Friday, June 03, 2005

The war in Thailand 

When Westerners argue about the threat of al Qaeda, those who would diminish its significance argue that the United States has brought much of this war on itself by supporting Israel disproportionately, basing troops on Muslim holy land, pressuring "apostate" regimes to sell oil cheaply, and so forth. People who emphasize these roots of war often argue that al Qaeda does not actually want to expand the umma to encompass the entire planet, or at least any place that at any time in history was predominately Islamic. (Interestingly, al Qaeda itself enumerates all of these reasons, shifting the emphasis as the requirements of public relations dictate.)

To people who believe that the United States has largely induced this war, one is required to ask: "What about Thailand"? Islamic terrorists affiliated with al Qaeda are waging war in that country's southern provinces. Their motivations are seperatism, as in Chechnya (where the terrorists are also affiliated with al Qaeda). As in Chechnya, al Qaeda is internationalizing the war in Thailand. Last week, Thai newspapers reported that Muslims were streaming over the border from Cambodia into Thailand's southern provinces.
Thai authorities have become suspicious of an unusually large swell of Cambodian Muslims entering the country and heading for its southern provinces. According to the Thai News Agency, more than a hundred Cambodian Muslims a day have recently crossed the border into the country, a figure considered to be ten times greater than usual.

According to the Thai News Agency, suspicions voiced by the deputy immigration chief at the Aranyaprathet crossing, centered on the number of valid passports carried by economically poor migrants, the price of which "would normally be beyond their means". The migrants appeared to be accompanied by a cleric whom they said would "pay for all their expenses" to proceed onwards to Narathiwat province. Narathiwat is one of the three southern Thai provinces which, since spring 2004, have witnessed an upsurge of Islamist-inspired violence.

This is a global war, and many aspects of it have nothing to do with the United States other than that the United States is the only country left that can lead a grand alliance against Islamic fascism.


By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Fri Jun 03, 02:28:00 PM:

I think I understand your reasoning: Since radical muslims flew planes into our building, we are duty bound to fight every last gun-toting radical muslim. I suppose if the Thai authorities want our help they'll ask for it...

When you erect the strawman of 'the U.S. started it', you oversimplify the position of many of us on the pacifist left. A dynamic blend of geopolitical forces combined to create Al Qaeda and to create the Bush administration. I'm not going to say that the U.S. started the conflict, but I will say that Al Qaeda found it's ideal dance partner in George W. Bush and his handlers.

Lastly, The Global War on Terror is only a phrase. I think of it as an international hunt for well-armed criminals. Otherwise we elevate those who would kill innocents in the name of religion to the status of warrior. They're not warriors. They're criminals. The Global War on Terror is a brand name that GWBco. use to sell their radical views on pre-emptive war, dismissed sovereignty, and militarism.  

By Blogger Charlottesvillain, at Fri Jun 03, 02:40:00 PM:

SH, I am quite sure that al Qaeda leadership hardly considers GWB their ideal dance partner. Indeed, I think they were anticipating a more Clintonian response-a few lobbed rockets before "moving on to the people's business." Now they are without their state sponsor Afganistan, they are hunted world wide, and instead of blowing up western embassies have been driven to blowing up fellow Muslims. So what would you consider "ideal" for al Queda in the current dynamic?  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Fri Jun 03, 03:58:00 PM:

I'll pile on with Charlottesvillian on this one as well, but with a different angle. I find it important and illuminating SH that you referred to yourself as coming from the pacifist left. That is to me important and revealing, and I certainly won't deny you the right to be a pacifist. It means that we can never, ever agree, however, about warfighting -- though at least I can count on you to be consistent and principled (even if I think you're wrong). By your standard, Nazis were criminals as well, not warriors. Does that mean we don't take the battle to them?

Since 1979, under Jimmy Carter, the US had adopted a pacifist, law enforcement stance versus Islamic fascists. In 2001, we finally adopted a war footing because prior US policy failed to prevent a massive terrorist attack on US soil. That war footing is supported strategically (though not always tactically) by 70% of the US population, which also reelected the current administration.

Are we duty bound to find each gun toting radical muslim who means harm to the US? That's probably impractical to some degree. But the President and our government is duty bound to provide for the defense of the country. And if they conclude that doing so includes chasing down those gun toters, I'm all for it. They have proven to me, by flying aircraft into our buildings, that they mean us great harm and will stop at nothing to achieve that end.  

By Blogger Counter Trey, at Fri Jun 03, 06:15:00 PM:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Jun 04, 03:51:00 AM:

If you want to understand al Qaeda and other radical Muslim organizations, and their real environment, may I suggest that you read, "Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam" by Gilles Kepel.
That is a seminal work on the subject by an expert on the region and the politics of the Middle East.  

By Blogger Lone Ranger, at Sat Jun 04, 07:22:00 AM:

Pacifists need to understand that evil exists and the only way we will ever achieve a beauty pageant contestant's vision of "world peace" is to destroy evil. In all of human history, no blood-thirsty dictator has ever been sweet-talked through diplomacy into changing his ways. President Bush realizes that you can't reason with evil, you can't bargain with evil, you must destroy evil. This is the 21st century. It is time to rid the world of these brutal 20th century dictatorships. I'm always astounded at how so-called pacifists can turn a blind eye to all the human suffering in the world caused by repressive, murderous governments. Shame on the human race -- especially you pacifists -- if a single repressive regime survives the 21st century. If you don't want to help, just step aside. We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 05, 05:10:00 PM:

According to the links given by TigerHawk, the only link between the Thai militants and al Qaeda are some training cds found in a school.

That's not an "affiliation."

In Vietnam, many (if not most) of the North Vietnamese weapons were manufactured in the US. So would say the Viet Cong and the US had an 'affiliation'?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jun 05, 05:23:00 PM:

There's a good reason that show went off the air....

It's fun replace pacifists with 'Jesus' in Lone Ranger's comment:

"Shame on the human race -- especially you Jesus -- if a single repressive regime survives the 21st century. If you don't want to help, just step aside..."

Ok Ranger- go an' get 'em!  

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