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Infofascism - At Play In
The Fields Of The Sword

Terrell E. Arnold

Since 9/11, the principal success of the War on Terrorism has been the fabrication of a global enemy. That enemy is so-called "islamofascism", and the media manipulation involved in creating it is a propaganda effort that is unequalled in our time.
True believers in islamofascism assert and amplify simple precepts. (1) By various estimates, the Muslim population of the world is 1.5 billion people or more. Present world population is about 6.7 billion; that means at least one person out of every five is a Muslim (Keep in mind that one person in three is a Christian). (2) Not only do all Muslims think alike, their thinking has not changed since Mohammed wrote down the Koran. (3) Islam is a religion that espouses general use of violence to settle disputes. (4) The achievement of governance by any Islamic group is likely to lead to a throwback to primitive and violent Islamic behavior. (5) All Islamic societies sponsor terrorism. (6) All terrorists in Islamic countries are an international threat. (7) Those terrorists generally target their anger against the United States, Israel, and- loosely-the West. (8) The clincher is that these "islamofascists" intend to take over the world.
The info-fascistic nature of this scheme resides in its lockstep logic. The information strategy is to piece together a string of plausible sounding propositions that depict a society that is dangerous to the west. Proposition one is that all Muslims dislike non-Muslims and, in planetary terms, if you are not a Muslim, one out of five people in any crowd is likely to dislike you. That plants a basic fear mechanism. Proposition two is that Muslims predictably are hostile to non-Muslims, and proposition three is that hostility is intrinsic to their religion. Proposition four asserts that any government that espouses Islam is dangerous to others, and five is that such governments inevitably use terrorism as a weapon. Propositions six and seven are that Muslim terrorists go after outsiders and we, or the Israelis, are specifically targeted. The summary judgment of this set of propositions is that, of course, all such Islamic actions are unprovoked; we are the innocent victims.
Islamofascism is the propaganda brainchild mainly of the American and the Israeli right. It acts as the central rationale for the United States-led War on Terrorism. It justifies continued US maintenance of arms, bases and weaponry that challenge the powers of all other nations combined. It provides the key talking points for counter-terror alliances with as many countries as are willing to join the global war to control their own national dissidents. It provides arguments for US invasion and continuous occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. It fuels the search for a plausible excuse to attack Iran. It is a convenient excuse for virtual American abandonment of its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It silences public and Congressional objections to running the United States as the world's principal debtor nation while the Pentagon spends most of the annual increase in the national debt on the instruments of warfare.
Few facts support the islamofascism campaign of its hard right supporters, but that is hardly an obstacle. In October, avid Israel supporters declared an Islamofascism Awareness Week on US university campuses in essence to tout two complaints.
First, they assert that islamofascists will brutishly enforce the traditional subservient status of women under Islamic law. However, that tradition is widely understood and women in many countries oppose it. That includes growing numbers in purist Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia. Opponents see themselves dealing with an ancient tradition rather than fascism. Perversely, with its invasion and destruction of Iraq, the United States has destroyed the most advanced example of escape from Islamic suppression of women. However, the people who avidly promoted and pursued Iraq's destruction are the ones now decrying islamofascism.
Islamofascism promoters' larger argument is that Muslims conspire to take over the world. This conspiracy is apparently all in the heads of the promoters, because there is not a shred of objective evidence for it. Osama bin Laden appears to have triggered this theory with his talk of forming an Islamic caliphate, in effect a return to centralized rule of Islam that lasted for short periods in history. His approach, however, focused at most on Sunni Islam, not non-Muslim countries.
The face of islamofascism, of course, is al Qaida. That group was founded by Osama bin Laden-son of one of the leading Saudi Arabian oligarchs. It developed a membership recruitment pitch that plays naturally to the paranoia of western politicians; it destabilizes the governments of their oligarchic allies. His target audience was, and still is, the dissident groups in many Islamic societies, specifically Sunnis. It is no coincidence that those dissident groups are the principle sources of Muslim terrorists. Osama has had trouble with Muslim governments generally because he stirs up dissident groups in their countries. However, aside from al Qaida membership itself, he has not created any new groups in Muslim countries (al Qaida Iraq is an import). Groups are likely to affiliate with him because he helps them do their own thing-agitate against host governments for human rights and opportunities to participate in economic and political affairs. In Muslim countries generally, with such ideas Osama rattles the status quo.
