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May 15, 2005

Flushing out the truth
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Since Dan Drezner has returned from Hawaii and ever-so-politely revoked the keys to his castle, I'll update a post I did there on the deadly riots provoked at least in part by a Newsweek report of interrogators at Guantanamo flushing a copy of the Koran down a toilet.

Newsweek now says that its report was wrong, and that the source of the supposed incident is unable to confirm that it occurred.  So far the riots sparked by the report have killed 16 and wounded 100.  Today Afghan Muslim clerics reportedly called for a holy war against the United States.  It sounds as though Newsweek may not have actually gotten to the bottom yet of whether the incident happened, but is trying to tamp down the chaos by disavowing its thinly sourced earlier report.

One question from a policy standpoint is whether, if an incident just like this had occurred at one of several points in the past:  say before 9/11; before the Afghan invasion; before the Iraq invasion; before the occupation of Iraq and the rise of the insurgency - - the reaction in the Muslim world would have been the same.  I'm not sure the answer, but there's reason to believe that hostile attitudes have only intensified.  Either way its a pretty terrifying situation when one spotty news report can ignite a region into anti-American rage.   

It will be interesting to see whether the recantation calms things down.  There's plenty more at play here than just the Gitmo incident - concerns about an ongoing US military presence in Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda holdovers, internal Afghan political factionism, and even possible links to Iran.  The Bush Administration prides itself on having spread democracy in Afghanistan and the Middle East (and as I've said before I think he deserves some credit on that score).  But this week's demonstrations suggest its far too early to declare victory just about anywhere.


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» Flush Your NEWSEEK Down the Toilet from Vagabondia
However, the credit afforded Mr. Isikoff is then completely wiped out as NEWSEEK does it again! Attempting to further justify their claims by the volume of these rumors, they site the complaints of one Bader Zaman Bader. [Read More]


The answer to your question is NO. Had Newsweek reported this same incident in May of 2000, the response would not have been the same. However, the difference has little to do with the Bush Administration. Terrorism, since its conception in France, is not simply an act of violence. In fact, the violence is secondary. Terrorism, like various other -isms (Marxism, Fascism, etc) is a mechanism by which a smaller group can attempt to subjugate a larger group to its will. However, unlike Fascism or Stalinism, terrorism is more mind control than absolute physical enforcement.

Until September 11, 2001 the perpetrators of terrorism had never really impacted the minds of Americans to a point where they could successfully impose their ideology upon us. Now that they have our attention, Americans will be attacked and killed for transgressions against Islamic laws just as other nationals in other nations have been attacked for such things for years.

By the way, NEWSWEEK's own explanation again uses another flimsy source to justify its unsubstantiated accusations against our troops.

I wonder if before 9-11 Islamic fascist would have attacked the US? Oh wait, they did, in fact they attacked The WTC in 1993 just like they did on 9-11-01. That was even before clinton literally launched 8,000 cruise missles during his "presidency".

Yes, things are slow to change... but they are changing.. if the the taxi cab
interview on "free iraqi" seems to attest.

However, as it reports, the average Arab still refers to Americans (and likely Europeans as well) as "Jews". The onus is clear, they seem to have all been conditioned to believe that every westerner is an enemy of Islam.

Its going to take an awfully long time to get the average Arab to put that in the past; to think differently. It seem clear that any sort of insult, offense, or sleight against Islam will not be take lightly anywhere in the Middle East at this juncture.

I believe the Sepoy Rebellion was also started by an unconfirmed rumor.

"[T]he surest way to prevent seditions is to take away the matter of them. For if there be fuel prepared, it is hard to tell, whence the spark shall come, that shall set it on fire." -- Francis Bacon

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