Summary: This is a follow-up to “Some people just want to see the world burn” (16 January 2009). At the end are links to posts discussing solutions.
“9 Is Not 11 (And November Isn’t September)“, Arundhati Roy, Outlook India, 22 December 2008 — Hat tip to Tom Englehardt’s TomDispatch. I strongly recommend reading this powerful essay in full, a valuable perspective on our world. It’s not about India, or specific religions. This is the dark side of humanity, a battle that has to be fought each generation. Sometimes the battle goes poorly.
Here is a bulletin from the front, a warning for those who think everybody in wars thinks about “sides”, “causes”, and “winning.” Most do, but not everyone.
“One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself ‘Imran Babar’. … He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.”
Here is a brief excerpt.
Terrorism and the need for context
There is a fierce, unforgiving fault line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let’s call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially ‘Islamist’ terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics.
Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself. Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.
The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Toiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolster the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy, and believes that jehad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world. Among the things he has said are:
“There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”
“India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”
But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera):
“We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire…we hacked, burned, set on fire…we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it…. I have just one last wish…let me be sentenced to death…. I don’t care if I’m hanged…just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs of these people stay…. I will finish them off…let a few more of them die…at least 25 thousand to 50 thousand should die.”
And where, in Side A’s scheme of things, would we place the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh bible, We, or Our Nationhood Definedby M.S. Golwalkar ‘Guruji’, who became head of the RSS in 1944. It says:
“Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”
“To keep up the purity of its race and culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here…a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”
Of course, Muslims are not the only people in the gun sights of the Hindu Right. Dalits have been consistently targeted. Recently in Kandhamal in Orissa, Christians were the target of two-and-a-half months of violence which left more than 40 dead. Forty thousand people have been driven from their homes, half of whom now live in refugee camps.
All these years, Hafiz Saeed has lived the life of a respectable man in Lahore as the head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which many believe is a front organisation for the Lashkar-e-Toiba. He continued to recruit young boys for his own bigoted jehad with his twisted, fiery sermons. On December 11, the UN imposed sanctions on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Pakistani government succumbed to international pressure, putting Hafiz Saeed under house arrest.
Babu Bajrangi, however, is out on bail and continues to live the life of a respectable man in Gujarat. A couple of years after the genocide, he left the VHP to join the Shiv Sena. Narendra Modi, Bajrangi’s former mentor, is still the chief minister of Gujarat.
- So the man who presided over the Gujarat genocide was re-elected twice, and is deeply respected by India’s biggest corporate houses, Reliance and Tata.
- Suhel Seth, a TV impresario and corporate spokesperson, has recently said, “Modi is God.”
- The policemen who supervised and sometimes even assisted the rampaging Hindu mobs in Gujarat have been rewarded and promoted.
The RSS has 45,000 branches, its own range of charities and seven million volunteers preaching its doctrine of hate across India. They include Narendra Modi, but also former prime minister A.B. Vajpayee, current Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, and a host of other senior politicians, bureaucrats and police and intelligence officers.
And if that’s not enough to complicate our picture of secular democracy, we should place on record that there are plenty of Muslim organisations within India preaching their own narrow bigotry.
So, on balance, if I had to choose between Side A and Side B, I’d pick Side B. We need context. Always.
When we say ‘Nothing can justify terrorism”, what most of us mean is that nothing can justify the taking of human life. We say this because we respect life, because we think it’s precious. So what are we to make of those who care nothing for life, not even their own?
The truth is that we have no idea what to make of them, because we can sense that even before they’ve died, they’ve journeyed to another world where we cannot reach them.
One TV channel (India TV) broadcast a phone conversation with one of the attackers, who called himself ‘Imran Babar’. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the conversation, but the things he talked about were the things contained in the ‘terror e-mails’ that were sent out before several other bomb attacks in India. Things we don’t want to talk about any more: the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, the genocidal slaughter of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, the brutal repression in Kashmir.
- “You’re surrounded,” the anchor told him. “You are definitely going to die. Why don’t you surrender?”
- “We die every day,” he replied in a strange, mechanical way. “It’s better to live one day as a lion and then die this way.”
He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.
If the men were indeed members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, why didn’t it matter to them that a large number of their victims were Muslim, or that their action was likely to result in a severe backlash against the Muslim community in India whose rights they claim to be fighting for? Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the Big Picture, individuals don’t figure in its calculations except as collateral damage.
