The Diffused False Flag: Salafi-Jihadism as Western Policy

It should by now be safe to assume that among those of any seriousness on the left, a number of points are beyond dispute: (1) that the capitalist powers, both domestically and abroad, make extensive use of false flag attacks; (2) that the various species of Political Islam we will group under the general header of Takfirism* are of thoroughly Western-Capitalist provenance;  (3) and finally that the contradictions of global capitalism have reached a point at which the majority of the core working class can no longer be maintained as compliant junior partners to their bourgeoisies’ imperial project.

This last point is simply to say that we must now really reckon with what has always been obvious to those unseduced by such chimeras as Euro-communism and Trotskyism: that the relative comfort of the metropolitan labor-aristocracy (not to mention the imperial clerical classes and lumpen-aristocracy) derives essentially from the coupling of (neo)imperialism abroad and welfarism at home; and that as the returns on the latter inevitably diminish, so too does the viability of the former. What I want to illuminate somewhat here is the manner in which the capitalist class has responded to this state of affairs by way of increasingly synthesizing the two well-worn strategies delineated above (i.e. (1) & (2)) into a strategy which we might call the ‘diffused false-flag.’

The dawn of the current millennium has seen a truly unprecedented assault upon the third world– and above all its Islamic, oil-rich components — by western capital which has pushed to the very limits any excuses its ideologists might contrive. These attacks have, of course, not been arbitrary; nor, as some cruder if well-meaning analyses might posit, reducible to an insatiable lust for petroleum. The pattern underlying military intervention from Yugoslavia to Iraq to Libya to Syria  is unmistakeable: every conceivable pool of labor-power must be fully opened to western capital’s penetration, all capital wrested from remotely independent hands. If the process is so destructive as to reduce the whole local supply, at the very least, a crucial lesson has been taught. Individual interventions need not immediately cover their own costs no more than the money spent maintaining an anti-burglary division for a year need amount to less than the actual definite sum saved in, say, foiled robberies. Like all police actions their returns manifest themselves chiefly in the order which their terror maintains.

Which brings us to the crucial point: terror. Perhaps no category in contemporary discourse is more ideologically freighted, the accusation alone of even the most mild apology can serve to permanently exclude any critic regardless of their charge’s substance. And as utterly as the effectiveness of the allegation is indifferent to evidence, so perfectly does it seem correlated to the interests of power. In the dominant western media, one can be successfully smeared as a terrorist sympathizer for critiquing anything from Israel, to Unionist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland, to the modern North American police state. But John McCain can openly meet with and support al-Qaeda members. The Mojahedin-e Khalq can be plucked from designated terrorist lists at any whim of political convenience. The Obama administration can use the charge of terrorism to remove any vestiges of habeas corpus or civil rights from the American citizenry on one hand while funneling at least a billion dollars a year to Takfiris in Syria with the other. We know that western politicians and pundits are all craven and shameless and they just can and will prostitute whatever language they speak in the interests of whatever masters they serve.

Leftists have been rehearsing such or similar points ad tedium for decades now. The claims are even liable to quasi-acknowledgement in mainstream circles, almost invariably neutralized by some variant of the noxiously thought-terminating cliche ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’ In case it isn’t obvious, this is not the correct take away here. Just because the capitalist media call it justice and freedom when they beat down a population and loot their resources, and because they call it theft and tyranny the second those people try to take them back, doesn’t vitiate the meaning of concepts like justice or freedom or theft or tyranny.

The last two decades in particular have seen a flagrant, criminal misapplication of the charge of terrorism by western governments, along with the cynical dissolution of any and all civil liberties or personal protections under the guise of halting it. What is perhaps equally unfortunate is that the knee-jerk response from so many on the left is to diminish or explain terrorism; but the deliberate targeting of civilians is as real and as vile and as unconscionable as any thinking person automatically and viscerally identifies it to be, and it happens all the time. The term is often unhelpfully broad, but the position it occupies in contemporary discourse is such that we cannot neglect the task of vigorously contesting its parameters, its application, and most importantly, the agents who must be held responsible for its occurrence.

Those concerned with objectivity must say: yes, the bombing of a concert is terrorism; but so too are the cluster bombs the West’s gulf proxies drop on Yemen with the full knowledge that 98% of their victims are civilians. Such a device cannot reasonably be considered a legitimate weapon of war– it is a categorically terroristic device. In carrying out such much needed litigation of boundaries, however, we must not fall prey to the mistake so characteristic of a certain segment of the liberal left: the sort of whataboutery which still tacitly assumes that the terroristic gulf regimes (or more importantly, the masters in the west) are distinct from and even opposed to the terrorists who strike European cities. This is simply not the case. The whole gamut of Sunni-Arab chauvinist takfirism must be seen a cohesive strategy of the West, one which it strategically benefits from both abroad and at home.

The entire myth that the West is in any serious sense fighting this force must be undermined root-and-branch. Even the most cursory survey of the modern Muslim world makes this evident. It is an undeniable fact that the global center of this murderous ideology, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was founded as such, precisely through the deployment of the Ikhwan, by the United Kingdom. Similar trajectories, mutatis mutandis, can be traced in other Gulf Monarchies, and to this day not a single one could persist without the military, economic, and political assistance of the West.

