Montana Politics

Rethinking War, US and Islam


Given the current position of the American “public” on the issue of war and general relations in the Middle East, it seems to be an appropriate time to look at the situation, and attempt to see what we have failed to see so far. The trend in politics now seems to be skepticism toward almost every aspect of the war (excluding the general confusion of what specific affirmative action should be taken now that we are there). Bush’s favor ability is low and even republicans are turning against (whether from actual sentiment or for political purposes is unknown and, ultimately, irrelevant). Osama remains uncaptured but this point is also, ultimately, irrelevant.

We must ask ourselves what the war on terrorism truly signified, what we were actually fighting against in that war. It is no coincidence that throughout the entire process terrorism has been labeled a shadowy target by all sides, and yet we have proceeded with a number of actions as though this could not be further from the truth. Terrorism, we can say confidently in this instance, signifies that belief with will sacrifice itself to bring down its enemy. It is not specific enemies or specific acts of terror that the administration is against. Indeed, it is not even terrorism in general that we are against. This is why it does not matter that we have not captured Osama and why 9/11 no longer serves as the justification for the conservative agenda. The fundamentalist conservative administration is against the belief, ideology, mode of thought, however you want to refer to it, that causes people to be willing to give even their own lives in the name of a belief. Actions such as this are almost non-existent in the west anymore, even for those fundamentalists who believe so “passionately” in Christ.

Though the war is often looked now in terms of a war for corporations, oil, or restoring the dignity of a defeated father, it is important to rethink of it in terms of a war for ideas and particular modes of thought and existence. Indeed, it is not a coincidence that the wars in the middle east were often referred to by mainstream media as a crusade led by Bush. What is ultimately at stake here is an issue of envy. The fundamentalists who are supposed to be fervent believes are envious of the fact that there is another religion out there in which the devotees actually believe: i.e. they make belief a matter of life and death. Zizek shows the logic of this in explaining the envy of his colleagues: “My affluent business-oriented colleagues always marvel at how much work I put into theory and, comparatively, how little I earn; although their marvel is usually expressed in terms of aggressive scorn (“How stupid you are to deal with theory!”). What obviously lurks behind this is envy: the idea that, since I am not doing it for money (or power), and since they do not get the reason I am doing it, there must be comes strange jouissance, some satisfaction in theory accessible only to me, out of reach to them…”

The “Christian” fundamentalists are so upset with Islam because Islam exposes the fact that the Christians are doing it for money or power, while the sacrifice of personal lives in acts of terrorism belies a true belief that seeks neither, thus showing the complete lack of faith and conviction in the conservative fundamentalist position. Thus the fundamentalist’s are envy of Islam, which is recognized as one of the last holdouts against the juggernaut of liberal-capitalism. Liberal (secular) capitalism is, of course, the true belief of the fundamentalists. This is why when in the era of true Christianity in the West missionaries were sent into the middle east, now we send the forces of technological reason (implements of war) and capitalism (corporations and consumer comfort).

We do not need to capture Osama or bring true democracy for the conservative agenda to triumph, we need only undermine Islam as the basis for existence. The controversial film “Valley of the Wolves Iraq” is a perfect example of the fact that this is working. Though it initially appears to the West as an egregious film of hatred, it in fact belies the degree to which the conservatives are succeeding. A much noted fact is that it is the most expensive Turkish film ever produced. While the message seems to remain true to a certain belief, the form already undermines that content. It becomes only a matter of marketing that which will make money rather than that which has a certain message. Thus the logic of Allah is replaced by the logic of capital. We should thus be skeptical of the political situation in this country  and begin rethinking the relation between the US and the Middle East.  This post is meant to be a rough initiation to this dialogue here.

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  • oh man!
    This is great. I don’t know if I’ve read a blog entry this good in at least a month. ugh. I agree with you and disagree with you but completely appreciate your perspective. I try to take similar different, more “relevant” (your word and sometimes mine.!?) approaches to these things. I have retired somewhat from talking about these things and I have just been tired. I never have the time or energy (or ultimately the focus) to make an entry like this. Have you seen My Country My Country?
    I’m tired.

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