It has always been a part of — and often even the aimof — terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden fault lines. The blood of ‘martyrs’ irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, Communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims. The dead become the demonstration, the proof of victimhood, which is central to the project.
A single act of terrorism is not in itself meant to achieve military victory; at best it is meant to be a catalyst that triggers something else, something much larger than itself, a tectonic shift, a realignment. The act itself is theatre, spectacle and symbolism, and today, the stage on which it pirouettes and performs its acts of bestiality is Live TV. Even as the Mumbai terrorists were being condemned by TV anchors, the effectiveness of their action was magnified a thousand-fold by TV broadcasts.
Through the endless hours of analysis and the endless op-ed essays, in India at least there has been very little mention of the elephants in the room: Kashmir, Gujarat and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
- Instead, we had retired diplomats and strategic experts debate the pros and cons of a war against Pakistan.
- We had the rich threatening not to pay their taxes unless their security was guaranteed (is it alright for the poor to remain unprotected?).
- We had people suggest that the government step down and each state in India be handed over to a separate corporation.
- We had the death of former prime minister V.P. Singh, the hero of Dalits and lower castes and villain of upper-caste Hindus, pass without a mention.
We had Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum Cityand co-writer of the Bollywood film Mission Kashmir, give us his version of George Bush’s famous ‘Why They Hate Us’ speech. His analysis of why “religious bigots, both Hindu and Muslim”, hate Mumbai: “Perhaps because Mumbai stands for lucre, profane dreams and an indiscriminate openness.”
His prescription: “The best answer to the terrorists is to dream bigger, make even more money, and visit Mumbai more than ever.”
Didn’t George Bush ask Americans to go out and shop after 9/11? Ah yes. 9/11, the day we can’t seem to get away from.
If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below. You may find answers to your questions in these.
Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
Posts on the FM site about Fourth Generation Warfare:
I have developed a simple typology to show the relationship of the many works on modern warfare, to show the relationships among the various theories about modern warfare. This has evolved into a first cut at a solution to 4GW.
- A solution to 4GW — the introduction
- How to get the study of 4GW in gear
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — solutions to 4GW
- Arrows in the Eagle’s claw — 4GW analysts
- Visionaries point the way to success in the age of 4GW
- 4GW: A solution of the first kind – Robots!
- 4GW: A solution of the second kind
- 4GW: A solution of the third kind – Vandergriff is one of the few implementing real solutions.
- Theories about 4GW are not yet like the Laws of Thermodynamics
Also valuable is the The Counterinsurgency Library— a vast listing of online articles about COIN.
Other posts on the FM site about India and Pakistan:
- Is Pakistan’s Musharraf like the Shah of Iran? (if so, bad news for us), 8 November 2007
- Terrorism in India, a roster of incidents, 16 May 2008
- NPR tells us more about America’s newest war, in Pakistan, 14 September 2008
- Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty, 14 September 2008
- Weekend reading about … foreign affairs, 19 October 2008
- To good a story to die: eliminate legitimate grievances to eliminate terrorism, 9 December 2008
- About the 4GW between India and Pakistan, 6 January 2009
16 thoughts on “4GW in India – more people who want to watch the world burn”
You are typical muslim or a muslim sympatiser, trying to justify islamic terorism by citing terror done by other religions..
Islamic terror sympathisers, have a blind spot for the word godhara when they discuss gujrat roits, they forget the genocide unleashed on hindus of kashmir….. they will try and find the reasons for the same….
It is fundamental right of christians in india to make fun of hindus & their religious system & infact every indian should encourage them to do so & if someone opposes accuse him of being RSS member. Still i do not approve of voilence against christians as it is a peacefull ideology.
Islam is evil, we live with them & their ideology everyday. You or arundhati are not going to tell us what they are & how they behave. Across the world USA to thailand/philipines they cite persecution & indulge in terrorism. Their prophet did the same & they are following.
Just forget everything else,
1.what does islam want
2.Are they willing to give the same to minorities in islamic countries?
Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have any basis for saying this? Your comment contradicts the opening paragraph, IMO.
What in the above do you consider to be the opening paragraph? This?
You claim it’s not about the conflict you spend the next hundred lines writing about. Why, then, cite this incident?
I forget the rhetorical device you’re using but any blackguard can simply say something that is not true. (Patrick O’Brian said it better but you would begrudge his profanity.) You just wrote X thousand words about India and now you say it isn’t about India. Who are you trying to fool?
You may not be a Muslim sympathizer but the piece, and the other one, are clearly sympa towards the poor Muslims.
