Dangerous, Whatever it Is
Michael Ubaldi, October 3, 2006.
Blogger Patterico has published two of five segments from an interview with an American formerly stationed at the naval installation at Guantanamo Bay. Tomorrow we are to learn what the correspondent knows about terrorist detainees' mental comportment; today we can read his opinion based on observation. "Stashiu" — the name assumed by the soldier for the sake of his public revelations — spoke to the incarcerated men daily. What are they like? asked Patterico. "Stashiu" advised him to "Think Ted Bundy." This would exclude West Coast debutants who become the fellow travelers of totalitarian militiamen: the convicted and executed mass-murderer Bundy was an epitomic psychopath, mathematically lethal but neither rational nor redeemable. Next, the correspondent characterized the motivations of the detained as individually varied but collectively unshakeable. "There are truly some evil people out there," we are told he said.
Military historian Mary Habeck was quoted by William F. Buckley in his last article for September. Mr. Buckley invited those who would begrudge George Bush interrogatory means to read Habeck's book Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror. Habeck has concluded, it seems, that exegetical inspiration — Islamic, though not necessarily strictly Koranic — cardinally guides the many works of terrorist and authoritarian violence by men who call themselves Muslims. Mr. Buckley's article questions the justification of opposing the review and refinement of standards governing what is done with those over whom "Stashiu" watched, but by extension he is telling us all about Habeck.
I will read the book before commenting on the subject at length but think it reasonable to examine a pair of the several excerpts Mr. Buckley provides. In one, Habeck refers to Sheik Abdullah Azzam as "the principal modern theorist of militant Islam," yet as Azzam was an engineer of modern terrorism, one is compelled to approach Azzam like one would a custodian of the National Reich Church. Habeck also writes that "the most widely respected Islamic authorities" support Islamic domination through the rule of force. Respected — empowered — by who? If Habeck believes that Islamist fascism is a perversion of proper Islam, isn't the religion itself made incidental? And, to Mr. Buckley's point, "it is...wrong to assume that every jihadist is heretical to his faith," wouldn't the distorted nature of that ethos bring with it a circular argument, e.g., Stalin was but an adherent of Stalinism? Until it can be suspended outside of totalism or madness, both of which are, historically, appropriative, the circumstantial place of Islam can't be dismissed.
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