Just what are the facts about al Qaida and terrorist groups in Muslim countries? First, there are more than 80 known terrorist groups worldwide, and less than a quarter of them are in Muslim countries. At its peak, al Qaida may have had as many as 15,000 followers. By most accounts, it has far fewer than that today. The appearance of al Qaida in Iraq was a predictable development, given the post invasion situation of Iraq's Sunni minority, but US official terrorism data show that al Qaida has been only a small part of the violence in that country. Virtually all terrorist groups presently on the global scene existed before al Qaida emerged in the late 1990s.
At least 10% of the world's terrorist groups cluster around the Palestine problem. Fifteen named Palestinian groups have conducted attacks, mostly in the near vicinity of Palestine. There were more attacks by Palestinian or Palestine sympathetic groups abroad in earlier years than have recently occurred.
In the last full year of record, 2006, more than half of all terrorist attacks, whether domestic or international, occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those data greatly confuse the global terrorism picture, because the Iraq incidents are more likely insurgent attacks resulting from the US-led invasion and occupation of that counry. Outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, most Middle East attacks have occurred in and around Israel and Palestine.
A straightforward reality emerges from the numbers. More than half of the world's presently reported terrorism results from three situations: (1) US invasion and occupation of Iraq; (2) US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan; (3) Israel's six-decade long expulsion and imprisonment of the Palestinian people. The great majority of attacks in those three situations have nothing to do with al Qaida, but that picture is Osama bin Laden's most persuasive recruitment tool. If one puts aside India's enduring leftist problems--which account for the largest block of attacks in Asia, or Colombia's running fight with the revolutionary armed forces-accounting for the largest number of attacks in Latin America, the world scene remains reasonably calm. There is no notable trend in terrorism activity outside the three trouble spots.
What then is the fabricated islamofascist threat really about? As suggested by the Boston Globe, its purpose may well be to define "a single, terrifying threat" to America and its allies. It has two obvious goals. One is to continue justifying the War on Terrorism. At present, since we do not have any other apparent enemy worth a $400 billion defense budget, this threat is the principal weapon in the American military budget promotion kit. The other is to maintain the basic western, especially American, appreciation of Israel as a country besieged by Arab enemies. That status appears to divert the attention of most western societies from the raw facts of Israel's progressive disassembly of Palestinian society. If they have any impact at all, the results of the just concluded Annapolis conference will keep all eyes diverted from that destructive process until George W. Bush leaves office.
There are, however, other actual and potential beneficiaries. America's allies, members of the US Congress, political candidates, and defense contractors come to mind.
America's allies in general reap a bonanza from such a global threat. At present, the United States has bases/facilities in over 700 locations in more than 100 countries. Every one of those represents not only a place where US forces and force planners can put a foot down in comfort, but also a steady flow of cash into the coffers of host governments. However, from an ally's point of view, the larger benefit of an alliance in the War on Terrorism may be the gift of international cover for local wars against dissidents. As in the Philippine case, those governments can get technical and on the ground advisory support for shutting down their dissidents ("terrorists") without responding to the causes that generate them. The down side of this strategy is that it postpones political engagement with dissidents while probably generating more grievances that will include the United States as an enemy. In this manner, the War on Terrorism looks virtually self-perpetuating.
Members of the US Congress are hoisted on their own petards by islamofascism. As long as such an enemy is widely touted to exist, Congress cannot move against the President on the bogus War on Terrorism or the equally fraudulent demands for military spending. Rather, predictably they will shadow box their way through the coming election without ever taking a position on America's truly corrosive posture on the world stage. With his personal ratings at or near the nadir, Bush can thank islamofascism for enabling him to hold members of the Congress in a vice grip of inaction.
Political candidates could not be happier with islamofascism as an issue. It enables them to make macho statements about protecting the United States from a global enemy, politically correct statements about supporting our troops, and suggestive remarks about the weak nerves or knees of their opponents. In this atmosphere, most of the campaign can go by without frustrated and angry voters ever hearing anything about the domestic issues that really bother them.
