Vital Signs

Who Needs Islamic Fundamentalism?

After almost a century of dealing with international terrorism—since communism, in practice as well as in theory, is hardly anything more complex than terrorism on a global scale—Western democracies should have caught on to the fact that all social movements, particularly those perceived as spontaneous, are invariably organized, manipulated, and directed by those whose interests they ultimately serve. Do ordinary middle-class Americans really get out of bed one day with the idea of sending money to arm the IRA? Do English roses call on their local ironmongers before chaining themselves to railings at nuclear installations? Do timid Chinese students use their life savings to hire buses and megaphones for a protest in Tiananmen Square?

Thus the West ought to have awakened to the uneasy realization that blaming Islamic fundamentalism for the attack on Manhattan and Washington, D.C., is like accusing a gun of murder. The fierce and determined faces of the killers, defying posterity in the news pages, are the faces of history's fall guys, clueless patsies whose eternal destiny it is to leave greasy fingerprints on the surface of world events. And the questions that the West's political and media establishments ought to have asked are: Who is the ultimate client and beneficiary? Who pulls the strings of these marionettes? Where does the thread of knowledge and responsibility lead?

That such a thread exists...

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