Fabius Maximus replies: I don’t understand why you find this point so difficult to understand. I highlighted the relevant text.
FM note: bold emphasis added to this remarkable comment.
And you know what? Forget moral high ground. If your side is no “better” than the other side, you still root for your side, because it’s your side. Is that really so hard to understand? If I’m Hindu, and the choice is Kill all the Hindus vs Kill all the Muslims, what would you expect me to choose?
You are the one with the burden of proof to show that Kumbaya — Living in Harmony — is better.
Fabius Maximus replies: What a wonderful example for this discussion, exhibit “B” for my post. Also note the irony in nekulturny’s choice of Kumbaya as an alternative to war.
Note: A basic tenent of 4th generation warfar is that the moral high is often decisive, which is why both terrorist groups and those fighting them spend so much effort on PR.
So my roommate is Hindu. Seems to avoid killing Muslims. Or being killed by them. Even has a few Muslim friends (gasp). Doesn’t seem to root for anyone killing anyone else, either.
I never thought of him as a Muslim sympathizer either. Just someone opposed to killing every single Muslim. (If that makes you a sympathizer, turns out lots of people, including people pretty critical of Islam, are sympathizers.)
Maybe he’s just assuming though that if someone kills lots of civilians, including women and children, they aren’t on his side, even if they say they are. I’ll have to ask him about that.
The burden of proof is on those who say that living in harmony is better than genocide? I am unclear what to say at this point or what could possibly count as an argument, other than to say I don’t think you really believe that.
nekulturny – are you with nashi ? no idea, just asking
Fabius would like to unite the decent people on both sides against the monsters that have joined and/or hijacked their causes for a chance at causing mayhem. I doubt there are enough decent people for this to work but try they must, if only to avoid “agreement through silence”.
I found the point to this article to be very obscure (I hope it isn’t me that is the problem). The primary theme–that context should always be considered in the context of a terrorist act, is sort of a so what? The key acknowledgment of the author is this: “Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism….[one should understand the context in which it occurs]”
Fabius Maximus replies: This post talks about individuals, not causes or “contexts”. Interesting how so many people find it difficult to see conflicts in terms of individual’s motivations.
Perhaps this was easier in the past, when people learned the “great man” theory of history. While overstated, it at least described history as something made by human beings — one person at a time. Modern social science too often looks only at aggregates (groups defined by things such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and nationality).
FM- I saw this article last week, and have concluded as in your title, that some just want to see the world burn. The depths of the animosities displayed are unfathomable, a prefect embodiment of ‘extremeist’. That those nations have fisson/fusion weapons has always saddened me, because at some point rationality will leave the room and the buttons will be pushed. It was nice while it lasted.
Fabius Maximus replies: I agree with you, expcept that I have confidence (faith) about the outcome. I believe we can win the struggle against these people — in the sense of keeping them under control, although the stuggles continues forever.
“We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire…we hacked, burned, set on fire”
This reminds me of the day MLK died. I worked overtime that nite. I got the “L” like I always did to go home. As the train ascended above the ground I saw fire on Madison stretching for 3 miles. I was like – Wow! That was 68.
After, the west side of Chicago went into a funk that it has never recovered from. All the tool and die shops moved to Elk Grove and beyond. The burners have been paying for it ever since. Arsonists never look at the long range picture before they light the match.
Fabius Maximus replies: Urban riots, of varying intensity, are perhaps a related phenomenon — with a long history in America.
I do not believe America’s inner cities every recovered from the riots of 1964-1969. Not just the damage, but their role in re-defining how the “rest of America” saw the innner cities. Consider the role of Harlem in NYC, from a center of nightlife to ghetto (in the classic sense).
Someone (Dr. Seligman?) noted that some people join terrorist groups to commit terrorism and others commit terrorism to join terrorist groups. There is certainly not one motivation for terrorism. But if we are to divide and minimize terrorist groups and their constituencies, we must distingish between political frustrations, which are often very real for a subset of participants, from those for whom violence itself is the real priority. My personal favorite example of multifaceted motives is Conrad’s The Secret Agent, now 103 years old and as true as ever. Truly Winnie’s tale.
“He didn’t seem to want to change the world. He just seemed to want to take it down with him.”
Is such a view of existence developed through education/indoctrination/childhood etc, etc, or does it just come naturally to a part of the world’s population?
Fabius Maximus replies: Great question! Does anyone know of any research or (more broadly) writings about this?