Defense contractors are major beneficiaries of the concern about a global enemy such as islamofascism. They benefit whether or not the enemy is real. So long as such a threat remains plausible, national leadership will continue to seek budgets and spend money on military support and weapons systems. It can hardly be a concern of such contractors that borrowed money sustains their enterprises. They have done remarkable work for our country, and they are not responsible for the government's misreading or actual abuse of a global threat model.
The underlying beneficiary is full employment. We so far do not have an economic model that can sustain full employment without the military input. Estimates vary as to how big a role military spending plays in the US economy, but at the very least it is as important as the whipped cream on a pumpkin pie, and in many regional economies its withdrawal would be sorely missed.
One of the victims of the islamofascism preoccupation may well be the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. The son of a white woman from Kansas and a black man from Kenya, Obama's grandfather was an African Muslim, and Obama spent some of his pre-teen years in Indonesia. His father was an atheist, while Barack Obama himself became a Christian. These antecedents actually make him a generic American, but his political foes are likely to use his Islamic connections to cast doubts on his appropriateness as the future president. Unless his political opponents back off and the islamofascist propaganda machine loses momentum, he is likely to be the first American political casualty of islamofascism.
The larger victim of this fraud, however, may be the American people. On October 23, HR 1955 passed the House by a vote of 404-6, with 23 members not voting. That bill, called The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, would establish a commission to collect information and hold hearings on people and/or groups who might espouse/have radical ideas. "Radicalism" is not defined, nor is the legislation in any way specific about whatever might possibly lead to domestic terrorism. As described by Matt Renner in an online Truthout report, like the one time McCarthy Commission of the 1950s, this new Commission could spy on anyone at anytime, if it decides such individuals or groups may harbor views that could lead to domestic terrorism. Because the goal of this bill is to stop such thoughts from proceeding to action, it would be America's first thought crime bill. As critics suggest, it would be a clear-cut abridgement of the First Amendment to the Constitution.
If George W. Bush were thinking about protecting long-term American interests, he would veto The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act on sight. However, with his neocon, hard right Christian and Zionist supporters at his side, he may think such an attack on the First Amendment is a good idea. Muslims and Muslim communities in the United States would be inevitable targets of this commission.
Islamofascism emerges as the core of a fear mongering game that the Bush administration and its neocon and Israeli supporters have played from the beginning. It is Infofascism because part of the propaganda approach is to belittle people who refuse to accept the fraud. In this warped frame of mind, refusal to accept the charge that a fifth of the world's people pose an active threat to America is un-American.
Ultimately, this game is arrogant and introverted. A strong case in point is Iran, the alleged showcase of islamofascism. The US and Israel are free-by their own definitions-to make any unsubstantiated charge or threaten the Iranian people with everything up to and including nuclear annihilation. However, if Iran were to take any overt action to defend itself, that would be an act of war. The Zionists invented and refined this game to take Palestine. There the long-term Israeli rule-regularly supported or not publicly objected to by the United States--is that the Zionists can do anything they want to take Palestine from its people, but it is against the rules for the Palestinians to fight back.
We the people owe ourselves a careful scrutiny of this game. This propaganda keeps us afraid and therefore compliant with expensive and destructive military approaches. It nudges otherwise peaceable people toward active measures to protect themselves from our next intrusion. It should trouble us that the Bush team has now worked- over the heads of the Iraqi people--with the US captive government of Iraq to reach an agreement that amounts to perpetual occupation of that country. Most Iraqis would never agree to that, and people, others, and ours will pay the price for that continuing insurgency. In the meantime, however, US actions in Iraq will feed the suspicions and the resistance of the Islamic world.
What we have ignited is not islamofascism but a serious disturbance of the peace i/n /Islam. That disturbance and our use of it as an excuse to rearm is provoking rearmament in many countries. We ourselves are the promoters of mayhem in the fields of the sword. We ourselves will most likely reap the whirlwind.
The writer is the author of the recently published work, A World Less Safe, now available on Amazon, and he is a regular columnist on rense.com. He is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer of the US Department of State whose immediate pre-retirement positions were as Chairman of the Department of International Studies of the National War College and as Deputy Director of the State Office of Counter Terrorism and Emergency Planning. He will welcome comment at <mailto:wecanstopit@charter.net>wecanstopit@charter.net
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