Why do Western governments seem to do everything that they can to encourage more Islamic terrorism?
You can come up with all kinds of convoluted theories that try to explain why:
- The leadership has a ‘white guilt’ complex.
- They’re paid off by Arab governments.
- They have a death wish.
- The elites are demons, possessed by demons, or are working for demons.
- Terrorism is a useful and cynical excuse for the extension of state power over entire sectors of the economy and private life (think the TSA).
- Terrorism is useful to provoke wars on behalf of foreign powers.
- None of the terrorist attacks are real: the events are put on by paid actors putting on a slick show for TV producers, much like the moon landing or Harambe’s death.
Many of those bullet points are accurate to varying degrees. But the overwhelming sense within the government is that the state is doing everything that it can to suppress and discourage terrorism within the moral limits set on the behavior of legitimate states that were widely agreed upon (but not always adhered to) after the end of World War II.
Tolerance is the law
States are also obligated by treaty and domestic law to treat all citizens equally regardless of race, natural origin, sexuality, and whether or not they identify as a half-dragon of indeterminate gender.
That makes actual reform tricky because it would involve violating countless international agreements and public commitments to inclusivity. Violating those international agreements often has negative consequences both politically and economically.
The main thing that democratic states attempt to provide their citizens is a sense of safety. There’s broad agreement across the political spectrum that everyone — even criminals apart from the most heinous and violent, and even then — deserve safety and essential respect.
Terrorism and committed terrorists then pose a dilemma to the way that the system is supposed to work. When the individuals in the system don’t behave like the utililitarian minimaxers that the political models say that they should behave like, it throws the entire bureaucratic system into confusion.
Further, because toleration of speech — even speech intended to provoke the worst sorts of violence against the most valuable classes of human tax cattle — is seen as sacrosanct, it’s difficult for the Western governments to take a hard line on suppressing the free flow of information that’s useful to provoke more spectacular attacks against civilians.
Suicide bombers are the real job creators
Terrorism is fundamentally good for the business of the Western states, which is to extract value from the productive citizens and to provide a sense of safety and security for everyone in equal measure.
Terrorist attacks kill an expendable part of the population in a flashy and even entertaining way. It gives even people unaccustomed to a sense of victimhood the chance to participate in candlelight vigils, to get outside for a good cry, and to buy memorial floral arrangements.
This is good for public morale, because the modern value system places the victim above everyone else. The funny Justin Trudeau quote “If you kill your enemies, they win” has substantial truth value to it when viewed from the progressive point of view.
By celebrating victims instead of warriors — which has been widely portrayed as a moral advance from the real barbarism of World War II — we welcome this as a sign of our moral progress.
‘Winning’ in the sense of post-1945 humanist morality is not the same as that of a military victory in which the other side is vanquished and needs to surrender territory. ‘Winning’ is seen in the spiritual sense of being the most put-upon victim, the weakest and most helpless one, in need of protection.
In this way of seeing things, the more bombings that happen, the greater the moral elevation of both the martyrs and the population which mourns those martyrs.
The worst thing in this view would be to accomplish a lasting victory over the state sponsors of terrorism; which is of course difficult because the primary state sponsors of terrorism are the Western nations that funnel so much money, arms, and training to allies like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan.
It’s no longer even a conspiracy theory to point out that Saudi Arabian high officials were directly connected to the 9/11/2001 attacks in New York City: it’s common knowledge reported from declassified papers in even that newspaper that everyone gets at the doorstop of their room at the Holiday Inn.
Jack Bauer the social worker
Terrorism creates endless opportunities for the state to create counter-terror make-work. By importing aggressive foreigners from a religion with a millennia-long record of successful conquest through well-understood means, new jobs are created.
There are new jobs for social workers, interpreters, spies (both domestic and foreign), arms manufacturers, spy software developers, translators, security people, the rest of the military-industrial complex, and more. Police can be provided with ample overtime pay to ‘keep the country safe’ even if their primary job is just to clean up the viscera after a particularly messy concert or nightclub event.
When these workers are too effective at their jobs, their workloads can just be increased by importing more of the problem population. When the domestic people get tired of the foreign war TV shows, they can change the scene of the programming to something which is better localized for Western tastes.
They cancelled the Iraq war TV show because the victims just weren’t all that interesting or identifiable. This changes when it’s someone who could be your neighbor. Suddenly, the show becomes relevant, emotionally engaging, and interesting. It becomes a great source of inventory for ads selling hemorrhoid cream, life insurance, and estate planning legal services.
Even better, a combination of trade agreements and environmental policy can ensure that the sources of terrorist funding in Riyadh, Mecca, Raqqa, and Islamabad can continue to support the entire cycle. This creates something like the famous Keynsian multiplier effect; rarely seen in other situations but real enough in this case.