Clinical work on psychopaths might be the way to go. Blair (I think the first name is
IanJames) is the main researcher on that, so he might be worth googling. He did a famous experiment in which prisoners diagnosed as psychopaths were given the moral/conventional test. Death-row inmates who weren’t psychopaths were the control. Psychopaths couldn’t distinguish moral rules from mere conventions. Most children around the age of 3 or 4 can tell the difference. They realize that rules against hitting are different from rules against wearing pajamas to school, for instance, and know that the teacher can give you permission to ignore the latter rule but not the former. The control inmates could also tell the difference. Psychopaths just didn’t get it.
They don’t know what causes psychopathy for sure, but they have found at least part of a neurological basis for the problem. A part of the brain that seems to react to certain aspects of facial expressions is seriously reduced in size in psychopaths. Mice with deficiency in an analagous part of the mouse-brain behave pretty murderously to other mice, including their own offspring. Blair’s hypothesis, if I remember correctly, is that animals are pre-programmed to have limits on the level of aggression they’ll direct toward their own species. The part of the brain that’s supposed to monitor and inhibit violence in psychopaths isn’t working.
This doesn’t explain all of the problems psychopaths suffer from– like pathological lying or chronic boredom (and a lot of the violence seems to be a way of alleviating chronic boredom)–but it’s a start.
It’s been a while since I’ve read this stuff. But those interested should try googling Blair-psychopathy and probably some stuff will pop up. I can also scrounge around and email papers to Fab if people are interested.
(Apologies if this is too long.)
Fabius Maximus replies: Great comment; thanks for posting!
Perhaps we need a book like “Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work” (Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare), examining psychopaths joining “causes” (esp 4GW conflicts).
This is an interesting post. My personal observation of humans is that most of them want to live in peace. When you look at the studies of men like S.L.A. Marshall it is only a small minority of fighting men who actually do the fighting and an even smaller percentage who are especially good at it. The last group – to my knowledge – can be divided into two groups: The protectors (who are “good” humans and who in different circumstances would have been cops or firefighters) and the psychopaths, who simply don’t care. There is a great difference between a man like Eisenhower and a man like Patton.
While most people are not violent that also means they are passive in face of violence. I experience it very day and every week in my neighborhood – which can be described as a ghetto with many Muslim immigrants – where people react with indifference at every act of vandalism or violence.
The borders of normalcy is moved every month and what was outrageous a month ago is normal today. Burning cars or schools was new a year ago, but quite frequent today. Shootings were unheard of a year ago, but happens from time to time today (no one has been killed yet). Like one historian once wrote about the destruction of the Jews: “The road to holocaust was not only paved by hatred, but also by a large degree of indifference”.
Fabius Maximus replies: For more about this see The Rioting in France and the Decline of the State (8 November 2005).
There are format problems with this blog – mechanically difficult to refer back to comment text while typing a new comment. But here goes:
(2) You can say the sky is pea-green but that doesn’t make it so. You can say “This post isn’t about India” but funny, the whole piece seems to be about some wretched fellow in India.
(3,4) It only seems ironic because you don’t get it. Your “Kumbaya” approach (commonly understood as “can’t we all get along” by all but the pedantic) reminds me of the fable of Apollo and Daphne. The choice bit being: “If you run slower, I will run slower.” Analogous to the cries for “proportionality” in the Israeli conflicts, which seems to imply that Israel should send unguided rockets and suicide bombers into Pal population centers on a one-for-one basis…/
I’m going to hit the word limit going on this way, so: if one side could quickly swamp the other, total casualties would be lower than each side whittling the other down to a nub. And it would be over rather than festering for generations.
As for the “tenent” of the moral high ground, these things pass. If Israel had eliminated all Pals in 1948, as the Arabs intended to do to the Jews, we wouldn’t be in this mess today, like it or not. If Israel exiled/transferred all Pals now, the greatest odds are that their new host countries would purge them, again eliminating the problem.
But since the Pals have to be protected and cherished, they don’t have to face these realities, which would constrain their actions to the point where they might be reasoned with. They have nothing to lose because unlike Israel they face no existential threat.
(5) I am a native born US citizen as are my parents and many other ancestors. (Apply any test you like.) I am of predominantly Eastern European origin. I can’t decide who was worse, Hitler or Stalin, so perhaps that tells you how I would feel about Nashi.
If that’s not clear, just give me a commie and a set of electrodes (I’ll settle for a .45) and I’ll show you how I feel about Nashi.
