Topic: Islamic Jihad
Some time back I stumbled upon the
Communities United Against Terror Website.
This particular page of it, the "Why we signed"
Christopher Hitchens (Writer)
Association with this statement and with many of its fellow-signatories involves two commitments. The first is the elementary duty of solidarity with true and authentic resistance movements within the Muslim world, such as the Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq and the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, who were fighting against Ba'athism and Talibanism (and the latent alliance between the two) long before any American or British government had woken up to the threat. It should go without saying that, though the suffering of their peoples was intense, neither Jalal Talabani nor Ahmed Shah Masoud ever considered letting off explosive devices at random in foreign capitals. I have my political and ideological differences with both groups, but these differences are between me and them, and are not mediated through acts of nihilistic murder.
My second commitment is equally elementary. The foreign policy of a democracy should be determined only at election times or by votes in Congress or Parliament. It is one hundred per cent unacceptable even to imply, let alone to assert, that a suicide-murderer or his apologists can by these means acquire the right to any say in how matters are decided.
Both of these observations, and indeed this very statement, would be redundant if it were not for the widespread cultural presence of a pseudo-Left, and an isolationist Right, both of whom have degenerated to the point where they regard jihadism as some form of "liberation theology". The old slogans are often the best, and "Death to Fascism" is life-affirming in these conditions.
I figured any petition against terrorism signed by Christopher Hitchens was a good place for me to put my signature.
This morning I received this announcement from them.
Dear UAT signer,
One of the authors of the statement 'Communties United Against Terror',
Alan Johnson, has launched a new free online review of books. Its
called Democratiya and you can check it out at
In the first issue you will find an interview with Jean Bethke
Elshtain, the author of Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American
Power in a Violent World.
Please consider sending a note about Democratiya to your own friends
and email lists. Many thanks.
The UAT organisers
One thing that is obvious from the Title of the Website, it is an International Website, and looks like it has some valuable and informative reading.
Peruse, and if you agree with the premises, spread the word about it.
Here in their own words is a brief bit About Them
Democratiya is a free bi-monthly online review of books. Our interests will range over war, peace, just war, and humanitarian interventionism; human rights, genocide, crimes against humanity and the responsibility to protect and rescue; the United Nations, international law and the doctrine of the international community; as well as democratisation, social and labour movements, 'global civil society', 'global social democracy', and Sennian development-as-freedom.
Democratiya aims to contribute to a renewal of the politics of democratic radicalism by providing a forum for serious analysis and debate. We will strive to be non-sectarian and ecumenical, and our pages are open to a wide range of political views, a commitment to pluralism reflected in our advisory editorial board.
Democratiya believes that in a radically changed world parts of the left have backed themselves into an incoherent and negativist 'anti-imperialist' corner, losing touch with long-held democratic, egalitarian and humane values. In some quarters, the complexity of the post-cold-war world, and of US foreign policy as it has developed since 9/11, has been reduced to another 'Great Contest': 'The Resistance' (or 'Multitude') against 'Imperialism' (or 'Empire'). This world-view has ushered back in some of the worst habits of mind that dominated parts of the left in the Stalinist period: manicheanism, reductionism, apologia, denial, cynicism. Grossly simplifying tendencies of thought, not least the disastrous belief that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend' are once again leading to the abandonment of democrats, workers, women and gays who get on the wrong side of 'anti-imperialists' (who are considered 'progressive' simply because they anti-American).
This attitude is especially unfortunate at a time when there is 'reform ferment in the Arab world, an emerging democracy in Iraq, and the colour-coded democratic revolutions in post-communist societies', as Michael Allen notes in the inaugural issue of Democratiya. In this historical moment, as an editorial in The New Republic noted, '[L]iberals must realize their own future is at stake. Should democratization succeed with Democrats deeply involved, they will be able to claim a share of the credit. But, should it succeed despite their puerile detachment - or, worse, their objections - Democrats could well be branded as the party that opposes bringing human rights and responsible governance to people who don't yet benefit from them'. To which Norman Geras has added, 'For "Democrats" in the US, read "the left" in Europe'.
When over 8 million Iraqis voted in democratic elections in January 2005, at polling stations guarded by American and other foreign troops, emerging to dance for joy, their purple fingers held aloft, only for Britain's leading liberal newspaper to sneer that the election was 'at best irrelevant', it was clear that something had gone terribly awry. When Iraq's heroic free trade unionists were called 'collaborators' and 'quislings', while their torturers and murderers were hailed as a 'liberation movement', one could hear the rattling of loose political and moral bearings.
Of course our task is not to sing 'America! America!' As Irving Howe put it, 'The banner of critical independence, ragged and torn though it may be, is still the best we have'. But this is 2005 not 1965. It is no longer enough to say 'no' where the US says 'yes'. A more self-condident and constructively critical stance is needed.
We democrats will fare better if we are guided by a positive animating ethic and seek modes of realization through serious discussion and practical reform efforts. Democratiya will stand for the human rights of victims of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. We will be, everywhere, pro-democracy, pro-labour rights, pro-women's rights, pro-gay rights, pro-liberty, pro-reason and pro-social justice. Against anti-modernism, irrationalism, fear of freedom, loathing of the woman, and the cult of master-slave human relations we stand for the great rallying calls of the democratic revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Democracy, even for the 'poorest he'. Liberte, egalite, fraternite. The rights of man. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those precious ideas were rendered the inheritance of all by the social democratic, feminist and egalitarian revolutions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. No one left behind. No one. We are partisans and artisans of this fighting faith and we pit it against what Paul Berman has called 'the paranoid and apocalyptic nature of the totalitarian mindset'.
In line with these aspirations, Democratiya will embrace what the Italian democratic liberalsocialist Norberto Bobbio called 'the most salutary fruits' of a certain intellectual tradition. He had in mind 'the value of enquiry, the ferment of doubt, a willingness to dialogue, a spirit of criticism, moderation of judgment, philological scruple, a sense of the complexity of things'.
Democratiya aims to be accessible to 'the common reader'. The discipline of the plain style, and a refusal of the obscurantist prose of contemporary academia, is today a political act of the first importance. We seek good writing, less adorned and more luminous, as well as thoughtful analysis, and a bit of style. Anyone seeking a model should look at Dissent. Careful exposition of the central arguments of the book under review is important. But so is the critical response of the reviewer. Authors will have a standing right of reply and reviewers a standing right of rejoinder.
Publishers may send books for review to Alan Johnson, Editor, Democratiya, Department of Social and Psychological Sciences, Edge Hill College of Higher Education, St Helens Road, Ormskirk, Lancashire, L39 4QP. All correspondence can be sent to the same address or to Alandemocratiya@aol.com If you would like to offer a review, please get in touch.