Paul J. Balles: Fodder for Extremism
Four joint hosts of an MSNBC programme called Cycle decided to open a Pandora's Box and discuss some of America's problems in the Middle East. One of the participants attempted to draw a distinction between "extreme Muslims" and "moderate Muslims", suggesting that viewers should make such a distinction.
That was with the caveat, according to another panellist, that moderate Muslims have an obligation to criticise the extremists.
The panellists failed to realise how ludicrous that comment would sound to anyone with even a remote understanding of what's been the fodder out of which extremism – by any definition – has grown.
Wikipedia says: "Extremism is any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political centre of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards."
Quick to point to the difficulty of defining extremism, Wikipedia notes that: "There is no political party that calls itself 'right-wing extremist' or 'left-wing extremist', and there is no sect of any religion that calls itself 'extremist' or which calls its doctrine 'extremism'."
That there are any moderates at all can only be considered amazing.
With half a million children killed during 10 years of sanctions in Iraq, understandable hatred of America had to be fed.
The outright, unjustified slaughter of Iraqis in the US war and occupation – 1,455,590 based on non-existent WMDs – allows otherwise moderate people to fully justify extremist revenge.
Add to those figures the victims of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen; add the dead civilians in Libya; add the Palestinians victimised by American-supported Israelis; and add the Iranians hit by sanctions and threats of extermination.
Any reasonable person would expect moderate Muslims anywhere to become extremists seeking revenge.
Unfortunately, most Americans don't look at these facts as reason to be self-critical. They tend to generally overrate their own importance.
"Americans are the 'indispensable people', and the US is the 'indispensable nation' with the right and responsibility to establish its hegemony over the world," said Paul Craig Roberts explaining the phenomenon.
He noted that Adolf Hitler called the same arrogant attitude "Aryan superiority".
"Now Washington asserts the superiority," he added. "The neo-conservative ideology threatens the world with nuclear war."
The neo-cons responsible for prompting America to invade and occupy Iraq on falsified intelligence still exercise control over US foreign policy.
From any rational point of view, American foreign policy – determined by a cadre of warmongers in Washington, DC – reveals an egotistical extremist perspective.
As extremist as that policy is, Americans seem unable to question it, challenge it or overcome their apathy towards it. It's time for Americans concerned about extremists to begin looking in the mirror.
"Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all," said John Gardner, author and past US Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare,
Thus, Washington diagnosed the world's ills as a result of three "evils" that threatened Israel and America.
Political extremism convinced the American public that Iraq, Iran and North Korea were the villains.
The propaganda campaign started by the Bush regime was used to justify the deaths of more than a million Iraqis who were supposed to ignore America's terrorism.
Former congressman and CIA director Porter Goss said: "The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists."
What escapes the American public, while remaining perfectly clear to the rest of the world, is that the real extremists are America and Israel, while Iraqis remain overwhelmingly moderate – despite having cause for extremism.