May 12th, 2010

by Reinaert de V.

In response to the article “Connected” by Lee Smith, posted on Tablet Magazine

Photo : Zach Bonnell

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Brilliant, the way you’ve turned the concept “linkage” on its head! Illustrating nicely how to use your adversary’s narrative to your own advantage – on which you wrote in your previous insightful article “Reading Like a Middle Easterner”. I’m starting to become a big fan of your work and mail-ordered your book “The Strong Horse”.

You rightly raise the issue of America’s double standards, or blind spot in relation to their own “Linkage” theory. Namely, that the (sometimes/often) indiscriminate US attacks, or “disproportionate violence” will obviously raise bad blood in the Islamic world. Thus we shouldn’t blame Israel for things that cannot lie at the heart of the matter, since we are doing exactly the same thing (or worse)… Instead, we should realize the sad but obvious: we are at war.

Innocent people should of course never have to die, whatever their religious or ideological creed, but war is a messy business and sometimes a tragic necessity… War also demands grave responsibility, and yet no-one in the West wants to acknowledge this fact. For the obvious reason that it would be highly unpopular with the electorate to do so. We should take our adversaries deadly serious and, more importantly: Show the proper respect for all those (muslim) victims inadvertedly killed in our name, the so-called “collateral damage”.

Reading your conclusion though, I get the strong feeling you disagree with both wars and the massive casualties (on both sides) they inevitably entail… To me you seem to be suggesting that due to the “linkage” theory – and the resulting binding and blinding misunderstandings – we are simply caught up in, or about to start a vicious cycle of revenge. Similar in ilk perhaps to the insoluble Israeli–Palestinian conflict, but on a much grander scale. Is my reading correct? More to the point: What role do you accord to the radicalization or revitalization of Islam in the region? And isn’t this in fact the real/root cause of most of the major unrest in the Middle East?

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