…definitely overlimit, KTHXBAIfornow
(12) Who are you calling a psycho? Patton or Eisenhower? You think Ike’s hands were clean? Look up the Bonus Marchers.
And, ctd. above, if you believe that violence never solves anything, ask the city fathers of Carthage.
Batman’s “Joker” character seems to have a lot in common with anyone left behind by the evolution of the modern world. To understand why some people just want to see the world burn, ask yourself why this would be a logical way to think. What set of preconditions would make it better for someone just to see the world burn?
Imagine someone who has been totally left behind and who no longer has a purpose in a given society. This doesn’t even have to be a religious fanatic. The Luddites didn’t smash machines out of any fear of apostacy on the part of the factory owners of their day.
Imagine a cultural frame of reference that is dying. This, I think more than the religious angle, explains a lot of what is happening in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the last places left where a tribal band can set up an actual despotic fiefdom on the planet. Believe it or not, there is a small subset of humanity that prefers simple life in the depotic fiefdom.
Take out the depot, and you destroy the relevance of their entire worldview, benighted as it is. At that point, they see no reason for the rst of the world not burn in the same fashion that their’s just did.
Fabius Maximus replies: Thanks for this great comment. I give a somewhat similar perspective on Islam vs. the West in How America can survive and even prosper in the 21st Century – part I.
nekulturny: Thank you for anwering. Strange for a “native born US citizen” to choose a name that means “uncultured” in russian but that is your choice. You seem willing to fight (bravely, on the internet) against the muslims and the commies, but who are you fighting for? Christians? Whites? The USA state? Global free market capitalism?
thread in general: The difference between a psychopath and a fanatic is that a fanatic only wants to see the other sides’ world burn, whether its planes and skyscrapers or nukes and Mecca or even commies and electrodes.
14) Should we then put them out of their misery if they can’t make the grade? (Given that choice, IMHO, most will get with modernity.)
15) esd29a: Some Russian heritage and cultural exposure. Allow me this eccentricity. Ask me who plays shortstop for the Dodgers or what’s in an egg cream, or judge me by my words. Je suis americain, mon vieux.
What am I fighting for? Humanity and its avatar, Western Civilization. The Enlightenment. Or if that’s too parochial, perhaps Barnett’s Core covers the idea. What am I fighting against? Whatever ideology du jour wants to pull us down into red night for a thousand years.
I don’t think it’s fanatical to want to punish your enemies, even with gusto. I think most wars are won that way. But if they stop, we’ll stop.
Oh – if believing that all $#%^& commies should hang is a crime, let me be guilty. I trust you wouldn’t say that if I cited nazis as my bete noir; of course they should all be hunted down as well and fed to sharks, but I believe collectivism by any name is mankind’s worst enemy, and commies are more of an immediate threat. Sure, I’ll hang a nazi for you if you like; don’t mean to discriminate.
I would only vote to nuke Mecca if I thought it would work and if everything else had been tried first. That is why I so valued President Bush. Nothing would have been easier or more satisfying than to go on a rampage in the ME. He has a wonderful temperament.
I believe that Muslims are entitled to practice their foul travesty of a religion just like any tribe of Inuit or African bushmen, as long as they don’t bother anyone else with it.
In the case of Islam, it’s not so much that they deserve to live as that we deserve not to have their blood on our hands. Let them beat their wives and chop off hands and wipe their asses with sand if that’s how it has to be, just don’t make trouble for anyone else.
And oh yes, the pieties, there are plenty of fine or at least non-evil people trapped in the Ummah, which is another reason not to just push the button and be done with it. Not much achievement for a long time – how many Nobels? Three? Five? – but I suppose they have to get some credit, however stale, for the zero.
Meanwhile, maybe I’m not a fanatic, maybe you’re just a wussy because you won’t face the danger of reality. History shows that death warrants are safer for the issuing authority than pardons; ask Macchiavelli.
And if you recall, ancient Israel was punished for failing to make a clean sweep against the Amalekites, or the Jebusites or somebody. (You notice the Canaanites seem to give no more trouble these days.)
Stalin was of course a beast, but while “No man, no problem” might be or seem evil, it is not stupid.
But my chief value in life is not to see that everybody lives forever. For instance, I definitely think the jihad against smoking should stop.
…Anyway, I am not satisfied with the interaction on this blog, so cannot promise to come back and respond further; please do not be offended. I will check the box on followup comments, though.