The whining of the militants

July 23, 2015
Still image taken from video of a man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in Mosul

A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in the centre of Iraq’s second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV

It’s the curse of our times: militant group self-pity. But however vexing it may be to watch powerful figures use the blame game to justify their bad actions, the strategy is proving wildly successful.

In descending order of cursedness, militant Islam takes the first prize. Their grievances are plentiful.

The West, led by the United States, wages incessant war against  Muslims,  cries Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani, who says disbelievers must be killed wherever found: “Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”  The same fate awaits those Muslims who do not agree with Islamic State: “We fight the disbelievers amongst them, the allies of the crusaders and Jews in their war against the Muslims.”

Hamas, for its part, believes the Israelis must be killed for taking their land. Khalid Mishal, leader of Hamas, told Vanity Fair last October, “We do not kill Israelis because they are Jews. We kill them because they are occupiers. They occupied our land and have transgressed against us. This falls in the context of self-defense and defending our land.”

And finally journalists, according to militant Islamists, must be killed when they insult the Prophet. A now-deceased official of al Qaeda in Yemen, Harith al Nadhari, said after his colleagues had killed 17 journalists at the magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher supermarket in Paris in January that “the leadership of AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] directed the operations and they have chosen their target carefully… [Osama bin Laden had warned about] the consequences of persistence in blasphemy against Muslim sanctities.”

The ambition of many of these militant Islamist groups — to establish a caliphate that will erase the borders between Middle Eastern states and unite Muslims in one religiously conducted state; the killing of the population of Israel; the silencing through terror or murder of all material which is held to insult Mohammed or Islam — are presented not as autonomous projects but as duties on the faithful.

Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced measures to be taken against those who preached – not necessarily practiced – violence against Western states, and expressed militant opposition to liberal and democratic values. It’s an announcement full of dangers to free speech. It also reflects the desperation governments feel, now faced with the substantial defection of a new generation of Muslim youth – British, French, German, Italian, American – who watch executions and bombings on their computer screens, and find them good.

But Islamic State is not alone in employing the “poor us” approach.

Russia is now — according to experts’ reports — preparing for a new, not too disguised, military campaign against Ukraine. For President Vladimir Putin, the need to oppose the Ukrainian government is caused by Western governments having installed in Kiev a fascist regime bent on oppressing Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population.

These same evil Western forces have infiltrated into Russia their ideas, designed to destabilize the present administration, working through both Russian civil society organizations and foreign non-governmental organizations like Transparency International and Human Rights Watch , spreading subversive ideas like democracy, clean government and observation of human rights. Or so Putin would have his people believe.

This aggressive passivity is playing tremendously well for the Russian president. Last month, his popularity rating as measured by the independent Levada Centre reached 89 percent, the highest ever recorded. He has touched a vast theme in Russian life — that of being beset by enemies but fighting bravely, and as one people, against them.

The Ukrainian government is not fascist and the NGOs, Russian or foreign, in no way threaten his or any other government. But the narrative works brilliantly.

The most vivid case of what might be called false blame syndrome comes from the present government of Greece, the Syriza party of Alexis Tsipras. Throughout the months of red-eye negotiations, Tsipras played on one theme: that the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the other creditors “were blackmailing us with their loans.”

Tsipras has also charged the EU and the IMF with seeking regime change in Athens by denying him the agreement he wanted. Even after — successfully — calling on the parliament to back the deal, Tsipras continues to call it blackmail. To be sure, it’s a terrible deal — but as the Swedish economist Anders Pazlov writes , Greece’s future in or out of the euro is awful, and its problems (bad tax collection, corruption, a slow and erratic justice system and a lethargic, over-padded state bureaucracy) remain largely untackled.

Still, Tsipras not only won the vote, but also remained popular. Not at Putin-style levels — and down from his own best of over 70 percent — but a respectable 60 percent, 10 percent ahead of his nearest rival.

Every one of these strategies – that of the violent Islamists, the Russian president and the Greek prime minister – is popular with the target audience. These audiences are willing to ignore the hardships that their leaders have been largely or partly responsible for bringing on or deepening, and in the case of the Islamists, seem to positively like the violence displayed.

“It’s not my fault – it’s them.” It’s the new/old slogan, which may soon be taught in leadership seminars.

7 comments

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Most Christians in America are the same kind of whiners. “We’re being persecuted. Obama hates our freedom. Gay people are out to get us. Send money.”

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

Solidar is correct. Whining and victim status claiming is common. Not only US Christians but feminists and some black leaders. It justifies all kinds of cruelties and gives the leaders who can garner the followers lots of power and influence.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

We are truly living in the age of the victim. It’s pathetic.

Posted by natewf | Report as abusive

It’s funny and wonderful when a whole-life Communist John Lloyd – a new appointed ‘Libertarian’ – you must understand – a Maoist, is geared up by the International to make even the Islam – a Jewish deed, and his fellow party members Vladimir Putin and Alexis Tsipras.
As usual, serving the Communists, he doesn’t mention the kikes and Israel – the original, initial, primary evil. Whose product are the Islam, the Jew Putin and Tsipras? And this propaganda machine, called ‘media’?
Lies, double standards, hypocrisy and wile. And fear! Propagation, implantation and spreading of fear. And mass-murders all over the world. That’s ‘democracy’ by the red puppet John-Lloyd snd his masters.

Posted by Ifandiev | Report as abusive

Ifandiev has the ultimate victim mentality above. Everyone out to get poor little him and his kind.

Posted by Solidar | Report as abusive

The greatest whining militant of 2015, Abu Mohammed al Adani, should hasten his flock to pull together a legible translation of Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’ because he has inadvertently led his joyful little flock of discontented youth into a very precarious tract of uninhabitable land, completely surrounded by some of the most battle hardened tribes on earth, whilst being surveilled by the most sophisticated military hardware ever realised. Even the mighty Sun Tzu himself would not avail himself of victory, given the odds. The fate was sealed when the mighty Caliphate struck out blindly at Turkey last week. Not the wisest move sealing their own supply lines. I hope they have enough bags of wheat in their arsenal to manoeuvre their ‘military’ out of this one. You have to wonder who is the true mastermind of the current state of play.

Posted by fyaox | Report as abusive

While I agree the Greeks are whiners, I most certainly don’t consider them to be militants. I also haven’t heard of the Russians advocating death to Americans, Brits, Germans, Israelis, or Ukrainians for that matter. Yes, all those mentioned in the article are exemplary whiners, but I don’t see the Greeks or Russians as being comparable to Islamists in the militancy aspect.

Posted by Squeamish | Report as abusive