Since the Arab revolt against the Ottomans, in virtually every segment of the Muslim world the fastest growing, organically popular ideologies were secular, socialist, anti-imperialist nationalism. Their only serious competition on the level of local support was Marxism-Leninism. Nowhere could one find the sort of Salafist Islamism now uncritically ascribed to the ‘Arab street.’ Rare, indeed, even today does it have real popular purchase. Salafism is quite literally an indissociable limb of the Western neo-colonial apparatus, and in virtually every instance it can be found working in service of its aims, with ample funding and support. It is beyond dispute that in Afghanistan and Bosnia, in Libya and Syria takfiri forces were directly armed trained and supported by the West and their allies to overthrow socialist governments. And they are recognized as such. Even a thoroughly western polling organization, ORB International, released polls (which went virtually unreported) showing that 82% of Syrians and 85% of Iraqis believe the Islamic state was a “US foreign manufacture” or is “foreign American made.”

These are precisely the populations which the western media universally insisted ISIS drew its support and sympathy. These are the people who the Western right insist simply spawn such savage groups periodically from the depths of their Oriental inscrutability, and of whom Western liberals parrot the equally racist absurdity that they are just so constitutionally barbaric as to morph into head-choppers after a certain sum of bombs have been dropped. The fact is that neither of these claims could be taken seriously for a moment outside a framework of virulently racist assumptions about Arabs and other non-Western peoples. Under even the shallowest scrutiny the presumed causal trajectories fall apart: as many have noted, if people just ‘react’ to grievances in this fashion after a certain point, why don’t the Shi’ite, Coptic, or Alawite communities produce such terrorists? For that matter, why don’t we see this sort of terrorism from, say, African Americans, or European Roma, or Scheduled Castes in India? One sees here that the ‘salafist terrorism as reaction’ line of explanation is dangerous not only because it is racist and false, but because in its fundamental incoherence it buttresses the more openly demagogic narrative of the right, leaving leftists in the West incapable of effectively combating its calls for ever more militarization abroad and securitization at home.

Elsewhere, particularly in the Gulf, autocratic states which would not and could not exist without Western backing not only rule their own societies (sustained by guest-worker populations living in conditions of near slavery) according to the most reactionary salafist conceptions of Islam. These same Gulf states, above all Saudi Arabia, have spent billions corrupting Islam around the globe with their poisonous ideology. And their allies in the West, the children of dispossessed feudal landlords and would-be compradors who congregate around the Middle Eastern studies and Comparative Literature departments of Western Universities, can always be counted upon to play their part. These masters of self-Orientalization are ever to be found, stalking vampire-like the parameters of discussion around the MENA to suck the blood of any and every legitimate struggle there to twist it into its opposite. Before the self-immolated body of the fruit-vendor has ceased smoking, the mist of obfuscation descends: class and empire are elided, the fight against Western-backed police states is conveniently recast into the picaresque drama of abstract ‘resistance’ to the abstract ‘tyranny’ of the immortal image of the ‘third-world despot.’ Sacha Baron Cohen agrees: Mubarak, Mugabe, Gaddafi, Assad– all are basically the same.

At a certain point one’s credulity can only be pushed so far. One simply has to say that when the Western ruling classes claim to be engaged in a War on Terror, they are not incompetently pursuing a genuine agenda,  nor are they stretching the truth– they are utterly inverting reality. They benefit from so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorism abroad; they do so at home as well. In the past NATO has been documented orchestrating false flag terrorist attacks in  Western countries; we have no reason to believe they would refrain from doing so again. The point, however, is that we need not find evidence in any particular case of the direct collaboration of Western intelligence services in particular attacks in Europe of North America (though we can and should pursue it as all the more damning when if such evidence emerges). Even a case in which a genuine ‘lone wolf’ finds himself genuinely beguiled by the propaganda of Takfiri terrorism and commits another heinous atrocity in the West, we must recognize him for what he is: a Westerner or agent of the West (knowing or not), pursuing aims in direct accordance with the broader strategies of Western governments, in service of a consummately Western ideology.

Those on the left, those who have opposed all these murderous interventions, or the funding and arming of contras of any stripe, or the securitization of our own societies by governments pretending such measures are a necessary response to their own policies– we must cede absolutely no ground of indignation to the creatures of state and media who bear the true responsibility. The closed military-ideological system of ‘radical Islamism’ is a real machine of conquest and a generalized mechanism of periodic false-flag production all bound into one. It is a wholesale creation of Western imperialist governments and their comprador and contra allies, and must be ceaselessly identified and rejected in its entirety. The monstrous islamophobes and the interventionist neoliberals whose incestous orgy has been established as the sole sphere of ‘foreign policy’ debate are the enemies of us all; the blood of genuine terrorism victims across the globe is dripping from their well-greased palms.

* Murderous Sunni-supremacists from Ikwhanis to Daeshis. In the opinion of this author the most appropriate catch-all for the various death-squads and mercenary outfits, their ideologists, and their state-sponsors in the West, Israel, the Gulf, Turkey, who, be they Wahhabist, Deobandi, or otherwise, massacre overwhelmingly their fellow muslims under the shallowest of anti-western pretensions. See more:



2 thoughts on “The Diffused False Flag: Salafi-Jihadism as Western Policy

  1. Pingback: False Jersey Ops (Part 1) – 66th Take

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