From Salon comes this particularly lengthy and turgid exercise in Leftist denial of reality. “The United States is at war with a very different, mythic Islam of its own making that has nothing at all to do with this Islam of the Qur’an,” says Raymond William Baker, without bothering to examine the Qur’an at all — what care Leftists for evidence-based reasoning?
After 9/11, “from the storehouse of the Western historical imagination, age-old images of a hostile Islam were retrieved” — at the behest of the Bush Administration, you see, which was eagerly pursuing its imperialist agenda. Never mind that Bush appeared in a mosque and proclaimed that Islam was a religion of peace. That doesn’t fit Baker’s narrative, so he ignores it. Instead, he tells us that after 9/11, “the Islamist Imaginary in the service of the neoconservative version of empire was born.”
Baker, like many Leftists (as well as anti-Semitic paleocons), assumes, or would have his readers assume, that opposition to the global jihad was created by neocons in order to justify the imperial ambitions of the U.S. (and Israel), and that therefore all foes of jihad terror must inevitably be in favor of the Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures. The idea of a foe of the global jihad who for years consistently said that those conflicts were being pursued in a self-defeating and wrongheaded manner is, to him, inconceivable. But here I am.
In one sense, however, Baker is right: the U.S. is not at war with any kind of Islam, but the official version of Islam proffered by Obama, Biden, Kerry et al is certainly an imaginary Islam. Meanwhile, significant numbers of the adherents of very real Islam consider themselves to be at war with the U.S.
“We are at war with an imaginary Islam: Lies, propaganda and the real story of America and the Muslim world,” by Raymond William Baker, Salon, September 26, 2015:
The United States is at war with a very different, mythic Islam of its own making that has nothing at all to do with this Islam of the Qur’an. To make sense of that conjured threat, scholarly studies of Islam or Islamic movements are of no help at all. Even the examination of the real-world history and practice of empire has limited value, unless the perceived Islamic dimension is considered. The American imperial project cannot be brought into clear view without assessment of the distinctive rationale that the Islamist Imaginary provides. The task is not an easy one. The Islamist Imaginary has no simple and unitary existence. Rather, it is a complex amalgam that shapes both the delusions of empire and a conjured threat to imperial power into a co-evolving composite. It is a “difficult whole,” in the helpful language of complexity theory. The Islamist Imaginary, unlike Islam itself and political movements of Islamic inspiration, does not exist outside of the imperial interests that shape it. It has no independent cultural or historical reality, outside its role as predatory threat to Western global interests. The American empire, in turn, requires a hostile and threatening enemy, which today takes the form of Islam of its imagination, to realize and rationalize its expansionist project that must remain unacknowledged and unspoken. The two elements of the imaginary and empire co-evolve. The needs of a threatened empire as vulnerable victim change over time. The Islamist Imaginary transforms itself to meet those needs. Imaginary and empire circle one another in a dance of predator and prey. Their roles are interchangeable, a clear sign that they are not entirely real. The predator is prey; the prey is predator. They develop in tandem in a complex process of mutual adaptation. Boundaries give way between the real and the imagined. In the end it is the imagined that haunts our imaginations and drives our policies….
The crime against humanity committed on September 11, 2001, had the unintended consequence of serving the breathtaking expansionist plans of the neoconservatives who dominated the Bush administration. Only a plausible enemy was lacking to make their execution possible. From the storehouse of the Western historical imagination, age-old images of a hostile Islam were retrieved. Islamic terrorists conjured up in a believable form for a frightened America the “threat to civilization” that every empire requires to justify its own violent acts of domination.
The Islamist Imaginary in the service of the neoconservative version of empire was born. The administration used all the resources of media control at its disposal to make sure that no links were made between the 9/11 crime and unjust U.S. Middle Eastern policies and the bloody instrumentalities the United States forged to enforce them. Plans for the United States to topple the Taliban and occupy Iraq, and for the Israelis to “resolve” the Palestinian issue by force, were all in place before 9/11. The most expansive version of the neoconservative agenda to advance U.S. and Israeli interests found forthright expression in a position paper written for the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party in 1996. It is entitled “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” and was published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. The document calls for a “clean break from the peace process,” the annexation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the elimination of Saddam’s regime in Iraq, as prelude to regime changes in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. The authors all became influential players in the second Bush administration….