Earlier this week an Islamic State sympathizer known to authorities as a suspected radical ran down two Canadian soldiers in a Quebec parking lot, killing one of them before being shot dead himself. Writing at the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald opted to attack not the murderer, who, according to Canadian police, patiently waited two hours for the ideal moment to plow his Nissan Altima into his victims, but the authorities:
Every time one of these attacks occurs — from 9/11 on down — Western governments pretend that it was just some sort of unprovoked, utterly “senseless” act of violence caused by primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism inexplicably aimed at a country innocently minding its own business. . . . Except in the rarest of cases, the violence has clearly identifiable and easy-to-understand causes: . . . namely, anger over the violence, abuse and interference by Western countries in that part of the world, with the world’s Muslims overwhelmingly the targets and victims.
After “wallowing in war glory, invading, rendering and bombing others,” Canada’s chickens have simply come home to roost.
Greenwald never goes so far as to excuse Islamic radicalism, but he spares no rhetorical bombast linking it in toto to Western overreach. Canada, for example, is many things: vast, beautiful, hockey-obsessed, rich in maple syrup. It is hardly “wallowing in war glory.” (Nations that “glory” in war would perhaps do a better job eliminating their enemies.) But for Greenwald, all activity in the Middle East since 2001 has been an American-led “13-year orgy of violence,” and if Muslims are importing “a tiny fraction of that violence” back into Western nations, how can we be surprised?
Greenwald’s solution is obvious: If America would leave the Middle East alone, it would leave us alone.
But radical Islam is not interested in having neighbors; it is interested in having subjects. Ask the Yazidis. Greenwald’s armchair psychology dismisses terrorists — a word he refuses to use — as scientifically predictable products of their environment. If the U.S. would butt out, the Islamic State would eventually dissolve, as time heals the wounds of American interference. Enlightened philosophe that he is, he cannot imagine a person who is simply ideological — not because he is upset with America’s support for the Shah or for Israel, but because he enjoys the warm, fuzzy feeling he gets slaughtering infidels. To Greenwald, that is “primitive, irrational, savage religious extremism,” and it is a “fairy tale” concocted by Western governments to consolidate power.
Yes, the Islamic State and movements like it are virulently anti-Western — but they are, crucially, more than that. Wipe the United States off the geopolitical map tomorrow, and they will still rape and ruin. Contra Glenn Greenwald and his ilk, not everything is the West’s fault.