Here we go.
It has always been difficult for Westerners to understand a murderous, illiberal ideology of Islamist extremism. The torturous course of self-examination in which liberals engage in the wake of this kind of a terrorist attack has become a familiar ritual. This customary practice following the deadly assault on the offices of Charlie Hebdo began just 24 hours after the bloody attack.
In a profile published in the French center-left paper Le Monde, one of the two French brothers responsible for the massacre of 12 and the injury of 11 others on Wednesday reportedly cited the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison facility in 2004 as the impetus for his radicalism.
Indeed, Sharif Kouachi was no stranger to Islamist militancy. He was tried in 2008 for assisting in the recruiting and funneling of French fighters into Iraq to aid in the insurgency.
“It was everything I saw on the television, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison, all that, which motivated me,” said Kouachi, according to an associate’s recollection.
And we were off to the races.
“Like the leader of ISIS, Paris terrorist was radicalized by Bush’s Iraq War and Abu Ghraib torture,” wrote attorney Hal Dockins.
Because an 11-year-old scandal is a reasonable justification for the raising of a fundamentalist army dedicated to the enslavement of minorities, women, children, the slaughter of innocents, the crucifixion of non-believers, and the destruction of 2,000-year-old religious heritage sites.
“Without Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq, it is not at all clear that Sharif Kouachi would have gotten involved in fundamentalist vigilantism,” wrote the “public intellectual” Juan Cole on the blog Informed Comment.
“Blowback: Paris terror suspect radicalized by outrage over American torture and invasion of Iraq,” raved Dan Sanchez at AntiWar.com.
The Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim tweeted out the revelation and carbon copied former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld on the news. We can only assume that Grim suspects that Rumsfeld bears some responsibility for yesterday’s slaughter of journalists and police.
This process of disassociation, of seeking out foils through which leftists can use to assure themselves that they are innocents in the war between Islamist radicalism and the forces of Western civilization, is a familiar one.
Of course, those victims of the bombing of U.S. embassies at Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole, the 9/11 attacks, of the Bali bombing, of the Washington D.C. sniper, of the El Al gunman, and countless other Islamist-inspired terrorist incidents are unfortunate in that they cannot blame their deaths on the Iraq War.
The radical fundamentalists who killed them, and those like Richard Reid and José Padilla, who plotted still more deaths, were radicalized by something other than the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent horrors of war which followed. Politically inspired murderers have always been able to craft a dubious justification for their actions.
For some, it is helpful to cast blame for all the world’s ills onto the past administration. This is not a phenomenon unique to America either.
“Politically, the official left in France has been in denial of the conflict between France and the Arab World,” said Professor Andrew Hussey, author of The French Intifada, recently told a New York Times reporter. “But the French in general sense it.”
The same malady, it seems, afflicts the American left.
Watch how quickly the Paris terrorists’ stated motivation for this assault, their supposed offense over a group of provocative cartoons, fades from the public debate and the argument now shifts to self-critical anxiety over a legacy costs associated with the war in Iraq. It is far easier to understand and constrain the actions of a Republican administration in the White House than it is to dissuade Islamists from murdering you for what you think or write.
The self-serving rush to embrace an alleged murder’s claims in his own defense will be as remarkable as it will be disturbing. But this phenomenon will be far more widespread abroad. Those who criticize American foreign policy can rest easy knowing they won’t be killed by those who do not share their convictions.
The Western left is forever in search of reasoning that would absolve them of blame for what they perceive to be the sins of their fellow countrymen. They should be assured that they would not be spared if caught in the Islamist’s crosshairs, even despite their boundless empathy for their would-be murderer’s plight.