Immigrants to Western countries who live the dream are even better contributors to this because they make for deeper pocketed donors and can help fighters to integrate into Western countries long enough to pull off attacks that make for good TV.
Every dollar sent to the Arabs in return for their primary export instead of invested in, say, breeder reactors (radiation is bad; we prefer clean power that doesn’t actually work), goes towards creating even greater levels of spending maintaining the territorial security of our Middle Eastern allies. This virtuous cycle of martyrdom is full of satisfaction for everyone involved except for all those mangled, dismembered, mutilated, tortured, and scarred civilians.
To end terrorism, choose to be terrible and terrifying
Terrorists are excellent job creators, but what the Western lands need are job destroyers: the people who are willing to sacrifice in order to destroy (in the sense that Troy was destroyed) the countries that are causing the problem. This is not something that the post-war West is going to do, in large part because they no longer believe in anything other than the sublime virtue of suffering repeated defeats.
The answer to terrorist attacks is not to double down on weeping. Nor is it to go on another adventure to teach Afghan girls how to do math. It is to engage in what would probably be a nuclear exchange between the primary sponsors of terrorism.
I know what you’re thinking.
Wow, what an irresponsible suggestion! How could you say such a thing? Millions of dead people! Nuclear winter! Genocide!
It is irresponsible because no one will really listen to this advice and I’m not even a dog catcher, much less someone with national political influence or authority. I float the idea free of anything resembling public responsibility.
However, it is the only answer that doesn’t delve into either fantasy or just escalating the problem. We live in a world in which the power of nuclear weapons defines relations between states.
The primary way that Islamic states with nuclear weapons (which includes Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) advance their interests is through covert action against their strategic ‘frenemies,’ which is everyone that’s not Islamic. That is the easy, Cliff Notes way of understanding the basic stance of Muslim states versus non-Muslim ones.
This creates some profound challenges that no one in public life has really been willing to address because to do so involves making so many unpopular statements which fly against what has become common knowledge among the bureaucrat-people who have floated up to rule the world since 1945.
Like, what do you do when your nuclear-armed rival keeps sending proxies to blow up your citizens?
What do you do when they do it occasionally?
How do you respond when they do it… once a week?
How do you respond?
How do you respond even when the evidence of the connection reaches the public view from sources that can’t be denied?
Convert to our stupid religion and we’ll throw in a free subscription to HBO GO.
The way that Western leaders have responded is by capitulating repeatedly, despite superiority in every conceivable field except that of faith. There is a reason why evolution appears to select for fanatically religious people under conditions of extreme competition and scarcity; why the religious wound up conquering the globe, and why even the purportedly anti-religious sects tend to resemble religions in their beliefs and behaviors.
The muddled view of Westerners has been to decide to aggressively evangelize the world to adhere to the progressive faith.
We see examples of these evangelism efforts with the 2014 #BringBackOurGirls hashtag human rights campaign. The intention was to somehow effect the liberation of 276 abducted Christian Nigerian girls through some combination of fundraising and good intentions.
This fundraising did not go towards raising a company of mercenaries to kill their captors either to accomplish a hostage rescue or to dissuade similar slave raids. It instead went towards media creation, event hosting, and petition circulation. The ‘impact’ on the media was great enough to encourage countless celebrities and political figures to participate.
However, it was not enough to inspire anyone to go to battle to kill the enemy and seize his lands; not even from private companies.
If the campaign can be said to have been a success, it eventually resulted in a $195 million aid package to ‘support the victims’ of Boko Haram, the paramilitary group responsible for the abductions. This is itself an example of counter-terrorist pork. If anything, it encourages the recipient governments to encourage and abet more abductions, because it means an enormous payday in terms of both cash and valuable military equipment.
Were it conditional on the success, the program would only release funds upon the successful defeat of the organization and the scourging of the tribes that supported it. Or there would be no stupid program at all, nor any pretense to care about the victims.
Perhaps the more significant (and even darkly amusing) issue is that slave raids are now common enough in England that the government bothered to produce a report about it which claimed that the practice was pervasive throughout Northern Europe. It’s not so much that Westerners can’t be roused to action on behalf of foreigners in distant lands — they can’t even be roused to battle in defense of local girls.
To even begin to attempt to rouse people against it is to provoke the wrath of the authorities.
Certainly, westerners care much more about fictional slavers in costume drama movies than they care about actual slavers in their own countries.
Moral outrage against fictional characters is easy, safe, and doesn’t involve having to kill anyone to rectify the injustice.
Stop bombing us, but if you want to, that’s, like, whatever, man
Instead of recognizing that the world is made up of powers with irreconcilable interests and conflicting cultures, progressives (which includes the entire American political spectrum) prefer to believe that they already enjoy the sort of dominance that they have in their own territories worldwide.
