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My Brush with Obsession

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My wife was surprised the other day to receive in the mail a free copy of the DVD “Obsession - Radical Islam’s War Against the West” from the Clarion Fund. She couldn’t figure out why she was the lucky recipient except perhaps for the fact that she is a registered Republican in suburban Philadelphia, a part of the state where the Presidential candidates are competing aggressively for votes.  But why would they be sending her this DVD?

 

The video spends an hour trying to convince the viewer that there is a global jihad led by Muslim extremists who are taking aim at western culture and the Judeo-Christian faiths. These so-called jihadists want to bring down the west and conquer the world for Allah.  Ignoring this threat would be akin to England’s Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler’s Third Reich in the 1938 Munich agreement.  Many scenes in the video equate Muslim extremists with the Nazis.

One of the ‘experts’ speaking in the video estimates that 10 to 15 percent of all Muslims may be radical jihadists or supporters of global jihad.  Assuming a worldwide Muslim population of 1.5 billion, this amounts to 150 to 225 million people in the world who are intent on destroying the West and our way of life.  And these folks are spread all over the world including western nations, which makes them even more of a threat.

The video states that ‘political correctness’ in America is contributing to a general denial of the threat of Islamic power in the West and of the goal of jihadists to destroy western culture and religion.  However, the offensive stance by radical Islamists portrayed throughout the video is contradicted at one point by the video itself when it admits that radical Islam’s plan to conquer Israel and the West is a defensive response to what many Muslims perceive as a concerted plan by the West to conquer Muslim lands and bring down Islam. 

Unfortunately for the thesis of the video, there are quite a few examples of western nations doing just that--trying to conquer Muslim lands and subvert their governments.  It’s not just Muslim paranoia.  To name a few:

·         Britain’s assumption of power in 1919 over present-day Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine as its mandate. This was Britain’s share of the spoils of World War I, despite the presence of indigenous movements in these areas striving for self-rule. 

·         Britain’s and America’s immediate recognition of the state of Israel in 1948 after the Jewish militias defeated the Palestinian-Arab fighters, thereby ignoring the rights of the Muslim inhabitants of Palestine. 

·         The overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, mainly engineered by CIA and British intelligence agents, which led to the resumption of the rule of the Shah and his severe suppression of political dissent. The coup was apparently executed because Iran had nationalized its oil industry.

·         The policy of the US to support Israel even when she’s wrong, such as our support of her when she thumbed her nose at UN Security Council Resolution 242, which among other things called for , “the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict …” (the 1967 war).  With the exception of the Sinai and more recently Gaza, these lands have been incorporated into the state of Israel.

·         And of course the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a so-called ‘preemptive’ war, which has cost 85,000 to 95,000 Iraqi civilian lives. Over 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes as a result of the war, 2.0 million of these becoming refugees in other countries. 

Nowhere in the video is there mention of the role of US policies and actions in building up enormous resentment among Muslims. The impact of the Iraq war in recruiting many more radical Muslims is not touched upon in the video, and the war’s profound role in arousing increased anger among Muslims is something the video doesn’t even allude to.

So after marshalling all their one-sided arguments to put the viewer in a state of fear, what does the video offer the viewer by way of action?  What do the makers of the video want us to do?  It turns out very little, other than be afraid.  The video makes the valid point that moderate Muslims should speak out against the radicalization of Islam that is occurring in some areas of the world.  And that’s fine, but few people receiving this free video are likely to be Muslims. 

Near the end, the video says that we should stand up for the “ideal of freedom.”  But that’s too general and spineless to mean very much given the kind of threat the video has taken great pains to portray.  However, one of the last scenes in the video that accompanies the “standing up for freedom” phrase shows the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Bagdad soon after the US forces invaded the city in 2003.  Very subtle, but it’s clear that what the video makers want us to do is to feel good about wars like the Iraq war (and probably a war with Iran.)  The unspoken logic of the video is to connect the Saddam Hussein regime with the 9/11 attacks, a connection long ago disproved.

In short, Obsession, while posing as a documentary, is a propaganda piece.  It aims to make us afraid, so afraid that we will support continuing war in the Middle East, perhaps on several fronts.  The video is being distributed widely just two months before the elections.  And here stands John McCain ready and willing to continue the war.

 

Andrew Mills is a hydrologist serving as a consultant to local environmental consulting firms. He and his wife have six children and 18 grandchildren. He was active in the civil rights movement in the 1950's and 1960's, and spent 9 years in (more...)
 

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Thanks for the commentary.  I too received th... by Jennifer Widmer on Wednesday, Sep 10, 2008 at 8:37:35 AM
A video such as this, which I haven't seen but... by jeff prager on Thursday, Sep 11, 2008 at 11:02:36 PM