Monday, March 10, 2008

China stops airline terror attack

China claims it has stopped two terrorist attacks "including one targeting the Summer Olympic Games" conducted by Muslim separatists from northwest China. CNN reports:

The flight had taken off from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The militants' attempt to hijack the plane was foiled by the flight crew, the official said.

Wang Lequan, chief of the Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China, said the government was prepared to strike against the "three evil forces" in the region: terrorists, separatists and extremists.

The LA Times, explains the Chinese success at preventing their equivalent of a September 11 attempt in this way:

China has certain advantages against extremists, analysts said. As a police state with a system of watchful neighborhood officials and a largely homogenous population, outsiders tend to stand out. Gaining access to enough materials needed to mount a dramatic terrorist incident, such as the fertilizer used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing or the aircraft used on Sept. 11, 2001, would also be more difficult than in a relatively open society, analysts said.

Furthermore, the Chinese government has few qualms about suspending civil liberties, denying access or acting without explanation, warrants or other steps expected in a democracy.

The LA Times aside on the advantages enjoyed by a dictatorial state like China in fighting terrorism is really an unconscious admission of disruptive role they believe free speech should play in a democratic society. But why should it be so? Is it necessarily true that one must choose between free speech, privacy and due process on the one hand and security on the other?

Free and law abiding Western societies were in the past better able to suppress terrorism than most dictatorships. During World War 2 for example, the FBI was able to squelch Axis sabotage at a far lower level of repression than the Gestapo or NKVD could manage in Germany or Russia. Even Britain, far closer to existential danger than the United States, never needed the controls commonplace in the German homeland. Yet despite this the British rounded up practically every German agent worth the name, and were able to keep even a huge operation like Overlord secret from the Nazis.

Thus the LA Time's uncritical assumption that democracy equals more vulnerability to terrorism is not self-evidently true. One of the traditional advantages of a democracy in former times over a tyranny was its ability to operate through culture rather than coercion. Democracies were in the past able to mobilize the voluntary efforts of the citizenry in much more effective ways than police states. Culture enabled the America of World War Two send hundreds of thousands of men of Italian, German and even Japanese origin overseas to fight people of their ethnicity without any serious worry of treason.

Today, despite the massive expansion of its state, Britain found an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in Scotland Yard. "The four were identified by the paper as Londoners of subcontinental background, working in different police stations around the British capital." Somewhere along the line the engine of culture -- the bonds of shared values that would have sniffed these traitors out -- was turned off. And in that vacuum of loyalty some members of the press and the bar may even now be rushing off to defend these al-Qaeda sleepers in the genuine belief that in doing so they are serving, not extremism or intolerance, but liberty.

The mistaken supposition that Democracy equals weakness should be challenged on its first principles. Democracies are only vulnerable when its features are used to restrict society rather than to empower it. If the past ideal was a citizen who acted without being told; today it is not to act unless explicitly told. Order has become alles in ornung in the politically correct sense. But the West hasn't arrived at this inversion by accident. For too long chains have been marketed under the name of liberty. 'Promoting tolerance', for example, is now a code word for restricting speech. 'Academic freedom' now too often means that no dissent is allowed on campus. 'Punishing those who break the law' now connotes lawsuits against telecommunications companies which have voluntarily cooperated with Federal authorities to wiretap terrorism suspects.

But the real benefit of this switcheroo is that the public can eventually be persuaded to believe that freedom is dangerous; that a real trade-off exists between democracy and safety; when in reality it is a false choice between a kind of wooley-headed socialism and safety. In the end the perpetrators of this swindle may be able to persuade the public that it's really safer to be like China than like America. And eventually get that way by the high or low road.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

ah islamic retards are coning home to roost...

for decades china, england, russia, the arab and islamic world supported the palestinians and their right to murder the jews...

now, a NEW group, (face facts, there is a "new" islamic group every hour) have started to turn their sights to the targets closer to home...

the moslem brotherhood & friends on one side and the wahabbists & friends on the other are now rampant from London to Bali...

it's hard not to laugh....

Just watch the mayhem islamic warriors can cause...

go read

The world has allowed the islamic ideals of jihad to be accepted...

it was fine when israel and jews were it's target, now all the rest of the world is now within sights...

sucks don't it?

get used to it...

3/10/2008 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

Its a consequence of a failure in confidence. If a society has no confidence in itself, its culture, its ideas, it cannot perforce defend itself because it sees the "well put" points of the enemy. (We pollute, we oppress, we're racists, we supress, etc.)
There was not doubt on the part of the West in WWII as to who were the good guys. Now, .... We had it coming.
How could you support the Bush regime? They did AbuGhraib and rendition and waterboarding. How cruel! Islam is a religion of Peace(tm). They gave nobody any trouble before we crammed Israel down their throats. All justification for not doing anything.
I think its a loss of confidence in western civilization. Too many of us have had our common sense beaten down by a worship of process and acceptance of cultural equivalence so that we cannot act without the proper writ and we dont know where to get one.
It will take several WTC equivalent shocks to cure the procedure worship but the Cultural issues will be lots harder.

