Belmont Club

Until Tomorrow

One of the standard reasons advanced whenever a terrorist attack occurs is that the Islamic world “hates us” for some reason or the other. An far simpler and more direct explanation is that terrorist attacks are fueled by their sympathizers in the West. They attack the West because they are given the tools to do so.  Christian Caryl in Foreign Policy describes this process in great detail in his article Londonistan. Caryl asks how the UK became what Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka described as a “cesspit” of Islamic radicalization. Soyinka accused Britain of harboring, in its arrogance, all kinds of venomous intellectual pets which it felt free to unleash upon lesser breeds without their Law of Accomodativeness.

“England is a cesspit. England is the breeding ground of fundamentalist ­Muslims. Its social logic is to allow all religions to preach openly. But this is illogic, because none of the other religions preach apocalyptic violence. … “This is part of the character of Great Britain. Colonialism bred an innate arrogance, but when you undertake that sort of imperial adventure, that arrogance gives way to a feeling of accommodativeness.”

Caryl’s answer is more prosaic. He argues that Britain is a cesspit because that’s where the money is: in the form of grants, the dole and celebrity. It’s a extremist-friendly place so Islamic extremists go there and learn all kinds of radical things. No mystery at all.

Haras Rafiq, a British Muslim who founded a think tank to combat Islamic extremism, worries that a big share of the blame goes to his own government. For decades, he says, Britain tolerated plotting by domestic Islamic radicals as long as they targeted other countries, often ones in the Middle East. “We gave them freedom to preach violence and extremism — [as long as] they were preaching it abroad and not in the U.K. They used that freedom to take over community organizations, mosques, TV stations,” he says. “They’ve been building capacity for their viewpoint.” He describes the radicals’ techniques as strikingly reminiscent of those of 20th-century communists and fascists. The Islamists have also mimicked the Irish Republican movement by using ostensibly non-violent political groups to covertly radical ends.

Once the cesspit “capacity” comes into existence it becomes a potent threat-in-being which the host is compelled to manage. One way to do this is by directing radical energies outwards or trying to buy them off. Either way the cesspit just gets deeper. The same dynamic may now be at work in the Obama administration’s relationship with Iran. Having let the Iranians, in the name of engagement get so far along on the road to developing a nuclear weapon, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to stop it now that it has built up momentum. Just like a rock which has been allowed to roll downhill, the time when it can be easily stopped is long past. Using the brake now becomes dangerous and the only easy strategy left is to simply keep steering the rapidly accelerating object around the playgrounds and schools in the hope of averting a complete disaster.

Ed Morrissey, writing in HotAir says that Obama can’t confront the deficit because too many people are on the gravy train for it stop. Even if the President tried to slam the brakes on it he would have the devil’s own job trying to convince his own party. So what he’s going to do is increase the deficit and try to buy his way past the opposition with backroom deals. Obama’s riding a bronco that he can’t get off.

What about Iran?

In the case of Iran the administration may be so invested in engagement that there’s really nowhere to go if they are to avoid writing it off as a dead loss. Michael Goodwin in the NY Post says that if Israel informed the US that it was about to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities, President Obama would probably exert pressure on them to hold off while he gave it ‘one more try’. But that was the policy road which created the crisis in the first place and the delay would build rather than reduce the accumulating tensions.

He would notify world leaders and probably try to get China and Russia to lean on Iran to agree to a halt in enrichment. He might even warn Iran himself that the attack was coming unless it stopped enriching. Above all, we can be certain he would try to buy time to avoid a showdown, which is exactly what he has been doing for the last year. That, by the way, is the same feckless policy that has produced this nightmare scenario.

The bigger a radical cesspit London becomes the more grants are likely to be handed out there. Like a firestorm it becomes a blaze that eventually stokes itself.  Iran might be the same way. History is replete with examples of problems that have just been kicked down the road leaving an increasingly harder job for everyone who followed until the problems simply flared up and consumed the host. Whether the problem is a growing radical Islamic community in London, or a budget deficit, or Iranian nuclear ambitions, politicians normally avoid bringing matters to a head until unforeseen events force them to confront it. Maybe a crisis is really just another name for a long-simmering problem that politicians can no longer avoid.

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