling warning three months ago that a European wing of al-Qaeda was preparing to attack London.

The Sheik told a Portugese magazine: “One very well organised group in London has a great appeal for young Muslims. I know that they are ready to launch a big operation. It is inevitable.”

He added: “We don’t make a distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents, only between Muslims and unbelievers. And the life of an unbeliever has no value, no sanctity.”

Put into bald language, this is simply a war between believers and unbelievers.

Lisa Kazmier - 7/8/2005

You call that rational discourse?

Alonzo L Hamby - 7/8/2005

No doubt, about it. George Bush, aided by Tony Blair, with a slight assist from Ariel Sharon made them do it. No wonder they hate us.

How does one respond to reasoning like this? Laugh it off as a dark joke? Try to argue rationally with the irrational?

Mr. Cole's convoluted nonsense simply defies rational discourse.