3/10/2008 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

China and Israel have quiet but definite ties, particularly on defense. I've heard unsubstantiated rumors of Chinese support for Israel in return for military technology. So about the level of chinese support for the Palestinians, I suspect it's just a lot of empty diplo-talk.

Besides, China is acutely aware of the problem of Islamic extremism - just look at their Xinjiang province. They've been fighting there for CENTURIES.

It'll be interesting to see what happens if the Islamists do manage to mess up the Olympics. China may not have deep resources like the west, but they do have plenty of fodder if they want to get nasty. More specifically, any significant loss of face due to terrorism at the Games would be a huge, huge incentive for China to act... somehow.

3/10/2008 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

It might be useful to look at all this another way, that what we actually face is a common front between: 1.)fantasies of peace and future harmony (through submission to a new social order) and 2.)violent phantasms of the overthrow of the existing order and the forced submission to the new, millennial, one. It would be similar to the The United Front between Marxists revolutionaries and others on the "peaceful" left.

In both cases the real enemy is reality. It's a tough enemy, and sometimes truces must be established and compromises made. But political fantasy and violent phantasm recognize in each other kindred spirits.

Fantasy based ideologies require two things to prosper: The control of perception and massive subsidies. Interestingly, these conditions seem best achieved and maintained where they are least in power.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Even massive "Resource Exports" and "Trade Credits" couldn't subsidize it enough. And the hard club of reality eventually broke through the total control of "Perception."

On the other hand, we have Harvard and the NYT.

Marxist tried to turn politics into "science." That didn't work out so well. So now they turn science into politics. In this way they control the "proofs" and he who controls the proofs, controls the science and he who controls the science, controls the news -- which they control all ready.

To fight fantasy we need to remove the subsidies that cushion it from reality and also its ability to control perceptions. Right now it has quite a bit of both, so lots of luck.

When talking about Jihadi violence and "targeting methods" we should remember the rational plays a subsidiary role to the phantasmagorical. So toppling the World Trade Center might be preferred to, say, a football game on purely artistic grounds.

And when they toppled the WTC, a lot of anti-globalization activist were thinking, "while I do not approve the methods..."

3/10/2008 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger always right said...

Just my suspicion (definitely no proof whatsoever) - (yes, with regards to chicomm, I am slightly paranoid)

In putting forth this story, China can go to "extreme" measures NOW before the summer Olympics in the name of security. Rest the world would simply go along with their actions, also in the name of security.

Look at the propaganda inside China, you probably will see plenty of the National Pride and Patriotism mentioned thousands of times. Anybody who doesn't tow the line will be quietly dealt with.

If, despite the extreme measures, dissidents still managed to throw eggs on their face, it will be interesting to see what happens next.

3/10/2008 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant analysis Wretchard. Very fine indeed.

3/10/2008 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

PC and Multiculturalism mean that the West is "not worth defending" for nearly ALL: writers, artists, thinkers, movie makers, media people, and such.

Who are both hypocritical, i.e. they don't move to Chad or Cuba or Iran, and stupid. In that they believe they can attack the West with no consequences because like Parker Lewis the West can't lose.

What they will get of course in the end is a Cromwell. Or Napoleon. NOT one of them. It won't be Queen Hillary or the Messiah ruling for 50 years. But some military man fed up with everything and creating his own custom class of people indebted to his rule. THEIR property will be seized to create the new nobility. That's how you buy people. Give them stolen stuff from the old class of thieves. So they have to fight them to hang on to their stuff.

3/10/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you will find it is "alles in ordnung". Helps to have a German speaker amongst your readers :)

3/10/2008 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger rlin said...

Ordnung is a noun and should be written with a capital in German.

"Ordnung muß sein" or "Law and order is a necessity".

Alles in Ordnung?

3/10/2008 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I'll add that China faces in one sense an existential crisis from Islam.

After the Cultural Revolution and post-Mao revelations and "get rich" corruption/cronyist trends, no one in China believes in much of anything. Falun Gong like other fads/religions is seen as a huge threat, as the weird Christian offshoot of the Taipeng Rebellion was.

NOTHING is more threatening than Islam. Not the least of which is the exacerbation of the sex imbalance which makes China as unstable as s slowing down top. As long as economic growth keeps substitution of family life possible with internet porn and occasional prostitutes, China's huge sex imbalance won't threaten regime power.

Introduce an element of polygamy and aggression to achieve it (the basis of Islam) and you have disaster. So China can be counted on to crush Islam domestically and MAY move to crush it abroad if provoked enough.

For the bright side of the Chinese -- those Pakistani, Iranian, and Central Asian women would be better suited (to the regime's way of thinking) being the wives of Chinese men and speaking Mandarin, acting like good Han Chinese, than the barbarism they endure now. It's not as if *cough* Tibet *cough* China doesn't have a history of reaching out and taking what it regards as "naturally" it's own.

3/10/2008 07:01:00 PM  

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