If foreigners don’t realize that they really want to be progressives deep-down, if we spend enough money on foreign aid, capitulate to shakedowns from foreign powers, and show an unwillingness to use nuclear weapons, they will eventually learn to become more progressive.
One way to convert more people to the progressive cause, it’s thought, is to respond to provocations with greater and ever-more-insistent demands to be tolerant, even of groups that are not at all tolerant of the ordered liberty which distinguished the ‘West’ from the ‘Rest’ and lead to its runaway dominance after the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Battle of Vienna in 1683, and after the final destruction of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I through subversion.
Until those turning points; in part made possible by the conquest of the hemisphere that I write this from, the leadership of the West was really not secure.
These were each turning points in war that made the other advancements of Western civilization possible. Similar turning points in war could result in the loss of that leadership position. We only need to look at the sorry and disagreeable state that the rest of the world lives in to give us pause about what it means to give ground to your implacable and ancient enemies desperate for revenge.
In the meantime, terrorists are reliable job creators. And the jobs that they create are top quality, even they break some eggs on the way to making a grand halal omelette.
At the same time as the rhetoric condemning terrorism intensifies, the actions that make it easier for them to succeed intensifies.
It also helps to understand that the majority of the educated classes in the West believe that their civilization deserves to be destroyed one way or the other — that it doesn’t deserve to survive, and that even contemplating asserting that it ought to live is seen as the worst sort of evil.
Neil M Dunn says
Just had to say welcome back. Now I will go back and read the article.
Albert Taylor Bledsoe says
I check back almost every day looking for a morsel of pithy Dampier commentary and am happy to have found this larger-than-average nugget today. I hope you’re writing a book or something.
re: [Fake] moon landing.
I keep awaiting a document dump, à la Wiki Leaks on the DNC, and a rekindling of wholesale disparagement of the belief that America actually went to the Moon during the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was an officer in the service during 1969 and no where near a TV to actually experience Moon Day and all its hype. (The Vietnam war was afoot remember and some of us were distracted.) A few years later I had a conservation with an engineer who worked for GE Reentry Systems at Vandenberg AFB and who told me that he “knew” the Moon Landing was a hoax. I, of course, asked him if he had direct knowledge but he demurred saying that he didn’t but he defended his proposal with two forks: 1) He in 1974 lacked the computing power for onboard guidance to hit proposed targets at 8,000 miles with accuracy so there was no way that in 1969 there were miniaturized computers that could perform the computations to allow the navigation of the moon trip, especially of the Lunar Module’s trip off the moon to link back with the Apollo Command Module. 2) travel through the Van Allen radiation belts. He said that no one would repeat the faked trips for at least thirty years, if that, because he could not conceive of a way to shield a crew from the intense radiation of the Van Allen belts while they were traversed coming and going.
It has been 40+ years and counting without a return. I don’t expect a return while I am still alive even though the computer miniaturization problem has been solved for decades. (Check the iPhone in one’s pocket.) As an aside, circa the time I had the conversation mentioned above, I witnessed two amazing launches at Vandenberg. The first was the simultaneous launch of two minuteman missiles from Vandenberg, and the second a demonstration of the launching of a first stage out of a launch plane (C-5), the rest of the missile was dummied but of similar weight. The missile with an actual active first stage was dropped and (I think) two parachutes stabilized the missile as it descended and then fired off and ascended into the clouds.
Back with a bang. This is a fantastic piece.
Frank Gappa says
Liberals demanding more tolerance after a terrorist attack is not that surprising to me, its similar to the mentality I encountered with Liberal coworkers in the early 2000’s Iraq war, as the dead Military men piled up on the US side many of these people cheered it on saying it “serves them right” for fighting an unjust war. Liberals can say these things because they have no skin in the game. The terrorism we are seeing is not happening often enough and on a grander scale that would frighten people. Liberals still have this cognitive dissonance with the subject of terrorism and the perceived value of virtue signaling is still very lucrative, until these attacks happen weekly in Starbucks or some trendy location across the Country these attitudes won’t change.
Mark Citadel says
“At the same time as the rhetoric condemning terrorism intensifies”
I have always been rather perplexed by this. Why, after a terrorist attack, do the leaders of unrelated countries feel the need to come out and ‘condemn’ the attack. Surely that would be the default position, and thus wouldn’t require a statement. Statements of condemnation usually come after one has been accused of supporting something. It’s getting a little tired hearing the people who have enabled these atrocities comes out to ‘condemn’ them.
It’s stupid. There’s a violent solution to the problem. Managing appearances doesn’t change much.
Aristocles Invictvs says
Certainly a feasible explanation, glad to see you back in your element.